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The best leaders I’ve worked with, studied, or observed have possessed an unmistakable appetite for growth. They’re usually forward thinking. Often, they have a palpable “itch” for knowledge and advancement. Sometimes, they’re even a bit on the restless side (even when they are very measured, patient, and personable); there’s an urgency to the way they approach their work and walk in the world. They always want to know: what’s next?

More often than not, these top leaders read, question, probe, explore, and search endlessly for the next big idea or innovation. Certainly, that’s a good thing. A thirst for fresh ideas is what advances organizations and propels companies towards bold initiatives that can make the world better. But as we look to emulate these leaders in our quest for the visionary and exciting, it’s important to not lose sight of the basics — our leadership bedrock. That’s why it’s worth noting that most leaders at the top of their game are able to improvise and gallop towards the horizon with seeming abandon only because they are deeply rooted in everlasting principles of effective leadership.

Learn the rules to break them

Just as the great innovators in art, literature, and business had to first understand the rules of their craft in order to break or evolve them, so is the same with leadership. The leaders you look up to likely had to first dutifully learn their craft and become anchored in the basics before they could become the almost larger-than-life “change agents” they may appear to be today.

I mention all this because if you yearn to advance your leadership in a transformational way, it is helpful to understand the parts of it that are steadfast and un-changing no matter the era, situation, or person involved – even as the world progresses at an unprecedented and exponential pace all around us. To truly create an evolved leadership approach, leaders must first learn how they can leverage enduring leadership principles.

Of course, there are many such core principles which I discuss throughout my suite of leadership resources and explain in my high-impact leadership model, The ConantLeadership Flywheel. But for the purpose of this post, I’d like to narrow the frame to the most fundamental building block of all, the sole attribute upon which every other leadership trait rests and relies: competence.

What is leadership competence?

Competence, while it may seem obvious, is so vital it must be explicitly called out in any serious discussion of leadership. Because it is so obvious and indispensable, there is not a lot of discussion about what, exactly, competence looks like. It can feel, at times, mysterious. How do we measure ourselves on something that is so fundamental yet somewhat elusive in its exact definition? Sure, there are metrics to measure job and financial performance – and those are helpful. But what, at a really basic level, is leadership competence? Structurally, what are its internal workings? In my 45 years of experience leading and carefully studying the craft of leadership, I’ve determined that competence, while complex, can be broken down into three essential components. When these three parts are leveraged together in harmony, overall leadership competence is elevated.

Here is the anatomy of leadership competence as I see it:
  1. Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) – or a leader’s ability to logically process information and advance decision making. This area is key to quickly synthesizing and applying information on-demand; there is no substitute for this piece of the Competence puzzle.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – or a leader’s ability to handle interpersonal relationships with compassion and good judgement while also being able to sense and assess the overall emotional “pulse” of the core team and the broader organization. This area is crucial to invigorating employee engagement, earning trust, and building a thriving enterprise.
  3. Functional Intelligence (FQ) – or a leader’s ability to cultivate sufficient expertise and skill in their field or sector. While you may be able to grow into this area, relying on the other two components at first in a new leadership role, ultimately you will need to develop this deep knowledge in your specific business area. If you don’t eventually gather sufficient expertise in your field, you will fail. For example, if you’re going to lead a sales organization, you’ve eventually got to possess a deep understanding of sales. If you want to manage an editorial team, you better know writing and publishing. Imagine if Steve Jobs hadn’t known anything about computers or tech. Apple probably wouldn’t be a household name today.
Using the framework

Looking at these crucial components of competence, you’ll likely note that you are stronger in one or two than you are in the others. Don’t be discouraged. You do not have to be equally strong in each part to succeed and improve. In fact, it is in the blending of these three components that an ever-increasing level of leadership competence will emerge over time; the sum of the whole together is more powerful than the individual parts.  

Say, for instance, a leader does not initially have the requisite FQ in the field they are leading. It does not mean they are incompetent or not up to the task. Smartly, they can leverage their IQ and their EQ to add value while they are developing a solid understanding of the business. I had to find my footing through this exact scenario earlier in my career when I was asked to lead the sales organization (despite my ardent protestations) at Nabisco. I knew nothing about sales at the outset and was worried that lack of FQ would undermine my ability to lead. But, ultimately, I was able to muddle through on the strength of my emotional and intellectual intelligence while I found my footing in the functional intelligence that the job demanded.

You do not have to be equally strong in each part to succeed and improve.

Using this anatomy framework can work in a number of ways to help you measure your competence on three dimensions and self-assess the areas where you need to develop. Maybe you have a deep level of expertise in your field (FQ) but, upon reflecting on the three components, you realize you need to further develop your capacity to understand the emotional landscape of the organization (EQ) in order keep the team fully engaged in the work. No matter in what measure you have the core competence components — just keep at it. The more you merge the three elements and apply them together, with intention, the more powerful your platform for lifting your leadership competence will become. So, as long as you are sufficiently working towards continuously honing and perfecting all three, you’ll find you will begin to hit stride in your leadership competence.

