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10 Ways to Assess Reality Correctly as a Leader by Dr. Tony Baron

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance. 

 With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject. We are currently co-authoring a book that combines Tony’s scholarship and my straight talk about the challenges faced by today’s leaders. Meanwhile, I will be sharing guest posts by Tony from time to time to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim

About an hour before this post was written, President Trump suggested that news media outlets (with the exception of Fox) should compete for a Fake News Trophy. With the President’s daily dose of doubts about the veracity of news media, coupled with algorithms that determine what news spreads, and even the capability to create digital doppelgangers of politicians and celebrities, confidence in our ability to assess reality correctly has never been more shaken.

Yet, long before the 21st century, leaders have struggled with their ability to assess reality correctly. In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin explains that, for centuries, “[Kings have] traditionally surrounded themselves with a well-fed and well-paid court of supplicants, each of whom has a vested interest in keeping things as they are.” Today’s leaders don’t need supplicants, they need counselors.

Here are ten suggestions for how to assess reality correctly when you’re the leader:

1. Seek counsel from those who are directly involved with the presenting problem.

2. Seek counsel from those who have presented past decisions correctly.

3. Seek counsel from those who have nothing to gain personally from the decision.

4. Seek counsel from those who desire a balance between profit, people, and planet.

5. Seek counsel from those who respond and not react to the problem.

6. Gather as much information as possible from a wide variety of resources.

7. Ask yourself if the people who offer advice are giving you the pros and cons of the decision, or if they are minimizing the pros and cons.

8. Seek what is morally good in the decision process:

a. Look for the objective good

b. Look for the primary intention of doing the good

c. Does the decision benefit all the key stakeholders?

9. Determine if the decision calls for a command decision, consultation decision, or a consensus decision to be successful in seeking reality.

10. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent. Pause and think through the unintended consequences of the decision.

Your team is looking to you as a model for assessing reality correctly. Practice getting counsel, rather than information, and focus on decision quality, rather than quantity.

Question: What are you doing to make sure your decisions are based in reality?

 

Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadership and a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard. Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.

Meet the Elite Leadership Vanguard Ready to Drop Into Your Organization

Some of the most rewarding hours I spent in 2017 were those working as a pro bono Executive Coach for The Honor Foundation (THF). This San Diego-based non-profit helps former Navy SEALs and other elite U.S. Special Operations Forces transition out of military service and into the corporate world.

THF is a world-class, 120-hour program started by CEO Joe Musselman out of a combination of desperation and drive to serve others. In 2012, Joe was faced with the most difficult transition of his life. He had enlisted in the Navy with a dream to become a Navy SEAL. While in training one day, Joe sustained a serious injury. By nightfall, he was medically discharged. The next 12 months led Joe through rehabilitation and the discovery of dozens of other members of the SEAL community who were in serious need of help to transition out of military service and into the civilian world.

As he dug further into the issue, Joe found that just 13% of SEALs had job offers when they got out of the service. He compared this to the 98% of Wharton MBA graduates who received 2-3 job offers upon graduation. Even those SEALs who did find employment often moved from job to job in the first five years after transitioning. That was the injustice that Joe set out to correct in 2013.

On December 7, 2017, THF graduated its 13th group of Special Operations Forces. 35 men who have served our country with honor now have the tools they need to confidently enter the workforce with pride and a sure footing. They are prepared to take the leap of faith that the civilian world will honor their service, embrace their elite training, and place them in positions worthy of their talents.

It is my honor to introduce you to six members of the Group 13 graduating class, and to invite you to learn more about how you can employ, mentor, coach or donate to this amazing organization.

1. Jarryd Allison, “I am passionate about values-driven companies with high-performing and multi-disciplined teams that apply innovation, initiative, and technology to solve the most difficult problems.”

What he brings to the team: As an engineer, I understand the value of technology and teams to create innovative solutions. Learning music has taught me to understand the importance of creativity, and the blending of individual skills to produce incredible teams. Serving as an intelligence and special operations officer has honed my work ethic as a servant leader to inspire through empathy, understanding, and values.

Areas of Interest: Seeking to bring my skills to an inspiring company with outstanding teams that are driven by shared values to improve lives.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Aerospace Engineering, University of Colorado

 

2. Nicolas Hann, “I prefer a collaborative environment where the leaders work for those people that work for them.”

What he brings to the team: A passion for leading and working with dynamic and high performing teams deeply rooted in learning from his parents – both educators – that genuine love and inspiration towards every individual will result in a team that cannot be stopped.

