CEE Blog

Perspectives on the World We Work In

The 3 A’s of Strengths-Based Leadership

Early in my career, I would put a lot of effort into creating the best strategy to solve a problem or implement a solution at work. My husband had several years more of management experience than me, so I would go to him for advice. The problem is, the advice he wanted to give was often not the advice I was looking for.

Typically, I would have the problem 95% solved, or the solution 95% developed (or so I thought). I just wanted him to listen to what I had worked on so far, then give me his perspective on how to reach 100%. Instead of meeting me at 95%, he would question my assumptions, test my logic, and most often recommend a solution that was far broader in scope and scale than what I had envisioned.

At the time, these conversations were about as much fun as have your spouse to teach you how to drive. I would end up feeling frustrated and inept, and no closer to a solution. Fortunately, not only has our marriage survived these conversations, but as I built my confidence as a leader, I have a newfound appreciation for seeking out the perspectives of others – including my husband’s – to stress test my ideas and broaden my perspective.

This process is what Gallup researchers suggest are the three A’s to Strengths-based leadership. Here is a closer look at the process:

1.    Annoying. Perhaps the most important quality needed to succeed as a leader is self-awareness. Without self-awareness, you are in danger of thinking that your perception and reality are one in the same. You are annoyed when others stress test your ideas. It is self-awareness that allows the Strengths-based leader to walk the tightrope: to project conviction while remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions.

2.    Appreciating. It’s human nature to want to be around people who think like we do. But it can be deadly for leaders to be cut off from challengers. Strengths-based leaders step out of the circle of people who make them most comfortable and seek out the opinions of those who have contradictory views. By opening themselves up to challengers, they gain an appreciation for looking at problems through different lenses, and broaden their perspective.

3.    Applying. It is impossible for any one individual to be above average in all areas of business, or “well-rounded”. Strengths-based leaders build well-rounded teams made up of well-lopsided individuals. A Strengths-based team is a group of imperfect but talented contributors who are valued for their strengths and who know how and when to apply each other’s strengths to achieve individual and team excellence.

Today, I still ask my husband for his perspective from time to time. But, instead of being frustrated when he doesn’t agree with me, I look forward to seeing what holes he can find in my logic, and what questions he can bring up that I hadn’t thought of. This exercise helps me stress test my working thesis, and create stronger solutions.

Question: Have you gone from annoyed, to appreciative, to applying the perspectives of others? How has that process made you a stronger leader?


Are you ready to start leveraging your team’s strengths and allow them to fire on all cylinders? Check out our StrengthsFinder services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.

3 Biggest Myths About Strengths

One of the most dramatic changes in employee and leadership development programs in the last decade has been the shift from correcting weaknesses to enhancing strengths.

A Google search for “strengths coaching” yields over 27 million hits. Amazon sells over 35,000 books on the subject, including StrengthsFinder 2.0 which instantly became a Wall Street JournalBusinessweek, and USA Today bestseller, and was named Amazon’s bestselling book of 2013. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is used by 1.6 million employees and 467 Fortune 500 companies every year.

Strengths has developed a cult-like following among HR and talent management professionals. Like all cults, this one too has developed myths that deserve to be debunked.

Myth #1 – Focusing on strengths means you can ignore your weaknesses. Sorry. Not true. Ignoring a problem is never sane management theory. Instead, get clear about what your weaknesses are, and develop ways to minimize them.

Strengths coaches are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a well-rounded person. Instead, focus on being a well-lopsided person and develop a well-rounded team. Spend your time where you can excel, then delegate to, or partner with, others who are naturally more adept in areas where you are weak.

Myth #2 – Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. Wrong again. Strengths are not the flip side of weaknesses. You can make strengths stronger. You can make weaknesses not so weak. But you cannot transform weaknesses into strengths.

What is true, is that a person can operate either in the balcony or basement of a strength, and the basement can be unpleasant for everyone. Consider Achiever. When things are going well, an Achiever can be a tireless go-getter with a strong work ethic. Conversely, she can be overcommitted and in danger of burning out. Being in the basement isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength overapplied.

Myth #3 – You can become too specialized if you focus on your strengths. Good reasoning, but not the case if your manager takes the time to understand how to put strengths to work. First, strengths are not labels. If your manager locks all “Strategics” in a room and expects they will come out with the perfect strategic plan, it’s not likely to happen. That’s simplistic and a little reductive.

