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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.

Accountability | What Does It Really Mean?

Accountability comes up as one of the top 3 issues on the minds of CEOs in almost every conversation I have with them.

T hey know, deep in their bones, that unless they build an organization that embeds this elusive concept into its DNA, the chances of achieving their goals will be equally elusive.

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When does Accountability begin?

“When is it no longer my responsibility to get people to complete their assignments … and where does their responsibility to perform begin?” a North Bay CEO asked me recently.

“Your responsibility never ends … and neither does theirs,” I said.

“Your job is to work tirelessly to build accountability into the organization so that your team understands that being held accountable is the cornerstone of a strong, successful organization. It is not punitive.”

Recently, we’ve discussed personal accountability as the “singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.”

We’ve also discussed the After Action Review a valuable teaching tool that reinforces accountability and inspires a culture of continuous improvement.

An organization focused on accountability might be seen as the thread that connects our personal accountability

–talking the talk, and, the After Action Review as …

walking the walk.

But what is it, really?

What is Accountability … Really?

In simple terms, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our actions.

It’s being reliable and making certain that the commitments we make, from the perspective of others, have been kept. For a responsible culture to prevail, each of us must make certain that those commitments are honest – and honored.

At the core of accountability is the requirement to set clear expectations.

Keep reading to make sure you understand what Accountability really means

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Accountability | The 4 Key Principles of Powerful After Action Reviews

After Action Reviews are a powerful force to learn from what went right … and what went wrong.

L earn these 4 Principles to make it work for your team and organization.

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Many years ago when we lived in the Midwest, we became very good friends with a young couple down the street.

He was a fellow fraternity brother, from another college, but I remember him as a super bright physician with a unique ability to describe complex medical subjects in layman’s language.

After Action Reviews are for Learning – NOT Blame

One day, he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him on Saturday. He’d show me around, we’d have lunch, hang out.

He couldn’t leave for lunch, but he would bring along some homemade sandwiches, bologna with lots of ketchup, he said, and I could sit in his pathology lab as he performed an autopsy … and while he was cutting and sawing, we would enjoy our lunch together.

It was when he started laughing that I realized why my vision of an overloaded bologna sandwich, dripping with ketchup alongside an autopsy table, was kicking up a firestorm in my gut.

Keep reading to capture the 4 Key Principles of After Action Reviews

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The Power of Personal Accountability

The Power of One concept is not new — it’s the bedrock of everything from motivational speeches to Army One.

S o, why not begin by setting an example of personal accountability that can be emulated throughout your organization?

the power of personal accountability

There’s an entire industry devoted to the power we have over our destiny.

In the context of Becoming a More Effective Leader, you can view the Power of One as a series of concentric circles that ripple outward from the center … from where you stand as a business leader.

God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference. ~ Reinhold Nieburh

With a jittery economy and an historical presidential election on the horizon, we’ve been inundated with economic data, shards of doubt and glimmers of hope. While we can’t ignore these external forces, we can’t allow them to deter our commitment to reclaiming control of our agenda.

It all starts with Personal Accountability

As a result, there’s no better topic with which to start than Personal Accountability, the singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.

Keep reading to learn more about the Power of One ….

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Rip Off that Mask. Let’s See Who’s Really Responsible for All of This?

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed how it’s possible for different cultures to produce equally profound results.

H ow do you create a mindset where everyone takes full responsibility for their actions and refuses to blame outside forces for failure or disappointment?

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Déjà vu all over again?

How often have you heard that phrase banging against your skull … and how often was it telling you …

“I’ve been here before.”

“Didn’t we already solve this problem?”

“Why does this subject keep coming up all the time?”

Why do these issues keep resurfacing?

We’ve been talking about culture and accountability over the last few weeks, and as I’m sure in your experience, you’ve already discovered how often so many of these issues continue to be the same challenges year after year.

They’re constantly resurfacing, often in disguise as a different issue altogether … but really, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

Have we become dumb and dumberer?

Why do these same issues keep popping up like whack-a-moles?

Continue reading to see who to hold accountable for what happens next …

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The Four Common Features of Equally Successful but Different Cultures

We’ve been exploring the impact of different cultures and how they affect our organizations.

W hat are the common threads shared by these radically different cultures that you can apply to make your company equally successful?

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“Lary, give this customer a call. We’ve just received an unauthorized return, and I want these shoes sent back. Funny how the green shoes they bought don’t fit and the red ones fit perfectly.”

