All posts in “Leadership”

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.

Today’s leaders face increasingly complex problems. No one person can have all of the answers. That’s why leaders of the 21st century must have the humility to encourage feedback. To step back and create space for others to show you your blind spots and help you make improvements that count.

Harvard Business Review contributors John Dame and Jeffrey Gedmin called this intellectual humility. “Without humility,” the authors argue, “you’re not able to learn.” Here are three principles of humility that will help put you in a feedback frame of mind:

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 be open to learning from others.

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 you get, do not allow a residue of hubris to set into your culture. There is always competition for your customer’s attention.

The first task of any leader is to assess reality correctly. You can’t do that without having the feedback you need to make necessary adjustments. Open yourself to feedback by having the humility to know your own limits, keep your ego in check, and resist the false comfort of complacency.

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

The 4 Steps to Extraordinary Productivity in 2017

Remember the days when someone asked you, “How’s it going?” “Fine,” was your auto-response.

“Fine” was code for, “I have a lot on my plate both personally and professionally right now, but unless you have an hour to listen, I don’t think you want me to get into it.” Everything wasn’t fine. You knew it. The other person knew it. But, “fine” was the socially acceptable response.

Today, when someone asks you, “How’s it going?” the new socially acceptable answer is, “Busy.” Busy-ness has become a badge of honor. You have messages to answer, meetings to prepare for, data to review, and decisions to make. You’re connected to work 24/7. You’ve tried the latest software to unclutter. You’ve bought the newest devices to keep up, but you just can’t break the cycle of busy-ness.

In 1992, global internet traffic measured 100 GB per day. Last year, that rate exploded to 20,235 GB per second. There’s been an explosion of information to consume, but we still have a finite number of hours per day to find the valuable bits. As this rate, we’ll quickly move from busy-ness to burnout if we don’t find a way to better manage our time. Here are four ways successful leaders don’t let busy-ness get in the way of business:

1. Prioritize. Start by deciding the most important priorities in your life – both personal and professional. Stephen Covey called this the “Big Rocks” principle. If you think of your day as a bucket, and you start your day without a plan, you’ll soon get busy filling your bucket with little rocks (tasks, cat videos, whatever). Before you know it, your bucket is full, and you spent another day working on things that have little value to you either personally or professionally. Instead, watch Covey demonstrate how to prioritize your Big Rocks.

2. Centralize. Next, decide on a system where you can keep a daily list of things you need to work on. The choices people make here fall into one of two groups: the techies and the Gutenbergers. If you’re a techie, you’ll probably want to use one of the many multi-platform productivity tools like Evernote and sync it with an app like Remember the Milk to help you manage your tasks. Gutenbergers prefer to track tasks on paper. Franklin Covey is a recognized leader in this area, with lots of options to choose from. Regardless of your preference, you’ll want to centralize all of your tasks in one system. Stop writing reminders on sticky notes and in random devices. Put all of your tasks in one place – and remember to put the Big Rocks in first.

3. Categorize.  You’re clear about your Big Rocks and you’ve chosen one place to keep track of your personal and professional tasks. Now what? In no particular order, make a list of your daily tasks. Next, put them in A, B, and C categories. A tasks are important, B tasks have medium importance, and C tasks have low importance. Now, number all of the A tasks in order of importance, and do the same for the B’s and C’s. If you’ve done this correctly, something that made your Big Rock list has an A beside it. Not necessarily A-1, but it’s at the top.

4. Recognize. Brace yourself for this – your task list will never be done. But, think of it this way. If you start each day with a plan in place, and if you only manage to get one thing on your list done, it will be the most important thing you had to do that day. Over time, you’ll see that some of your B’s and C’s could be delegated so that you’re focusing on the most important priorities in your personal and professional life.

You can continue wearing the busy-ness badge, or get real about your priorities and work on the most important things first. The choice is yours.

Question: Do you know someone who uses a time management system? What impact do you think it has on them personally and professionally?

5 Leadership Books to Have on Your Radar for 2017

If you’re still trying to shake off the political hangover from last year, you may want to turn to leadership books that offer fresh inspiration in 2017.

Here are 5 books being published this year to keep on your radar. Among them, you’ll find uplifting lessons from history, and titles that will help you re-ground yourself through the year.

1. Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, by Christine Porath, PhD

MasteringCivilityWhat it’s about: From the leading authority on workplace incivility, Christine Porath, shows why it pays to be civil, and reveals just how to enhance effectiveness in the workplace and beyond by mastering civility.