Managers who understand the power of strengths know that the best way for people to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel and behave, then build on those talents to create strengths. People with Strategic as a strength are naturally good at anticipating alternatives and finding different paths. They may be good a mediating debates or contract negotiation. The best managers will not only have a good working knowledge of strengths, but will also take the time to get to know what situations enable their employees to succeed.

We all have weaknesses. But putting your time, energy and focus on fixing your weaknesses will only yield mediocre results. If you want to unlock your greatest potential and bring out the best in your team, let go of the myths and put strengths to work.

Question: Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment? What are you Top Five?

Are you ready to start leveraging your team’s strengths and allow them to fire on all cylinders?
Check out our StrengthsFinder services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.

Are You Addicted To Stress?

“On the morning of April 7, 2007, I was lying on the floor of my home office in a pool of blood. On my way down, my head had hit the corner of my desk, cutting my eye and breaking my cheekbone. I had collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep.” Those are the opening words of Thrive, the 2014 New York Times Bestseller written by Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

That fall was her wakeup call. It caused her to re-think her definition of success and to seriously consider the impact of stress on her life.

Stress. It’s become such a prevalent part of our workdays that we’ve come to accept it as an occupational necessity. Yet, the long-term effects of stress can be lethal. Stress is a factor in 75% to 90% of all medical visits, and a factor in the six leading causes of death.

If you consider yourself a leader who thrives under pressure – if you work best under a deadline – you may be addicted to stress. According to Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic, “stress is a drug.” When we’re under the gun, stress releases dopamine and feeds endorphins to our brains which temporarily boosts performance.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to create a culture of performance. Over time, your time-crunched lifestyle can not only have serious health implications for you, but can have a debilitating impact on your organization. Here are two practices that will help you navigate the path between stress and success:

Be Mindful. Our response to stress is something we inherited from our ancestors. It was a fight or flight response that triggered an ‘all systems go’ reaction in the body. When faced with a sabre-toothed tiger, that reaction was designed to improve our chances for survival by releasing a burst of cortisol to mobilize the body for action.

Although the sabre-tooth is extinct, our flight or flight mechanism is alive and well. Any time we face a threat – a deadline, a conflict with a colleague, a financial struggle – our body goes into stress mode. It releases cortisol causing our blood pressure to rise and our heart to beat faster. But, without a physical release of fighting or fleeing, the cortisol builds up in our system. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we can train our brains to recognize these sensations in the moment, and learn to react calmly instead of letting out our inner caveman. It’s a practice known as mindfulness.

As defined by Dr. Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” The next time you’re in a stressful meeting, try the ABC method of mindfulness. Become Aware of the stress rising in your body. Breathe deeply and consider your options. Then Choose thoughtfully.

Build Margins. Today’s leaders are incredibly busy. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of you. And no one seems to appreciate the fact that you are a finite resource. Perhaps you don’t even realize this yourself. You can’t be an effective leader if your calendar is crammed with back-to-back meetings and your inbox is full of unread messages.

“To be truly effective,” says leadership expert Dr. Tony Baron, “you need to make time for margins your life.” You need to create white space, or times of reflection so that information can be turned into knowledge, and that knowledge into insight. Sometimes, you just have to stop and let the information catch up with you.

Building margins in our lives helps us get over our feeling of scarcity that leads to stress. We start by stressing that we never have enough time, that we cannot make time to truly connect with our employees, that there is only so much to go around.

Margin is not something that just happens. You have to fight for it. You can start by creating a time budget like this one from Michael Hyatt to help you focus on what matters most.

Stress is not going away, but you don’t have to be addicted to it. Make the choice today to be mindful and build margins in your life to build the resilience you need to manage it effectively.

Question: How does stress impact your ability to lead effectively?

Are you interested in acquiring simple tools for mastering stress and overcoming self-limiting barriers?

Check out our Corporate Wellness Training services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.


Learning & Growth: Connecting all 5 Generations. Side By Side.

As our Employee Engagement Specialist, Jenny Jacobs brings an infectious humor and midwestern sensibility to everything she does. Jenny is a lifelong learner and a natural teacher who guides our clients through a structured employee engagement method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last. Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. And don’t forget to check out the short video below where Jenny introduces herself and our new program.

By: Jenny Jacobs

I once heard someone say “Do not mistake movement for progress”. In other words, a person could be running in circles or jumping up and down but they are not going anywhere.