Areas of Interest: Seeking an opportunity to use his extensive supply chain, logistics, budget planning and administration skills in the biotech industry in either San Diego or Boston.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, International Relations and Affairs, Boston University, Applying for MBA, Fall of 2018.

Bonus: Watch Dr. Elizabeth Fried’s video interview of Nicolas here.

 

3. Luke Howard-Vesci, “My exposure to solving complex challenges around the world has sharpened my intuition and I am looking forward to utilizing my leadership attributes, unique skills and active awareness in a variety of future roles.”

What he brings to the team: Over 12 years of experience in dynamic and high-stress environments. Excels through innovation, strategic leadership, and building quality relationships within a team.

Areas of interest: Innovation, strategic leadership, and building quality relationships in a dynamic organization.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Organizational Leadership, Business Administration & Management, University of Charleston

 

4. Thaddeus Siwinski, “Looking forward to leveraging my leadership experience, unique skills, and sharpened intuition to make a significant impact in business.”

What he brings to the team: I specialize in communicating strategy and aligning it with tactics to lead cross-functional teams in dynamic and stressful environments.

Areas of interest: Project Management • Cross-functional team leadership • Problem Solving • Strategy Implementation • Data Analysis • Interpersonal Communication • Risk Management

Education: MBA, University of Maryland, College Park

 

5. Levi Terry, “Able to bring unique and creative ideas to the table.”

What he brings to the team: Eight years of experience with computer networking, penetration testing, information assurance, intelligence analysis, and programming.

Areas of interest: To ensure that information systems and networks, as well as their residing data, are secure from breaches in a private sector technical or management position in cyber security.

Education: Computer Science, University of Maryland University College

Bonus: Watch Dr. Elizabeth Fried’s video interview of Levi here.

 

6. Jason Torey, “Principled leader who is passionate about inspiring and helping people ignite their unrealized potential.”

What he brings to the team: Over 24 years of experience leading highly technical and superior performing cross-functional teams dispersed domestically and globally in the achievement of strategic goals. 

Areas of interest: A senior leadership position in an ethical and values-based organization.

Education: MBA, Washington State University; Doctor of Executive Leadership, University of Charleston (2019)

Bonus: Watch Dr. Elizabeth Fried’s video interview of Jason here.

 

7. Jason Tuschen, “Highly focused on leading problem solving through collaboration of differing opinions and detailed root cause analysis.”

What he brings to the team: 27 years of military and Special Operations experience functionally equivalent to a private sector COO.

Areas of interest: Working with diverse cultures to develop effective solutions in complex, dynamic, and high-risk environments.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Business Administration and Management, Excelsior College

Bonus: Read about Jason’s leadership role in the New York Times Best-Seller, Code Name: Johnny Walker

If your organization could benefit from service-minded, adaptable, problem solvers like these, there is no more elite group of talent than the graduates of The Honor Foundation. Contact The Honor Foundation here to learn more about employing, mentoring, coaching and sponsorship opportunities for this world-class program.

Question: What can you do to serve people who have dedicated their lives in service to others?  

 


Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. We hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If we can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

3 Simple Questions to Find Your ‘Why’ in 2018

Welcome to another year, and another round of jokes about not keeping New Year’s resolutions. To-wit: The 13 funniest tweets about New Year’s resolutions.

All joking aside, those who will make this year a true success are not focused on their New Year’s resolutions – about what they will start doing or stop doing. Instead, they are focused on their why. They’ve taken the time to connect the dots of who they are with what they do. And that is a very powerful motivator.

This year, don’t resolve to do two or three small things differently. Instead, take the time to connect with your why. What can you do to make an enduring impact? Here are three simple questions to get you started.

1. What did you want to be before the world ‘should’ on you? You know. “You should go into accounting.” “You should take over your father’s law practice.” “You should study medicine.” As Mark Albion writes in More Than Money, “It’s easy to slide into a career that matches your skills but not your deepest desires. When you get good at something you don’t want to do, you feel as if you’re dying a little bit each day – that your soul is being sucked out of you. Worse yet, it takes time to realize what’s going on.”

