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Guest post from Christine Comaford:

Tania is a brilliant CEO of a super successful accounting firm. Carlos, her VP of operations, is a bright and solid asset to the firm. But sometimes Tania and Carlos clash big time, especially when Tania wants faster results and shorter timelines on client projects. Then Carlos slows down—fast results to him mean poor quality and possible problems in client care, which he also owns. So as Carlos gets more cautious, Tania gets more impatient and massively triggered. She feels unsafe and starts to micromanage Carlos, who then rebels, feels unappreciated, and grinds to a halt. He will not make a client-facing mistake. Period.

Tania and Carlos want the same thing: high-quality work delivered to clients in a timely manner. But they both have needs that they need to tune into: Carlos’s is safety, and Tania’s is safety and mattering. When Carlos’s needs aren’t honored, he cannot take action. When Tania’s needs aren’t honored, she feels devalued. As a result, projects are delayed, and unhappy clients call Tania, who then gets more upset. She and Carlos lose even more trust in one another, and Tania feels unsafe selling more client engagements because, what if they are delivered late?

The team gets confused and thinks, “Wait a sec! We have these huge leaderboards showing our sales, quality, and client deliverable deadlines. So why are we selling less? Delivering late? Questioning quality?” Half of the team goes into panic and fight or flight, while the other half freezes. They’re all in what I call Critter State—the reptilian/mammalian brain hijack where a person reacts from fear versus choice.

This scenario is a perfect example of the big negative repercussions a business can experience when leaders’ needs aren’t honored. Although Carlos and Tania wanted the same thing, their individual needs were slightly different, and they made different negative meaning when these conflicts arose. As a result, client relationships were at risk, the team lost confidence and panicked, and the drive for sales decreased.

What Kills Your Performance Can Ultimately Catapult It

What happens inside you when someone you’re counting on drops the ball? Do you crave safety as Carlos does? Or safety and mattering as Tania does? Or something else?

For Tania to become more emotionally agile, she needed to first identify the core “right” she felt she didn’t have that was throwing fuel on the behavioral fire. Then she needed to raise her overall behavioral baseline so that she could gradually respond from choice rather than compulsively reacting when a trigger event occurred. That way, Tania could create an environment where she experienced more control, confidence, and support—in comparison to her current world of chaos fueled by excessive controlling and constantly mistrusting Carlos.

To achieve this, I coached her to determine which Organismic Rights[i]  she felt weren’t being met. Organismic Rights are our basic human rights that are established during our early life experiences. They determine where a person will have behavioral struggles as they move through life. Put simply, like all of us, Tania had her own set of “growth areas” to work on. They were governing her behavior and hindering her performance—and she was totally unaware of them.

Until Tania and Carlos were appreciated as human beings doing the best they could, they would continually be triggered by one another, and the business would suffer.

Imagine a newborn baby entering the world. He or she is forced to adapt quickly. The psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich observed a series of stages through which all human beings must pass on their way to full body maturation, referred to as Organismic Rights. The more fully developed they are, the more that individuals can express themselves with greater aliveness and creativity (what I call the Smart State, where all 3 key parts of our brain are working together and we have behavioral choice). The less developed, the more likely they will operate in the Critter State.
            The Five Organismic Rights are these:
1.    The right to exist
2.    The right to have needs
3.    The right to take action
4.    The right to have consequences for one’s actions
5.    The right to love and be loved

Organismic Rights Behavior Decoder

Organismic Right
Behavior in Critter State
What You Might Crave
How You Can Shift into Smart State
How You Can Help Another Shift into Smart State
To exist
If a person plays small, keeps their head down, tries to be invisible, or becomes silent in times of conflict, chances are they don’t experience having the right to exist.
Safety, Mattering
Acknowledging yourself and letting yourself be seen by proactively communicating and participating, intentionally taking a role.
Acknowledging them, including them, giving them a role.
To have needs
If a person frequently puts others’ needs before their own, self-sacrifices, “takes one for the team” repeatedly, or doesn’t actually know what they want, chances are they don’t experience having the right to have needs.

Mattering, Belonging
Being present and asking for what you need specifically, letting people know what you can’t do, setting healthy boundaries, saying no when tempted to overextend yourself.
Helping out, showing you’re in this together, sharing the workload.
To take action
If a person often procrastinates or avoids commitment, chances are good they don’t experience having the right to take action.

Safety, Mattering
Getting an accountability partner to support you in making and keeping commitments, making sure you understand what “success” is so you can take action and move forward.
Help them form a plan, pair them up with an action-oriented person.
To have consequences for actions
If a person often uses victim language, blames others for their own choices and actions, or avoids accountability, chances are good they don’t experience having the right to have consequences.

Belonging, Mattering
Think of how others are impacted by your choices, consider what potential outcomes could be, look carefully at your role in what you create in your life.
Explain that course-correction is how we learn and make things better, map out the best case/worst case/likely case scenarios, and commit to helping them work through each.
To love and be loved
If a person is uncomfortable with giving or receiving affection, or being around theirs or others’ deep hurt or emotion, chances are good they don’t experience having the right to love or be loved.