Companies often pride themselves on having a lot of “movement” (i.e. snack hour, casual Fridays, group bonding events, etc.). These are great work perks and help boost morale. To make truly effective forward movement, however, it is necessary to dig a little deeper. Just as the world outside of your organization is in constant change, your employees need constant opportunities for learning and growth to help them adapt and thrive.

Learning & Growth are fundamental elements for competitive advantage. They provide:

  • Improvement in long-term performance
  • Boosts in creativity and innovation
  • Increased employee engagement

Learning & Growth opportunities can also lead to improving individual and group efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. A Learning & Growth culture is a true investment in your employees and demonstrates a culture of continuous improvement.

Question: How are you tapping into the organizational intelligence within your company today?

Click here to learn more about our 5 Generations. Side by Side. workshop or training program.

Meet 8 Special Ops Team Members Ready for Service in Your Organization

Last week, I attended a very special graduation ceremony. It wasn’t for a family member and it wasn’t held in a football stadium. It was for 36 men and 1 woman who had completed a 120-hour, MBA-style, transitions program through The Honor Foundation.

These were already alumni of some of the most elite programs in the world – they were Navy SEALs and Marine Special Operations Forces team members – who had served our country with honor and ready to transition back to civilian service.

Thanks to The Honor Foundation, these men and women 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 eight members of the Group 11 graduating class.


1. Diego Ugalde, “My passion is to hear the sound of your resounding success.”

What he brings to the team: With a relentless positive outlook, Diego is known for walking into a situation, assessing it, and working tirelessly to improve it for the betterment of the team.

Areas of interest: Motivational Speaking, Leadership & Development, and Coaching

Availability: Diego transitions from the Navy SEALs in September of 2018.


2. Larry Lacefield, “Leader of leaders, adapting to any environment.”

What he brings to the team: Selfless problem solver exuding compassion, creativity, competence and sound decision-making facilitating solutions where others see obstacles. 

Areas of interest: Business Development, Chief of Staff, Project Management Officer, or HR Leadership in Healthcare and Biotech

Education: M.S., Emphasis in Global Business Leadership, University of San Diego

Availability: Larry is transitioning from the Navy Special Warfare Command in May 2017.


3. Russell Hromadka, “Multi-dimensional guru and cross-generational connector.”

What he brings to the team: Perpetually sought after for crisis management, joint ventures, new initiatives, and to ‘do it right the first time’ where there is little guidance and organizational success is at stake.

Areas of interest: Chief of Staff, Business Development, Human Resources, Ops, Project Management.

Education: B.S., Applied Mathematics (Honors), US Naval Academy

Availability: Russ will transition from Marine Special Operations Command in the Spring of 2018.


4. Alexander “Pete” Tunley, “A human with supernova positivity that inspires all.”

What he brings to the team:  A passionate, powerful and committed leader with incredible positivity that attracts communication and input from all.

Areas of interest: Business Development, Human Resources, Coaching, Leadership & Development, Motivational Speaking.

Education: B.A., Intelligence Studies, American Military University

Availability: Pete transitioned as a Chief Petty Officer in March of 2017.


5. Christopher “Noah” Phillips, “Diplomatic disruptor fascinated by finance.”

What he brings to the team: Exceptionally motivated and proven leader with budgetary controller and multinational business experience.

Areas of interest: Finance, Wealth Management, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Analyst and Associate.

Education: B.S., Business Finance, Pennsylvania State University (2019)

Availability: Noah is transitioning from the Marine Corps in July 2017.


6. Matthew Lampert, “Lifelong servant of the community and our nation.”

What he brings to the team: Proven, decisive, and determined leader, who motivates, empowers, and develops his team to achieve their highest potential.

Areas of interest: Chief of Staff, Operations, HR Business Partner, Project Management Officer.

Education: M.A., Leadership, Development and Education, The George Washington University

Availability: Matt transitions as an Officer with the U.S. Naval Academy in June of 2018.


7. Eric Kasmire, “Innovative leader who excels at organizing resilient teams to achieve exceptional results.”

What he brings to the team: Skilled communicator at all levels, and passionate about leading multi-functional teams from diverse backgrounds and cultures to increase performance.

Areas of interest: Business Development, Chief of Staff, Project Management, or HR Leadership roles.