Why pick it up: Incivility is silently chipping away at people, organizations, and our economy. Slights, insensitivities, and rude behaviors can cut deeply and hijack focus. Even if people want to perform well, they can’t. Ultimately incivility cuts the bottom line.

 

 

2. Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

RadicalCandowWhat it’s about: A former Google executive and faculty member at Apple University, Kim Scott believes that “workplaces are too nice — really ‘fake nice’ — and that we’d all be better off with unvarnished honesty, especially when it comes to evaluating performance.

Why pick it up: “Radical candor,” according to the book’s synopsis, sits at the “sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on one side and ruinously empathetic on the other.”

 

 

3. Captain Class: The Driving Force Behind the World’s Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker

CaptainClassWhat it’s about: The former global sports editor of The Wall Street Journal profiles the greatest teams in history and identifies the counterintuitive leadership qualities of the unconventional men and women who drove them to succeed.

Why pick it up: If you’re a sports fan and a leader who reads, you’ll enjoy Walker’s list of the 16 most dominant teams in sports, and the traits that led their captains to lead them to sustained, historic periods of greatness.

 

 

 

4. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

OptionBWhat 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 includes lessons for leaders who want to build their own resilience, too.

 

 

5. The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits, by Tommy Caldwell

ThePushWhat it’s about: In 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made the first free ascent on El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park. Caldwell documented the hardships he faced and what he learned in the process.

Why pick it up: It’s a memoir that will inspire you to conquer your own Dawn Wall, climb to new heights, and push past your own limits.

Part of a leader’s job is to steer a team through uncertainty. But, doing so can leave you feeling drained. Refuel yourself in the pages of some of our favorites picks coming out this year.

 

Question: Which of these five titles do you find most compelling? 

 

EventbriteHeaderCreate a culture that transforms at the speed of change. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. Learn more or register here. Have questions? Email me directly at snasim@executiveexcellence.com.

 

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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!

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Power of Transformative Leadership

In honor of this week’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am re-posting this blog originally published on January 19, 2015. I think it bears repeating.

Consider this. When Martin Luther King, Jr. announced the March on Washington in August 28, 1963, organizers hoped for a gathering of 100,000 protesters to generate enough political force to mobilize the government into action. No one could be sure how many would answer the call. Yet, they came in droves.

They came by train from New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. They loaded onto buses from Boston, Milwaukee, and Little Rock.They drove by car from Maryland and Virginia. They flew in from San Diego and Seattle.

At 7:00 a.m. that summer morning, ten people set up their own folding chairs near the Reflecting Pool. By 10:30 a.m., nearly 20,000 milled around the Mall. By the time the formal rally started at 1:15 p.m., the crowd packed across the mile long grassy area from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and stretched a mile northward to Connecticut Avenue. Some took positions in the trees in front of the Lincoln Memorial. In the end, nearly 250,000 people packed around the Reflecting Pool in sweltering 83° heat.

Half a million people came of their own volition. They came because they heard the call in their guts. Martin Luther King, Jr. had no authority over them. He had nothing tangible to offer them when they arrived. He could not even guarantee them safe travel. Yet, he had tapped into their human desire to dream, to grow, and to belong. He used his formidable influence not to serve himself, but to share a vision and help others achieve their potential. That’s the power of transformative leadership.

Question: Do you know transformative leaders who inspire others to achieve their full potential?

 

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SUE Talks: Give the Most Transformative Speech of Your Life

You’re standing on stage. Alone. You can just make out the silhouettes of the people sitting in the audience. Mostly women. In the back of the room, cameras are trained on you. Everyone is waiting. You take a deep breath. You have 12 minutes to give what may be the most transformative speech of your life. No notes. No PowerPoint. No clock. Just you.

That’s the challenge that I and 31 other women have faced since San Diego-based Connected Women of Influence (CWI) launched the SUE Talks in the Fall of 2015. CWI has been helping to advance and elevate professional women since 2008. This powerhouse association has grown from 12 to over 200 members, and offers a diversity of programs and events like Executive Roundtables, the Women Lead Institute, Women Lead Radio, the Women of Influence Awards, and Women Lead Magazine.

The idea for SUE Talks began as a flash of inspiration. CWI Co-Founder Michelle Bergquist and SUE Talks Co-Founder Deanna Potter were chatting about more ways that CWI could help professional women share their stories. “Why don’t we host a series of short talks by women who want to share their professional journeys and the lessons they have learned?” they thought.