Belonging, Safety
Ask for affection, ensure you reach out to friends/family, practice staying present when people around you emote, consider the benefits of compassion versus empathy.
Use the Emotion Wheel to help them understand what they are feeling, help them use Maneuvers of Consciousness to shift to Desired State.

Note that you can use this on yourself or with others too. For example, if people are struggling with accountability, they may need help increasing their right to take action. If they often blame others for their shortcomings, they may need help with the right of having consequences.

Now that you see how certain behaviors may reveal some minimal Organismic Rights, please take a moment now and rate your organismic rights from 0-5 where 5 is the highest experience of this right.
1.    Your right to exist: ____
2.    Your right to have needs: ____
3.    Your right to take action: ____
4.    Your right to have consequences for your actions: ____
5.    Your right to love and be loved: ____

Consider your ratings. Where would you like to increase your rights?
Tania and Carlos now have a powerful, healthy, high communication collaboration based on honoring both of their needs for safety, belonging, mattering and their Organismic Rights.

Regarding Organismic Rights, where do your key stakeholders at work stand? Your family members? Now revisit the table above. How would you like to help yourself and others to modify their behavior and increase their Organismic Rights? 


[i]Wilhelm Reich, Character-Analysis: Principles and Technique for Psychoanalysts in Practice and in Training, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe (Orgone Institute Press, 1945)

Christine Comaford, author of Power Your Tribe, has been a leadership and culture coach for the past 30 years.  She has also built and sold five companies with an average ROI of 700 percent.  A sought-after speaker and lecturer, she is a corporate consultant to mid-sized firms and the Fortune 1000, a leadership columnist for Forbes.com, and The New York Times bestselling author of Rules for Renegades and SmartTribes. For more information, please visit www.PowerYourTribe.com.

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Guest post by Lisa Sasso:

Soft skills can make or break you as a leader; they are clearly more important to a leader than any hard skill.  This is a basic truth I learned early on in my business career, and it has sustained me throughout a succession of leadership roles — right up to my present work as an executive coach.
  
I first became aware of the need for soft skills when I was a Tupperware Executive Manager, teaching members of my team about the products, how to best present the line and explaining how effective use could make customers’ lives more efficient.  My team members easily grasped these concepts, and I always made sure they were well versed to answer almost any customer question.

Nevertheless, I found that I was spending most of my time working with them on the softer skills.  Before I knew it, my role became that of a coach, inspiring them to give their best, teaching them how to be customer-focused, understand their customers’ needs, wants and desires, and demonstrating how to present, motivate and engage the customer.  Also, how to potentially transform an excited customer into a recruit for the team.

Tupperware was where I learned how recognition can be an important motivator.  With hindsight, I now see that I hadn’t realized just how important recognition for my own accomplishments was to me.  I knew it felt good, and now I saw first-hand how Tupperware effectively used recognition to motivate and retain quality consultants and managers.

Leaders of today have a bigger challenge, given the diversity of modern-day teams.  While teamworkhad been important with my Tupperware team, my leadership skills were really put to the test when I took on the responsibility for all Sales and Clinical teams at Radi Medical Systems (Radi).  I could screen candidates for product knowledge and aptitude (candidates had to demonstrate they could sell the product and take an online test to prove that they could interpret the technology and explain how it was used), but figuring out if they had the right values, were a good fit with the other members of the team, and knowing what I would need to do to motivate them appropriately was complex.

In my dual role as President/CEO and first sales representative, my goal was to generate revenue one customer at a time.  Within five years, the company had nearly 50 employees, 30 of whom were in the field, with revenue approaching $28M.  Dealing with the explosive triple-digit growth forced me to relinquish my “lead by example” sales role and instead lead differently.  By setting the company’s mission, vision and values, I used those corporate philosophies as litmus tests in hiring — taking on applicants who aligned with these philosophies. That made us a cohesive and successful team.
 
The takeaway here is that it’s a lot easier to lead a team when everyone is on the same page.  Leaders understand that people make the difference between a good and a great product, and that means hiring the right people must be a #1 priority.  Never settle for just any candidate; make sure they are the right candidate.

It bears repeating:  soft skills can make or break you as a leader; it’s not necessary to master every such skill, but each leader should find those that work for them.  One skill that always stands out in my mind and that I have used successfully is Caring.  There’s a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt that I’ve always believed to be true: “Nobody will ever care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Anyone who has ever worked for or with me knows that I put this quote into practice.

In my recently released book, Motivation Now!, I’ve shared the soft skills that are reflections of my approach.  Examples include:
  •          Achieve Now!  Achieving now is about accomplishing things that you want to do.
  •          Celebrate Now!  Reflects the personal touch and how I ran Radi — like a family.
  •          Setting Goals Now!  This is as much a soft as a hard skill, and clearly relevant to leadership.

