July 20, 2018

5 Ways to Identify Your Next Generation Leaders and How to Train Them Up

Gen Y PictureAs many of you are aware, our world is at a critical point in history. Many studies are estimating that in the next 10-12 years, approximately 45-50% of the workforce in the United States alone will be gone, and most of the workers are from the Baby Boomer generation. They will be leaving in droves in leadership roles in business, education, government, the medical field and the world of non profits.

Many people argue that Generation X will fill these leadership roles and that all will be fine. Well…if you do the math, you will find our three main demographics in our world today include these numbers:

Baby Boomers: Approximately 70 million
Generation X: Approximately 45 million
Generation Y: Approximately 80 million

If you look at these figures, it is obvious that once the Baby  Boomer Generation is out of the workforce, we are most definitely going to have a shortage of leadership talent.

I speak with young men and women under the age of 30 every day, and many tell me that they have been thrust into early leadership positions without any training, coaching or shadowing. They show up for work and hear “Hey…Margaret…Bob’s last day is tomorrow, so you are stepping into his role.” While the names in this statement are fictional, the scenario is not. Because of their knowledge, talent and confidence, members of the Gen Y demographic are being pulled into leadership roles at ages 24-29, and they are saying they are not ready…that they need training, shadowing and coaching. So, my question is this “If you are not acting now to get your Gen Y careerists trained for top leadership positions today, then when are you going to do it?” My opinion is this: If you are planning on waiting and just letting the cards fall where they may, your company will either suffer or your doors will unfortunately close.

So, today, I want to share with you five characteristics that I believe will be critical for your next gen leaders to have ingrained in their DNA and five steps you can take, starting today, to get your young careerists ready for the highest level positions in your company. And, no, I am not foolish on this one topic…I am talking about getting your young workers ready for positions like CEO, COO, Senators, Hospital Administrators and Superintendents of Schools.

The 5 traits of your next generation leaders:

1.  An eagerness to both coach and be coached. Businesses are now moving into a coaching mode as opposed to an advice-giving or consulting mode.  If you notice a young careerist who is open to being coached and then willing to coach other co-workers, peers and even bosses in the direction of success, you have a potential leader in your midst.

2. An innovative spirit and creative experimenter who inspires others to act. I truly believe that the leaders and companies who can innovate like mad will using new media and the technology we have at our fingertips will be the ones who survive in the future.  If you spot a creative thinker who can also map out the strategy from start to finish of how to get a new product or service to the market, I recommend looking closely at this potential future leader.

3.  A global collaborator who engages creative talent to produce positive results for your company. Because of new media and of course the internet, we can now collaborate on a global level.  A true next generation leader will surround herself with talented people who can gather together for quick collaboration sessions.  (Note:  Be cautious of someone who wants to collaborate for hours and hours…red flag!)  The best collaborators are those who can guide collaboration, take command, make quick decisions while mitigating risk and who is agile and flexible enough to move and bend with the collaborative process without dragging it out.

4.  A young leader who has demonstrated shared leadership and self directed leadership. The old school hierarchical style of leadership is quickly fading away.  Our next generation leaders are turned off by climbing the ladder, being excluded from decision making and having to wait until a question slowly crawls up the ladder to the top so that it can be answered.  Generation Y is craving shared leadership, and they naturally lead with a self directed form of leadership. If you spot a young careerist who is willing to step aside and bring forward another leader who has a better grasp, ideas and input on a project, then you have yourself a great candidate for more training.  While the buck will ultimately stop with this leader, a form of shared, self directed leadership gives other young careerists a voice, respect, credibility and a host of other skills which will build confidence and a create a bigger pool of potential leaders.

5.  Strong networking and strategic alliance building skills. Companies of today and tomorrow cannot survive without alliances with other companies.  I have watched and watched this for the last ten years.  The companies who “hide” what they are doing, who don’t want to share with others and who see building alliances as a threat are either now closed or in jeopardy of falling off a cliff.  Your strong future leaders should be networking maniacs and constantly scanning the global environment for companies who can make your business stronger, more visible and more credible.