It wasn’t uncommon for the Chairman of company North (remember, “N” for “Nasty”?) to stop by my office with a message like this. His remarks were actually a code:

“The red shoes sold well but the green ones the customer bought aren’t selling … so now they’re claiming they don’t fit so they can return them. We’ve had no other such complaints. Tell them we won’t accept them and ship them back.”

I made a note to contact the customer, figuring I’d call them after lunch when I would be more likely to catch them three time zones away. No e-mail back then.

Unexpectedly, the Chairman returned to my office 20 minutes later to ask,

“What did they say?”

The first few times this happened I asked,

“Who?” …

failing to make the connection he expected.

While I learned the nuances of merchandising economics with these examples, what I finally realized was that the Chairman expected me to drop everything and call them immediately.

He wasn’t happy,

“What else are you doing?”,

and after a few unpleasant encounters, I finally caught on.

Don’t miss the 4 Common Threads that bind successful companies

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Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results? Part 2.

Last week, in Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?, I posed the question: If measured by financial performance, can dramatically different organizations be equally successful?

I n this short series about culture development, we’ll take a look at how sound business principles and cultural patterns often collide within an organization’s walls.

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How can opposing cultures both succeed?

In many ways, it doesn’t seem fair that both charitable and churlish cultures can thrive.

It’s easy to embrace the benevolent culture created by Sid Rich (we’ll call it Company South, “S” for Sid) as profiled in the first article in this series.

His company deserves to be successful.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was the company you worked for?

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. ~ Albert Einstein

What if you’re stuck on the other side of the tracks?

Contrarily, when you look across the aisle at the rough and tumble world of Company North (“N” for Nasty), highlighted by temper tantrums, public floggings and a petulant devotion to spending a dime on anything, we’re either glad we’re not working there … or wishing we didn’t.

Some powerful lessons are evident as we compare and contrast these companies, their styles and culture, although some lessons are not very inviting.

continue reading to see some of these cultural differences

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Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?

There’s more emphasis every day on the value and influence of culture on business success.

W hat does it mean if your culture is dysfunctional and your employees think it’s a train wreck?

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“He threw a lead crystal ashtray at his son’s head?“ I asked. ”Thank God he missed.”

“He threw his secretary’s typewriter through a second story window – it wasn’t open – into a parking lot full of cars below?”

These are just a few of the stories I heard after I joined the firm.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ever feel like you were a galley slave?

In short order, I recognized that the company’s cultural ancestors probably included a toga-clad, sweat-drenched galleon driver pounding out a cadence of “ramming speed” with a wooden mallet.

Their cost-containment strategy was medieval.

Keep reading to capture some of the most important elements of a great culture

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Are you the Architect for Tomorrow for Your Business

I hope you’re always examining what may be holding you back from being a Leader Worth Following.

O ne challenge you must overcome is to set the Vision for your company.

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I finally got a chance to watch the movie, Creed, the latest movie in the Rocky series.

Rocky is retired, running a restaurant appropriately named “Adrian’s. Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, the world champion who Rocky defeated, showed up on his doorstep one day.

He had been rescued from a juvenile detention center by the wife of his deceased father. He finally got his life together but had a fire in his belly to follow his father into the ring.

Who’s Your Enemy?

In one of the landmark scenes, Rocky puts Adonis in front of a mirror to do some shadow boxing. When he gets close to the mirror, Rocky peers over Adonis’ shoulder, points at Adonis’ image in the mirror and speaks these words:

keep reading to get started on creating a vision for your company

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Four Sports Metaphors to Make you a More Effective Leader.

The simple things in life are often the most important … and the most memorable.

T hese are swing thoughts you can put to work immediately … and with powerful results.

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Who can say it better than Yogi …

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”,

“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken”,

“I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”

Yes, I know, you’re disappointed this week that I’m not talking about Newton’s Third Law of Motion or The Key to Understanding Quantum Physics … but my brain needs a rest … and I’m still straining with every molecule in my body to understand what Newton’s talking about.

When in doubt – sports.

Sports in this country have become a glutinous conundrum of romance, excitement and heroes, leavened with money, big egos and scandals.

Yet, sports are uniquely imbedded in our culture, and we can still glean valuable lessons from them.

Let me share with you 4 Powerful Sports Metaphors that will help you become a More Effective Leader

To scoop up these 4 nuggets or leave a comment, please click here

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