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.
Leadership Development – A Profound Disconnect?
Jeffrey Pfeffer is a Professor at Stanford University, and the author of "Leadership BS" - his fourteenth book on leadership and organizational behavior. The book is the antithesis of what we have come to expect from leadership doctrine. As Jeffrey says, "There is this profound disconnect--between what we tell people to do, and how we seemingly want them to be--and the qualities that seem to be useful if not necessary for success." Given that the book has proved to be a catalyst for a number of spirited discussions amongst the leaders I work with, I asked Jeffrey for clarification in a short phone interview.
Is There One Measure for Leadership Effectiveness?
What can you do now that only you can do? Short Answer - Focus the right amount of time in the right way on Strategy, Financials, Operations, the Market/Clients, and People. Long Answer – Peter Drucker famously wrote, "The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers." According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, "…voluntary quits increased by 10.4 percent, contributing more to the increase in total separations than involuntary layoffs and discharges…"
Effective Leaders Do This One Thing Better Than Most
Over the past year, I have looked for patterns in the leaders and teams I work with. Patterns regarding challenges, and patterns regarding effective solutions. The most frequent refrain I hear from leaders is that they want to spend less time in the "weeds," and more time on the "big picture." Like a lot of things in business, I think it's a math problem, and a matter of choosing to invest a majority of hours per day in a few key categories.
Which leader are you – oh so smart or oh so pleasant?

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

–William Arthur Ward

'Tis the season for reflection, and as Aristotle said, "The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."

Grace as in mercy, favor, thanks, and virtue

Today’s Troops – Tomorrow’s Leaders: Your Role…
I spoke to a Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan yesterday, which is remarkable in itself. What made it notable was that the soldier said how his work would seem so mundane to what people might expect. I suppose that's true to some degree, but I don't think his day is what most people would describe as their typical day. The average businessperson doesn't have to be hyper-vigilant other than "targeting" the right person at a networking event.
The Crucible Team Traits: Fluid, Fit & Fast!
We just returned from an expedition with six amazing leaders, and the learnings came from "hearing the unheard." It always amazes me how the wilderness can be a catalyst for transformation, and the birth of lifelong relationships. As the leader of such expeditions, I have found that my "curriculum" is simply a template - not a rigid guide. Selecting adventurous net-givers who have heroic aspirations helps, but it's the environment and the expectation of holding one's views lightly that is the real teacher.
Culture – Two things to remember
I heard someone recently describe culture as "how decisions are made, and how performance management tools are used."  It makes a lot of sense. How decisions are made has to do with the decision process and decision criteria.  Delegating and empowering requires trust, which as most of us know through experience, is often the primary dysfunction of an organization.  But delegating serves two important purposes:
Keys to Retaining Your Top Talent
Today's guest post is by my friend, Mike Figliuolo, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here). You can learn more about Mike and the book at the end of the post. Here's Mike: Erin joined your team about a year ago. She came in with many other candidates for a job opening and she impressed you in the interview. She was far and away the best candidate. You knew you would be lucky to get her to join your team.
Ireland – Day 14 (wrap!)
We started the day at the inspiring Dublin Castle where we had the privilege of hearing a presentation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Charlie Flanagan.  The minister's presentation basically put a bow on everything the student's learned - leadership, entrepreneurship, the diaspora, the symbiotic relationship between all constituents in Ireland, and the importance of a connected and global economy.  Kate Tyrrell once again took great care to make us truly feel, very welcome.
Ireland – Day 13 (whew!)
The students worked hard to finish all the projects, and they learned a ton thanks to the good people at iData, Startup Ireland, and Nuritas!
Ireland – Day 10 (step back)
On the drive from Belfast to Dublin, I was thinking how Ireland doesn't feel like a place I visit.  It feels like a place I live... once a year.  I miss Europe being novel, but I'll take that for how comfortable I feel here. I was thinking about everything I've learned here, and what I really want the students to remember.  So much of the material is a smattering of new research, and perspectives.  
Ireland – Day 9 (hope)
It's been said that hope is not a strategy.  Hope is "a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen."  During our Black Cab tour of the city, "hope" is the inspirational word one of the student's wrote on the Peace Wall in Belfast today.