How to train your next generation leaders so that they can step up and step into high level leadership roles

1.  Study your under 30 employees closely for at least three months so that you can spot the above five characteristics. Remember…some people just have a bad day now and then, so look at the overall picture and don’t dwell on the few bad days…we all have them!

2.  Once you have spotted the employees you believe are potential candidates for leadership roles, perform a full 360 degree feedback review on your potential candidates. Make sure to include questions which address the above five traits.  You will want to gather feedback from co-workers, bosses, friends, former co-workers and family members to see how they view your potential candidates.

3.  Choose your potential leadership candidates and hire an experienced executive coach to work with your high potentials for at least six months. Ask your potential candidates if they will agree to a final debrief with the executive coach to determine coachability.

4. Assign a tough project to your potential candidate to observe how she handles leadership under pressure.  Once again, you are looking for the above traits as well as the obvious skills such as staying cool under pressure, time management, delegation and command.

5.  Design a structured shadowing program for your potential leadership candidates. You will want your candidates to shadow your strongest senior leaders and then flip the situation.  Ask your strongest older leaders to shadow the potential candidate for at least one month to get feedback about how they really act on the job.  If you have a strong future leader, she will be able to stay cool and calm when being followed around all day by a higher management leader on your team.

Do You Have A Few Childhood Hangovers? If So, Follow These 5 Steps To Move Forward

"Picture of Val Boyko"

Val Boyko of Mother Whispers.com

I want to thank Val Boyko of Mother Whisperers for this wonderful post on how some of our beliefs ingrained in us as children can actually hurt us later on in life…not just personally but professionally.  I have a few of these, so this is a great post for me to noodle on!

You don’t need therapy to appreciate that your childhood has impacted who you are today. What you may not appreciate is how some behaviors you learned as a child may be holding you back in your career!

In my work as an executive coach and now as a Mother Whisperer working with women,* I’ve found that our relationship with our parents – especially our mothers has a powerful long lasting affect on all our relationships as adults – including how we interact with others at work. I call these childhood hangovers. We may not even be aware of them at first, but they sure do give us – and often those around us – some headaches! For many of us, recognizing them for what they are, and shifting our thinking can become just the aspirin we need!

Childhood hangovers are usually hidden behind our professional image and we don’t like to admit to anyone – including ourselves!Here are some of the typical insecurities many people carry around:

  • It’s wrong to say what I really mean, express myself fully or speak up.
  • I believe that I am not good enough or deserve what I have.
  • It’s wrong to put my needs first before others.
  • I find it difficult to say no.
  • I believe that I can make others happy – and they will like me if I work hard enough to please them.
  • I tell myself not to trust others because they will let me down or abandon me.
  • I resent any feedback. I tend to take it personally and defend myself. I am not able to ask directly for what we want. I resent being told what to do by people in authority.
  • I avoid confronting others and tend to be the peacemaker.

If any of these resonate with you, please know that you are not alone. It isn’t just you. It’s pretty much everyone. When we pay attention to childhood hangovers we are moving towards being free to be our true selves and truly successful.

Here are my Top 5 Strategies to overcome Childhood Hangovers:

Become an observer of yourself. Notice times when you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable at work. Observe your self talk and behaviors when you feel anxious.

Experience what is going on in your body.

Don’t reject anything you are experiencing. Withhold judgment or self criticism. Find compassion instead for the child who needed this coping strategy to feel secure.Start off small with small action steps. For example if you want to speak up more, then commit to doing it in a place where you feel safe first – like the dry cleaners or supermarket. From there, take it to the next level.

Avoid putting all your energy into the past (Why am I doing this?). Focus on strategies that will move you forward into a future without those behaviors. (What can I do differently next time?).

Imagine the person you would like to be. Fix that image in your mind. Now act as if you were that person. Start acting and you will grow into becoming like that person.

