Ireland – Day 1 – Why Worry?
The Irish are known for their gift of gab, and I came across the attached "philosophy" while visiting the beautiful town of Howthe on the coast east of Dublin.  This bit of whimsy seems apropos given that most of the time, we worry about First World problems!
Ireland – Arrival
What a difference a week makes.  One week ago, I was getting stitched up after a bad bike crash in Phoenix.  Today, I had a fantastic lunch meeting with Western Union executives in Dublin!  Much to be grateful for!
More Command & Control in Business Than The Military?
  The Self Reliant Leadership Crucible mixes Special Operations soldiers transitioning to the business world, and executives looking to step back from daily routines to reflect and re-think current approaches that map to today’s challenges.  During the last expedition, the take-aways from the group were as follows:
  1. The executives learned that selection should be an ongoing process. Just because you made the team, doesn’t mean you get to stay on the team. Just like players have to make the roster every year in the NFL, executives need be diligent about selection, clear expectations, and consequences for positive and negative behavior/performance. This is also known as accountability, which gets a lot of lip service, but not much follow-through.
What Happens When You Mix Executives, Special Operations Soldiers and Dirt?
Actually, magic... Run throughout the year, the Self Reliant Leadership Crucible mixes Special Operations soldiers transitioning to the business world, and executives looking to step back from daily routines to reflect and re-think current approaches to challenges. Business leaders come away with a new appreciation for the sacrifices our elite soldiers make, and that they’re not only warriors and diplomats, but true renaissance men “packaged” to make an immediate contribution to the business world.
The Phrase to Know if Your Team is Committed or Compliant
Engaged, committed, accountable, selfless, team-oriented, courageous, resourceful, resilient, humble, disciplined… If we had our way, our teams would be comprised of near perfect humans. But alas… we are all works in progress – often with unrealistic expectations of the people we select and lead. Google launched “Project Aristotle” to figure out what makes for an effective team, and their findings boiled down to two simple things: An effective team has a safe environment where each person’s voice gets equal time, and people display empathy towards one another. Even simpler – it’s being just plain nice. I had a boss and mentor once ask me whether my team, which was performing well, was truly committed, or merely compliant. With honest reflection, I realized it was the latter. So how do you know if your team is committed or compliant?
5 Things That Will Not Happen With This Team
  The Self-Reliant Leadership CrucibleTM is an expedition designed for executives and transitioning Green Berets. Run twice yearly, the next Self Reliant Leadership CrucibleTM will begin on April 28th near Moab, Utah. It’s an intentional step away from daily routines, which can be insular, noisy, and narrow making the time for reflection and re-thinking current approaches a real challenge. Because of the selection process, and the careful setting of expectations, there are 5 things we will not encounter during the expedition:
Once and For All – Defining Vision, Mission, Goal & Strategy for Leaders
"What's surprised you so far?" I recently asked a new leader to the C-suite at a major multinational company.  "I can't believe that senior executives mix up goals and strategy!"
Vision – “a mental image of what the future will or could be like.” WHY should people support what you believe could be? Mission – “a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.” WHAT will keep people inspired, engaged and motivated?
Building an “A Team” with Executives & Special Operations Veterans
We’ve just assembled a team for an expedition to Patagonia in October, and as we started to catalog the vast array of skills we’ll have, I realized we truly have a world-class team. We were very intentional about creating a great team by design, not a mediocre team by default. Before I get into the how we did it, it’s important to understand the intended purpose of the expedition.
How to Know Your Team Knows What’s Expected of Them
It’s a refrain we here often: “I’m not sure I know exactly what’s expected of me.” It seems as simple as asking, but there are a myriad of reasons people don’t seek clarification:
  • They don’t want to look dumb.
  • Too much time has passed – they should have asked for clarification months ago.
  • Apathy… and they want to fly under the radar.
  • They don’t know what they don’t know.
  • They feel their boss is unapproachable – or the boss is actually unapproachable.
The most powerful tool in a leader’s arsenal is the “art of the question.” Even if you think your team knows exactly what’s expected of them, trying asking these seven questions to validate your intent and the team’s focus:
Haleakala – “World’s Longest Paved Climb” or World’s Best Teacher?
For St. Patrick’s Day this year, I decided to tackle Haleakala – the big mountain on Maui. It’s a big effort, and a bucket-list type of ride for cyclists throughout the world. And I knew this mountain would provide unexpected life-lessons as it had the other three times I climbed. It did not disappoint. I started riding through a misty cloud layer with the roosters announcing the day, and right away saw a sign along the road:
Leader Development – What’s $10,000?
How much can you spend without approval? In most organizations, spending $10,000 requires jumping through a few hoops, and is usually a decision of two or more people. $10,000 is real money, and there are inevitable questions asked how that money will be spent/invested:
The Leadership Skill Lacking
Provide consequences for good, or unacceptable behavior. It’s about catching people doing things right, and addressing poor performance.
Why Leader Development Is Priority #2
Which role is most important on a ship? The captain who makes decisions? The navigator who establishes the direction? The helmsman who steers the vessel? The engineer who sets the power? The social director who keeps people motivated?
6 Questions for Better Coaching
Marshall Goldsmith, by many measures a great coach, recommends six powerful questions for coaching sessions that serve as instigators to get people to think, commit and act. Given that leaders must also coach, it's important to note that a meta-analysis of >3,000 studies on performance feedback found a full one-third of all studies showed performance declines after the coaching interaction.* What are we doing wrong?
“Men Are Cowards”
So said a well-respected former CFO when asked about what ails business today. The former CFO and I were discussing the common challenges in business, and I had mentioned that if I had to convey only one thing about leadership, it would be on how to coach. These days, it might be called, "difficult conversations" or "handling conflict." I went on to comment that there aren't often consequences for the "right" behavior, or the "wrong" behavior. The CFO mentioned that many times in her career she was cleaning up messes where others didn't have the courage to call balls and strikes.
Leader Development – Three Prerequisites
A lot of firms think that to win the talent acquisition and retention war, it's all about providing training. A lot of money is spent on training, and executives look at those budgets, but how often does someone ask what the outcome should be before the investment is made? Better yet, how often is any outcome measured after the training has occurred?
Want Alignment? Define Courage
The refrains of pain from the modern organization are familiar to us all, and the wish of many top executives is to have a team that's aligned. An aligned team is in general agreement regarding the organization's attributes, flaws, risks and opportunities. It's also aligned when there is commitment as to how decisions are made to exploit opportunities and mitigate risk. The team is also aligned when processes support the best management of time, talent and treasury.
Is Your Firm Stuck Here?
At a recent meeting of CEO's, one theme emerged as the single biggest challenge, and how to fix it. I'll paraphrase: "In order to grow, we need to put the right systems in place to scale." Scale is another way of saying that efficiencies are needed through processes/systems in order to improve productivity (e.g., profit per person). Most of the CEO's I know all have a vision of where they would "like" to spend their time. It's as if they are in "temporary box" of tasks, but "soon," things will be "better," and they'll be in a new and better box of "strategic" tasks. What gets less attention is that this change of shifting focus is really a matter of saying no - that is, choosing to accept certain sacrifices - and more importantly, to gain commitment versus mere compliance from the rest of the organization.