Education: B.A., Homeland Security, with Honors, American Military University

Availability: Eric transitioned in the summer of 2017 from the Marine Special Operations Command.


8. Justin Plank, “Ethical leader with the exceptional ability to remain calm and decisive in both high pressure and uncertain environments.”

What he brings to the team: A tireless work ethic, accustomed to working in fast-paced environments where excellence in performance is the standard.

Areas of interest: Operations leadership and Project Management.

Education: Master of Business for Veterans, University of Southern California

Availability: Justin transitioned in the summer of 2017 from the Navy SEALs.

If your organization could benefit from service-minded, adaptable, problems 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?  

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:

1. Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder

What it’s about: An engaging case study of the turnaround of Popeyes, proving that servant leadership is challenging, tough minded, and gets results.

Why pick it up: Bachelder takes you first-hand through the transformation of Popeyes to show that leaders at any level can become a dare to serve leader.





2. The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate by Jacob Morgan

What it’s about: A new type of organization is emerging, one that focuses on employee experiences as a way to drive innovation, increase customer satisfaction, find and hire the best people, make work more engaging, and improve overall performance.

Why pick it up: Backed by extensive research, futurist Jacob Morgan breaks down the three environments that make up employee experience at every organization around the world.



3. Option B: How To Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

What it’s about: Following the sudden death of her husband, Silicon Valley executive Dave Goldberg, Sandberg described widowhood at a young age as “a club that no one wants to belong to.” Co-authored with Wharton professor Adam Grant, the book is focused on recovering from adversity.

Why pick it up: Though not strictly a business book, it includes stories of people who recovered from a variety of hardships. It contains lessons for leaders who want to build their own resilience, too.




4. Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture by Mark Miller

What it’s about: A scarcity of leaders today means a shortfall in performance tomorrow. Bestselling author and Chick-fil-A executive Mark Miller describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization — from the front lines to the executive ranks.

Why pick it up:  Learn to build an organizational culture that will ensure your leadership pipeline is full and flowing.





5. Animal Farm by George Orwell

What it’s about: A dramatic takeover; disengaged, top-down management; besieged, under-appreciated workers — this Orwell parable on totalitarianism serves as a reverberating lesson in organizational behavior.

Why pick it up: If you haven’t picked this one up since ninth grade, it’s truly worth another read.




Sprint: Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

What it’s about: These Google Ventures partners give us a practical guide to answering critical business questions, whether you’re a small startup, part of the Fortune 100, a solopreneur, or a nonprofit.

Why pick it up: This book is for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.





7. Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sally Krawcheck

What it’s about: Success for professional women is no longer about trying to compete at the men’s version of the game. And it will no longer be about contorting themselves to men’s expectations of how powerful people behave.

Why pick it up: Learn how women can embrace and invest in their innate strengths — and bring them proudly and unapologetically, to work.




8. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

What it’s about: A manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation — into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made.

Why pick it up: To learn leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention.

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.

Question: What books have helped you along your leadership journey?

Do You Use this 4-Letter Word in Your Organization?

Someone used a 4-letter word at our April 27th Re:Imagine Leadership Summit that made a few audience members squirm in their seats. The word slipped out during the panel discussion when Joe Lara, a former Naval Special Warfare Command Officer, was asked, “What is the ingredient that holds service members together during the chaos of battle?”

“Love,” was his answer. “When someone cares enough for you to give their life to protect yours, that’s love in action,” Lara said.

Our panel moderator, Dr. Tony Baron, noted that love is not a word that’s often brought up at leadership conferences. But, when he asked other members of the panel about love in action at their organizations, they quickly agreed.

Rachelle Snook, Global Talent Manager of WD-40, said that the employees at WD-40 think of themselves as members of a tribe. “Tribal love,” said Snook, “is what keeps our culture strong. One of our mantras is ‘we’ve got your back.’” Damian McKinney, Founder of McKinney Advisory Group agreed. “When you think about the commercial real estate industry,” McKinney said, “love isn’t the first word that comes to mind, but it’s what we practice to ensure that we are truly serving our clients and that we have faith that we’re in this together.”

Dean Carter, VP of Shared Services at Patagonia, told the audience that employees at Patagonia think of one another as family. With a child care center located on Patagonia’s Ventura, CA, campus, the lines between employee and family are blurred. “Some of the children whose parents worked at Patagonia 30 years ago are now employees,” Carter said. “We are much more than co-workers. We are family members who look after one another. We know each other’s children by name and we’re there for each other through all stages of each other’s lives.”