Leaders are not expected to be everything to everyone, but it is critical that leaders know their strengths and how to leverage (and supplement) them appropriately.  Just being aware of your “Top 5 Strengths” helps you to truly define yourself.  [I recommend completing StrengthsFinder Assessment (SFA).]  Once you know your strengths, you can channel your energies into the things that you do naturally.  This will get you further in life — it’s called building on your strengths.

I’ve found that leadership isn’t a constant — it’s put to the test every day.  As president of the non-profit Medical Development Group of Boston (MDG), I found myself in an environment that required me to make good decisions and speak with authority and passion.  Membership in this group was about as diverse as you can get (age, experience, skills, specialties, etc.).  I found that my passionbroke through many of the potential barriers.  Passion is one of my true gifts, and I share it with everyone that I come in contact with.  How you act and how you present yourself are two very important measures of leadership.

If you consider all of the leadership roles I’ve presented above, you will find that all of these positions required use of attentive listening, clear speech, and persuasion.  In the end, I realized that my true calling was to be a coach, and to this day coaching is how I lead.  Leadership can be a lonely road, since a leader’s journey is often fraught with adversity, change and long hours.  But it doesn’t have to be lonely, nor should you feel alone.  Have you ever considered having a coach in your life?


Lisa Sasso, MBA, is a certified executive coach who empowers aspiring leaders and executives to achieve their personal and professional goals, maintain work/life balance, and ultimately reach their greatest potential.  She specializes in coaching medical device professionals and recently published “Motivation Now!”
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Guest post from Kimberly Davis:

I couldn’t believe it was the same woman. As she shared her presentation, she was warm, charming, gregarious, with a whip smart sense of humor. In less than two minutes, she had the audience in the palm of her hand, laughing so hard we were wiping tears from our eyes. How could this be the same woman who sat in front of me all day with the blank eyes and furrowed brow—who kept her back to me so much of the time? The woman who seemed so angry and aloof. Detached. Who was this mystery woman?
It’s easy to see how this can happen. With so much on our plates, we disappear into our minds, thinking about all there is to do, tackling the challenges of the day, weighing the pros and cons, processing, scrutinizing, calculating—busy working the business of business. But we forget. We forget that how we show up in the world, intentionally or not, has an impact.

If we’re focused on an upcoming deadline and neglect to say hello to a teammate in the hallway, they’ll think we’re mad.
If we’re quiet in a meeting, people will think we don’t care.

If we’re overwhelmed and need to be alone, people will think we don’t like them.

At work, especially in a leadership position, we live in a heightened reality. We’re “on”. People are paying attention. Everything we say and do communicates something and if we’re not mindful, the messages we’re sending can cost us.

I remember having this conversation with the mystery woman, half-way through the day, following her presentation. “You totally took me by surprise,” I shared with her, “you blew me away! You were articulate, warm, hilarious! You clearly have a natural talent for presenting.” Then, looking her in the eye, I said gently, “So why don’t you let us see that side of you off stage? It was as if two different women showed up in this room today. You are an amazing, kind, and caring woman, why don’t you let people see who you truly are?”

She looked at me for a long moment, took a deep breath, and said, “I know. I don’t know why I do that. I…I don’t mean to come across the way I do. It shows up on my 360. I know it’s a problem.”

“You’re robbing us of you. And, as a leader, if you need to connect to the hearts and minds of others to be able to lead and influence, you can’t afford to send mixed-messages. People won’t give you their best because they have to, they’ll give you their best because they want to. You can’t put their want at risk.”

Later that day, as this incredible group of leaders talked about what they hoped to do differently, I watched a transformation take place. Looking up at me, with a wry smile and a glimmer in her eye, the mystery woman unveiled her true self. “I’m going to work on letting people see who I really am. I think maybe it’s time to lose the tough act and get real.”

Your words, your energy, your expression, your body language, your tone, whether you’re present or distracted—whatever your reasons—how you show up with others matters. The stakes are higher than you realize.
What messages are you sending? 

An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership.” She is the author of Brave Leadership:  Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need.
For more information, please visit:www.BraveLeadershipBook.com.
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Guest post from regular contributor S. Chris Edmonds:

Built to win doesn't mean you're going to win. It means that you are setting your team up to win more often than not.

Recently, I spoke to 300 leaders at a client's annual conference.

Between the banners hanging on the walls demonstrating their past successes and industry awards, the celebration of their terrific financial results, which were the best in the company's history, and the praises sung of their unique organizational culture, which they believe is the foundation of the company's success, it was clear that the theme was this company was “Built to Win.”
 
But the company leaders didn’t leave it at that; they acknowledged the hard work ahead by saying, "That's all in the past. We have the opportunity to do very well in the coming year - but we have to earn every customer's business and earn our employees' hearts, every day this year, all over again."
 
In the NFL, the 2013 Denver Broncos were built to win, but couldn't handle the poised Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. In Major League Baseball, the 2011 New York Yankees were built to win but didn't make it to the World Series.
 