About the Author

Val Boyko is a career and leadership coach and loves working with professionals who want to express their true selves and get ahead in their career. This work has led her to also look more into the relationships that we women have with our mothers – mine included! – and how it can impact our relationships in and out of work, and ultimately our success. To find out more about the daughter mother work I am exploring with fellow coach Marlene Durrell, please visit us a http://MotherWhisperers.com.

M Stands for Moving On: 10 Signs It’s Time for a New Leader

When I see a company or team in distress, my question is always “Why is it so hard to tackle the obvious…or as the old cliche goes…”Why is no one talking about the big elephant in the room…the elephant that is so big that we can’t even see the elephant anymore…we are standing in the room and see that the room has become fuzzy…crowded…dingy, but the elephant has gotten so big that it’s shape has disappeared into a big blob of grey??”

My answer is this…the company has become comfortable with mediocrity…things have always done a certain way, so there goes the mindset…into the ditch:

1. Eh…performance is okay…it could be better, but it’s fine.

2. No need to change…it’s too hard, too time consuming and way too costly…let’s just focus on the status quo.

3. We do things around here “this way” and this has worked for decades…our approach is doing a “fine job”.

4.  I don’t like these people on this team or who work for this company anyway…let’s just stay in mediocrity, and maybe they’ll just “go away”.

When I hear this, I ususally start digging a bit deeper…to find that

  • the same people are in the same positions they were 10 years ago
  • the same practices are being implemented that were applied 30 years ago (which are usually practices that came out of the 1950’s and 1960’s)
  • the same things are being measured which are now obsolete…why are you measuring things that no longer matter?
  • the leaders at the top are clueless about what the competition is really doing in the year 2010…things they could be doing to become a world class organization

If you are a leader, and you are reading this article, it is going to take balls to make a change…a change in yourself or a radical move to step up to the plate and admit that  “I cannot change, and it is time to move on.”  There is a 99% chance that you, yourself, will not feel like you need the change…if you are a person who lives in mediocrity, you are probably very comfortable getting up every day and rolling out of bed on the very same way on the same side, drinking coffee out of your same mug, showering with a bar of old soap, putting on the same old clothes, eating the same food for breakfast, backing out your driveway the same way and driving the same old route to work.  The only way you are going to truly know if it is time to move on is to look at your team and people to see if these 10 signs are evident.  And…this might take bringing in someone from the outside to look at your team to see if they will HONESTLY answer these questions.  Most stuck people don’t think they’re stuck…they think the rest of the world is crazy:

THE TEN SIGNS IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO MOVE ON AS A LEADER

1. Your team is bored. They look bored, have scowls on their faces and they drag in the door as if they have a ball and chain wrapped around their ankle.

2. Your team is not only growing and progressing…they are actually getting worse at their jobs. Their talents are actually turning into their biggest weaknesses.

3. Your team has lost their passion. They just don’t have the fire in their eyes…they look flat.

4. Sick leave, tardiness and skipping out on projects early are on the rise. When people love their leader and your company is thriving, they not only show up but they show up on time and they stay late because they love what they are doing.

5. No one is recruiting you OR your team members. Remember the time when you were actively desired by others?  Those days are over.  Remember the time when you were worried that your rock stars would be recruited away?  No need to worry about that one.  No one is looking at them, because you have taken them from rock star to rock-star wannabees.

6. Clients, investors and competitors are gossiping about your lack of leadership.  You may not know it, but your employees do.  It’s a very small world.  With the internet, people are probably blogging about you too.

7. Your superstars are no longer talking about their big plans for a great future career.  They’re becoming stuck in a rut just like you are…you are the leader, and they are following your model of mediocre leadership.

8.  Your superstars are NO LONGER complaining...for a while, they had great ideas on how the company could improve and they may have been complaining a pinch, but they now know that their voice is falling on deaf ears, so why bother.   The saddest part of this is that they know you don’t give a damn.

