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Culture Change is a Complex Process

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The Power Of One: Focus In A Fragmented World

Entrepreneurs juggle a lot of balls, no doubt. The culmination of the many items that demand our attention on a day-to-day basis and the multitude of stressors that come along with the lifestyle we have chosen can make it seem impossible to focus our attention on any one thing for long.

Not only does this make our lives take on a frenetic tempo but it can also have other, long-lasting negative impacts on our organizations and ourselves. Let’s explore why trying to focus on multiple things at once doesn’t really work all that well considering what we’re trying to accomplish. Read More…

Getting The Most From Your Investment In Leader Coaching

Businesses today are investing significantly in developing leadership and management talent, and leader coaching is increasingly becoming a core component of development programs. If you are making decisions about how to leverage coaching for leader development, there are lots of variables to consider. And there is a lot at stake – what leaders learn and achieve through a leader development program can impact hundreds, perhaps thousands of others in your organization.

Today, most leader coaching is targeted at developing the capabilities of high-potential performers. Having built leadership coaching programs in two organizations, and being a practicing executive coach, I want to share some observations and advice with those responsible for facilitating leader developing programs, specifically around selecting and using coaches.

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Leadership Lessons I Learned from My First Sergeant (Part I)

As an Army officer, I technically out-ranked any enlisted man.  That included the first sergeant, the ranking non-commissioned officer in any company.

Technicalities aside, my WWII veteran father had educated me early that the first sergeant was really the guy in charge.   The opportunity, my Dad told me, was to learn from the first sergeant.  I’m glad I did.

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Leading in a Disruptive World

The cover of WIRED magazine this past month read “How to Survive the Great Tech Panic of 2017”, touching on topics like robot overlords, self-driving cars, cyber warfare, comment trolls, cyber attacks, privacy breaches, Ransomware, text neck, nuke hacks and artificial intelligence.

It’s no doubt that this disruptive digital era has created a more complex business environment for brands as customers today are more engaged and connected. A company’s ability to remain agile, open and responsive in order to develop deeper ties to clients is being tested in unprecedented ways, impacting all industries and disciplines. Fortunately, these technologies have the potential to be growth enablers for businesses and leadership teams, helping serve clients and better interpret their needs more effectively.

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A Culture Without Walls

We recently reached out to Chatbooks for an interview focused on storytelling, but talking deeper with their CMO, Rachel Hofstetter, we learned how amazing this brand really is. The values they operate by actively guide the way the company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment. Their values-based culture results in high employee involvement, strong internal communication and a healthy level of risk-taking which encourages new levels of innovation. If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, Chatbooks is an example of the significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture.

Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that must be set, or adjusted, to attain long-term, sustainable success.

A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates.

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Organizational Artifacts And The Reshaping Of History

As Winston Churchill once proclaimed, “History is written by the victors.” While this sentiment may hold a bit less weight in today’s society where even the “losers” can shape the collective narrative with the help of things like the internet, the “winners” do tend to hold quite a bit of power over shaping how future generations interpret the events of the past.

One way to shape peoples’ interpretation of the past is to remove and replace the physical artifacts of a people. The statues, monuments, images, the schoolbooks and stories that do not align with the version of history that you wish to promote. Read More…

The Leader As Coach: Building On Contact And Connection

Leaders serve in many roles.  Yes, they must do the mundane but necessary chores of managing assets and balance sheets, but their most important work is to inspire others.  And that involves the leader serving as a teacher, as a mentor, and as a coach.

Often we know how to teach others.   And we routinely provide mentoring by setting an example and being available to nurture those around us.  In my experience in industry, though, I have found the coaching piece to be the most difficult role for leaders to assume.

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Weathering An Organizational Storm

$16-billion dollar weather disasters have affected the US this year, from January – October. And the year isn’t over. We all knew someone, or personally experienced these events – from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to the more recent wildfires in California. These traumatic events have taken a physical and emotional toll on many.

Living in Florida, hurricane season is one we plan for and anticipate every year. But always with a wait and see mentality. This year may be quiet, with little impact to our homes, or it may be the year where we experience the storm of the century. Having just watched the unexpected impact of hurricane Harvey to our neighbors across the Gulf, here in Florida, we watched the path of hurricane Irma with great anxiety. In the days before hurricane Irma was scheduled to make landfall, Governor Scott called for a State of Emergency. The skies were blue, social and professional events went on as scheduled, but the environment was charged. Water became scarce in the stores. Group chats permeated social media. We all accessed the local news channels and apps with more frequency as we sought the most up-to-date information on the direction of the storm, and the potential impact to different regions of the state of Florida. Who would be impacted, how badly, and when? Read More…

3 Ways To Help Fix A Broken Company Culture

I once worked with a CEO of a successful startup. His company had been experiencing growing pains and customer-service mishaps that led to a decline in performance. During a leadership meeting designed to review recent irregular operations, he raised his hand and took ownership of the problem with a blunt assessment.

“The fish stinks at the head,” he said.

In other words, the organizational issues stemmed from leadership errors. These mistakes at the top of an organization can easily trickle down to create cultural issues throughout the team.

Companies undergo cultural assessments for a variety of reasons—and they’re not always because things have gone awry. A company might have a great culture that it wants to preserve during a growth phase. Or it might want to evolve the company’s culture to keep pace with a leadership change, market shift or relocation.

Other times, companies need to know why something unexpected has happened. Leaders might be trying to address increased turnover, decreased market share, a drop in productivity or something as major as ethical violations. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always understand what the aforementioned CEO identified: Organizational issues often go much deeper than culture. Read More…

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