2. What did you want to do when you were eleven or twelve? In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham suggests that we remember our ‘yearnings’. He writes, “Perhaps because of your genes, or your early experiences, as a child you found yourself drawn to some activities and repelled by others. While your brother was chasing his friends around the yard, you settled down to tinker with the sprinkler head, pulling it apart so that you could figure out how it worked. Your analytical mind was already making its presence known.” Your purpose is hiding right beneath the surface of your life. It threads between the major events of your life and opens windows of opportunity.

3. What legacy do you want to leave?  Author Michael Gerber takes this idea to an extreme in his book, The E-Myth Revisited. He asks that you imagine attending your own funeral. All of your friends, your family, and your business associate are there. Picture yourself lying in the box in the center of the room, then listen. Imagine what your colleagues would say about you. Would they talk about the margins you gained? The deals you closed? The efficiencies you implemented? Or, would they talk about the value you left behind? How you helped them grow? How they are better off because they knew you? Starting today, you have the power to shape these conversations.

Rather than rushing to the gym or buying an organizer, take some time this month to connect with your why. There’s no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. Find your passion. Connect with your why. Work on purpose.

Question: Do you know someone who is guided by a clear sense of purpose? What differences do you see in their daily behavior?

Interested in finding your WHY? Watch my SUE Talk about the importance of placing significance over success and connecting who you are with what you do.

Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is almost over. But before we dive into 2018, we took a look back at which of this year’s posts got the most social media traffic. The most popular posts covered how to lead through change while keeping our egos in check and employees engaged. Then there are the lists. Three out of the top ten are lists of leadership books that we thought were worth the turn of the page.

Regardless of the nature of each post, we tried to find a lesson or two that you could take away in 750 words or less. Something you could apply at the office that day, or that might slightly sharpen your skills as a leader.

Here are the ten posts that we hope served that purpose:

 

10. 3 Ways Humble Leaders Keep their Egos in check

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” 

That’s a statement that author Ken Blanchard explains in sports terms. “Can you imagine,” asks Blanchard, “training for the Olympics with no one telling you how fast you ran or how high you jumped?” The leadership application, of course, is that without feedback we cannot accurately assess reality. If we don’t know what we’re doing wrong, or what’s going wrong, we can’t fix it. This makes sense intellectually, but in reality, feedback can go down like a bowl of cold, lumpy oatmeal. [Read more]

 

9. 4 Ways Introverts Excel as Leaders

What do Charles DarwinCandice Bergen and Michael Jordan have in common? They’re all introverts. So are Bill GatesWarren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg. When we think about the personality traits that effective leaders need, we typically think of people who are charismatic, dominant, and outgoing. We think of extroverts. Especially in the U.S. A study by researchers at Stanford suggests that Western cultures value excitement, and that these values carry over into the behavior of leaders in those countries. Author and TED Talk contributor Susan Cain agrees. [Read more]

 

 

8. 6 Women Who Put the Leadership Question to Bed

No matter what your political views are, the question of women in power was brought to the international stage during last year’s election season in the U.S. Below are insights from six women driven by their inner strength, passion, and drive to make a difference. Their examples can serve to motivate both women and men to set aside their fears and become better versions of themselves. [Read more]

 

 

 

7. The 6 Principles of Humility, By Dr. Tony Baron

Demonstrating modesty has been underrated. Yet, when you read some significant thinkers in the corporate world like Jim Collins or in the church world like Larry Osborne, they think it is the essential ingredient of good leadership. In 2013, Harvard Business Review published an article on how to cultivate humility as a leader. Authors John Dame and Jeffrey Gedmin suggested that every developing leader should be taught these 6 principles of humility. [Read more]

 

 

 

6. 8 Leadership Books to Add to Your Summer Tote

Looking for some titles to add to your reading list this summer? Pull out your tote and pick up some of our top picks. From recent bestsellers to old-school business parables, here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the read. Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Others can give you the insight you need to tackle your greatest challenges of 2017. [Read more]

 

 

 

5. Power is not Leadership: 4 Lessons from Orangutans

Danum Valley is an ancient tropical forest on the northeastern tip of Borneo with an outstanding complement of flora and fauna. It is the largest remaining area of virgin undisturbed lowland rainforest on the island spanning 170 square miles. Recognized as one of the world’s most complex ecosystems, Danum Valley lies along the upper reaches of the Segama River and is flanked by vast timber concession acreage. The valley is home to rare and endangered species like the Sumatran rhino, the Asian elephant, the clouded leopard, and the orangutan. [Read more]

 

 

4. 8 Must Read Books on Women in Leadership

“Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives.” 