9.  Your team begins to make uncharacteristically careless errors…you don’t care, so why should they?  But of course, you are probably blaming them and taking NO personal responsibility.

10.  The element of fun is gone...zapped, and of course, people who once came around for the fun and to celebrate success (like big investors) are moving on.  They have no interest in hanging around a leader or a company that is losing, and they are moving on to the winners’ circles.

Okay…I’ve given the bad news, so the solution…get someone into your company, perform a very rigorous 360 degree review process and give your leader 6 months to change or it’s time to bring in new blood.

L Stands for Lucidity

Yesterday in North Carolina, we had what many University of North Carolina students and alumnae call a “Carolina Blue Sky!”

It was beautiful…sunny, warm, a bit windy and the sky was blue.  I don’t think we even had a tiny cloud in the sky like the one shown in this photo.  As the old saying goes. “On a clear day, you can see forever!”  That is exactly how I felt!

And, before I went to sleep last night, I looked outside and could see stars everywhere.  I can see that spring is coming, and the clarity was truly beautiful.  Following an unusually cold winter and a great deal of rain, snow and ice, I found it comforting to know that I could truly see a beautiful, clear sky and the stars for miles and miles.  It made me trust that there is a huge universe out there for us to explore and that today I would be able to write this blog post…and here I am…writing my blog post for the week!

But…I have to say, while still beautiful, on days like this photo to the right…when the fog is so thick you can feel it on your skin, I don’t experience the same type of comfort.  Many people do feel safe during fog…but I don’t.  I cannot see ahead, and I can’t see around me.  It reminds me a great deal of the movie Cape Fear and hearing Robert DeNiro saying “Come out, come out wherever you are.”

If you have watched the film, you will know that the scenes are dark, foggy, rainy, windy and frightening.  The Bowden family is kidnapped, and Robert DeNiro takes them to the Cape Fear river, and things just go from bad to worse.

So, my discomfort with fog could very well have something to do with this movie, or it could be reminiscent of the night my mom and I and six of our friends were trying to drive an hour home from Birmingham, Alabama in thick fog, and we got quite lost and had to pull over on the side of the road for help.  But…at the end of the day, I don’t think I am alone on this issue.  I think that many people are fearful when in fog, because…the world looks ambiguous.  It is not clear…and in life, we all want lucidity!

Lucidity of course is defined as something that is easily understood, transparent or at least a clear perception.  When you are in the middle of a lucid situation, there is a very clear beginning and end.   A phone call, responding to e-mail, running to the grocery store for milk, getting dressed and going to an event…these are all tasks which are very clear…they have a beginning, middle and end.  Done!  So, of course, they are easy to do…you just start and finish.

But what about those projects, situations or risks which are ambiguous?  You know…the ones that have multiple moving parts and could pull you in about 10 different directions?  The ones you have never done before that feel risky and may make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing?    Those are not so easy to accomplish or even begin.

As I think about ambiguity, it reminds me of the “flying trapeze” simile (or metaphor…I think a simile begins with the word ‘like’)…So, navigating through an ambiguous situation is a bit like flying on a trapeze.

Look at this picture.  The trapeze artist moves from one trapeze to the next, hoping and praying she will grab her partner’s arms.  During the transition, all she has to grab onto is…nothing!  Just air.  Now then, we all know there is a net below, but I have been told that during the transition, it is one of the most frightening feelings imaginable, and that the natural desire is to hang onto the original trapeze…or to just turn back!