Hopefully, dissecting competence with this level of precision will reveal insights to you that are helpful as you work towards getting better anchored in your leadership fundamentals. Armed with this info, you can now develop your competence with a view towards one day deftly breaking the rules with confidence as you march towards progress.

Interested in learning more about advancing your leadership competence and creating your own leadership model? Join me at one of my upcoming leadership boot camps in Philadelphia, PA. I teach this program personally to empower leaders to serve with greater impact. The 2-day in-person program leaves you with practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And, it kicks off a transformational full year of additional coaching and mentorship. This is an exclusive opportunity and space is limited. Apply today. 

The post The Anatomy of Leadership Competence appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the June edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most fascinating leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: the two types of respect, don’t follow your passion, what makes a successful CEO, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Don’t Follow Your Passion

“Find your passion” is such a common refrain in career columns and commencement speeches, many of us assume it’s solid advice. However, new research from Stanford suggests the opposite. Thinking that we will simply “find” a passion that is already fully formed and waiting to be “discovered” is misleading and can jeopardize career fulfillment and growth. Instead, people should focus on developing their passions. The key difference between finding and discovering? “The directive to ‘find your passion’ suggests a passive process. Telling people to develop their passion, however, suggests an active one that depends on us—and allows that it can be challenging to pursue.” Get the full scoop on this fascinating research here in Quartz.
**For more on developing your passions, explore our post on how to get a lot better at things you love to do.

What Makes a Successful 21st Century CEO?

A recent BCG research project that surveyed over 450 CEOs, and carefully analyzed the most successful among them, has identified the five key components that are crucial to a CEO’s success in the 21st century. The project evaluated CEOs on three key criteria, “Great Company, Great Stock, Great Legacy”, and leveraged AI in attaining its results, a five-component “algorithm” for CEO success. The top component? “Defining and communicating a grounded point of view.” Read the full explanation of the five components in the algorithm here.

6 Books to Enhance Career Satisfaction

Summer is upon us which, hopefully, means you’ll be able to carve out a few indulgent extra hours to explore the world(s) of a good book or two. We never tire of book recommendations and roundups that help us beef up our summer reading lists. This list from The Cut is framed as a list of books to read if you’re considering a career change, but they all promise valuable insights whether you’re looking for a major job overhaul or just seeking to improve your work and life satisfaction.
**For more great book recommendations, check out Doug’s list of Foundational Favorites

No Risk, No Reward

Most of the time, it’s wise to play it safe. But there are some situations, especially in regard to your career, where it might pay to take a risk. The writers of this interesting Motley Fool post contend that sometimes a scary leap into the unknown is necessary to reap the life and career rewards you’ve always dreamed of. But how do you know when the time is right to take a chance? There are three key career contexts in which a gamble might pay off.

The 2 Types of Respect

Surveys show that feeling respected by leaders is a top concern of employees. Yet year after year employees report feeling disrespected. One of the problems according to research explained in this interesting Harvard Business Review article is that, “leaders have an incomplete understanding of what constitutes workplace respect—so even well-meaning efforts to provide a respectful workplace may fall short.”  It turns out there are two distinct types of respect — owed and earned — and they are both equally important. Here, the author lays out five behavioral tweaks leaders can make to ensure a more respectful workplace environment.
**For more on creating a thriving and respectful workplace culture, explore our post on how to influence people with honor and how to listen like a leader.

Thank You’ Doesn’t Go without Saying

Even if leaders believe their gratitude is implied, or expressed primarily with a paycheck — ‘thank you’ does not go without saying. People need to hear it. Explicitly. To stimulate employee engagement and high performance, leaders must find meaningful and clear ways to express thanks, and this SmartBrief article offers five smart ways to make people feel recognized.
**For more on giving thanks, read our ten powerful ways to give thanks with your leadership.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from March, April, and May. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

The post 6 Fascinating Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the May edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most intriguing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: your smartphone is making you dumb, how to develop moral courage, 20 leadership questions, the power of great expectations, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

It’s All about the People

“By focusing too much on control and end goals, and not enough on their people, leaders are making it more difficult to achieve their own desired outcomes.” writes Dan Cable in this Harvard Business Review post. But the key to really driving better performance today is, “to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.” Mastering a humble, people-centric approach is the way to get better results.
**For more on a people-focused leadership approach, explore our posts on how to give people the energy to do their best workhow to give thanks with your leadership, and how to influence people with honor

Your Smartphone Is Making You Dumb

This Wall Street Journal article compiles a mountain of research from multiple studies which show that our unrelenting access to ubiquitous devices and information may actually be weakening our mental capacity.  The author writes, “as strange as it might seem, people’s knowledge and understanding may actually dwindle as gadgets grant them easier access to online data stores.” What’s more, “as the brain grows dependent on the technology, the research suggests, the intellect weakens” even when we’re not actively using our phones. No, this doesn’t mean you’ve got to throw your iPhone in the river. But, “we need to give our minds more room to think. And that means putting some distance between ourselves and our phones.” It may be worth consciously finding ways to responsibly limit our use whenever possible.