In her 2015 leadership book, Dare To Serve, former Popeye’s CEO, Cheryl Bachelder, writes that turning around the flagging company in 2007 required a decision to serve its franchise owners. The problem was, Bachelder writes, “This decision [to serve] is not typical in our industry. Franchisors and franchisees are constantly in conflict – arguing about the contract, the business strategy, the restaurant design, the promotion pricing, or the cost of food.”

Bachelder continues, “Here’s a tough question. Do you love the people you’ve decided to serve? It helps. One Popeye’s leader says it this way: ‘If you’re in the franchising business, you should love the franchisees.’ To love franchisees, you have to love entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are passionate. They take risks. They invest for the future. They are ambitious. They are definitely not corporate bureaucrats. They do not have much patience with people holding MBA degrees or offering up expensive harebrained ideas. What if the most important people in your business are entrepreneurs? You must decide to love them.”

What Joe Lara, Rachelle Snook, Damian McKinney, Dean Carter, and Cheryl Bachelder have in common is that in order to truly serve the people you work with and are in the business to serve, you must set aside your differences, and look for ways to develop a love for who they are. Doing so requires you to set aside your ego, be aware of your biases, and have the courage to make love part of your organizational culture.

Question: Is there someone that you are in conflict with at work now? What would happen if you dared to love them?

Strengths: Connecting all 5 Generations. Side by Side.

As our Employee Engagement Specialist, Jenny Jacobs brings an infectious humor and midwestern sensibility to everything she does. Jenny is a lifelong learner and a natural teacher who guides our clients through a structured employee engagement method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last. Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. And don’t forget to check out the short video below where Jenny introduces herself and our new program.

By: Jenny Jacobs

What does it mean to operate from a place of your strengths? I’m not talking about how strong you are or if you are able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… I am talking about helping your employees recognize the talents that naturally exist within them. Each of your employees serves a special purpose within your organization based on their strengths. When we tap into them as a strengths-based team, we can build a vibrant, healthy work environment.

I recently heard a fascinating radio program about Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist. In a study on collaboration among trees, Simard discovered that trees work together through a network of forest floor communication. Simard states that trees need a complex and diverse community to thrive in.

In her June 2016 TED Talk, Simard explained the symbiotic needs of trees in a forest. Trees are connected to their forest community in a kind of “underground super-highway”, Simard explains. They need other plants that can cycle nutrients more quickly or that can access nutrients in different niches. They need neighbors that are resistant to insects and diseases. So, instead of competition for resources, trees are actually communicating and cooperating with their neighbors. They make sure their neighbors — their diverse community — is vibrant because that feeds back to them and impacts their health.

Simard equates the forest community to the way our communities work. We live in communities of doctors and teachers and people who run coffee shops and bakeries. A thriving community requires a whole range of skills and resources. We need each other. If you take away the baker, we’ve got no bread. If you remove the banker, financial stability is shaken.

Just as the trees in the forest share resources to remain vibrant and healthy, so must managers identify individual strengths of team members for maximum collaboration and engagement. Don’t hire people for their strengths then ask them to work on their weaknesses. Instead, unlock their natural talents, give them the tools and support that best suits their individual style and you’ll build a team that thrives!


Click here to learn more about 5 Generations. Side by Side. and reserve your seat for our June 6 workshop!

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Are You Ready to Hand Over Your Leadership Keys?

Picture this. A father had three children. When his oldest child, a daughter, turned 12, he took her with him to the auto dealership. He told her, “I want you to pick out the car that you think I should buy.” Puzzled, his daughter looked at her father and asked, “Why me, Dad?” “Because, this is the car that I’ll be driving for the next four years. When you turn 16 and get your driver’s license, I’m going to hand the keys over to you.”

He repeated this offer with his other two children, and over the next 16 years drove a bright red Volkswagen Beetle, a yellow Honda Civic (for his second daughter), and a red Jeep Wrangler (for his son.)

“I have to admit,” the father said, “when my son asked for a Wrangler, I hesitated.” It was outside of my comfort zone. I had always driven cars, we’d always lived in the city, and I couldn’t see myself driving a Wrangler for the next four years. But, I had made a commitment, and couldn’t break it now.”