Ambiguity feels a bit like this transition on the trapeze.  Approaching a foggy situation, we often feel that we are in mid-air…grabbing onto nothing.  It is uncomfortable and frightening.  We can’t see ahead, and we don’t trust that we are going to have anything to grab onto.  So, when something is ambiguous, lacking clarity with nothing to grab onto, as humans, many of have the tendency to do one of the following:

  1. Not start…we just make excuses about why we cannot start instead of just admitting that we’re scared as hell to begin
  2. Start and then stop in the middle
  3. Start and stop, start and stop or move forward 2 steps and back 2…like an oscillating fan or a rocking chair
  4. Start something brand new so that we don’t have to start the ambiguous process (this is a diversionary tactic)
  5. Start checking e-mail or doing mindless tasks so that we can feel like we have accomplished something
  6. Sitting and thinking of the thousands of things that could go wrong if we move through this ambiguous situation
  7. And…some people (about 18-20% max) actually take the ambiguous idea and run with it.  They shift gears, act without the full picture, they handle the uncertainty and they move to completion.

And…for those of us who are sitting and checking e-mail and worrying about things that will probably never happen, someone else out there is moving through this same ambiguous situation all the way to a better relationship, the top position, a wonderful life dream,  or all the way to the bank.  We see their success, and we then give ourselves a quick kick in the rear.  Do you know HOW MANY times I have heard someone say “I had that idea 10 years ago…they took my idea!”  No…they did not take your idea…they had the same idea, and they decided to act instead of sitting around spinning about their fears.

So…here is the deal.  In today’s world, we are being faced with a heavy load of ambiguity.  And, the best way to move through ambiguity is to act.  I recommend using a few strategies to help you get through the process.  If you take even two of these strategies and work through them, you will get closer to achievement (and further along than most people):

1.  Map out your entire process on a big butcher block piece of paper. By getting the big idea out of your head and onto paper, it can feel much less ambiguous.

2.  Break the big challenge into multiple parts, and dedicate time to completing each part (people call this breaking your situation or project into chunks…call it whatever you want to…at the end of the day, if you try to complete everything at once, you may just get more fuzzy and overwhelmed).

3.  Each time you hit a bump in the road, sit down and break apart the problem.  Talk the problem through with 3 other people…ask for help!

4.  Shift your thinking back to a beginner’s mind. If you think that your own past knowledge will give you your answers…think again.  None of us ever know all of the answers, especially in an ambiguous situation.  The answers are out there somewhere…in a book, in research, in the minds of other people, in the world, in nature.   Get out of your own head and look for your answers…out there!  Out there in the world!

5. Take on a new activity that you know nothing about as a side hobby, and do this in a group. Taking on a new activity is always ambiguous…you don’t know what you are doing.  I even feel this way when I cook a new recipe or use a piece of technology…I worry ahead of time that I don’t know what I am doing.  By taking on new activities (in front of a group is key…if you try to do this in isolation, there is a good chance you won’t do it), you can get more accustomed to ambiguity.  Keep a journal during this time and make note of your progress.

6.  Work with a coach who will challenge you to take risks and to help you develop a healthy view of failure. I have learned in life that people just don’t like failing.  Taking on an ambiguous situation always feels risky, because a new/fuzzy/ambiguous situation can result in failure, and no one likes looking bad, being criticized or falling short on a new goal or project.    That’s okay…this is a part of growth and development and going for a dream!  As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that unless you are failing, you are probably not getting ahead in life.  If everything is pit-pat-perfect, then you are more than likely stuck in a rut of perfectionism, and your ability to learn and grow will stop at the point of your commitment to always looking right/being perfect.

7.  Take a disjointed task and organize it! In the midst of ambiguity, things can get messy and disorganized.  As you are moving through a nebulous situation, you will probably stumble upon something that is completely out of whack and disjointed.  Take that one task and organize it, and you will gain more clarity and direction during the process of creating order.

8.  Ask yourself the question “What questions do I need to answer to minimize my risk in this new situation?” I am a big risk taker, and my decisions are sometimes great and sometimes just don’t work, because I don’t always stop to consider how to minimize my risk.  But…I think this question is a good one.  When the parts of a process are fuzzy, you may be resisting moving forward due to a fear of a negative financial or leadership outcome.  If so, sit down with a mixed group of people (men, women, risk takers, different ages) and look at the end result and ask yourself and your trusted colleagues how you can minimize the risk and then go implement those steps.  This will greatly reduce your stress level and will give you more momentum to move forward.