That was the opening salvo in Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 best-selling book Lean In. The book sparked debate about gender equality and urged women to expect and demand more for their careers. But Sandberg’s book certainly wasn’t the first to challenge women to reach for greater leadership roles. In keeping with Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled the most compelling titles on the subject, and offer our top picks that are well worth the turn of the page. [Read more]

 

 

3. 4 Easy Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now!

Every week, I talk to leaders who are responsible for making sweeping organizational changes. Some are going through mergers. Some are opening new international markets. Others are leading major rebranding initiatives. Change is pervasive in our society and a fact of life in organizations. It’s easy to get caught up in the sexy complexities of organizational change. So easy, in fact, that we can forget to connect with what our employees are doing each day to keep the engines running. If that disconnect is too great, we run the risk of creating lasting damage. [Read more]

 

 

2. 6 Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List

Hoping to catch up on your reading over the holidays? Why not put some of the top titles of 2017 on your wish list? We’ve curated a collection of books published in 2017 that stand out from the pack. These titles aren’t only for CEO’s. Some are deeply reported feats of investigative journalism that are just compelling stories, no matter what your day job. [Read more]

 

 

 

And our #1 most popular blog of 2017 was [drumroll]….

 

1. 6 Things Successful Change Leaders Know

Can you feel it in the air? For the past few weeks, everything around us has been changing. The sun is setting earlier. Leaves are changing in color to vibrant reds and deep yellows. There’s no denying that fall is here and winter is just around the corner. As humans, we are hard wired to accept the inevitability of seasonal changes. Although we can manage extreme weather changes of four seasons a year, why are we so resistant to organizational changes? [Read more]

 

 

It’s been an honor to share our thoughts with you this year. We truly appreciate your comments, your likes, and your shares. We look forward to continuing the conversation in 2018.

 

Question: What thought leaders did you follow most in 2017? Did you learn anything that helped you become a better leader?

3 Simple Techniques to Beat Holiday Stress

Holidays. They really are the best of times and the worst of times.

The end-of-year holidays are certainly a happy time for most of us, but the stress of the season puts many of us on such an edge that we wish it would all just go away. A recent article published in The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter confirms that the stress you may be feeling this time of year actually causes your brain to function differently.

According to Dr. Ellen Braaten, Director of the Learning and Intelligence Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, “Because the holiday season often requires us to keep track of and pay attention to a greater number of responsibilities than usual, the brain’s prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive. Over time, a high level of demand can decrease memory, halt production of new brain cells, and cause existing brain cells to die.”

This pile-on to an already overloaded calendar can make it difficult to focus on completing even the simplest of tasks. Stress overload can cause us to want to just give up trying to accomplish anything and mainline eggnog until New Year’s Day. Fortunately, there are three simple techniques you can use to rewire your brain when you’re feeling stressed – any time of the year.

1.    Practice Gratitude. Don’t let scarce resources distract you from what you already have that brings you joy. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher at University of California, Davis, has found that gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. From just saying a heartfelt “thank you” to someone who makes your day easier, to downloading a gratitude app, mindfully practicing gratitude is a good first step to beating stress.

2.    Be a Giver. We all know that giving helps others. Whether we volunteer, offer emotional support to those around us, or donate to charities. But studies show that giving is also good for the giver – boosting physical and mental health. When researchers from the National Institutes of Health looked at the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities, they found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain — releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” You don’t have to drain your bank account to be a giver. Chances are, you already know someone who could benefit directly from your time, talent, or treasure. Just think about what giving did for Scrooge!

3.    Extend Grace. When we experience stress, the slightest thing can set us off. Coffee spilled on the drive to work. Ugly sweater party emails. People who run late for your meeting. If you allow these small things to pile up, they can trigger what Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman refers to as an “amygdala hijack.” Don’t let your body run on a cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol. Instead, let go of the little things that annoy you – about yourself and others – and extend grace. Grace goes further than ignoring or forgiving. It’s an attitude that expresses our dignity and affirms the dignity of those around us. Grace allows us to rise above conflict, and helps to establish calm in the swirl of chaos.

This three-part strategy requires minimal time and effort. Gratitude, giving, and grace can be highly effective when used in combination. When practiced mindfully over time, you’ll have the ability to thwart stress overload any time of the year.