There are many other examples of sports teams and company teams around the globe that had talent, leadership, and heart, but were unable to finish. They simply didn’t "win" as expected.
 
Every leader on the planet, of every team and company, large or small, believes they have built their team to win. Few leaders would admit their team is built to lose or is built for mediocrity, right?
 
What separates the teams that should win, that could win from those that execute well, adapt well, and exceed their high expectations?
 
I suggest these three integrated approaches.
 
Treat Employees As Your Primary Customers
Create a safe, inspiring, respectful work environment of trust, giving your employees the opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills, and hearts to serve the team and organizational constitution daily.
 
Formalize Your Culture
Don’t leave your culture to chance. It drives everything that happens in your company. Start by formalizing your team or company's "reason for being," it's present-day purpose. Then outline your team's values, the desired principles you want to be demonstrated in every interaction daily. Define values in observable, measurable, behavioral term, writing them into an organizational constitution.
 
Evolve, Learn & Refine Daily
With your standards now defined, spend time and energy paying attention to the quality of the work environment and your team’s performance. Engage and learn employee's perceptions about how to make improvements. Test new approaches. Learn and test again. This ongoing evolution is the mark of high performing, values-aligned teams.
 
What will you do to build your team for wins today?
 
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
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Guest post by David A. Duryea:

Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, and even Thomas Edison are a few of the great visionary leaders in their respective industries.  What made them such great leaders was not just one aspect of their management style or their respective innovations.  What made them great leaders was their ability to attain great vision or more accurately a great core business model vision. 
For a great enterprise vision to be realized one must have more than just a vision of an innovation or perceivable future.  Leaders must have a workable product or service and a sustainable operation.  You see many people have great ideas but cannot attain a sustainable product and business operation. It is only when they achieve both a workable product and a sustainable operation that produces profitability is a great vision realized or a core business model vision attained. 

Let’s step back. Every organization is under an unbreakable operational fact called the “Law of Business Reality.”  That is an organization will serve its customer in a profitable way or cease to exist.  All organizations operate under this law and each organization needs to produce their own version of the law called a core business model.  A core business model is how each enterprise will uniquely serve its customer in a profitable and sustainable operation.  Only when company a can produce a product or service with a solid core business model will a vision be realized.
That is the main attribute of all great leaders.  Not only to produce a great product or service but to produce a visionary core business model.  All great leaders have realized a great core business model vision.  Think about it, when Steve Jobs developed Apple it was not about one computer it was about the perspective of how technology would improve our lives.  Apple had a core business model of great technology as easy to use as an appliance.

“All Great leaders have realized a great Core Business Model vision.”
Similarly, Jack Welch with General Electric turned around an aligning company to fix its core business model.  His vision to serve customers in a profitable way meant to be at least first or second in its respective markets or get rid of the product. Jacks’ vision fixed GE’s focus and GE’s core business model.  Even Thomas Edison produced a successful operation and a sustainable core business model based on a product invention development business.

A recent development of great leadership vision is Elon Musk’s Tesla organization and its core business model.  The vision of sustainable clean electric transport for the masses is close with the introduction and production of the automaker’s Model 3.  Even though Tesla has not generated profitability success yet, its company valuation is above some of the leading automakers today.  Musk’s organization is on the verge of producing a sustainable core business model and attaining his great vision of electric transport.
Great leaders know core business model vision.  They instinctively understand what it takes to not only develop a product or service but how to produce a sustainable core business model from an innovation or idea. These great leaders can see the future is a new way and understand a complete path to attain the vision with a sustainable operation. That is the main aspect of all great business leaders, an actualized core business model vision.  It is not often we witness an actualized core business model vision, but when one does, we all benefit with better service and many times improvement of overall life. 

David A. Duryea has more than 30 years’ experience in business leadership and specializes in business model innovation, strategy and business disruption.  David is an author, speaker, forensic expert, implementer, innovator and business innovation consultant.  Core Business Model and the Law of Business Reality concepts are from the second edition of “Do The Right Thing In Business Improvement Including Process and Technology” by David A. Duryea.  https://www.davidaduryea.com/do-the-right-thing-book. More Information about the author and core business model concepts can be found at https://www.davidaduryea.com/.
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Guest post from Dr. Kumar Mehta:

Every leader wants to consistently create mind-blowing products and offerings that customers love and line up for.  They know that if they don’t innovate, they will be left behind, the world’s simply moving way too fast.  They are looking to institutionalize the innovation process.  This means building a culture where innovation happens every day.  It means creating an environment where innovation is not the domain of a select few individuals, rather every single person believes they can contribute to creating great products.  It means pushing the boundaries in everything you do.  It means a relentless focus on altering customer experiences in meaningful ways.
As a leader you can institutionalize innovation in your organization by creating an innovation biome, or a sustained environment where innovating becomes a habit.  Creating the innovation biome, however, requires all elements (teams, departments, priorities, etc) residing within your organization to act in concert and support each other. If your corporation seeks to alter its genetic code and transform itself into an innovative juggernaut, then it needs to operate with an exceptionally high degree of conviction and shared belief that innovation is a priority.  This is the number one factor that drives organization-wide innovation.