From that conversation the SUE Talks were born. SUE stands for Successful, Unstoppable, Empowering women. Some of the presenters are professional speakers like me. (You can watch my SUE Talk here.) Others had never been on stage before. But all SUE Talkers are women sharing deeply personal stories and demonstrating the power of authenticity. Here’s a sampler:

1. Dear World, by Erika De La Cruz

dearworldIn “Dear World,” Erika De La Cruz shares the story of losing everything in life that was dear to her at a young age. With the help of college friends and a poignant gift that she received from a shocking flea market purchase, De La Cruz learned a pivotal lesson. Every day, we get the chance to determine what is valuable to us and the value that we will bring to the world. Every day, we get a chance to write a letter that begins with “Dear World.”

2. Adversity is a Slingshot, by Lyena Strelkoff

adversity“1.2 seconds. That’s how long it takes a woman to fall 25 feet. It’s also how long it takes to turn a life into gold.” That’s how Lyena Strelkoff, a former dancer, begins the story of how a fall from a tree while on a date in 2002 turned her into a paraplegic. In “Adversity is a Slingshot,” Strelkoff shares the surprises she faced when dealing with paralysis, including the biggest surprise of all – how much better it made her life.

3. I am That Woman, by Bethany Kelly

thatwomanIn this funny and warm SUE Talk, Bethany Kelly shares that although she is the textbook definition of survivor, the word survivor doesn’t work for her. Instead, she chooses to practice “aliveness.” She explains, “survivor is a fact over which I have no control. Aliveness is a state of being which I can choose.” Kelly’s journey to aliveness took her from simply existing to becoming her own champion and starting a thriving publishing company.

4. Your Biggest Breakthrough is Born at Rock Bottom, by Jessica Joy Reveles

biggestbreakthrough“The room goes dark, but not quiet. Many of the children are my son’s age. Some whimper and whine and others cry out loudly. I shut my eyes tight, a futile attempt to fall asleep that first night . . . “ With quiet grace, Jessica Joy Reveles walks us through her journey from homelessness (twice) to success. She reminds us that it’s “when we’re at our lowest that the most primal instinct in us sparks the will to survive.”

5. Your Ego, by Sylvia Becker-Hill

youregoIn “Your Ego,” Sylvia Becker-Hill takes us on a 2,000-year journey dating back to ancient Egypt and the birth of “Cleopatra’s curse,” which still haunts women in business today. Because of Cleopatra’s curse, the pain of unrealized potential is shared by millions of women worldwide. In this haunting SUE Talk, Becker-Hill shares her powerful ritual of how to rewire our brains, break Cleopatra’s curse, and enjoy being SUE – successful, unstoppable, and empowered.

This year, CWI is hosting four more incredible evenings of SUE Talks. Click these links if you are inspired be a SUE Talk presenter, sponsor or register for SUE Talks, or want to watch more SUE Talk videos. We all have challenges and setbacks. SUE Talks remind us not to let our setbacks define us, but to use them as a springboard to reach our full potential.

Question: If you were challenged to give a 12-minute speech about your professional journey, what lessons would you share?

 

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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!

Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts of 2016

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost over. But before we dive into 2017, 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 leverage unconventional leadership traits like “4 Ways Introverts Excel As Leaders” and “The Servant Leader’s Dilemma”. Then there are the lists. Four out of the top ten are lists of things like leadership books, purpose-driven companies, and service-oriented employees.

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 Biggest Myths about Strengths

3-myths-about-strengths-01One 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. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is used by 1.6 million employees and 467 Fortune 500 companies every year. 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. [Read more]

 

9. Simon Sinek Explains the Trust Gap in Your Organization

simonsinektrustgap-webIn the third most popular TED Talk of all time, Simon Sinek inspired leaders to reconnect with their organizational why. In just 18 minutes and with a rough sketch of concentric circles on a flip chart, Sinek shared what he said was “probably the world’s simplest idea.” Most organizations focus on what they do and how they do it. But only the most inspired organizations have leaders who start with why they do it first. And for companies like Apple, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Wright Brothers, starting with why was the fundamental difference between success and obscurity. [Read more]

 

8. How to Give Thanks Like a Boss

givethankslikeaboss3-01We’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. [Read more]

 

