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Productivity Tip | 4 Ground Rules to Make Sure You Reach the Summit

Break the impasse. Reach the Summit.

Too often we set these BHAGs (“Big Hairy Audacious Goals”) but don’t create the milestones and timelines that give us a chance of achieving them. Put these 4 Ground Rules into action to make sure you reach the summit. 

Set up Base Camps to Reach your Goal

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Today is one of those occasions when I’m not sure what this article is about … so I’m going to let you decide.

“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent.” — Steve Martin

Is it about resolve, our ability to persevere, to vigorously pursue an idea, uncover its value to our business and set out to relentlessly apply it?

Or, is it about execution, our ability to follow proven processes to implement sustainable change in our business?

Didn’t Mom teach us to take small steps?

It was probably our moms who first taught us to break down a big task … like cleaning our room … into smaller steps, like “hang up your jacket, put your shoes in the closet,” so that we would ultimately accomplish the bigger goal.

Did we need that coaching because we hadn’t resolved to do it in the first place and mom was on to us?

Or were we so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that we didn’t know how or where to start? (more…)

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Leadership Lessons: Wild & Crazy Guys or Masters of our Domain?

What Does It Take to be a Great Leader?

Nothing in life travels in a neat formation accompanied by bugles and cavalry.

A lot of it shows up filthy and unkempt, prominent in the mess we’ve made around our foxhole.

These lessons are typically the offspring of hubris, naivete and ignorance … or from overlooking the land mines hidden beneath our feet.

We’re sharing valuable and practical leadership tips and tools to help you BECOME a better leader.

First, you must start BEING a better leader  … implementing NOW the changes necessary to adopt the proven strategies of successful leaders. You might start by building on the communication matrix and making sure you’re defending the castle to get done what only you can do. Make some time so you’re thinking past today.

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I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

~ Justice Earl Warren

Get in the game. Enjoy the Ride.

Enthusiastic Leaders

The week just ended is my favorite sports week of the year. Some of you will say, “Nah, you got your calendar mixed up. Baseball season opened the previous week.”

Of course, I could say, “but the home opener for the Giants was that week” and then you’d say, “OK, so you’re a big Giants fan. I get it.”

A few of you may suspect that’s not the reason. Not that I don’t love the World Champion San Francisco Giants and all … but honestly? That didn’t even occur to me as I braced for the greatest sports week of the year.

What’s not to like?

There are a lot of reasons why I love the week that just ended. (more…)

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The 12 Pains of Christmas

There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.  Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them. — P.J. O’Rourke

The holidays are here and we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to get it all done. So, instead of asking you to work at something – anything – I’ve decided to give you a gift of holiday music. Elmo did it, so did Ren & Stimpy, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, the Muppets … so with animated competition like this, what can go wrong with my first effort at song-writing?

Yeah, I know, don’t quit your day job. So, feel free to sing along to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. Key of D Sharp, please.

All together now:

The first thing in business that’s such a pain to me… is the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The second thing in business that’s such a pain to me … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The third thing in business that’s such a pain to me … meetings, meetings, meetings … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The fourth thing in business that’s such a pain to me(more…)

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Leadership Insight | Building Consensus does not Build Success

Building Consensus ≠ Building Success

I have been working with a young CEO who recently acceded to her company’s leadership.

She was the successor to a more authoritarian regime and found herself working overtime to establish a more collaborative and less hierarchical environment.

She wanted to bring people to the table, encourage a stronger cultural bond among her employees and build a more inclusive culture that valued the contribution of each individual.

People welcomed those changes with open arms, eager to embrace a culture they much preferred.

Is it healthy if your leadership team agrees with everything you want?

What emerged along with a more engaging and transparent culture, however, was a cadre of executives so eager to please their new leader, and to be a part of her leadership team, that they acquiesced to every idea and plan. (more…)

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Leadership Insight | Collaboration Won’t Overcome Poor Communication

“Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words.

~ T. S. Matthews

 

Communication = Collaboration ≠ Consensus

One of the most popular words in the business lexicon these days is collaboration.

Everyone seems eager to flatten the organization, get rid of hierarchy, eliminate command-and-control structures and collaborate across broad multifunctional teams.

Wow! That’s quite an objective, isn’t it. But do we really understand collaboration and why it’s become such a ubiquitous battle cry?

(more…)

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Leadership Insight | First rule of a mistake: Admit it

“A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet,

strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you

when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie.”

~ Charles Edward Montague

 

Everyone makes mistakes. 

We know this for a fact, don’t we? It’s pretty clear —like crystal.

Why are we are so unwilling to admit our mistakes?

So, why do so many persist in their insistence that they did no wrong?

Despite the lessons that cover the waterfront — from Watergate to the Catholic Church — the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

What appeared to be minor tributaries turned into a rushing river of a failed presidency and international scandal, yet the stream of lies and denial from those who fail to heed these lessons continues unabated in both our public and private lives.

The truth will never come out … will it?

For some reason, we persist in believing that the truth will never come out. (more…)

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Leadership | The 7 Attributes of World Class Organizations

What can you accomplish in a flash of time?

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, about 54,000 years would pass by during any given span of those milliseconds. 

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

Yes, all that happens in the blink of an eye … about 1/3 of a second.

It ain’t much but in those small fractions, a lot can occur.

(more…)

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Leadership Insight | Don’t Gamble with the Storm Clouds

“There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

 

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:

“That principle is a metaphor for my life. It seems that I have always flown to the light. If there was resistance or a combination of obstacles, I just vectored my way between them or around them. That approach is superior to flying blindly into clouds. You never know what’s in the cloud or on the other side of it. There could be another plane or there could be a bolt of lightening. You just never know. (more…)

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Leadership | Flying blind? Assume Crash Position!

What you can’t see can do the most damage

Weren’t you heartbroken over the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.?

We recently finished a three-day soiree with our long time friends from Boston, who we have visited frequently on Martha’s Vineyard where their family has had a home for more than 100 years.

As usual, the conversation turned to island lore, Fall from Grace, the mystery novel from Richard North Patterson, which takes place on the island (andwhich I highly recommend), … and inevitably to the Kennedy folklore and the tragic death of JFK Jr.

Is it hubris that drives us into the storm clouds?

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” ~ Jonathan Swift

My wife has had a lifelong interest in the family side of the Kennedy dynasty, so she was enthralled by a factoid we hadn’t heard before … (more…)

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Leadership Lessons | Do you need your own “Bonfire of the Vanities”?

“There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.”

– Mark Twain

 

Do You Need to Start Your Own Bonfire?

Barely 500 years ago, Girolamo Savonarola was an outspoken and strident critic of the current order, angrily vilifying the worldly possessions that tempted people to become sinners.

He was ultimately excommunicated from the Catholic church, condemned for heresy, stripped of his priestly garments, hanged, and his body burned in the town square in Florence, Italy, a stark and ignominious ending to a life committed to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. (more…)

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