Leadership is more than a style

December 6, 2017


It’s tempting to label your leadership style:

Autocratic, Strategic, Transactional, Charismatic, Visionary, Laissez-faire…

The list goes on.

Instead of trying to fit into a style, stand out with your substance.

Substance provides meaning and allows your team to sink their teeth into their work.

It’s the clear and compelling answers to questions that weigh on their hearts and minds:

  1. What is our purpose?
  2. What do we do and how do we do it?
  3. What are our values?
  4. What is my role and expectations?
  5. What are my tools?
  6. How will I know when I’m performing well?
  7. How will I know when I’m not performing well?
  8. What might a reasonable career path look like?
  9. Who can I count on for support and coaching?
  10. What is the evidence that my work matters?

When these answers are known, engagement and results multiply.

Your people are not inspired by your style, they are inspired by knowing how they can bring value to the table.

When you help them make that connection, a team that has to follow you transforms into a team that wants to follow you.

Engaging leadership all about substance.

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Working less won’t cure burnout

November 29, 2017

Working less won't cure burnout

Burnout is at epidemic proportions. It isn’t industry or job specific.

Symptoms include: emptiness, lethargy, and that feeling Sunday night when your stomach clenches in anticipation of the workweek.

Sometimes it can feel like despair.

Excessive exertion is only a piece of the equation.

The core catalyst of burnout is prolonged effort without meaning.

We are amazingly productive and resilient when there is meaning behind what we do.

Does your work matter?

Does your role make a difference?

Is there meaning behind what you do?

The longer these questions go unanswered, the quicker you lose your drive.

The cure to burnout isn’t less work; it’s more meaning.

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Loyalty happens after the sale

November 20, 2017

WM (1)

Everyone expects good service before they buy.

That’s why the most effective time to differentiate your customer experience is after the sale.

Boost your marketing strategy with a few low-to-no cost initiatives aimed at retaining the same customers you worked so hard to acquire:

  • Demonstrate gratitude with a check-in call or personal thank you note
  • Provide interesting or helpful information that will empower them to maximize their investment or purchase
  • Resolve questions, problems, or complaints with as much urgency as you did before the sale

Reassure your customers that they made the right decision to spend their money with you.

Instead of inflicting buyer’s remorse, instill customer loyalty.

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The truth about telling it like it is

November 15, 2017

WM (2)

The phrase sounds bold and confident: “I just tell it like it is.”

Truth is, when this practice morphs into an unbridled fault-finding communication style, bodies are left in its wake.

This isn’t the way of an engaging leader.

Ask yourself: Does my ‘telling it like it is’ build people up or leave them wounded?

If your words deflate and discourage…change that. It takes more discipline and skill to build then to demolish.

Even with difficult conversations, decide how people can leave your interactions feeling optimistic and confident.

Next time you aim your truth at someone, check your motives.

Choose your words and tone carefully. Use them for the power of good.

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Words Matter #10: Choose learning over knowing

November 10, 2017

Words Matter #10 Choose Learning over knowing


It’s what we think people need.


We’re convinced that’s how we provide value.


We’re certain it’s what we get paid for.

This thinking can be shortsighted and is a heavy yoke to bear.

Rather than having all the right responses, what if we:

  • Ask what others think
  • Learn someone else’s perspective
  • Become curious about contrasting opinions

More asking. Less telling.

More learning. Less knowing.

More curiosity. Less certainty.

Give it a shot.


Click to hone your skills with another topic in the Words Matter series:

Words Matter #9: Say what you want

Words Matter #8: Maximize your conversational influence

Words Matter #7: Face your truth

Words Matter #6: Aim to impact; not impress

Words Matter #5: What’s love got to do with it?

Words Matter #4: Don’t contaminate the conversation

Words Matter #3: It’s not about you

Words Matter #2: Three dead-weight words to leave behind

Words Matter #1: Communicate with power


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People are interesting when you become interested

November 1, 2017

White Notebook Business Card

What if everyone was interesting? Fascinating even…

Genuine interest, a few skilled questions, and a willingness to listen are the only tools needed to transform this ‘what if’ into a ‘what is’.

Just beyond the common differentiators of gender, generation, and race…vistas of commonalities, connections, and coincidences are waiting to be uncovered and explored.