How to Develop Moral Courage

“Moral courage is the behavioral expression of authenticity in the face of discomfort of dissension, disapproval, or rejection” writes Jon Mertz in this interesting Thin Difference post. Essentially, it’s doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. And Mertz provides a framework for assessing moral courage in leadership and three ways to better develop it.
**For more on this, read our post on leading with courage

The Power of Great Expectations

As a leader, how can you nudge people towards success? Surprisingly, the answer lies in upholding high standards and expectations. In fact, research suggests that the higher your expectations are for people, the higher their level of performance. The name of this phenomenon is The Pygmalion Effect and it’s explained thoroughly in this fascinating Farnam Street post. Understanding this effect, “is a powerful way to positively affect those around us, from our children and friends to employees and leaders.”
**For more on inspiring greatness, explore our post on what the best leaders have in common

Get Organized

Many leaders feel resistance to getting better organized because they’ve experienced repeated failure in the past. Why? Often, in an attempt to reduce the complexity of their hectic lives, they over-correct, ending up with to-do lists that are too simple, according to this Getting Things Done post. The problem is that they’re trying to combine the five essential phases of organizing tasks into one; this post itemizes the five phases you need to understand to master your workflow and finally conquer your “to-dos.”

20 Leadership Questions

Before you can manifest your leadership future, you’ve got to get grounded in who and where you are now. That’s why it’s smart to take time to reflect on questions that will better connect you to the here and now. In this thought-provoking post, Mary Jo Asmus outlines twenty essential questions leaders can use to ground themselves and better prepare for the future.
**For more leadership questions and prompts, explore our first two questions of leadership, our three questions the best leaders ask, and test your leadership acumen with our competence and character checklists.

 Study Guide — Leaders ‘In the Wild’

The best way to get better at leadership is to study real leaders, in real situations, “in the wild” says Wally Bock in this actionable post. Ideally, you will look at specific circumstances and carefully glean insights that you can use to do better on Monday morning. So, how should you get started, where should you look, and what should you focus on? Bock breaks it down in his guide here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from FebruaryMarch, and April. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

The post 7 Intriguing Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the April edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most captivating leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: why you should laugh more at work, learn to think small, keep it simple, make strategy practical, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Laughter is the Best (Workplace) Medicine

“Laughing together is something that improves team collaboration and stimulates innovation” find scientists in this heartening BBC post. In particular, laughter occurs during face-to-face interactions, which studies show are more essential to productive workplaces than digital communication like email. Laughter can help build relationships, spark creativity, and foster solidarity. Read the full post here.
**For more on creating productive teams, read our post on the 3 things the best teams have.

Think Small

To create momentum in organizations, many leaders believe you have to “think big.” But how do you accomplish the grand vision that comes with “thinking big?” By thinking small. To really create momentum, says Julie Winkle Giulioni in this interesting SmartBrief post, it’s best to set smaller, manageable goals, celebrate wins along the way, and always think of next steps.

Gender Parity Starts at the Top

“You can’t be a great CEO” if you are not, “committed to gender equality” says Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff in this 60 Minutes coverage. He became devoted to backing that declaration up with action when, in 2015, a pay audit revealed a demonstrable gap between women and men’s salaries. What does it take to truly advance gender parity? It has to be championed at the top and must be done “continuously” with ongoing monitoring and tracking. But it’s worth it. Says Benioff, “I believe as a CEO that I can show other CEOs how to create a great culture in their company.”

From the ‘Information’ to the ‘Reputation’ Age

“We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others.” writes Italian philosopher, Gloria Origgi, in this fascinating piece. What does this mean for us? How should we seek and process information in the midst of this paradigm shift? Origgi says to best determine the veracity of a new piece of information, we should always ask, “Where does it come from? Does the source have a good reputation? Who are the authorities who believe it? What are my reasons for deferring to these authorities?”  This has important implications for leaders as they must be more mindful of their own reputation if they want the information they share to be trusted. For a deeper understanding of this massive shift, read the full post here.

Keep It Simple

“For internal communicators, complexity kills” says this Ragan post on effective communication. To get more done and be more accurate, it helps to find strategies to simplify your message. This post shares three ways to simplify starting with clearing out the cluttering jargon from your communications. Read all three tips here.
**For more on communicating with your team, read our post on how to choose goals that motivate and inspire your people

Making Strategy Practical

To truly have an effective strategy, leaders must understand the social dynamics that undermine strategic conversations. In their extensive research, McKinsey has identified eight practical steps you can take to better address these dynamics, “and dramatically improve the quality of your strategic dialogue, the choices you make, and the business outcomes you experience.” The best news? “These are moves that you can start implementing Monday morning. Together, the eight shifts will enable you to change what is happening in your strategy room.” Read all eight practical shifts here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from February and March. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder — internationally renowned business leader and Fortune 300 CEO — Doug Conanthere.

(Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash)

The post 6 Captivating Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the March edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the best leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: how to write better emails, turn ‘what if’ into ‘I can’, questions for every stage of your career, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Get to the Point

“If principles are going to be used, they have to be easy to remember” writes David Rock in this smart Harvard Business Review piece that applies the tenets of neuroscience to understanding how to better convey ideas to stakeholders. The secret lies in being as pithy as possible.  If leaders hope to transform an organization, or a corporate culture, “the more leadership principles get concise, the more you can put them into action.” Read the full piece here.