This starts with leadership.  You cannot tiptoe your way into innovation. You simply have to commit to your direction and share your conviction and vision with all related stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, customers, and partners. And everyone around you needs to share in that belief.
Shared belief has incredible power, probably more so than any other factor that drives change. Shared belief in a vision provides everyone involved with the confidence to go all-in and help make the vision a reality. Any ambiguity or second-guessing makes the already challenging task of moving a company in a new direction a lot harder.

Take for example Moore’s Law (the belief that chip capacity would continue to increase exponentially).  While this wasn’t a scientific law, it was a shared belief that has driven the forward progress of the computer industry for decades.  Or take for instance the shared belief inspired by President Kennedy as he boldly stated a vision and commitment to put humans on the moon and return them safely to earth.  A vision that was realized because everyone involved shared in the belief. 
Or learn from Apple’s example, when it launched the iPhone with a degree of commitment and conviction that made irrelevant one of the most desirable products of the time, its own iPod.  There was nothing wishy-washy about the launch of the iPhone, no “minimally viable product,” no “let’s wait and see how it does.”  It was full commitment from the leadership of the organization.  The company went all-in, knowing full well that they were risking the sexiest product of the time with an untested device. 

The more you believe in a vision, the more likely you are to achieve it and, in turn, make the belief real. Belief motivates people to take the necessary actions to make a vision come true, creating an upward cycle.
For the better part of the past decade, most people have considered Apple to be the most innovative company in the world. This is not because Apple kept proclaiming it was innovative; it is because it kept churning out one game-changing product after another. Now, everyone expects Apple to produce nothing short of breathtaking innovation. This shared expectation results in exactly that—breakthrough innovations. The perfect upward spiral. The belief is shared by everyone: Apple’s customers, employees, shareholders, partners, and even competitors.

The first step to creating an innovation biome is to make it clear, through words and actions, that innovation is a priority. Making innovation a shared belief requires actions that go far beyond appointing an innovation czar or developing an innovation dashboard. It requires thinking about innovation in everything you do. It requires not accepting mediocrity and ensuring that every offering, big or small, enhances a customer experience journey in a meaningful way.
Dr. Kumar Mehta, author of THE INNOVATION BIOME, has been at the forefront of innovation, research, and data analytics for over 25 years.  He founded Bridges Insight, an innovation think tank committed to researching innovation and helping organizations accelerate their rate of innovation. He has applied many innovation frameworks in his fourteen years at Microsoft and throughout his tenure building out innovative companies.  Mehta also serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California and serves on the board of The Committee for Children. For more information, please visit www.BridgesInsight.com.
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Guest post by Constance Dierickx:

What I am about to say will annoy—no, inflame—some. Some people repeat words or
phrases as though the ability to pronounce a word is equivalent to understanding what it means or why it is important. Vulnerability is too important to be reduced to mere utterance and prescribed like baby aspirin. It’s little wonder that executives are cynical about leadership trends, those who sell them and the invalid assessment tools to go alongside. 

Concepts that smack of a “touchy-feely” philosophy are disregarded and mocked. That’s if things go well. If they don’t go well, an entire company will adopt a framework and before you know it, the whole company will look at people through the lens of a test result. This gets in the way of learning about people, but it does provide a defense. Defense against what, you may be asking? Defense against responsibility for bad decisions because you haven’t taken the time, don’t have the ability or don’t care enough to find out what your colleagues are great at and what they aren’t. 

Vulnerability allows people to get to know one another. The value of leaders knowing the people in their company is inestimable, but it cannot be achieved without interaction. Too often, leaders have three outbound lanes and one inbound. Communication is focused on what a leader wants to say, not what they need to hear and learn. 

When we listen, we realize things we didn’t know and understand people in a way we hadn’t before. For some, that feeling of “I didn’t know as much as I thought” is a painfully vulnerable one. For others, it’s fun to open up, knowing that doing so will force them to adjust, sometimes dramatically.

Clearly, different levels of openness are appropriate, depending upon the context. Indeed, healthy individuals are more or less open, depending upon the circumstances. Even so, I know you can think of people who are stuck at one extreme or the other. Effective leaders are strategic in their thinking about when it is best to be vulnerable (admit mistakes, imperfections, for example) and when they must be circumspect (such as when planning an acquisition).

Boundaries

While vulnerability is important to building trusting relationships, boundaries are the essential ingredient that permit us to regulate how vulnerable to be in a given situation. Think of someone you know who shares too much. On the other end of the continuum, how about a person you know who can’t part with the most benign bit of information? Both create awkward exchanges, impeding the development of rapport, an important precursor to trust and willingness to share information. 