I hope this article has been helpful.  If you are an executive or business leader who is ready to take on a big project and you are looking for someone to help provide clarity through the process, give me a call at 910-692-6118.  I would love to hear from you!

H Stands for How To…

As 2010 approaches, many leaders are asking new questions.  Faced with a slumped economy, less manpower and growing concerns about what the next year will hold, the questions are becoming more complex and more fear-filled.

So, today, I want to just share with you 3 very simple “How To’s” to consider for 2010…just take a step back and consider a few of the basics.

lightbulb1.  HOW TO INNOVATE: Innovation is such a big buzzword today, so when something is a big buzzword, it means that it is important to the business landscape.  Many people believe that people are just born as innovators.  This may be somewhat true, but real innovation takes place through learning.  If I have any advice on this topic it would be this:

  1. Get out there and talk to the 3 most innovative companies you know to find out how they come up with bright ideas that actually make it to the market and thrive in the marketplace.
  2. Study and read everything you can about an innovator you admire (Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs would be two I would start with).
  3. Talk to at least 12 people from different industries about one idea you are rolling around in your head (talk to an artist, scientist, physician, dancer, gardener, plumber, attorney , financial planner, nanny, stay at home mom…innovation does not happen in a vacuum, and it is critical to get out there and talk to a variety of people about your ideas to get your finger on the pulse of what is really bugging people/keeping them awake at night not having drain cleaning services columbus oh to clean their pipes).
  4. Take a trip to a place like the Sharper Image or even Best Buy to test out the most current technology in their stores.  Ask yourself “Why this?”  and “Why didn’t they do this?”
  5. Spend time in an area/field that you know nothing about. Take up a new hobby like fishing, quilting, kickboxing, painting…anything that is new…new hobbies stimulate thinking and creativity.

Business confrontation.2. HOW TO PICK YOUR BATTLES. Many people just don’t like conflict, and for some reason, they think that debate causes problems.  Yet the leaders who really know how to use debate to their advantage are some of the most innovative, successful leaders in our world.  The key is this…knowing what to fight for.

I would love to just tell you what is in this article, but rather than spell out the details, I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to buy a copy of the article How to Pick a Good Fight by HBR.   I will just give you two suggestions from the article.

1.  If the idea will save your company 15% or more of your resources over one year, the battle is worth fighting.

2.  If the idea will grow your sales or acquire new customers faster than the market, the battle is worth fighting.

Believe me…this article is worth purchasing for anyone!  The article includes another 20 ideas and an assessment for your company.

rookie3.  HOW TO GET YOUR ROOKIES TO LEAD. Your new employees are shining stars…fresh out of college, ready to set the world on fire, and what do most leaders do?  They throw a big bucket of water on the fire and say “Hey…new kid…here’s how we do things around here!”  Oh…that’s a smart idea (NOT!)  It is time for everyone to understand that leadership development for your new employees is what will differentiate your company from your competitors in 2010.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find out what truly motivates your rookies. This is going to be different for each person (time off with family, basketball tickets, public acknowledgement, and so forth).  Your job as a leader is to find out what really motivates your rookies and begin using that to get them on board.
  2. Begin implementing a state of the art leadership development program for your rookies. Many companies shy away from this, because they feel something like this “Why waste my development dollars on someone who is going to leave me in two years?”  The answer:  Because you want your rookies to be the best they can be and to sing your praises as they dance out the door.  Your goal as a leader should be to train your rookies so well that other companies do try to recruit them away…but…if you are smart and you develop a great training and coaching program for them, they will think twice before leaving you.  And…if they do, there is a good chance that once they experience the greener pastures they thought they wanted, they will come back to you in a few years.
  3. Open yourself up to learning AND to actually using the technology that your rookies are using to communicate (including text, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and so forth).  In order to get your rookies to lead others, you have to be willing to communicate with them using the tools they are comfortable with and then pull them into the higher level leadership communication skills (face to face discussions, public presentations and face to face negotiations).
  4. Drop the talk about paying dues and climbing the corporate ladder…is a top turn-off for this rising generation.
  5. Ask your rookies for their ideas…invite them into the private meeting room to get their ideas on the table…this will be music to their ears and will inspire them to lead others in a way that is open and curious.