Don’t Sell; ‘Enroll’ Instead

To get people engaged in your ideas and initiatives at work, it helps to stop trying to sellyour ideas, and instead find ways to enroll people in your ideas, writes Scott Eblin in this useful post. How do you enroll others in your agenda? There are five simple steps that you can explore here.
**For more on earning buy-in, read our post on how to choose goals that inspire your team

How to Write Better Emails

“When you send an email you are adding a task to someone else’s to-do list” writes Gustavo Razzetti in this helpful Thrive Global post. Because almost everybody you are emailing is struggling to keep up with an overwhelmingly full inbox, you should always consider this burning question: “Why should the other person care about your email?”  Writing emails that actually get read has more to do with managing people’s expectations in the subject line than what you include in the body of the email itself. By simply adding one clarifying word to the subject line of your emails, you can get a lot more done and transform the efficacy of your email. Learn exactly how to execute this practice here.

Change Yourself First

If you’re experiencing difficulty influencing others in your leadership role, it can be tempting to spread blame. But as Mary Jo Asmus explains in this interesting post, blame is not very effective in achieving breakthrough. Rather than looking outward for the cause of your roadblock, it can be instructive to examine your own beliefs and identify those that are no longer serving you. To help, Asmus provides four provocative questions as prompts for reflection and self-change here.
**For more exercises that guide you through reflection, explore our first 2 questions of leadership, and the 3 questions the best leaders answer

Turn ‘What If’ into ‘I Can’

Modern work (and life) can be stressful and, not surprisingly, leaders and employees alike tend to spend a lot of time worrying. But research shows that 85% of what we worry about never actually happens. So, although worrying can feel productive, it’s actually most likely a waste of time. That won’t stop us from doing it though! If we’re going to worry anyway, we might as well learn strategies for doing it more productively. In this highly practical Shine post, Haley Goldberg explains how even simple mindset shifts, like turning “what if” into “I can” can make an enormous difference. Read her top 3 tips for worrywarts here.

Questions for Every Stage of Your Career

Moving forward in your career requires, “deliberate actions – some of which are less than obvious”, writes Anisa Purbasari Horton, in this empowering Fast Company post. To make sure you’re on the right track, “reflection and asking the right questions” is crucial. To help you advance your career in the most fulfilling way possible, Horton has compiled key questions to ask at every single stage of your career. Explore all the questions here.
**For more questions to help you excel in your career, explore our character and competence self-assessments. 

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from January and February. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder — internationally renowned business leader and Fortune 300 CEO — Doug Conanthere.

(Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash)

The post The Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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ConantLeadership’s Award for Leadership Champions:

As part of our mission to champion leadership that works in the 21st century, we launched a recognition program in 2016 to celebrate leaders who embody the principles of leadership that works. The Champion of Leadership That Works Award, presented intermittently, but most often seasonally, is one way to say “thank you” to people who are visibly committed to empowering others to serve with greater impact. All potential recipients of the award are submitted to us exclusively through nominations from our community. Nominators can recommend leaders who excel in any one, several, or all of the 7 practice areas of the ConantLeadership Flywheel; if you know somebody amazing, you can nominate them for the award here.

Our Spring Winner:

Congratulations to the winner of our Spring Champion of Leadership That Words Award: Sam Thevanayagam, a sought-after leadership speaker, and founder, president and CEO of Parts Life Inc.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Sam came to the U.S. in 1985 at 22 years of age to attend college. He graduated from Glen Oaks Community College and Oral Roberts University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Sam has 30 years of experience in both entrepreneurship and executive leadership. His first experience with entrepreneurship was washing cars for faculty on the weekends in college. With determination, he worked to advance his leadership career from his humble days in college to his current role as a Founder and CEO. After college, he grew to assume leadership roles predominantly in the automotive industry, including as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) consultant, a Strategic Business Unit Leader and Vice President at Cardone Industries, and Junior Executive at John Keels LTD, before launching his current enterprise as CEO of Parts Life Inc.

Committed to curiosity, learning, and growth, Sam also holds several copyrights centered on modifying best practices in the automotive aftermarket to support military assets. Dedicated to inspiring others, he produced the leadership DVD: “The Recipe for Successful Entrepreneurship & Stewardship Guide.”

As an executive, he is passionate about community involvement.  He has served as a mentor in the Greater Philadelphia Area as part of Inc.’s Entrepreneur Mentoring Program. He also serves on various industry boards including the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association, the Military Relations Council of the South Jersey chamber of commerce, and many more.

Sam has led his company to achieve impressive success in the marketplace. In his current role as CEO of Parts Life, Sam was notably recognized as a Top 25 Executive of the Year by South Jersey Biz in 2013.  Parts Life Inc.  has also been recognized by the Wharton School of Business’s “Philadelphia 100” list of the fastest growing private companies, and by NJBIZ, the leading business journal in New Jersey, as one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies in New Jersey.