Of course, as with most things, we don’t drive in the ideal lane all the time. We go along fine for a time, then drift. Usually, the consequences are minor. Indeed, being inconsistent, despite the bad rap it gets, is very human. Most everyone says more than they intend sometimes or remains tight-lipped when it would be more beneficial to speak up. Patterns of behavior are the best indicator of who we are.  

It’s no surprise that individuals have preferences and habits regarding vulnerability and boundaries. Organizational cultures also have various levels of tolerance for openness. This colors the relationship of people to one another and either promotes curiosity, learning, and innovation or inhibits it. If vulnerability is okay and the boundaries healthy, people can try things and succeed or fail without being psychoanalyzed as a result.

It is the job of leaders to establish healthy boundaries, foster a culture to support them and deal effectively with exceptions. 

Courageous Vulnerability

On September 28, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, addressed all the cadets at the academy, with his staff, instructors, coaches and other professionals in attendance. The occasion that prompted this action was racial slurs that had been found on some message boards at the academy’s preparatory school. There is no better way to understand what Silveria did than to watch the video.

While it was reported a few days later that the act was committed by a cadet who initially appeared a victim of the act. Silveria’s response to the Colorado Springs Gazette is worth “Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed.”

Address the incident he did. The video of Silveria’s response has been viewed nearly 2 million times and rightly so. His actions are an outstanding example of how to deal with vulnerability and use it as a pivot point. He didn’t shrink from the events. One of the most impressive aspects of his speech was the assertion that it would be naïve to think that, but for this instance, things are perfect. He managed, in five minutes and 29 seconds to admit vulnerability and set clear boundaries.

Here are the lessons exemplified by Silveria:

1. Be matter-of-fact about imperfections, every leader and every organization has them.

2. Accept responsibility without dramatization.

3. Set clear limits about what is out of bounds and take action so these are not mere words   

Most situations in business aren’t dramatic nor are they public. Perhaps that isn’t as fortunate as it sounds. It’s easier to ignore too much or too little vulnerability and boundaries that are loose or rigid when things are smooth, especially when a business is admired and/or profitable. There are always currents beneath what appears a smooth surface. Leaders who manage well in high-stakes pay attention to the dynamics in their organizations all the time, not just when the cameras are rolling.


Constance Dierickx, PhD, specializes in working with organizations in high-stakes transitions, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, CEO succession, strategic change, and crisis. She has worked with clients such as AAA, AT&T, Belk, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, DIRECTV, IBM, NextGear Capital, Olive Garden, and others. She has advised over 500 executives, on five continents in 28 industries. High-Stakes Leadership: Leading Through Crisis with Courage, Judgment, and Fortitude describes the critical aspects of leadership needed in high-stakes. Leading requires the courage to make conscious decisions, judgment to separate information from spurious data and short-term trends, and fortitude to remain true to oneself and one’s mission.
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The beginning of a new year. A fresh start! For many leaders, it’s a time to reflect on accomplishments for the past year and establish goals for the upcoming New Year. 

It’s also a good time to set leadership development goals, either as part of a formal development planning process, or just because it’s a proven way to continuously improve as a leader.

While leadership development goals should always be specific and relevant to the individual leader and linked to the organizational context, there are a few common ones that most any leader could benefit from.
This year’s edition includes one action step to take for each goal.

1. Become more self-aware (and aware of others). I’ll learn more about my strengths and weaknesses. More about my own emotions and how to control them, about other’s emotions and how I am coming across to others, and how to harness this awareness of self and others to be a better leader. I’ll take a multi-rater assessment or figure out some other way to get an accurate assessment as to how I am perceived by others. I’ll take stock of my values to become clearer on what really drives my behaviors and what’s important to me.

Action step: I’ll take at one assessment.
2. Delegate more. My unwillingness or inability to let go is causing me to work long hours, preventing me from having the time to be more strategic, and is retarding the development of my team. I’ll do some serious self-reflection, or work with a coach or mentor, to figure out what’s causing me not to delegate. Is it my own ego? Is it a lack of confidence in my team? Once I get to the root cause, I will create a list of everything I do and make hard decisions on what to delegate, who to delegate to, how to do it, and by when. I’ll have conversations with each direct report and my manager, asking them for their input on what they think I should be doing less or more of.

Action step: In order to begin the process of learning to let go, I’ll let my dining companion order my meal the next time I eat out.

3. Be more strategic. I’ll improve my ability to see the big picture and take a longer range, broader business perspective. I’ll learn to step back from the day-to-day tactical details of my business and focus on the “why”, not just the “what” and “how.” I’ll learn to speak the “language” of strategy and apply these concepts to leading my organization.
Action step: I’ll read one book on strategy and apply a strategic framework to my work.

4. Be a better listener. I need to learn to pay attention and demonstrate to others that that I value what they have to say. I’ll use active listening, open-ended questions, body language, and eliminate distractions that get in the way of my ability to listen.

Action step: I will put down and mute my smartphone during meetings and conversations (at home and at work).

