Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

In 100 Words: Obsessing Over Big Ideas

Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by AdvisorCatalyst

Big Ideas are grand! Some leaders obsess over finding the next Big Idea. The latest company that races from concept to billion-dollar valuation captures our imagination. Strategy conversations spice up the humdrum of business. Leaders can become distracted pursuing new Big Ideas. Take note, there is a little secret with Big Ideas – you only need a few because the right ones remain true over time (e.g., faster delivery, more individualized service, exclusive prestige). Clarify your existing Big Ideas which will remain true over time. Invest to increase capabilities around those Big Ideas. In short, obsess over executing your Big Ideas!

“A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.” Jeff Bezos

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In 100 Words: Appreciation is Free

Friday, December 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

Sincere appreciation must rank as one of the most underutilized resources available to leaders. Other than some time, showing appreciation rarely costs us anything, yet we generally don’t express it frequently enough. On the flip side, we cherish receiving appreciation – we enjoy being recognized as someone of value who is contributing something of value.

It’s hard to express appreciation without a few pre-conditions:

• Care about the other person – truly care.
• Cultivate a thankful attitude.
• Maintain a generous spirit.

Don’t be stingy. Be quick to praise and recognize people in your life. Express it warmly – verbally or in writing. Freely appreciate!

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles M. Schwab

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In 100 Words: Bring Others With You (Change Spark-Part 2)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

How often do you coach, demand or incentivize people you lead to change? Stop these efforts – at least until you lead by example and change some of your own behaviors. Often leaders simply forget the power of example. Change is hard. When you change one or more your own ingrained habits the message is powerful and persuasive. Your call to action now has the ring of authenticity; of integrity. You demonstrate what it takes to fight through present discomfort for a better future outcome. Your example may be the spark others need to join you on a habit changing journey.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

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In 100 Words: The Change Spark

Friday, September 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

We are comfortable in our habits which makes behavior change hard. For example, medical studies confirm 90% of patients do not change their lifestyle following open heart surgery. Think of a lasting habit change you made in your life. What prompted the change? Likely there was an emotional spark – something moved you beyond simply understanding the rational benefits.

How does this connect to leading teams and organizations? Both groups are collections of people with habits. A “culture change” will only happen when individuals change behavior. What are you doing to help people you lead identify emotional sparks for habit change?

“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” Charles F. Kettering

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In 100 Words: State Your Assumptions

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

Dialogue is the path people use to shape initial ideas into decisions and actions. As different perspectives are surfaced, it is helpful for everyone to know the line of thinking behind those positions. Leaders can set an example of transparency by both articulating the assumptions behind their positions and asking clarifying questions about other’s statements. “Why are you drawing that conclusion?” “What data are you seeing?” Help people connect the dots of assumptions behind the conclusions. With this understanding, the merit of good ideas will be more apparent. Conversely, faulty thinking can be exposed and poor decisions more easily avoided.

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” Mark Twain

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In 100 Words: Inadvertent Bad Advice

Thursday, June 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

“Bring me solutions, not problems!” can be poor advice. We want people to be pro-active so the adage applies at times. Leaders, however, deal with many complex and challenging problems which either require, or benefit from, collaborative work. Collaborative work entails conversation between two or more people to surface and debate alternative solutions. One person alone will not get to the best decision.

Some people disguise complaining or laziness by merely pointing out problems. Other people, though, raise genuine issues with a desire to be actively involved in collaborative work on a solution. A wise leader discerns between the two.

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

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In 100 Words: Don’t Let Urgent Win

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

Urgent and Important spar for supremacy in our minds and work. Intentional and strategic thought and action is many times held at bay by the press of immediate demands flying at us. “I’ll get to it tomorrow” quickly becomes next week or month.

Then sometimes a person or event forces us to slow down, and we gain new perspective. We are forced to step out of the day-do-day and think more deeply. If you want to see Important win out in your work and life, consider creating forced slowdowns. Quarterly calibration sessions are one way of accomplishing this exact thing.

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Dwight D. Eisenhower (quoting an unnamed former college president in a speech)

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In 100 Words: Your First and Best Time

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by AdvisorCatalyst

Why do we spend time setting the top few quarterly priorities (a.k.a. Rocks) only to put off working on them until we get some free time? Free time will not simply appear in our schedules. To accomplish Rocks we must put in the time. This doesn’t mean all, or even the majority, of our working time has to be dedicated to Rock work.

We should, however, invest our first and best time – our first and best time each day and week. Watch results accelerate when you commit the first hour of your working day to the Rock you are leading.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell

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In 100 Words: Time for Strategy Planning

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

As leadership teams craft strategy plans for the upcoming year, they should remember the following lessons:

• There are no formulaic answers, however, you can benefit from a systematic approach to both your preparation and strategy planning conversations.

• Markets are dynamic so be disciplined in your strategy thinking. Challenge and test your basic assumptions – even if they are producing good results. Things change.

• Strategy requires clear choices and resource commitment. Each decision either reinforces or weakens the whole. The strength of how the decisions weave together form the fabric of compelling business models (think IKEA, The Container Store and Southwest Airlines).

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

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In 100 Words: Language is Important

Thursday, September 15th, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

Is your speech betraying you? I use the words speech and language loosely – I mean to encompass all personal communication. The actual words we speak account for less than 10% of our communication while the remainder is tonality and physiology – the nonverbal elements.

Language reveals our mindset and attitude about the other person(s) and the situation. Particular words, phrases or nonverbal communication can make or break outcomes of relationships, deals or projects. I try to remind myself to adjust my mindset and attitude toward the other party before engaging in communication knowing that my speech is likely to betray me.

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” — John C. Maxwell

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