You can learn more about Sam by exploring his full bio here.

Sam’s 3 Guiding Leadership Beliefs:
  1. It’s all about people
  2. Creativity before capital
  3. Practice being a servant leader
3 Powerful Ways Sam Champions “Leadership That Works”: 1. People First

Sam’s leadership revolves around the importance of valuing people, which is notably aligned with ConantLeadership’s belief that to win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace. To bring this to life, he focuses on servant leadership and a people-focused mindset.

2. Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is another important pillar of Sam’s people-centric leadership approach. In a blog about gratitude he wrote, “The sincerely grateful soul is a good person who is always thankful. This personal brand remains affixed in the hearts and minds of those who know you.” True to this belief, Sam has developed a habit of writing thank-you cards. “I believe that saying thank you is often times not enough. I believe that if I am giving thanks that I must give those whom I am thanking more than spoken words. Therefore, I am in the habit of writing thank-you cards.”

3. Resilience

Sam has written thoughtfully about bouncing back from failures and making the most out of mistakes. “I have come to appreciate that pain is a useful guide to shaping future action. It does not cause right behavior, but makes one pause from the experience, therefore shaping future action.” This approach significantly aligns with ConantLeadership’s notion that taking responsibility is always the best leadership choice.

His four-step process for productive resilience is:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Make it right
  3. Lesson learned – Root cause
  4. Move on

The one message Sam would leave with leaders, above all else? “Learn to be resilient, have faith in God, and do the next thing with excellence.”

Know an amazing leader who has touched your life? Nominate them for our Champion award here.

How do you champion leadership that works in your daily life?  Share with us in the comments, how do you plan to do your next thing with excellence?

The post The Spring 2018 Champion of Leadership That Works appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Leadership is the art and science of influencing others in a specific direction. One of the most powerful ways to lead effectively and authentically over time is to develop your own personal leadership model. A leadership model is an organized approach to expressing how you want to lead in a way that is true to who you are; a model accounts for your purpose, your core beliefs, your goals, your personal story, and your unique temperament and skill-set.  (To give you an example, the ConantLeadership Flywheel is our Founder, Doug Conant‘s leadership model).

Practices transform the ideal into the real.

Ideally, a leadership model is an elegant representation of how you will lead in a way that honors both your competence and your character; at its best, it can empower you to deliver enduring high performance for all stakeholders.

At the ConantLeadership Boot Camp (our transformational leadership development program) we guide leaders through our custom process for creating their very own leadership model. Then, we ask them to cultivate practices to bring that model to life.  That’s where it gets really exciting. A lot of the work we do in our leadership development can seem intangible. There is a lot of thinking, ideation, reflection, and philosophizing — which is all necessary. You must dig deep to identify what your ideal leadership approach will look like. But it’s practices that transform all the idealism of driven leaders into the realism that makes an impact in actual leadership moments. In leadership, practices are what really make the difference; they transform thoughts into action.

To mobilize you to go forth and make a bigger difference in your organization, we’ve compiled some of the most effective high-impact practices that Boot Camp participants have cultivated and shared with us over the past year or so as they’ve created their models. We omitted names to protect privacy, but these are real, specific practices used by some of the top leaders in their field from Director to VP — and even to CEO level — in world-class companies from all over the globe. Hopefully, you will find something actionable below that helps you show up more meaningfully in your leadership. Explore the practices below and then share your own top practices in the comments.

1. “Be gracious with time and praise. Say thank you more often. And when I have a lot of follow-up questions, explain that I’m asking out of curiosity to ensure I fully understand how they got there, not to be critical.”

Connect with people on their turf.

2. “Knowing I have a tendency to interrupt and/or take over meetings, I have developed a Listening Better spreadsheet that I keep on my desk and bring to meetings. I record each time I either have the urge to interrupt, take over a meeting, or get distracted from either an email, IM, telephone call or simply look at my computer instead of staying focused on the interaction.  As I mark myself, I share the concept with the person/people I am meeting with as a form of transparency.”

3. “To get more commitment, get people more involved. Take the schedule and deadlines offline so they’re all on a highly visible board with people’s names and tasks. Find a way to recognize and celebrate people who got everything out on time and create a framework for assigning people to help each other.”

4. “Do weekly walk-and-talks with 3 or 4 key influencers in my group.”

5. “Encourage collaboration and parse out time at weekly team meeting for individuals to bring up problems they’re tackling. This encourages problem-solving from other team members so they don’t feel isolated on an ‘island.’”

6. “Listen better. Be more present in conversations. During meetings, I ask people to turn off phones and take notes with pen. I model the behavior by starting the meeting by turning off my devices to get the ball rolling and set the expectation.”

7. “When you have a meeting, go to their office or desk. Don’t just always have them come to you. Connect with people on their turf.”

8. “Sit down and spend informal time with each direct report. No multi-tasking or looking at devices. Practice being fully present for everyone in the room. Make sure that I’m properly connecting with people, especially outside the office. Informal opportunities for connection can include golfing or lunch on a more regular basis.”