7. 10 Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List

christmasbook-01Don’t get stumped when someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year. If you need some titles to add to your wish list, we’ve gathered our top picks. From memoirs to case studies to historical dramas, you’ll find inspiring accounts to satisfy your need to read. Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the turn of the page. [Read more]

 

6. Doing Well By Doing Good: 12 Companies that Got it Right in 2016

doing-well-01The 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 our monthly CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. [Read more]

 

5. Leaders: Are You Called or Driven?

leaders_areyoucalledordriven-final-01-copyBy Dr. Tony Baron: Most of our seminal leadership theories have been developed around three significant streams: psychology, philosophy, and economics. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalytical theories on personality, focused on explaining human behavior around the concept of pleasure. Although he sexualized many of his theories, the business community recognized that the consuming public could be enticed to buy simply because of the pleasure that comes with instant gratification. [Read more]

 

4. 8 Must Read Books on Women in Leadership

8mustreadwomeninleadership_web“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. [Read more]

 

 

3. 4 Ways Introverts Excel as Leaders

4waysintrovertsexcelasleaders-web
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. [Read more]

 

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2. Meet 10 Ex-Special Forces Operators Ready for Hire at Your Company

meet10exspecialforces
“Please let me know if you would have an interest in dropping into a room of Navy SEALs and coaching them.” That was the message I received on July 21, 2016, from someone named Philip Dana through a LinkedIn request to connect. “Hi Phil,” I replied, “You certainly know how to get my attention. Let’s meet for coffee.” That was the beginning of my journey this year into the world of The Honor Foundation. THF is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Diego that helps former Navy SEALs and other elite U.S. Special Operations Forces transition out of military service and into the corporate world. [Read more]

 

1. The Servant Leaders’ Dilemma

theservantleadersdilemma-01“How can I effectively use my leadership position to serve others without burning myself out?” The concept of servant leadership was originated by Robert Greenleaf nearly 50 years ago. Greenleaf was an iconoclast who argued that leaders should use their positions of power to help their teams succeed rather than for self-interest and personal glory. It’s a powerful concept that has been put to the test by many organizations, large and small, such as Southwest Airlines and Federal Express. [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 2017.

Question: What thought leaders did you follow most in 2016? Did you learn anything that helped you become a better leader?

 

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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!

 

5 Children’s Books to Add to Your Leadership Library

Leadership can be complex. It’s especially true this time of the year when we’re focused on tying up annual goals and planning for a strong 2017. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of it all and forget about the people-side of leadership.

As an antidote to the complex, we recommend five classic children’s books to add to your leadership library, and remind you of enduring lessons you learned when life was a bit simpler.

 

1. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

alicewonderlandLeadership Quote: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Key Takeaway: At a fork in the path deep in woods, Alice asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take. The cat’s response reminds us to keep ourselves and our teams focused on the destination. Don’t veer off track by the daily drama.

 

 

 

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

charliechocolatefactoryLeadership Quote: “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Key Takeaway: Willie Wonka rewarded young Charlie with his wondrous chocolate factory after Charlie decided to leave the everlasting gobbstopper at the factory instead of sharing it with Wonka’s competitor, Slugworth. Future leaders need more than skills and experience, they need to be a good culture fit and share the core values of your organization.

 

 


3. 
Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne

winniethepoohLeadership Quote: “You are braver than you believe. Stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Key Takeaway: Part of leader’s job is to make decisions that others are not willing to make, to take risks, and step out of our comfort zones. Leadership can test our belief in ourselves. Pooh’s friend, Christopher Robin, reminds us to stay true to our inner compass and keep moving along the path that positively impacts the world.

 

 

4. Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss

horton_hatches_eggLeadership Quote: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!”

Key Takeaway: Horton the Elephant endures a number of hardships, but keeps his word to sit on the egg of Mayzie while she steals away for a permanent vacation in Palm Beach. Be a role model for staying true to your word. It’s the quickest way to earn respect and build a culture of trust.

 

 

 

5. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

charlotteswebLeadership Quote: “By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle.”

Key Takeaway: Charlotte, the spider, reminds us that leadership is not a permanent position. It’s a season. We can use our leadership season to take from others, or to help others become better versions of themselves. The choice is ours.

Stay focused, surround yourself with people who share your core values, stay true to your inner compass, model the behavior you want to see in others, and remember that leadership is a season. The lessons we learned in the pages of some of our favorite childhood tales can continue to guide us along our leadership journey.