Question: What techniques have you practiced to beat stress overload?

Doing Well by Doing Good: 12 Companies that Got it Right in 2017

The strongest organizations in the world achieve sustainable success largely because they understand the value of culture as a competitive advantage. Whether you nurture it or not, you have a culture. It may be empowering or toxic. Either way, the results are showing up on your bottom line.

Here are the 12 companies we featured in CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

1. Dancing Deer Baking Company, Hyde Park, MA, “Scratch-Baked Goodness to the Community”

Dancing Deer Baking Company has flourished since introducing its first cookie in 1994 and so has the community of Hyde Park, Massachusettes. The bakery hires chronically unemployed individuals in the community and dedicates a portion of its profits to local development projects. Dancing Deer has won national recognition for its delicious baked goods, its sustainable business practices, and its community impact initiatives. [Read more]

 

2. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, Vista, CA, “All-One”

 

Open a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Liquid Soap, and you’ll be taking part of a story that dates back over 150 years. It’s a story that began with a family of soapmakers in the Jewish community of Heilbronn, Germany. The story includes the holocaust, an escape from a Chicago mental institution, an attempted crucifixion on a bridge in 1945 Woodstock, and, well, it’s a complex epic that has passed through five generations of the Bronner family. [Read more]

 

3. Masonite, Tampa, FL, “Helping people walk through walls”Not many American companies today can trace their history back for 92 years, or link to inventor Thomas Edison. But, Masonite, a publicly-traded company (NYSE: DOOR) can follow its roots back to Laurel, Mississippi, and its founder William H. Mason, an apprentice of Thomas Edison. [Read more]

 

4. Stonyfield, Londonderry, NH, “Yogurt on a mission

 

While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school. [Read more]

 

5. Igloo Products Corp., Katy, TX, “Culture of commitment”

If you’ve ever gone on a family picnic, packed a boat for a day of fishing, or brought drinks to keep the soccer team hydrated, there’s a good chance an Igloo® ice chest was involved. Igloo chests, along with the iconic red and white coolers, are just two of more than 550 products made by the 70-year old Igloo Products Corporation in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston. [Read more]

 

6. W.L. Gore and Associates, Newark, DE, “Conscious culture”

 

Imagine operating a manufacturing company with no core product, no bosses, and a democratically-elected CEO. How long do you think it would survive? [Read more]

 

7. Sticker Giant Longmont, CO, “Open book management”

 

One political bumper sticker based on the indecision of the Bush/Gore presidential election in 2000. That’s how CEO John Fischer launched StickerGiant from his basement 17 years ago. Today, the company employees nearly 40 people and processes about 18 miles of sticker material every week. [Read more]

 

8. TGI Fridays, Dallas, TX, “The gift of time”

 

You have to hand it to a company that has survived for five decades, fought off imitators, and endured shaming for asking its employees to wear flair. The chain’s signature look – a combination of Antiques Roadshow and Hoarders – actually started in 1965 as one of New York’s City’s first singles bars. [Read more]

 

9. Great Little Box Company, Richmond, BC, “Big Outrageous Xtravaganza (BOX) Goals”

 

For 35 years, Canadian-based Great Little Box Company has created an equally great little culture. What started as a three-person shop in 1982, has grown to 225 employees in locations across British Columbia and Vancouver, Washington. [Read more]

 

10. Meltwater, San Francisco, CA, “MER values”

 

The year was 2001, just after the dotcom bubble burst. Jorn Lyseggen had a big idea for a new business, a coffee machine, some used furniture, and some borrowed office space in a Norwegian shipyard shack. [Read more]

 

11. SEMCO Partners, São Paulo, Brazil, “Big company with (almost) no rules”

 

If your employees could vote you in or out as their leader, would you keep your position?

That was just one of the many questions that Ricardo Semler started to ask when he went to work for his father’s company, SEMCO Partners, in the late 1970’s. [Read more]

 

12. Thinking Putty, Philadelphia, PA, “Shaping culture one tin at a time”

If you ask Aaron Muderick what he does for a living, he’s likely to say, “Professional Kid”. Muderick, a fidgety computer scientist, was constantly playing with Silly Putty while thinking at work. One day, he borrowed some textbooks from a friend who had just completed her Ph.D. in chemistry. He learned enough from the borrowed books to teach himself how to invent what he calls “Thinking Putty”. [Read more]

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

6 Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List

Hoping to catch up on your reading over the holidays? Why not put some of the top titles of 2017 on your wish list? We’ve curated a collection of books published in 2017 that stand out from the pack.

