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Leadership LibraryI have written more than 300 articles about Leadership, about 1/3 of which have been published by the SF affiliate of the New York Times. You can focus here on specific issues including Communication, Compensation, Governance, Entrepreneurship, Performance, Planning, and Recruiting

Please check out the Featured Articles from our Leadership Library to get you started.

The Single Word That Dooms Every Apology

Last week, when we discussed the The 6 Powerful Benefits of Admitting Your Mistakes, we focused more on the admission than the apology.

You might think the apology is the easy part of admitting your mistakes, but it’s often more flawed than the mistake itself.


The Admission AND The Apology

You might think the apology portion of the equation is super simple, but haven’t we seen countless examples of apologies that were defensive and full of excuses?

How many apologies have you heard … or offered … that after the apology starts, it continues with … “but ….” and the beginning of an explanation for why it wasn’t really your fault, there were extenuating circumstances beyond your control, blah blah blah.

Do you think the offended party inhaled that as the most humble and meaningful apology they ever heard … or did they more likely walk away thinking you weren’t really that sorry?

Typically, apologies are the ideal preamble to our admission of mistakes, and there are three critical elements that must be present.


The 6 Powerful Benefits of Admitting Your Mistakes

Go ahead. Raise your hand if you’ve never made a mistake

If your hand isn’t up, how willing are you to own and admit your mistakes?

What’s the Difference Between a Lie and a Mistake?

If you make a mistake and are not corrected, this is called a mistake. ~ Confucius

Before we get too far, let’s distinguish between failing to admit a mistake and actually lying.

I’m not sure of the provenance of this nugget, but it helps to make the distinction:

  • When an error is made unintentionally, it is a mistake.
  • When an error is made intentionally, it is a lie.
  • When a mistake is pointed out, but still clung to, it becomes a lie.

This is NOT about lying or covering up illicit activity, say, the example of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, which was a deliberate effort to cheat U.S. emissions standards. The Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme and the Lance Armstrong doping scandal are among the countless other events born with a deliberate lie to conceal illicit activity.

Today, I’m going to show you why admitting your mistakes … promptly and unprompted … is the only way to Become a More Effective Leader.


Monday’s Quote of the Week

If you don't have any shadows, you're not standing in the light. ~ Lady Gaga

You can interpret this in many ways … but for me, it means that it’s okay if some things don’t go well or that you make mistakes.

If you are in the Spotlight of Leadership, whether as an artist or a business leader, you will only cast a shadow if you let the light shine upon you and are willing to be authentic and imperfect.

So, get out there!

Stand under the hot lights.

Stand upright.

Face the music.

Do your best.

Belt it out … and let the shadows fall.

You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.


The 7 Attributes of an Olympic Class Organization

Being a winner … and staying a winner … sounds a lot easier than it is.

MMost of us who played any sport over the years has learned there’s a very fine line between victory and “almost.”

The 7 Attributes of an Olympic Class Organization

How Fast is a Flash of Time?

Most of us know that the difference among the greatest athletes in any sport is a very narrow margin.

While there is an overabundance of trophy-giving these days just for participating, we know that people will soon tire of just “participating” if they are never “winning”.

Can you identify what’s common among the items I’ve described below?

  • It lasts about 300 to 400 milliseconds.
  • It occurs about 10 to 20 times per minute.
  • Over the course of a day, excluding about 8 hours of sleep, it amounts to about an hour and 20 minutes on average, a fair chunk of time in our waking day.
  • If you consider that the universe is about 14 billion years old, it lasts about 54,000 years would pass by during any given span of those milliseconds. 

Some might argue that we can’t see anything during such a short period.

What period is that?

Simply the blink of your eye.

What’s the Difference between Victory & Defeat?

keep reading to get the Olympic Attributes Assessment Form…


The 3 Words You Never Want to Hear: “Prepare for Impact” | 5 Mission Critical Instruments To Keep Your Business Airborne

What would you do if you heard these 3 words?

More importantly, what can you do to make sure you never hear them at all?

What You Can’t See CAN Hurt You.

You probably remember the chilling three-word statement issued by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, memorialized in the movie starting Tom Hanks which re-enacts the incredible 2009 successful emergency landing of an Airbus A320 full of passengers on the Hudson River:

Prepare For Impact

On another level, the recent movie, Jackie, which centers around the period immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, reminded me of different airplane tragedy that turned out differently, claiming the life of Jackie’s beloved son, JFK Jr.