9. “For better communication and transparency, I do ‘5-bullet Fridays’ – a weekly email that reports to my organization 5 things I want everyone to hear. Might be anything from expressions of gratitude to performance updates to welcoming new team members.”

10. “Make sure to provide ‘change updates’ during times of volatility and change. Add a ‘change’ element to the weekly staff meetings. Also add a quote to these meetings from authors, musicians, etc.”

11. “For increased accountability and engagement, be more inclusive with prioritization and tradeoff discussions. Don’t be the only ‘decider.’”

12. “Create a monthly newsletter that goes out to our team that focuses on what is working but also highlights what’s not working to open up a problem-solving forum to address issues and challenges. Gives people the opportunity to be recognized as problem-solvers.”

13. “Send in questions beforehand for regularly scheduled weekly or bi-weekly check-ins.”

14. “I’m working with a new team. To add transparency to this new initiative, will have a bi-weekly news brief arranged by the 5 goals we’ve set for our team. Scorecard will report against those goals—what’s working, what’s not. Potentially include video where leaders are interviewed about why key goals are important to them.”

Be gracious with time and praise.

15. “At end of monthly metrics report, add emails from customers to celebrate their recognition and ‘thank yous’ in a way that gives them visibility to senior management.”

16. “Working to alter the cadence/format of interaction in meetings. Idea is to change it from me always leading it, to empowering other team members to lead it, with me asking what I can do to help. Put the expectation on them to tell me where I should be focusing my attention.  This will force me to be quieter, let other people talk, and listen more. Engineer a situation in which I’m asking reports to set my agenda for me for the month.”

17. “End conversations with, ‘How can I support you?’’”

18. “I’m involved in a lot of cross-functional projects. With some of the more strategic projects, bring a team member along to give them more exposure to other parts of the organization, and give them the opportunity to participate in leading some of these meetings. I give updates to the VP of our group; I can empower other team members to give presentations on different facets to build their skills and develop them.”

19.” To strive for excellence, provide real-time feedback. Ensure timely course correcting and learning.”

20. “Take the time to recognize individual efforts by various members of our virtual team with a personal note.  While not a daily occurrence, it will be helpful for me to let team members know that I appreciate their significant efforts.  I ordered and received personal stationery last week.”

21. “Be very intentional to ‘make nice happen.’ Gift someone their favorite candy bar or tea.”

22. “We are in one of our most stressful times of the year. On Monday, I took it upon myself to roll up my sleeves and take on some of the “grunt” work.  I think I caught people off-guard because my behavior was not the norm.  I was appreciated for stepping in to assist but at the same time some were concerned my helping meant I wasn’t happy with their performance. To clarify, I made sure to express how great the project was going and that I only wanted to contribute to allow them more time for friends and family and to help eliminate those long hours of work.”

23. “Have coffee around the ‘scorecard’ once a week to discuss what’s going on. During this discussion, celebrate what has been accomplished and identify what needs attention.”

24. “I am very impatient and historically get directly to business. To get better, I am consciously adding, ‘Hi _____ how are you doing today, do you have a moment to discuss something.’  I am utilizing this both in person and on the telephone. It is slowly becoming easier to incorporate into my touchpoints and I will continue this practice as it does in fact change the tone of the engagement from both sides.”

25. “Me and the other attendees from my company have established a re-occurring meeting to build off the program and ‘hold each other accountable’ to living our purpose and leadership core beliefs. So far everything is positive; I have new motivation and direction to energize myself to bring additional leadership to my organization.”

**For more on practices, explore our post on the 5 traits of an effective leadership H.A.B.I.T, our post on how to listen like a leader, our treatise on how to choose goals that motivate your team, and discover our 10 powerful ways to give thanks with your leadership.

Interested in creating your own leadership model and suite of high-impact practices? Join ConantLeadership at one of our upcoming boot camps in Philadelphia, PA. Taught personally by our Founder and Fortune 300 CEO, Doug Conant, our 2-day in-person program kicks off a life-changing year of additional coaching and mentorship. This is an exclusive opportunity and space is limited. Apply today. 

(Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash)

The post 25 Specific, High-Impact Practices for Leaders appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the February edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most fascinating leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: why you should keep a diary, the secret to winning Olympic gold, how civility pays, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

The Secret to Winning Olympic Gold(s)

Norway has dominated the Winter Olympics this year, earning far more medals than any other country. What’s the secret to their success? The tight-knit and high-performing men’s ski team has five rules that guide their behavior and help them to rack up medals. Their top rule? Don’t be a jerk. (May seem obvious but it can often be easier said than done for the fiercely competitive athletic elite). Explore this article in The New York Times to learn all five of the team’s winning secrets.
**For more on teamwork, read our list of the three things all the best teams have

Change the Narrative

When you’re about to start a big or time-consuming project, what’s your inner monologue like? Is it helpful or hurtful? If you find yourself dreading the looming thing you “have” to do, you might get better results if you use a quick trick to change the narrative, says this interesting post from Eblin Group. Next time you’re embarking on a tricky project, instead of thinking about what you “have” to do, think about what you “get” to do. The results may surprise you. Read the full post here.