These titles aren’t only for CEO’s. Some are deeply reported feats of investigative journalism that are just compelling stories, no matter what your day job.

1.    Janesville: An American Story, by Amy Goldstein

What it’s about. Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Goldstein has spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin where the nation’s oldest operating General Motors plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession, two days before Christmas of 2008.

Why pick it up. Janesville is a microcosm of what connects and divides people during economic upheaval. It’s not just a 21st century Midwestern story. It’s an American story.

 

 

 

2.    Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration, by Thomas L. Friedman

What it’s about. In his most ambitious work to date, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman shows that the age of dizzying acceleration is leading to dystopian disruption. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts.

Why pick it up. With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations—if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community.

 

 

3.    Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone, by Satya Nadella

What it’s about. Microsoft’s CEO tells the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, while tracing his own journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant changes of the digital era.

Why pick it up. It’s a study of how the human ability to empathize will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before.

 

 

 

4.    The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, by Brian Merchant.

What it’s about. Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won’t hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone’s creation.

Why pick it up. To get a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history.

 

 

 

 

5.    The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day, by Kristi Hedges

What it’s about. Informed by quantitative research and thousands of responses from leaders at all levels, Hedges reveals that inspiring communication isn’t about grand gestures. Instead, those who motivate us most do a few things routinely, consistently, and intentionally.

Why pick it up. Eye-opening and accessible, The Inspiration Code dispels common myths about how leaders communicate, and guides them in cultivating qualities that authentically excite.

 

 

 

6.    Principles, by Ray Dalio

What it’s about. Ray Dalio, founder of one of the most successful hedge funds in the world, shares a painful, public experience from his leadership journey, and how he found the humility to balance his audacity through radical truthfulness and radical transparency.

Why pick it up. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision-making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.

 

 

Download our Top Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List infographic and start shopping!

Question: What leadership book is on your wish list this Christmas?

The 6 Principles of Humility, by Dr. Tony Baron

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance.  

 With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject. We are currently co-authoring a book that combines Tony’s scholarship and my straight talk about the challenges faced by today’s leaders. Meanwhile, I will be sharing guest posts by Tony from time to time to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim


By: Dr. Tony Baron

Demonstrating modesty has been underrated. Yet, when you read some significant thinkers in the corporate world like Jim Collins or in the church world like Larry Osborne, they think it is the essential ingredient of good leadership.

In 2013, Harvard Business Review published an article on how to cultivate humility as a leader. Authors John Dame and Jeffrey Gedmin suggested that every developing leader should be taught these 6 principles of humility:

1. Know what you don’t know.  The higher you climb up the proverbial corporate ladder, the greater the temptation it is to believe that you are the smartest person in the room. But deep down, you know that you don’t have all of the answers. You may not even have all of the questions. Know when to defer and delegate.

2. Resist falling for your own publicity.  Part of the leadership role is to maintain a positive outlook. Your confidence boosts that of your team and your customers. While it’s important to have a positive outlook, it’s just as important to correctly assess reality. Keep your spirits high, but your judgment at an even keel.

3. Never underestimate the competition.  No matter how smart you are, how many hours you are willing to put in, or how creative your team is, do not allow a residue of hubris to form around your culture. There is always competition for your customer’s attention.

4. Embrace and promote a spirit of service.  The term servant leadership was coined by Dr. Robert K. Greenleaf in the late 1960s.  In his book, Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, Greenleaf writes, “The great leader is seen as servant first, and that simple fact is the key to his greatness.” Use you power for the sake of others.

5. Listen, especially to the weird ideas.  Dame and Gedmin write that “the most imaginative and valuable ideas tend to come from left field, from some associate who seems a little offbeat, and may not hold an exalted position in the organization.” Step outside of your inner circle to get a fresh perspective.

 6. Be passionately curious.  Leading during uncertainty and change requires a healthy dose of curiosity. Without curiosity, we are unable to sustain our attention, we avoid risks, and, essentially, stagnate. Embrace curiosity and promote it among your team.

