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    The 3 C’s to Establishing Tone at the Top

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    Michael left the office early for once. He was on his way home to celebrate the position he had just accepted at a new company. After 25 years of hard work and great personal sacrifice, he finally got the VP position he felt he deserved. He had more than enough experience to step into the role and produce solid wins for his new employer. Everything was moving along smoothly until that night when he got the call from the executive recruiter. There was a problem with background check they just completed. They couldn’t find record of him having completed his MBA. He recognized that when he presented his credentials, he neglected to mention that he was two classes short of graduation, but he felt that his vast experience more than made up for that. Unfortunately for him, his new employer disagreed. The offer was withdrawn, not because he lacked the degree, but because he hadn’t come clean about it.

    Joan was celebrating for a different reason. Her team exceeded their stretch sales target for the fiscal year, a herculean effort on the part of everyone. Her leadership, strategic planning, and ability to pull the group together to find innovative approaches to problems had paid off. This news would be well received by investors and provide her and the team with a significant bonus opportunity. The president called and asked her to stop by his office. As she walked down the hall to see him, she imagined his congratulatory words. She might even get a promotion! But when she opened the door and saw a somber look on his face, and the HR VP already present, she knew the message was going to be very different. Someone had reported a few irregularities in Joan’s sales tactics. She had simply taken a bit of interpretive license in several guidelines, just a gray area that didn’t hurt anyone. But the president didn’t see it as a minor issue. And he dismissed her on the spot for her lack of integrity. Continue reading

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    5 Keys to Maximizing Your Personal Brand

    Personal Branding

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    Do you know what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room? Do you know what they think of your performance, your presence, your purpose and your personality? Rather than being unconcerned about what others think, it’s important to ensure that their perception of you aligns with how you want to be perceived. Because the answers to these questions are part of your personal brand.

    Glenn Llopis describes personal brand as “the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual; as a leader.”1 It’s your promise that you will do what you said you will do. It’s your reputation that attracts others to you, or pushes them away. Establishing and managing your brand is an ongoing process fueled by continual behavioral inputs that remind others of who you are, what you do, and how you can support them. Leaders must develop their brand so that it validates their work and provides a platform to connect with others and accomplish their goals.

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    EMPATHETIC LEADERSHIP: Becoming a Leader Who Cares

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    I recently had an opportunity to interact with a variety of people in a service based organization for a prolonged period of time. The nature of these interactions was often stressful for myself and those around me.

    Performance of their job duties required a high level of quality control and process focus. To break the tension, I occasionally joked with them that they needed to avoid making any errors because it would require them to complete too much paperwork.

    But after a while, I began to realize that despite the pressure of their roles, most of them displayed a remarkable level of empathy. They didn’t simply act like they cared about their client population, they really did seem to understand, and they actively advocated for them. It struck me that many of these individuals are not only in roles that are appropriately aligned with their giftedness, but that they are part of an organization that genuinely cares about their work. This led me to think about the culture and the “feel” in many other organizations; and to wonder how employees, clients and other stakeholders experience them in the context of empathy. Continue reading

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    Should Leaders Really Be Patient?

    HourglassLeaders are rewarded for action. They’re used to being in control and working to influence the environment around them. They have a vision, mission, and objectives to accomplish. Other stakeholders hold them accountable for developing and executing plans to drive results. Providing excuses isn’t part of their vocabulary. So what place does the word “patience” have in the context of leadership?

    To understand, let’s look at patience as a leadership competency.  According to Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger’s model of leadership, patient leaders are tolerant with people and processes; they wait for others to catch up before acting; they try to understand people and data before making decisions and proceeding; and they follow established processes. Meanwhile, leaders who are unskilled in this area act before it’s time to act; they don’t take the time to listen or understand, they think almost everything needs to be done quicker and shorter; they often interrupt others and finish their sentences; they’re action oriented and avoid process and problem complexity; and they sometimes jump to conclusions instead of thinking things through.

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    What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

    away-1019745_640As a leader, the “buck” for certain decisions stops with you. You’re responsible for outcomes impacting your team, your organization, your career, your family and friends. Sometimes the choice is clear, but frequently, it’s not. Ambiguities are the norm, and while there is pressure to make fast decisions, you know that it’s more important to make timely decisions. Meanwhile, stakeholders press you because they have their own motivations and need to know how your decision impacts them.

    Good decision-making isn’t based on the quantity of information you’re able to review, but on the quality of information you’re able to comprehend and process to the right conclusion. Good decision-making brings together intuition and systems understanding of the many networks impacted by the choices you make. It incorporates intellectual agility to draw conclusions from a broad array of facts and data to reach desired outcomes, with the political savvy to navigate varied perspectives and power dynamics. Thus, decision-making is not only a science but an art.

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