He wasn’t a professional pilot like Captain Sullenberger, and unfortunately, overreached his capability as a private pilot when he met his death in inclement weather on the way to Martha’s Vineyard with his wife and her sister in the summer of 1999.

What Could JFK, Jr. Have Done Differently?


If You’re Not Doing What Only YOU Can Do, Why Are You Here?

The last time I looked, you’re the only YOU there is.

Are you make sure you’re doing the things that ONLY YOU CAN DO?

What about … What Only YOU Can Do?

Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken. ~Oscar Wilde

As an experienced leadership coach leading a group of CEOs and working with other senior executives, I’m constantly reminding every leader to focus more intensely on what only YOU can do.

A.G. Lafley is the former, two-time CEO of Procter & Gamble, who has written and spoken extensively on this topic. You can find a transcript of one of his speeches here, and register to read a more extensive Harvard Business Review article. It will be well worth your time.

Whatever your leadership level, there are certain things that only you can do … and if you don’t, no one will … and it will really help you focus on this critical variable in your leadership level to take a close look at this landmark article.

There is no substitute for YOU.

Make sure you can always answer these 10 Questions

keep reading so you can nail down these 10 questions …


When In Doubt, Ignore the Darkness. Fly Toward the Light.

For every storm cloud, there’s a ray of sunshine.

But what if there is no light at all? How do we navigate a dark sky when there is no visible alternative?

Fly to the Light

Just after obtaining his pilot’s license, a dear friend from the Midwest found himself surrounded by unexpected thunderstorms.

He clambered for every streak of sunshine he could find, ultimately zigzagging his way to a safe landing.

Here’s what he so eloquently shared about that experience:


The 4 Essential Practices Required to Finish What You Started | Amazon’s Success

Remember this about Sir Isaac Newton because his 2nd Law has a powerful insight that will help you streamline your business processes and accelerate your growth.

Amazon has one obsessive focus that has helped them achieve online dominance. What is it?

Amazon accounted for 43% of all 2016 Online Revenue

New data from Slice Intelligence shows that Amazon’s innovation is paying off:

“Spending with Amazon – including sales from first and third party sales, Amazon.com and Prime Now – accounts for 43 percent of all the revenue generated in the U.S. online market in 2016. Even more astonishing, Amazon accounted for 53 percent of all online sales growth in the United States. No small feat as e-commerce grew by 24 percent last year, and will likely account for 10 percent of consumer sales in 2017.”

Astonishing is right, and with a market value of $370 Billion, Amazon is on a roll.

How do you account for their meteoric success?


Skip the Double Talk. Say What You Mean. Mean What You Say.

Magicians are pretty amazing, aren’t they?

They do stuff right in front of our eyes … we’re on the edge of our seats … expecting the unexpected … and even then we have no idea how they just did what they did.

How Did He Do That?

Watch Apollo Robbins, the best pickpocket it in the world, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Somehow, he gets you to look one way while he’s doing something else right in front of you … and you completely miss it.

What kind of magic are we good at? We’re pretty good at turning words on ourselves.

Collateral Damage” is one example, a euphemism for what happens to you and me when we step onto the wrong field at the wrong time.

A lot of damage can also get done in your business when you use a euphemism for a particular business challenge which obscures the real issue.

Before we get there, however, allow me to provide a preamble that demonstrates how deeply embedded this form of double-talk is in our society.


How Will You Prevent The Toxic Flavor of Public Discourse From Infecting Your Culture?

We have successfully dispatched decency standards from the public conversation.

How will you stay on the high road in your organization while the public discourse has reached a new low.

The Image is Jarring, Isn’t It?

I debated using the image you see above, but I decided to include it so that you’re clear I’m not sugar-coating this subject.

I want you to pay attention and make sure this doesn’t reflect the culture you’re building.

Setting high standards and strong values is a cornerstone of a successful company.

I want you to be “looking” so you don’t let the vulgar and disrespectful standards of our public discourse bleed into your culture and damage everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

What is “Conduct Unbecoming”?

Conduct unbecoming ….

Throughout my service as a US Army officer, this phrase was constantly invoked as the prism through which we were expected to live the examined life. Since so many behaviors could be interpreted as “conduct unbecoming”, it kept us focused on the highest standard we could achieve as officers.

about creating a Code of Conduct …