Larry Osborne, in his 2013 article in Leadership Journal, believes that every leader must avoid the 3 curses of leadership failures: the curse of the spotlight, the curse of hype, and the curse of leadership ADHD. Osborne recommends keeping leadership hubris in check by leading with a low profile, underselling and over delivering, and keeping the team focused on strategic goals.

The first task of any leader is to assess reality correctly. You can’t do that well without humility.

Question: What specific actions are you taking to remain humble as a leader?

Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadership and a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard. Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.

How Not to Fall for Your Own Fake News

Putin issues international arrest warrant for George Soros.

Black Lives Matter thug protests President Trump with selfie . . . accidentally shoots himself in the face.

Passenger allowed onto flight after security confiscates his bomb.

All three of these headlines were widely reported last year. Two of them were fake. Can you tell which one is true?*

Fake news has become part of the world’s daily news cycle. Many people now operate in virtual gated communities or information echo chambers. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction in both the political and popular press. To combat fake news, a growing body of websites and apps give consumers the ability to stop to fact check before sharing headlines in the social media feeds.

But the echo chamber effect is not limited to our smart phones. The same theory can apply to leaders. The higher we climb up the org chart, the greater our tendency is to spend most of our time with our direct reports. By operating in our own virtual gated community at work, we can severely limit our ability to assess reality correctly.

Author and Center for Executive Excellence’s Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Tony Baron, suggests that leaders must be intentional about building community. To build an inner circle to help you assess reality correctly, Dr. Baron offers this criteria for choosing your community:

1.    Choose those in your community who are with you the most, not those who see you the least.

 

2.    Choose those in your community who can see you at your worst, not just those who see you at your best.

 

3.    Choose those in your community with whom you are willing to eat or play, not just those you are willing to work with.

 

4.    Choose those in your community whom you respect for their integrity, not just those you admire for their accomplishments.

 

5.    Choose those in your community who are willing to listen to understand, not just those who want to be understood.

 

6.    Choose those in your community who care about you as a person, not just those who care about you professionally.

 

7.    Choose those in your community who are willing to ask the tough questions, not just those who provide the easy answers.

 

8.    Choose those in your community who maintain confidentiality, not just those who are compelling in personality.

 

Every one of us needs a small number of people in our inner circle. People whom we can be honest with. People who will be honest with us. Because it’s just too easy to fall for our own fake news.

 

*The correct response to the opening quiz was the third headline. A teenage passenger in Edmonton, Canada, was allowed to board a flight after a pipe bomb found in his bag was confiscated by airport security. He claimed to have forgotten the device was in his bag after making it with a friend for fun some months before.

 

Question: What are you doing to assess reality correctly as a consumer of news and as a leader?

How to Give Thanks Like a Boss

We’ve all come across them. Those leaders who people naturally gravitate toward. Though it seems counterintuitive, the magnetic effect these leaders have on people is not because of how people feel about the leader. It’s because of how the leader makes people feel about themselves.

These leaders have mastered two basic facts about people. Fact 1: Every person matters. Fact 2: Every person wants to feel valued.

As Thanksgiving approaches, this is an excellent time to review the skills necessary to express meaningful gratitude to your team. Here are three skills that will yield the highest return:

1. Write a Note. Do not. I repeat. Do not mistake a thank you email for the real thing. Handwritten thank you notes are about relationships. Emails are about transactions. When you take a little extra time to write a personal message to team members to acknowledge your gratitude, you are also acknowledging that they are more than just a tool. They are human beings who matter and are valued. If your note writing skills are rusty, here’s a quick primer to get you started.

2. Make It a Habit. When it comes to business, we can fall into the trap of not seeing people who come in, get the job done, and don’t require constant attention. We take these employees for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. To turn your attention to those who don’t ask for it, take a few minutes each morning to make a list of three team members you appreciate and why. Over time, you’ll begin to cultivate of habit of putting yourself in a gratitude mindset.

3. Give People Sincere Appreciation. People who don’t feel appreciated are often the first to burn out or jump ship. It only takes a minute to recognize a team member for making a positive contribution. But, doing it right requires more than the occasional “Attagirl!” Give timely and specific praise to show your team members how you value their contribution. Here’s a quick demo to show you how.

One final secret to mastering leadership gratitude – you can’t fake it. Leaders who genuinely care about their team members will invest the time to help each one feel valued. Make it a habit to sincerely recognize their efforts. Every day is an opportunity to help people see the best in themselves and feel like a valued contributor to the team.