Question: Which of these five takeaways do you find most compelling?

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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!

Doing Well by Doing Good: 12 Companies That Got it Right in 2016

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 our monthly CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

1. Clifton’s Cafeteria, Los Angeles, CA, “The cafeteria of the golden rule”

cliftons-logo

Walk into Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Throwback Thursday and ordered a side of nostalgia. Opened in 1935, Clifton’s was billed as the world’s largest cafeteria. At the height of the Depression it became famous as “The Cafeteria of the Golden Rule.” Clifford Clinton, its proprietor, had a policy to never turn anyone away, whether they could pay for their hot meal or not. He wanted to give back to the community and feed the soul. [Read more]

 

2. Radio Flyer, Chicago, IL, “Well-structured onboarding program impacts culture”

Amy Bastuga’s first day at Radio Flyer started with a simple task – to onboard a new employee. That task evolved into a program that forever changed the culture of the 99-year-old iconic toy company. Nine years later, Bastuga, now Vice President of Human Resources, leads the company’s “New Flyer Orientation & Assimilation.” Since its inception, the program has had a direct impact on performance. Turnover dropped from 21% to 6%, and employee satisfaction scores reached 100% in 2015. [Read more]

 

3. Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, CA, “Passion for sustainability”

taylorguitarslogo

What do Neil Young, Taylor Swift, and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi have in common? They are all fans of Taylor Guitars. With Andy Powers helping with the day-to-day business, Bob Taylor is free to follow his passion for sustainability. With worldwide forest acreage dwindling, Taylor is committed to harvest wood in an environmentally friendly manner, while improving the quality of life for forest-dependent communities. [Read more]

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4. Hunter Industries, San Marcos, CA, “People first”

When you think of manufacturing companies in America, visions of machines spitting out smoke among sooty-faced laborers may come to mind. That image dominated U.S. manufacturing companies for much of the 20th century. But, if you walk into Hunter Industries today, you might mistake it for a fitness club. Best known for its irrigation products, San Marcos, California-based, Hunter’s 1,500+ employees also create and distribute landscape lighting and custom manufacturing products in 125 countries around the world. The company prides itself on taking care of its people first. In turn, Hunter employees give back through loyalty, innovation, and community service. [Read more]

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5. Warby Parker, New York, NY, “No company is an island”

warbyparkerlogo
You’re probably already familiar with TOMS Shoes One for One® program. For ever pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives away a pair to a child in need. You may not be as familiar with Warby Parker, a hip eyewear company founded in 2009 by four Wharton Business School friends. Warby Parker was started with two goals in mind: 1) to disrupt the $65 billion eyewear industry by taking out the middle man and making eyeglasses affordable, and 2) to create a for-profit business that could have a massive positive impact on the world. [Read more]

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6. Patagonia, Ventura, CA, “A new style of responsible business”

California-based Patagonia has corporate social responsibility (CSR) hardwired into its business model. This outdoor clothing and gear company has caring for the planet embedded in its mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” As Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder wrote in his book Let My People Go Surfing, “Patagonia exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business.” [Read more]

 

7. Whirlpool’s “Real Whirled” program, Stevensville, MI “Giving employees a sense of camaraderie”

What would happen if we chose a diverse group of eight people in their late 20’s and early 30’s to live together in a condo for two months? That’s the question that launched MTV’s ‘The Real World’ series in 1992. It’s similar to the question that Jim Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy asked in 1998 when Whirlpool tasked him for help with flagging recruitment and high turnover in their sales department. While the approach may be unconventional, the results are impressive. [Read more]

 

8. McKinney Advisory Group, San Diego, CA “Servant leadership culture”

mckinney-alliance-logo-png-01To instill a passion for purpose, the best leaders in the world focus on aligning mission, culture, and brand to empower high performance and maximize employee engagement. One such leader is Damian McKinney, Founder and CEO of the San Diego-based corporate real estate firm, McKinney Advisory Group. Over the past five years, McKinney has dedicated himself to creating a culture of servant leadership in the firm. [Read more]

 

9. The Container Store, Coppell, TX, “The 1 = 3 rule”

The $35,000 gamble that founder and CEO Kip Tindell made in The Container Store in 1978 has really paid off – for him and for his employees. Today, the business has grown to an impressive 67 locations in the U.S. and reports annual sales of nearly $800 million. Equally impressive is the fact that Tindell has accomplished all this while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average. [Read more]