So, as 2010 rolls around, start looking closely at what you can do for the people of your organization…there is no better time than the present to start developing stronger relationships, better ways of communicating and of course…rock solid approaches to leadership and business development.

How do I create an environment where my top employees’ contributions can keep my company relevant in today’s world?

The answer: RADICAL INNOVATION!

Radical innovation is going to be a critical component in a leader’s toolkit in the future, and this does not mean that you “try innovation” over a week-end brainstorming retreat. It happens by disrupting the current environment, challenging old assumptions and even turning the culture upside down so that you can move ahead and start being highly competitive.

Each day I meet leaders, and the first question I ask is “On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being super sticky, how stuck are you?” Most people laugh, and they usually respond by saying “I’m a 20 or a 25!” So, when you are stuck, you have to break up the pattern…turn a table upside down and figure out a way to still use the table as an eating surface, roll out of the bed on the other side, shave with the hand you don’t normally use…do something to be disruptive. This is the same for companies…what would happen if you do the opposite of what you’ve always done? What would you do if you totally destroyed your most profitable item and had to start from scratch? Or, how would an artist, physician or scientist suggest that you change your company?

To keep your company relevant, a culture must foster a sense of psychological safety for employees to not only feel comfortable but be encouraged to challenge the status quo and bring fresh, radical ideas to the table and feel safe that they are not going to be criticized or made to feel silly in the process. Everyone in the company needs to be brought up to speed on the vision and direction of the company, and the leader needs to make a statement that the game is now on…everyone is going to be challenged to think radically, innovate, think strategically and that a part of this is to be open to divergent thinking and to allow open debate to get to the root of the issue. You have to be willing to get very uncomfortable…to laugh nervously and feel the sweat bead up on your brow.

Staying ahead will also call leaders to design an environment that includes a diversity of people…a mix of cultures, ages, ethnicities and religions can bring new, more creative ideas to the table. It will also be very important to add a Chief Knowledge Officer to your staff…someone who has their finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world and how your company fits in and how competitive you are to people who are thousands of miles around the world from you.

Tomorrow is already here. Are you relevant, or are you becoming obsolete? Only you can answer that question! .

Clinton Not Backing Down…Not Giving Up!

I am still not convinced that Senator Clinton can win the democratic nomination. She seems to still be struggling with the likability factor, and her husband continues to cause problems for her with the media and the public at large. However, there is one thing I have to say that is working for Clinton…she’s a fighter, and she does not back down or give up, even in the face of adversity.

She won Pennsylvania yesterday by 10 points. This still keeps Obama squarely in the lead with 1714 delegates to Clinton’s 1584. BUT…She said she was going to win PA, and she did.

I have learned in life a valuable lesson…that giving up too soon is often the reason for failure. Much of this has to do with the craving we have in today’s world for instant results and immediate gratification. When we have a setback, we often throw up our hands and say “I quit”.

We hear it every day…that setbacks and failures are a part of success. We seem to get it intellectually, but we often can’t seem to internalize it enough to make the change. Today, as you are reading this blog, think of a past failure or setback and what this watershed moment did for you in your life. What did you learn? How did life change? How did you grow? You may be surprised that you will find a few pieces of gold in those thorns..

Two Must Reads for All Leaders

As we move into the future, the face of leadership is going to change. As the Millennial Generation explodes onto the business scene, they will be bringing with them an entrepreneurial spirit unlike anything we have seen before in history. In order to lead in the future, not only are we all going to be called to understand what it means to be an entrepreneur, we are going to be challenged to shift our thinking and to start challenging our assumptions about the human dynamics which are at play for all business leaders…and those dynamics are going to be moving heaven and earth (just look at what is going on in our world today economically, politically and socially).