Question: Have you had a leader who gave you a handwritten note of thanks? What did you learn from that experience? 

 

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CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Being Misunderstood: 4 Ways to Respond Instead of React, By Dr. Tony Baron

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance. With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject.

By: Dr. Tony Baron

Nobody likes to be labeled. And nobody likes to be misunderstood. Given the context of our national dialogue recently, this may be a good time to talk about how to respond, instead of react, when we are misunderstood.

I am not talking about times when there is a lack of clarity in communication. I am talking about when others judge you based on misinformation they have received (or conceived) that results in them questioning your character.

The injustice hurts deeply. But, as leaders, our ultimate responsibility is to not to react, but to respond by modeling the behavior we would like to see in others. It is a true test of how we use power. Will we use our position to force others to bend to our will? Or, will we use our position to practice the discipline of transformative leadership?

Here are four ways that you can practice transformative leadership and respond, rather than react, when others attack your character:

1.   Practice the Discipline of Not Having the Last Word

A transformative leader influences others by modeling appropriate behavior not only in positive situations but also in periods of criticism. When people attack your character, they often want to engage you in a verbal volley. Don’t do it. Transformative leaders have the discipline to not have the last word.

2. Practice the Discipline of Humility

An attack on your character may immediately send you into defense mode. If you have power, you may be tempted to use that power to punish the person who is attacking you. However, a transformative leader must refrain from presuming you can silence another person, and refrain from letting others know how wronged you feel. Humility comes from the word “grounded.” A grounded person reflects deeply to see what truth may be in the midst of falsehoods, what path may be used for reconciliation, and what direction you need to follow.

3. Practice the Discipline of Civility

A transformative leader understands that people who attack their character often betray their own fears and anxieties in the process. When people spew words at you in anger, recognize the pain or anxiety behind their words. Pause to reflect before you engage, then practice the discipline of civility. In Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square, civility is defined as “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

4. Practice the Discipline of Wisdom

Knowledge is a compilation of things true, maybe true, and definitely not true. Knowledge can lead to pride and a sense of superiority over others. Wisdom, on the other hand, is insight into reality. Reality is the only thing a transformative leader can count on. People of wisdom seek reality – not illusions, innuendos, or ill feelings.

So, to those who feel you have been misunderstood, take courage in the midst of adversity. Seek reconciliation. Practice the discipline of not having the last word, humility, civility, and wisdom.

Question: Have you felt misunderstood recently? Which of these practices might help you respond instead of react?

 

Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadership and a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard.  Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.

Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, visit us today at www.executiveexcellence.com or subscribe to receive CEE News!

 

Cure Initiative Overload with the Balanced Scorecard

A few weeks ago, I was asked by one of my clients if I could help her company with strategic planning. My answer was, “Yes and no.”

Like many of today’s organizations, this team was already suffering from initiative overload. Without a system for tracking business critical and mission critical goals, their strategic plan was doomed to fail. I explained that, “Yes, I would be happy to help your team create a strategic plan, but only if I can also help them put a system in place to help them execute that strategy.”

This is the season of the year where many of us are busy working on strategic plans. For some, those plans get shelved in favor of jumbled priorities and unfinished initiatives. For others, the goals that come out of the plans get added to the already impossibly long list of projects our overloaded teams are already working on. Either way, if we don’t have a process to turn our most important goals into an executable strategy, our plans can be pronounced dead on arrival.

Don’t let this happen to your organization. Instead, track your strategic goals with a performance management system like a Balanced Scorecard. First developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in the late 1990’s, today’s Balanced Scorecard platforms help organizations of all sizes and in every industry turn strategy in executable goals in four important ways:

  1. Communicate the business critical and mission critical goals the organization is trying to accomplish.
  2. Align the day-to-day work that everyone is doing with strategic goals.
  3. Prioritize projects, products, and services.
  4. Measure and monitor progress toward strategic targets.

The system connects the dots between big picture strategy, operational goals, and key performance metrics. I have my favorite balanced scorecard platforms, but one-size does not fit all. Check out this site for options that may work for your organization, and ensure that your strategic plans get executed in 2018!

Question: What is your organization doing to manage initiative overload?

 

Bonus! Download our simple, FREE strategic planning template here – a framework to help you measure organizational performance beyond key financial metrics.

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!