 

10. Broetje Orchards Prescott, WA, “Community based business model”

Ralph Broetje grew up on a small farm in Yakima, Washington, tending chickens and caring for the family orchard. When he was 15, he heard a missionary from India speak about the suffering of children in his country. Something sparked in Ralph that day — a dream to have his own orchard and help children in India. Like many teenage dreams, it faded. But after lying dormant for over 20 years, it began to take root. [Read more]

 

11. SC Johnson Racine, WI, “Goodwill of the people”

scjohnson_logoPledge, Windex, Raid, Drano, and even Ziplock Bags are just a few of the dozens of products that come from a single company in Racine — SC Johnson. Since 1886, SC Johnson has grown from a small parquet flooring company to a thriving global enterprise with products in virtually every country around the world. This year marks the company’s 100th anniversary. Not only can the Johnson family take pride in that, but also in 12 decades of employee-centric leadership practices. [Read more]

 

12. Bain & Company Boston, MA, “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail”

“Best People, Best Culture, Best Training.” That’s what many employees say about Bain & Company, the Boston-based management consulting firm, founded in 1973. With consistent top national rankings on websites like Glassdoor and Vault we were curious to learn more about what employees loved about Bain & Company’s culture. Here are three employee responses from a 2015 internal survey on culture. [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!

 

 

10 Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List

Don’t get stumped when someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year. If you need some titles to add to your wish list, we’ve gathered our top picks.

From memoirs to case studies to historical dramas, you’ll find inspiring accounts to satisfy your need to read. Here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the turn of the page:

 

grittogreat1. Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

What it’s about: You don’t have to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become successful. In fact, those qualities may work against you when you face resistance. To push past barriers, it’s far better to have Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity.

Why pick it up: It’s a quick read (143 pages) and packed with both case studies and research. Plus, you’ll find ‘Grit Builders’ at the end of each chapter.

 


leadership-essential-writings-by-our-greatest-think-1235601-8daa1584783e110feb752.
 Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers by Elizabeth D. Samet

What it’s about: Elizabeth D. Samet, West Point English Professor, brings her experiences as a teacher of soldiers, her ear for excellent writing, and her belief in the vital role of the humanities in cultivating leaders.

Why pick it up: For the perspective of great writers and thinkers about the essence of leadership. Machiavelli, Macbeth, and Ghandi are just a sampling of the 102 writers and works included that you’ll find both ancient and crucially current.

 

therightkindofcrazy3.  The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation by Adam Steltzner and William Patrick

What it’s about: The unbridled elation at NASA when the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars in 2012 – and the inside account of the ten years of hard work, zero margin for error, and seven minutes of terror that led up to that moment.

Why pick it up: It’s a story about the triumph of human ingenuity over staggering odds. Share it with your team to inspire them to break down seemingly impossible problems into smaller, more manageable ones.

 

originals-book4.  Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

What it’s about: From Martin Luther King, Jr. to the founder behind uBeam, it’s an inspiring account how successful non-conformists bust myths, speak truth to power, and avoid groupthink without getting sidelined.

Why pick it up: Fresh research, counter-intuitive insights, status quo busting, lively writing, and practical calls to action.

 

 

 

theboysintheboat

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What it’s about: The 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing crew team. It’s a story of how team commitment, determination, and optimism can create history. Spoiler alert: they win the gold.

Why pick it up: To help your team replicate the “swing of the boat” – to work in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others.

 

 

turnaroundtheship6. Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

What it’s about: A ship’s transformation through personal accounts and moments in which U.S. Navy Captain Marquet realized his own failures and successes.

Why pick it up: It’s “The Hunt for Red October” meets Harvard Business Review.

 

 

 

thewrightbrothers7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

What it’s about: The dramatic story of two courageous brothers who launched the Age of Flight despite overwhelming odds. To quote Wilbur Wright: “No bird soars in the calm. If you want to take off, you have to take off into the wind. You need the wind. The wind will make you.”

Why pick it up: It’s written by a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and blends the best of history with an inspiring story of how to meet resistance head on to achieve your goals.

 

 

shoedog8. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

What it’s about: A candid and riveting account from the man behind the swoosh about the company’s early days and its evolution from a garage business into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing brands.

Why pick it up: It’s a straight-from-the-source account about the early years of Nike, and the ragtag group of misfits who harnessed the power of a shared mission and deep belief in the spirit of sport.