“What’s funny,” the father said, “is that I actually started enjoying the Wrangler. By the time my son got old enough to drive it, I found myself thinking about buying another one for myself. If my son hadn’t convinced me to change what I’d gotten used to driving all of my life, I never would have gotten out of my comfort zone.”

What this father knew intuitively serves as a model for passing on the leadership keys in the 21st century. Three themes emerge.

1. Trust. Any worthwhile transition is based on mutual trust. Future leaders need to trust the wisdom and experience of current leaders. Current leaders need to trust the potential of the next generation, their innovative approach, and the ability to handle the responsibility for the future. When there is an absence of trust, the process of a healthy and fruitful transition breaks down, and the passing on of the leadership keys stalls. Breaking down the trust barriers starts with building mutual respect and appreciation for what we each bring to the table. Here’s a short, compelling video that shows how quickly we can start to break down the barriers and build trust.

2. Teamwork. Once we establish trust for one another, we can begin to work together as a team toward the future success of our organization. The father in the example above didn’t arbitrarily decide what cars would be best for each of his children. He included them in the process and let them voice their opinions. When we include future leaders in the decision-making process, they move from obliged to empowered. That empowerment – knowing that the keys to the future are in their hands – gives them a greater sense of responsibility for making good choices to show that your trust was well placed.

3. Transition. One of the most significant lessons from car-buying father is how he adapted to the Wrangler chosen by his youngest child. Most of today’s leaders grew up in a time when decisions and influence came from the top and rippled down. But, the rapid pace of technological change is having an impact on generational influence. Research by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) finds that influence is rippling up, rather than down. “The greatest predictor of older generations,” says James Dorsey, CGK’s Chief Strategy Officer in this TEDx talk, “is what the younger generations are doing today.” They influence how every other generation uses technology. Need more convincing? Think Facebook.

Are you holding onto the leadership keys with a white-knuckled grip? It may be time to shift your view about future generations. When you can break down the trust barriers, give them true ownership and responsibility, and be open to their influence, you’ll be inspired by some of the most hard-working, eager-to-learn, and motivated people in the world today.

Question: What is your view about handing over the leadership keys? 

What’s Your ROP (Return On Purpose)?

Organizational success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. As author and noted TED Speaker Simon Sinek tells us, those that succeed in the long-term are clear not only about what they do, and how they do it — they’re also crystal clear about their why.

Next week, I will be co-facilitating The Re:Imagine Leadership Summit with Dr. Tony Baron. It’s a day that will include candid conversations with executives from a variety of purpose-driven organizations. They’ll share their why, along with stories about how they lead high-performance organizations grounded in purpose.

It is my honor to introduce you to our Purpose Panel executives, and to invite you to join us to hear them in person at the Summit.



In 2012, just 13% of Navy SEALs had job offers when they got out of the service. By comparison, 98% of Wharton MBA graduates received 2-3 job offers at graduation. That was an injustice that Joe Musselman set out to correct in 2013 that led to the launch of The Honor Foundation. THF is a world-class, 120-hour, MBA-style nonprofit program that helps Navy SEALs and other Special Operations forces successfully transition from military service and back into the corporate world. To date, THF has graduated 200 Fellows, including 1 of only 5 women SEALs in the world. Their goal is to impact 65,000 members of the Special Ops community by 2020. The program begins with 4 weeks of purpose training to help the students get grounded in their why before they move on to what’s next.



You may know WD-40 as the blue and yellow can that sits under the sink, in the garage, and in the toolboxes of every household in the America. What you may not know, is that the WD-40 “tribe” is a purpose-driven, high-performing culture. Rachelle Snook, WD-40’s Global Talent Acquisition Manager has played an integral role in that dedication to culture. She carefully recruits candidates for culture fit, and she helps new members transition into the tribe. From Day One, she makes sure every tribe members knows their potential career path, including salary ranges, for any position they are interested in applying for. With an annual employee engagement index of over 90%, Rachelle knows first-hand how purpose maximization is connected to profit maximization.



When Damian McKinney began his career in commercial real estate over 35 years ago, he noticed two framed posters in a senior executive’s office: one said “Poverty Sucks” and the other said “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Against that backdrop, Damian has insisted on reclaiming leadership and redefining success. He used his parents for inspiration and worked to model what they had instilled in him – that leaders have a responsibility to use their power to benefit others. To use their position to be of service to their team, to their organizations, and to the community at large. As Founder and CEO of McKinney Advisory Group, Damian uses his global platform to teach others about his purpose driven approach to leadership.