5. Become a better negotiator. I’ll learn the “art and science” of negotiation, and use proven negotiation techniques to collaborate and reach win-win outcomes with my manager, direct reports, peers, suppliers and customers.
Action step: I’ll learn a proven negotiation framework and apply it to one personal and one business opportunity.

6. Learn to resolve conflict. I need to stop avoiding conflict – and start dealing with conflicts head on in a more constructive way. I’ll learn different approaches to dealing with conflict – my preferred approach – and how and when to use more effective approaches. I’ll then apply what I’ve learned and tackle a lingering conflict that needs to be resolved.

Action step: I’ll learn a conflict resolution process and apply it to a nagging business issue that I’ve been avoiding for way too long.

7. Be a better coach. I need to spend more time coaching and developing my team. I’ll shift my leadership style away from always directing and telling and learn to guide and develop my direct reports. I’ll learn and practice the “G.R.O.W.” coaching model with each of my direct reports until it becomes natural and a part of my leadership style.
Action step: I’ll practice asking more open-ended questions and giving less advice when my employees come to me with problems.

8. Develop my team.  I’ll learn more about what it really means and takes to become a high performing “team”. I’ll do a formal team assessment to learn about our strengths and weaknesses, then work with my team to establish an action plan to improve. Possible improvement areas: building trust, establishing structure and processes that encourage and enable teamwork, and practice “shared leadership”.
Action step: I’ll conduct a session with my team (or any team I’m on) to develop a list of team norms.

9. Lead Change. I’ll learn from the classics: John Kotter, William Bridges, Peter Senge and others and apply these proven models and techniques to a significant change that I need to drive this year.
Action step: See above.

10. Stretch myself with a “strategic challenge” project. Work with my manager to come up with a developmental “learn by doing project”. Something above and beyond my regular duties that gives me an opportunity to learn and apply new leadership skills. I’ll apply many of the skills I’ve been working on under “live fire”, where the risks and rewards are high.
Action step: Select at least 3 of the goals above, complete the steps and apply what I have learned to a specific challenge or project.

Do any of these leadership development goals sound like they benefit you? If so, does it look overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. You can work on all 10 at the same time during our 6-day Leadership Certificate program! The program includes a 360 assessment and other assessments with one-on-one coaching. My colleagues and I at the University of New Hampshire will work with you to develop each of these critical skills and more! Learn leadership lessons from best in class business school faculty, executive coaches and peers using a proven leadership development model. I hope to see you at our next program in the fall of 2018!
 
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Guest post by Craig Ross:

When teams lose the heart, focus and energy they need to succeed, it isn’t pretty.
Imagine you’re running a meeting with two cross-functional teammates: Chen is participating via video and Ava is sitting at the table across from you. As the meeting nears its end, you suddenly think to yourself: “I’m not sure my teammates are committed to our plan. They don’t seem focused, nor are they making our work a priority.”

Your heart quickens. You are aware of the consequences if the team doesn’t execute the plan.
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you’re not alone. We’ve observed many of leaders at all levels who recognize this numbing moment: The point where the avalanche of competing priorities buries the team, causing team members to lose focus, commitment, and thus begin to flatline.

This doesn’t have to happen to your team. You can quickly elevate your team’s attention to what matters most and mobilize hearts and minds forward to the finish line.
First, what do many people do in the scenario described above when they sense a lack of engagement in teammates? With the best of intentions, they ask, “So, what do you think? We’re ready to go then, right?” To which Chen nods his head. (Or was that an interruption in the video feed?) And Ava lifts her eyes up from her smartphone and replies, “Sure.”

“Good then,” the well-intentioned leader nervously says. “Let me know if you need my help with anything. And let’s check progress next week. Okay?”
Chen, however, has already signed off; the screen is black. Ava smiles as she picks up her laptop, then puts her phone to her ear and begins a different conversation as she walks out the door. And the numbing gives way to flatlining; one more objective is heaped on top of countless others.

To save a team from flatlining, we as leaders must not do what is normal, and must instead do what’s natural. Normal is to get deep into the details by asking standard, boilerplate questions. You likely recognize these inquiries:

·         What has to be done?

·         How will we get there?

·         Who will do what?

·         When and how will we measure progress?

·         (Oh, and what’s for lunch?)
These questions are essential for great execution. And, they’re normal: Everyone is asking them everywhere. And that’s the point. Meeting after meeting, day after day, with functional plans conflicting with the objectives of other teams…few can sustain the repetitive, low-conscious thinking being required of them. And this doesn’t even include adding the stress in the lives of each teammate outside the workplace. Kids, spouses we’d like to see at least once in a while, aging parents—it is no mystery why people go numb. There should be little question why in the normal meeting people tune out and the team flatlines.

To solve this, leaders can and must go beyond the boilerplate execution questions by making inquiries that research shows naturally make people think about what matters most.
We’ve found something consistent in the 39 countries we’ve worked in: People want to think at higher levels. They want to be inspired. They want to break free from the mundane. And while people recognize the following five categories of questions that mobilize hearts and minds, they also agree that they’re not asking them enough. Not even close.