To help you along your journey, I am recommending two must reads (and I don’t recommend books that often). These two books are critical additions to your library, because both of these authors have worn many hats in life, have experienced a huge variety of business opportunities and will be the first to admit that they have made mistakes along the way. In spite of any demons they have met in the past, everything they have touched has turned to gold (so of course, why would you not read their books).

So…here we go…the two top reads for this month are:


Beyond Booked Solid: Your Business, Your Life, Your Way Its All Inside by Michael Port

I have come to the conclusion that anyone and their grandmother can write a marketing book. But…writing a marketing book with passion and from the human emotions we all experience as business owners requires a master craftsman. Michael Port is truly such a master, and this book is at the top of my list of biz books for 2008. Port goes deep…challenging business owners to look at the internal shifts required to go from being a great business owner to one making a significant impact on the world.  As we all know, each growth phase of a business requires a new attitude and a new way of seeing your business and the world, and I can promise you this…if you read this book, your life and business are going to change for the better, and there’s no turning back…you will never see your business or your life as you see it today (and that is a great thing…as I always say, you can’t do what you’ve always done to get where you’re going today and tomorrow!). Fabulous!


Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Companies by Michael Gerber

Michael Gerber’s mission is “to create a turnkey system for awakening the entrepreneur within every person who wishes to go into business for themselves, while providing them with the support for doing it”. Well, he has certainly achieved this mission with this passionate book…calling even the most frustrated entrepreneurs to start dreaming big about what they want for their businesses and their lives. As with The E-Myth Books, Gerber makes this simple and just a great read. You can read the entire book on a Saturday afternoon (while sipping hot tea or coffee in your snuggly robe, but after you read it, you are going to want a hot night out on the town dressed to the nines, because the book will set your soul on fire!) Truly inspiring!.

Curiosity: The Forgotten Leadership Skill

I was thinking yesterday about an exercise that I was given one time to spend one day asking questions only (and not giving advice or any answers). I have to say that it was one of the most challenging activities I have been given. As a leadership consultant, I make a living by asking questions but when asked to live a day by only asking questions and being genuinely curious, this seemed to be a lot harder than I had thought it would be.

After one day of this activity, I realized how much I was missing out on. By not asking questions, I was missing some very important information from my family, friends and colleagues. The dialogue was so much richer and deeper through my curiosity.

In my work with leaders, I cannot help but notice that many don’t ask questions…they give advice and answers. Curiosity seems to be a leadership skill which is often forgotten (or it has never been considered by many to be a leadership skill in the first place), so it has me wondering “Why”?

As you read this blog entry, consider this question “What is it that causes you to want to give answers and advice and not ask questions?” and “How would your life as a leader be different if you invested 75% of your time asking questions and 25% of your time giving answers?” Send me a comment and let me know your thoughts..

Keeping Leadership and Research at Home: Article on Business Week

The article dates back to January of 2007, but it’s relevance is still quite strong:

Keeping Leadership and Research at Home

“Nine leaders offer their opinions on what the U.S. should do to hold onto its braintrust and stay on the cutting edge of innovation”

Even though the article discusses strategies specifically for the United States, the focus on education and continuing education is something that I find many seasoned leaders take for granted in their organizations.  There seems to be an assumption that people are “skilled enough” or that training offered one time a year will keep employees inspired and competitive.  Quite frankly, I don’t believe this position is going to get anyone very far into the future.  Ongoing education (both formal and informal) is not only going to be required for employees, employers are going to be asked to develop a first in class ongoing training and development program which keeps members of the organization one step ahead of the rest of the world.     This article shares some very cutting edge suggestions (Example:  “Open Source Education”).

As we move into the next 3-5 years, this article is a must read for any leader in any corner of the world..