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…

The Quiet Price of Entrepreneurship

Read a selection of articles in most business publications and you will, undoubtedly, find more than a handful that explicitly or implicitly refer to entrepreneurs as stalwart heroes in some form or fashion. While there may be some level of “courage” (comfort with risk, ability to thrive in nebulous situations, ability to envision a future state that others can not, etc.) the overwhelming amount of content of this nature continues to reinforce a myth about entrepreneurs as mighty warriors who don’t blink in the face of danger. Adding further to this cycle, especially here in America, is our national culture of showcasing success and of loving a good underdog story.

Unfortunately, showcasing successful underdog entrepreneurs who have “made it” doesn’t really tell the full story. For every success there are multiple examples of failure- each one leaving indelible scars on those involved. For some, these failures may serve as the inspiration to try and try again while, for others, it may result in wounds that become insurmountable. Furthermore, even the entrepreneurs who do make it, in most cases, do so at the expense of many things in their lives, each adding stresses to them as individuals that are difficult to measure. Read More…

Why Articulating A Clear Vision Is Critical For Entrepreneurs?

A few years ago I used a phone app, called Shapr, to expand my social circles, to make new connections, learn new things and enjoy a conversation or two. I met aspiring artists and entrepreneurs who were looking to start a business or were already working on one. They shared their stories and inquired into pro-bono consulting to help them with building their ventures.

In many instances my initial question was, “Where do you want to go with this idea and what are you creating?” Oftentimes, my Shapr’s friends could not clearly respond and this, initially, left me somewhat confused. If I was confused from the start, how would their customers (or potential customers) react?

Compelling vision and mission statements have the ability to provide clarity and direction with regard to why a business exists, what purpose it serves and what value it brings to its stakeholders. Not being able to clearly articulate this can obviously make it difficult to get people on board with your ideas.  Read More…

Innovation, Tradition, And Striking The Balance

My son turns eleven today. We are all set to celebrate as we always do – our kids love the traditions that come with birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, college football, and too many other events to mention. The house is decorated exactly the same for every birthday. I’m told they love it that way. There will be a special dinner, as always.

All this tradition and consistency got me thinking. My children certainly love new things and surprises: new adventures, trips to unknown places, crazy experiences. And still, for a handful of personal milestones, they seem to want- to need- something familiar and dependable. Certainly, that is to be expected. New experiences bring excitement, anticipation of something unknown, and the possibility of “total awesomeness” (which, I have to imagine, is what the kids are saying nowadays.) Those traditions, the patterns sought out by their own brains, bring them a sense of stability, safety, and comfort. See my recent innovation webinar for more on this. Read More…

Creating Lasting Impact As An Interim Leader

I remember growing up in the days when having a substitute teacher for the day meant watching a movie instead of moving forward with the planned content for the day. At the time, it left me with nearly the same feeling as a coveted snow day.

In the business world, stepping in as an interim leader can sometimes feel like you’re the substitute teacher, left to mind the store until a “real” leader steps in. I feel for substitute teachers and anyone stepping into a leadership role temporarily as they often feel somewhat powerless to act in the fear that they may break something.

Interim leadership roles can certainly come with their challenges, but these situations can also provide unforeseen opportunities that you otherwise may have missed.

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How Do I Communicate Better In My Workplace? Try Saying “Amen” At The Beginning Of A Meeting – Not The End

How can I communicate better with my team?  How can I run a better meeting?  How do I make sure my people are “present”?

Try saying “Amen” at the beginning of the meeting, not the end.

We’ve all been there.  As people finally straggle into a meeting it inevitably begins to look like the beginning of some prayer session.  Heads are bowed, the attendees looking down at their hands, reverently silent.  At first, it looks like church – then we see the furrowed brows – and the telltale thumbs and fingers flying.  Texts fly into cyberspace and pages on social media are frenetically swept aside.

Everyone is in the room, but many are not “present.”

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How Do I Communicate Better In The Office And My Workplace? The Impact Of A Hand-Written Note

My nephew attended Basic Training with the U.S. Army. The day he walked into the processing center, the drill instructors confiscated and safely secured his cell phone. They offered no Internet or email access.  Sounds a bit anachronistic, doesn’t it?

In a word: No.

The U.S. Army still realizes the power of other forms of communication, including the hand-written letter or note. It might be time for the business world to remember what the Army has never forgotten.

Consider this. My nephew worked long and difficult hours, associating with other soldiers who just weeks previously had been strangers from diverse backgrounds around the United States. The goal of the Army is to instill discipline and knowledge to their new recruits, yes, but it is about something much more important. It is about creating a primary group of human beings who work to understand each other and grow as a community that is mutually supportive and ready to assist in even the most dangerous situations. If the business community was this focused on creation of a primary group, how different might things be?

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