Consider the meeting with Chen and Ava. Imagine what would have happened when the leader of that meeting would have accomplished by asking questions like these.
5 Classes of Questions that Trigger Hearts and Minds

Purpose:

·     “Quick guys, before we leave let me ask you: How is delivering on our plan entirely aligned with our purpose as a team?”

·     “How does delivering excellence on our plan communicate to the rest of the organization that we’re delivering on our purpose?”
Vision:

·  “What do you see our customer doing differently or better because of our ability to deliver successfully on this project?”

·    “What will we be thinking and doing more of as a team as we demonstrate that we are successful?”
Motivation:

·    “We’ve all got a lot on our plates. Is delivering on this project a high priority to you? And if so, why?”

·    “We all know the external rewards for delivering this project successfully. What I’d like to know: What intrinsically motivates you to give your best now?”
Accountability:

·    “How will we know we’re functioning as one team as we move forward?”

·    “What will we agree to do if we discover we’re behind schedule or challenged in our responsibility?”
Objective:

·    “What ultimately is it that we’re trying to achieve as a team even beyond hitting our numbers?”

·    “What is our objective as it relates to how we’ll function as a team while we deliver on the business imperative?”
These five classes of questions make people think in ways they often don’t get to during a typical day. This means that using these questions isn’t normal. But if what’s normal is seeing too many teams flatline due to the pressure of endless and competing priorities, why keep doing the same thing? By asking these types of questions, you mobilize hearts and minds, which causes a higher level of consciousness among the team. This is how you make sure your team crosses the finish line: mobilize hearts and minds.
 

Craig Rossis CEO of Verus Global and co-author of Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact. For 20 years Craig has partnered with C-suite executives and leadership teams across numerous industries in global organizations, such as P&G, Alcon, Oceaneering, Cigna, Nestle, Universal, Ford, and other Fortune 100 companies. Combining a passion for uniting people and a conviction that organizations achieve extraordinary things through teams, Craig delivers practical and real-world expertise to those he serves. With his high-energy and dynamic approach, he equips client-partners with the how to shift their thinking and actions to drive greater outcomes and activate their greatness.
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Guest post from Andy Cunningham:


Great leaders inspire others to take action. They confer a feeling of meaningful contribution. And they seek to improve the human condition. They come in many different flavors, but they all have one thing in common: followers. The reason for this is that somehow, some way, they inspire those around them. Here are eight of the ways.

1. Vision: Some leaders, like Steve Jobs, have the power to see what’s next and with that power they attract people who are committed to changing the world and adopting that as a lifestyle. Tee shirts worn by members of the Macintosh team in the early 1980s boasted “90 hours a week and loving it.”

 2. A Worthy Cause: Appealing to an inner sense of social responsibility with a point of view makes leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, amass followers who want to make a difference. Her opinions on important social issues such as gender discrimination, abortion, and search and seizure have been the catalyst for a virtual RBG movement.

3. Superior Talent: People who choose to work with leaders who possess off-the-charts talent, like Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony who has won 10 Grammy awards, do so with the hope that some of that talent will rub off and make them better at their craft. A former child prodigy and third generation artist, Tilson Thomas was awarded with the National Medal of Arts in 2010 by President Obama.

4. Self Improvement: Leaders like Suze Orman, who was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes, provide powerful and personal incentive for people to reach beyond themselves and gain control of their financial lives.

5. Team Building: Some leaders just know how to build teams that move mountains; and they do, even in the presence of failure. Repeatedly facing insurmountable odds, Elon Musk, entrepreneur, investor and inventor, attracts people who are challenged by naysayers. 

6. Winning: Those who create cooperatively functioning groups offering members the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves tap into a spirit that unites people in a common purpose. Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, which has the highest all-time NBA regular season win-loss record percentage, knows how to put a team together, how to win and how keep a fan base engaged. 

7. Tribal Affiliation: Because humans are tribal by their very nature, leaders who offer a sense of belonging, like Mark Benioff of the immense Salesforce ecosystem, gather up people in droves with their influence and inspiration. In Benioff’s case he went a step further and applied his charisma and leadership to inspire other leaders to move from success to significance.

8. Opportunity: Advocating equal opportunity for women, leaders like Gloria Steinem, social activist, author and entrepreneur, inspire millions with courage and bravery and manage to change the status quo to create opportunity for others.


About the Author:
Andy Cunningham is the founder and president of Cunningham Collective, a marketing, brand and communication strategy firm dedicated to bringing innovation to market. She is also the author of Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition (McGraw-Hill). An entrepreneur at the forefront of marketing, branding, positioning and communicating “The Next Big Thing,” Andy has played a key role in the launch of a number of new technology categories and products (including the Apple Macintosh) over the past 35 years. Today she advises startups, serves on several corporate boards, is a Henry Crown Fellow and a trustee at the Aspen Institute.
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