 

 

thepowerparadox9. The Power Paradox by U.C. Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner

What it’s about: Two decades of research and breakthroughs in neuroscience confirms that power actually re-wires the brain and suppresses our ability to empathize. The paradox: it is the ability to empathize and do good for others that puts us in the power seat to begin with.

Why pick it up: To learn how brain chemistry is altered when we gain power, and how to re-wire the brain and beat the power paradox.

 

 

superbosses10. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sidney Finkelstein

What it’s about: A revealing study about how some people are able to propel not only their companies – but also their protégés – to great heights.

Why pick it up: A good boss hits his goals and leads his team. A superboss blows away her goals by building an army of new leaders. Which would you rather be?

 

Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Others will give you the latest research and insight you help you tackle your greatest challenges of 2017.

Question: What books would you recommend to others that have helped you along your leadership journey?

 

eblast-reimagined-2017-2
Looking for one more gift idea to add to your wish list?
Reserve your seat for the Re:Imagine Leadership Summit – a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. We’re offering $100 the regular rate now through January 1, 2017!

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?

Leadership rolls downhill. What standards do you model daily? Join me and Dr. Tony Baron at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! 

Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. Have questions? Email me directly at snasim@executiveexcellence.com.

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. 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 over the next several months to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim


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 be 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.

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 Leadershipand 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!

 

reimaginedemail_2017

Learn more about how you can build a roadmap for transformative leadership at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you.

 

3 Things to Help You Lead Your Team Through Today’s Election

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, today marks the 597th day of the U.S. presidential election. A Pew Research study published in July found that 60% of Americans were exhausted by the barrage of election news. And that was four months ago.

Since then, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton accepted their parties’ nominations, the DNC Chair resigned, the candidates went head-to-head in blistering debates, a tape was leaked of Trump talking about groping women, Clinton walked a legal tightrope over her email scandal, the North Carolina GOP office was firebombed, and Trump is keeping the world in suspense about whether he will accept the election results.

Your team is not immune to the stress reported by 52% of Americans over the presidential election. Regardless of the election results at the end of today, regardless of the fallout that will take place over the next weeks, some members of your organization (possibly even you) will be very unhappy with the results.

During times of uncertainty, it is the leader’s role to bring order to chaos, calm nerves, and manifest a non-anxious presence.  Here are three things you can do today to keep yourself and your team focused:

1. Do a walkabout. Leadership builds confidence. Leaders routinely have to make important decisions, often under conditions of uncertainty, that affect many people over a long period of time. Operating under those circumstances helps leaders navigate the peaks and valleys that come with the job. But, your team members may not have a built-in compass. The stress of deciding who to vote for, or of deciding not to vote, can weigh heavily on them today.

Make sure that you build time into your day to do a walkabout. Letting your team see you in the halls will serve as an instant stress relief. You’ll remind them that they are not alone, and you will get through this together.

2. Picture a monkey, an ice cream cone, and an Italian graduate student. In the late 1990’s neuroscientists in Parma, Italy, were studying cells in a monkey’s brain that fired only when the monkey raised its arm. One day, a research student walked into the lab with an ice cream cone. When he absentmindedly raised the cone to his mouth, the monkey’s brain cells for raising its own arm were triggered. Researchers have since found that the brain is filled with neurons that mirror not only the actions, but also the emotions, of those around us. These mirror neurons operate as antennae, allowing us to pick up signals in our social world. When we detect the emotions of another person through their actions, our mirror neurons replicate those emotions.

As you go about your day today, your team will be picking up on your signals. Remember that both your verbal and non-verbal patterns are being imitated and reflected by your team members.

3. Talk about the Johnson Wax Company. In 1886, Samuel Curtis Johnson was a parquet floor salesman in Racine, Wisconsin. One day, he realized that there were more floors than there were products to keep them clean. He mixed his first batch of Johnson’s Wax in his bathtub, abandoned the flooring business and started selling wax as fast as he could make it. Since then, five generations of Johnsons have led the now $10 billion company, making it one of the oldest family-owned businesses in America. This year marks SC Johnson’s 100th anniversary. The company has weathered the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Civil Rights Era, 9/11, and 23 presidential administrations.

Whatever happens today, life will go on. Let your team know that this is a season, not a catastrophe.

Question: Are your team members feeling anxious today? What are you doing to help them through it?

 

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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!