Test it out. Dedicate 5-minutes to inviting a colleague, friend, or neighbor to thoughtfully reflect on one of these questions:

  • Tell me about a person who has had a major impact on your life.
  • If you could go back 10 years and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
  • When people speak of you and you’re not around, what do you want them to say?
  • Tell me about a life challenge you’ve faced. How did you overcome it?
  • What adventure or goal are you still hoping to embark on or accomplish one day?

People are interesting when you become interested.

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How to recognize a starving strategy

October 25, 2017

How to regognize a starving strategy with shadow

If strategy is the engine, culture is the fuel.

Fine-tuning the mechanics of your operation won’t get you anywhere with a tank on “E”.

We would laugh a racecar driver off the track if they claimed that winning was essential but gas was optional.

So why don’t we question leaders who claim that profitability is essential but culture is optional?

Culture feeds the machine.

If you ignore what goes in…you won’t be able to ignore what comes out:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Lethargic work ethic
  • Higher turnover
  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Lack of team pride/passion/purpose
  • Dwindling profits

These are the symptoms of a starving strategy.

Highly-effective leaders know optimal performance can’t be achieved with cultural deficit.

Rather than spending more time perfecting your strategy, build a culture that’s capable of achieving it.


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3 Common Reactions that Prevent Loyalty

October 19, 2017

3 Common Reactions that Prevent

Loyal customers exhibit powerful behaviors:

  • They keep coming back
  • They only have eyes for you
  • They brag about you
  • They seek you out
  • They forgive you

If these aren’t the customers coming through your door, consider this:

Loyalty is not the responsibility of the customer; it is the responsibility of the company.

Here are 3 common experiences that prevent your customers from choosing to be loyal:

  1. Policy: “Well, our policy is…”
    • Don’t allow policies to become barriers. Instead, consider how you can make things work for the benefit of your customers.
  1. Problem: “Here’s the problem…”
    • Customers have enough problems of their own without you piling more on. Instead, talk about the solutions you can provide.
  1. Pass-it-along: “That’s not my department…”
    • Rather than pass the responsibility of customer care onto someone else, stick with them until the problem is solved.

Loyal customers/clients/patients are rare because mediocre interactions are abundant.

Your customers are seeking an experience that will transform their satisfaction into loyalty. Make loyalty an easy choice by providing an uncommon experience that focuses on them, solves problems, and takes responsibility for seeing things through.

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Words Matter#9: Say what you want

October 11, 2017


Words Matter #9

“We’ve got to reduce defects.”

After the director of manufacturing stated his goal, I asked, “What if your team found a way to increase quality?”

We often default to language that emphasizes what we don’t want:

  • Don’t trip
  • Don’t forget your keys
  • Stop feeling so nervous

Instead, select language that focuses on what you do want:

  • Watch your step
  • Remember your keys
  • Take a deep breath and be confident

What cause would you rather rally behind? Decreasing the bad, or increasing the good?

The next goal you set for yourself, or your team, be aware of your language.

A slight shift in words can make a huge difference in motivation.

Words Matter: Say what you want.


Click to hone your skills with another topic in the Words Matter series:

Words Matter #8: Maximize your conversational influence

Words Matter #7: Face your truth

Words Matter #6: Aim to impact; not impress

Words Matter #5: What’s love got to do with it?

Words Matter #4: Don’t contaminate the conversation

Words Matter #3: It’s not about you

Words Matter #2: Three dead-weight words to leave behind

Words Matter #1: Communicate with Power

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Practical Pointer #2: Shift from knowing about to knowing

October 4, 2017

Practical Pointer 2

The health of meaningful workplace relationships is under assault.

The cause? Look no farther than the usual suspects:

Pace. Deadlines. Meetings. Tasks. Projects. Deliverables.

We often ask our clients, “What does it look like to know about your colleagues without knowing them?”

One of the best answers we’ve heard is, “It’s asking them to run a report, without knowing the names of their kids.”

Powerful and honest.

The oversight of the human element impacts us individually and collectively.

As our workplace relationships suffer so does a whole host of corresponding business results.

The pace of business isn’t going to slow down. The more hectic things get, the more intentional we must be.

Despite the chaos, make the choice to pause and ask someone a personal question today:

  • What led you to come work here?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What does your family like to do together?

When you shift from knowing about to knowing, the people around you become more interesting and energizing. Not because they changed…because you changed.


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