Although he looks like he walked off the pages of a Patagonia catalogue, Dean Carter took an unlikely path to end up there two years ago. He started his career at well-known retail brands like Pearle Vision, Pier 1 Imports, and Fossil. Just before joining Patagonia, he was the Chief HR Officer for Sears Holdings Corporation. Suffice it to say, Dean has worked for organizations where operating efficiency and return on shareholder value far outweighed social and environmental responsibility. His background gives him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on the impact of culture on performance. Today, he uses his insight to help Patagonia live out its mission statement: to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.


Question: How would you calculate the ROP (return on purpose) at your organization?

The Power Puzzle: Unlocking the Code to True Engagement

A few years ago, my family and I went to Cancun to celebrate my husband’s birthday. While we were there, we took a trip to Chichen Itza, one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Yucatán peninsula.

Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes a stepped pyramid dedicated to Kukulcan, the feathered serpent god. The pyramid is a feat of Mayan engineering and an astronomical marvel.

Each of the four sides has stairs with 91 steps. The platform at the top serves as the last step, for a total of 365 steps in all.

During the fall and spring equinoxes, the sun’s shadow forms an enormous snake’s body, which lines up with the carved stone snake head at the bottom of the pyramid. You can stand about 30 meters in front of the main face of the pyramid, clap your hands, and the sound travels up the face and bounces back out like the sound of a sacred bird worshipped by the Mayans.

When you visit Chichen Itza, you can’t help thinking about the pyramids left by other ancient civilizations around the world. The Mayan and Egyptian pyramids are best known, but pyramids can also be found in places like China, Iraq, France, and the Canary Islands.

We know that Chichen Itza’s stepped pyramid served as a temple to Kukulcan. He was the god of laws, fishing, healing, the calendar, and agriculture. We know that the Egyptian pyramids served as tombs to preserve the bodies of pharaohs and help their souls cross over to the afterworld. We also know that the pyramid archetype has been passed down for thousands of years, and is still embedded in our organizations.

Where does the power flow in your organizational pyramid? Does it flow up to the person at the top to preserve his or her legacy in perpetuity? Or, does it flow down to benefit the larger community?

In his book, On Moral Business, Max L. Stackhouse wrote that “Business leaders are increasingly the stewards of civilization.” Stackhouse argued that many of our institutions – government, families, universities and churches – are failing. What if the responsibility for future civilization depends on business leaders?

When you work as though society depends on the decisions you make as a business leader, it makes you think about which way the power is flowing in your organization. Is society better off because your organizational pyramid exists?

Question: What are you doing to test the flow of power in your organization? Do you track employee and customer satisfaction? Does your organization give time, talent or treasure to the community?

Aligned Goals: Connecting all 5 Generations. Side by Side.

As our Employee Engagement Specialist, Jenny Jacobs brings an infectious humor and midwestern sensibility to everything she does. Jenny is a lifelong learner and a natural teacher who guides our clients through a structured employee engagement method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last. Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. And don’t forget to check out the short video below where Jenny introduces herself and our new program.

By: Jenny Jacobs

Years ago I was on an archery league. One of the first things I learned was the importance of proper body alignment. Although it was important to have a proper bow, arrows, and sight/scope the most important aspect of hitting the target was proper alignment: the foot facing forward must be parallel to the shooting line, as well as the arms and hips. A person could have all of the best and most expensive equipment but if the alignment is off the bullseye will never be hit. An interesting aspect of this was that many times I felt that my stance was perfect but then someone would come along and point out what I could be doing differently. As soon as I made the tiniest adjustment my shooting would improve exponentially.

So it goes in the business world. Organizations can have all the bells and whistles for their employees (great benefits, employee activities, snack, bring your pet to work, etc.) but if they never teach their employees the proper technique for alignment with goals and growth the rest of that “stuff” is pointless.

Employees want to do well in their jobs. They want to feel a sense of purpose and engagement in the workplace. No one wants to come to work each day and be oblivious to how what they do accomplishes a larger task.

You must empower your team members to fully understand how what they do each day is connected to the goals of the company and how they are an integral part of those goals.

Helping your employees tweak their “stance” is the surest way to adjust alignment to hit the bullseye every time!

Click here to learn more about 5 Generations. Side by Side. and reserve your seat for our June 6 workshop!


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