Civility Pays

Many leaders think kindness is viewed as weakness — but the opposite is true says Georgetown University professor and researcher, Chris Porath, in this fascinating TedXtalk. Research shows that civil behavior in the workplace leads to higher performance, more creativity, increased retention, and better results overall — whereas rudeness or incivility hurts performance by over 60%. Worse, incivility acts like a contagion and can spread virally and infect an entire organization. Watch the full talk to learn how changing small behaviors can help you leverage the power of civility and make a bigger impact.
**For more on civility read the interesting HBR article co-authored by Doug Conant and Chris Porath on the topic here.
**Follow that up with this post in The Wall Street Journal that found that exposure to even a little rudeness can harm job performance all day. 

The Path to Gender Parity

Today, women “make up a majority of college graduates and 40% of the classes at top MBA programs” but “make up just 25.1% of senior managers and executives at S&P 500 companies and only 4.4% of CEOs.” What is the best way to close the gap? According to this thoroughly researched piece from Bain & Company, the role of frontline managers is pivotal. “To help women get to the summit, frontline managers need to focus not only on building skills but also on bolstering aspiration and confidence.” Readers will find lots of specific, actionable advice here for championing women in their ascent to senior leadership positions.

Cohesion Is a Conversation

Leaders often pontificate on how to make organizational culture “real” and tangible. How do you best coalesce people around a set of values? The truth is, it happens in the smallest of moments. Daniel Coyle writes, “We normally think of cohesion as a trait: groups either have it or they don’t. But that’s wrong. Cohesion is a conversation. It’s an exchange of behaviors that happens over and over.” Read the full post here.
**For more on the power of moments, explore our post on influencing people with honor here and our post on ten powerful ways to value people with your leadership here

Why You Should Keep a Diary

At ConantLeadership, we believe that leadership that works is inside-out. The best leaders reap insights from their own reflections and use those insights to inform how they engage with the world with more intention, awareness, and effectiveness. One practice that can make this idea more approachable is keeping a journal. Why? According to artist Austin Kleon, keeping a diary has several benefits including helping you pay attention to the world and giving yourself a space to have bad ideas. Read his full post on keeping a diary here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from JanuaryDecember, and November Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience in 2018, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder — internationally renowned business leader and Fortune 300 CEO — Doug Conanthere.

(Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash)

The post 6 Fascinating Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the January edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the best leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: 5 mindset shifts to transform your organization, why you need a work BFF, how to make better decisions, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. (If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here:

Contribute to Society or Bust

Historically, hardliner capitalists have held that a company’s primary purpose is to make money. But that may be changing. One of the world’s most influential and powerful investors, Laurence D. Fink, CEO of the investment firm, BlackRock, has penned a letter this month, profiled here in The New York Times, that could be a catalyst for change. “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” writes Fink, adding, “to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” Importantly, if companies fail to comply with this directive to deliver social as well as financial value, they risk losing BlackRock’s support. Explore the entire story here.

Are You Self-Aware? 

The secret to improving your behaviors and achieving lasting change may be found in emotional self-awareness says this interesting Key Step Media post. Why? “Absent self-awareness, we’re unable to consistently manage our impulses, motivations, and actions, instead letting our habitual reactions get the best of us.” To be more conscious of the choices you’re making in each moment, try the three practices for developing self-awareness recommended here.
** For more on honing your self-awareness, check out our enlightening prompts for reflection herehere, and here

Why You Need a Work BFF

While many leaders and workers consider friendships at work to be a “nice-to-have”, few consider work friendships to be essential to performance. But Gallup‘s research tells a different story. “Our research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job” writes Annamarie Mann in this Gallup report. Consistently, their surveys show that having a “best friend” at work leads to better performance. This holds true across genders, but in particular for women who report that the social aspect of work is crucial to their engagement. Convinced? Gallup provides strategies leaders can use to create the conditions for meaningful friendships to form here.
**For more on relationship-building, explore our post on why tough-minded leaders must be ace relationship builders.

5 Mindset Shifts to Transform Your Organization

Today’s rapidly changing commercial and social environment is, “pressing organizations to become more agile; in response, a new organizational form is emerging”  that exhibits five crucial mindset shifts writes McKinsey in this thorough article. Each of the five shifts are valuable individually but their impact is only truly optimized when they are all active and present simultaneously. To ensure your organization is equipped to rapidly adapt and thrive in today’s marketplace, work to make these five crucial shifts in mindset and approach.
**For more on adapting your organization, read our post on why organizations must grow or die

How to Make Better, Faster Decisions

“Fighter pilots have to work fast. Taking a second too long to make a decision can cost them their lives” writes Shane Parrish in this Farnam Street post on how to make better decisions. Since fighter pilots have to test out their decision-making chops when the stakes are high and time is short, there’s lots for us regular leaders to learn from them about how to assess situations and act — both in our everyday lives and when the pressure’s mounting. One highly effective practice, borrowed from fighter pilots, is the “OODA Loop.” Developed by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd, the OODA loop stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Learn exactly how to apply it for better results in your leadership in this deep-dive into the practice.

Care to Connect

To maximize your impact in 2018, turn your attention to building better relationships and fostering connections says Mary Jo Asmus in this empowering post. “You can be the facilitator and demonstrator of what it means to connect, relate, mentor, coach, and help others” by following her five simple steps for engaging with people more fully.
**For more on fostering connection, explore our highly effective leadership habit for building relationships.

From ConantLeadership:

32 quotes about the Power of Habits

As February approaches, many begin to experience a waning in the momentum they had towards reaching their goals on January 1st.  To keep moving forward, we find it helpful to be mindful of the power of habits.  After allhabits transform dreams into reality. To help you keep moving towards your loftiest aspirations with gusto, we compiled 32 quotes about the power of habits.  The quotes are compiled from people across professions and spheres of influence. Read them here.

Leadership Resolutions for 2018

Continuous improvement is at the heart of leadership that works and at the center of a fulfilling life. To help with the transition to a new year filled with fresh challenges and opportunities for growth, we compiled a list of leadership resolutions for 2018. It’s not too late to glean inspiration from these resolutions. As this year ramps into full swing, there are still lots of motivating tips, goals, and leadership insights to explore here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from DecemberNovember,  and October. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here. Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience in 2018, apply to attend our leadership Boot Camp, taught personally by our Founder — internationally renowned business leader and Fortune 300 CEO — Doug Conanthere.

(Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash)

The post The Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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An important part of leadership that works is continuous improvement. To keep growing,  it helps to consult the vast wisdom of others, across professions and spheres of influence.  Quotes — even though they’re short and don’t explore complex topics in depth — can often, within the space of a few characters, change our entire perspective about a challenge we’re facing, or provide an actionable insight we can apply in our leadership.

As February approaches, many begin to experience a waning in the momentum they had towards reaching their goals on January 1st.  To keep moving forward, we find it helpful to be mindful of the power of habits. Setting intentions and goals is essential to leadership (and life) success. But how do you bring those intentions to fruition? You do it through small actions, repeated faithfully, until they become hardwired habits. It’s good habits that transform dreams into reality. (And, conversely, it can sometimes be a misguided adherence to bad habits that holds us back.) To help you keep moving towards your loftiest aspirations with gusto, we compiled 32 quotes about the power of habits. Enjoy! And make sure to share your favorite quotes about habits in the comments or by tweeting @DougConant.

32 Quotes about the Power of Habits

1. If you want to cultivate a habit, do it without any reservation, till it is firmly established. Until it is so confirmed, until it becomes a part of your character, let there be no exception, no relaxation of effort. – Mahavira

2. Without struggle, no progress and no result. Every breaking of habit produces a change in the machine. – George Gurdjieff

3. We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. At that point, we’re free from the need to decide and the need to use willpower. – Gretchen Rubin

4. Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it. – Horace Mann

5. Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it. – Dr. Maya Angelou

6. Any act often repeated soon forms a habit; and habit allowed, steady gains in strength, At first it may be but as a spider’s web, easily broken through, but if not resisted it soon binds us with chains of steel. – Tyron Edwards

7. There is just no getting around that turning bad things into good things is up to you. – Deepak Chopra

8. Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny. – Charles Reade

9. We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough. – Helen Keller

10. I just never, ever want to give up. Most battles are won in the 11th hour, and most people give up. If you give up once, it’s quite hard. If you give up a second time, it’s a little bit easier. Give up a third time, it’s starting to become a habit. – Lewis Gordon Pugh

11. To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves. – Virginia Woolf

12. You can start right where you stand and apply the habit of going the extra mile by rendering more service and better service than you are now being paid for. – Napoleon Hill

13. Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. – Aristotle

14. Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. – Twyla Tharp

15. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude. – Colin Powell

16. The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. – Samuel Johnson

17. Good habits are worth being fanatical about. – John Irving

18. Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character. – Stephen Covey

19. The best kind of happiness is a habit you’re passionate about. – Shannon L. Adler

20. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. – Jim Ryun

21. The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones. – Steven Pressfield

22. Self-reflection is a much kinder teacher than regret is. Prioritize yourself by making a habit of it. – Andrena Sawyer

23. Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which. – Gary Ryan Blair

24. Don’t try to rush progress. Remember — a step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Keep believing. – Kara Goucher

25. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)

26. Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging. – Brené  Brown

27. Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense. – Charles Duhigg

28. The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude. – Oprah

29. Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. – Benjamin Franklin

30. People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out. – Warren Bennis

31. The best way to change it is to do it, right? And then after a while you become it, and it’s easy. – Ursula Burns

32. Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny. – Gandhi

More Quote Collections

Enjoyed these 32 quotes about the power of habits? For more collections of inspiring leadership quotes, check out our 25 Quotes about Managing Change, our 26 Tough-Minded Leadership Quotes for Better Performance, our 37 Quotes on Reaching Life & Leadership Goals, our Quotes That Inspire Greater Commitment, our 52 Quotes about Trust and Leadership, our 26 Quotes for the Holiday Season, and our 38 Quotes about Bravery and Leadership.

(Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash)

The post 32 Quotes about the Power of Habits appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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