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Category Archives: Leadership Development

Three ‘Pre-Crisis’ Signs to Look For: Avoid the Cycle of Crisis in Business

Corporations spend billions of dollars each year on books, seminars and consultants in order to advise senior level managers on how to guide their company through critical times. In a 2014 study by Bersin by Deloitte, researchers found that corporate training grew by the highest percent in seven years (15%) to over $70 billion in the US and $130 billion worldwide.*

*Source: The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market, Karen O’Leonard, January 2014. Available at http://www.bersin.com

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Change Is the Only Thing That’s Certain

Principles for Profit #40: If the horse is dead, get off.

Do you anticipate change, or try to bury it, deny it, or ignore it?

If you’ve ever watched a surfer—or been one yourself—you’ll know that your only chance to ride the curl rather than end up sucking the sand is to anticipate the changes in those waves and make the constant adjustments that are necessary if you’re to maintain your balance. You know you have no control over the water, but you do have the power to respond to its ever-changing patterns in ways that will allow you to continue riding high.

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Leaders, How Will You Know If or What to Change?

Is it a game-changer, or something to roll with?

Do I tweak my plan, or is it time for a radical transformation?

Part of the challenge of leadership is taking decisive action, or making the right move at the right time. This is challenging to do alone. Leaders, how will you know if, or what, to change?

A trusted advisor can be that objective sound board you need to make a more informed, more objective, and more confident decision. What if CEOs looked at advisors like Tiger Woods looked at his swing coach?

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How to Own Your Leadership Turning Point

Turning point (noun) – a point at which a decisive change takes place; critical point; crisis. [1]

There is a critical moment for any individual trying to establish leadership when they either gain or lose followers. I call it the leadership turning point. And I’ve coached many people through their leadership turning points.

This is true for any type of leader, whether it’s a CEO, an elected official, a teacher, or the acknowledged leader of the free world. This turning point is generally palpable for everyone present when the moment happens, whether it is vocalized or only evidenced through the behavior that follows that critical moment. 

I want to share two examples of critical turning points to drive home the importance of this turning point for leaders. One example is pulled from current events while the other is from the anecdotal history of yours truly.

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When Narratives Collide

When Narratives Collide—Nations (and Businesses) Falter

It’s not just the politicians in Washington who can’t seem to agree on anything. Americans have lost their single-mindedness when it comes to core, basic values. This polarizing atmosphere is the topic of a recent letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Barone titled “America is Partisan – Get Used to It” (October 17, 2013).

Barone gives three key reasons for this change, and notes that it’s not going to get any better any time soon, as evidenced by the government shutdown. I’ve summarized the points he argues (and it’s the last point that I want to focus on in this blog):

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Definition of Role is Critical in Leadership (and Life)

When we think about the definition of role and success, there are three critical elements necessary for success in most human endeavors:

  1. Purpose
  2. Priority
  3. Passion

Whether in the workplace or in our home and daily life, it is important for us to have a great understanding of our purpose at that point in time, to have clarity in regard to our priorities, and to have a passion about our life in the process.

To Know One’s Purpose Requires an Acute Understanding of Oneself

To know one’s purpose at any point in time (given the circumstances) simply requires defining your role in the process. This is an especially good skill for leaders to develop, as they often find themselves playing different roles for their organizations at different phases of the organization’s growth, development and success.

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Resolving Conflict with Collaboration

One more style or approach to conflict resolution in meetings is one of collaboration. Collaboration is an open style whereby people are considered just as important as results. Conflict is handled in such a way that there are no secrets. Everything is brought out into the open.

People who use this style believe in basic problem-solving techniques and look for the consensus agreement. A collaborative approach is especially useful in handling conflict when:

  • The members are trained in problem-solving
  • The parties have common goals that need the cooperation of all to be achieved
  • The conflict arises from misunderstandings or communication breakdowns

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Resolving Conflict Competition Style

Competition is a style in which the meeting facilitator or leader views results as being more important than people. In this style, conflict is always ended with a winner, and a loser. Competition may be the best response to conflict in the following situations:

  • A decision or action must be immediate
  • The parties in the conflict expect and appreciate the force or power necessary in a win / lose situation
  • Combatants recognize a clearly defined differentiation and are looking for leadership
  • It’s not necessary at that point in time for the leader to assert him/herself in order to keep the meeting moving forward

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Compromise: It Works, But There is a Catch

When it comes to effectively leading a meeting and dealing with conflict that naturally arises within any organization, compromise is often touted as the best way to come to a resolution. Perhaps that’s because it is used so often, or because it addresses people’s emotions. Compromise is one way to resolve conflict, but there are drawbacks (more thoughts about the drawbacks of compromise here>> ).

A compromising style can be adopted when you want everyone to feel as if they’ve won. The objective of this approach is to strive for agreeable solutions. Compromise might be the best response to conflict when:

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Using ‘Accommodation’ as a Conflict Resolution Tactic

We’ve discussed that there are different ways to deal with conflict, particularly in meetings (face-to-face). The first tactic, avoidance, has its uses and pitfalls, particularly for leaders, as it can be interpreted as the sign of a weak leader. But when used at the right time, it can be a very effective way to keep a meeting moving forward.

Accommodation is another way to deal with conflict in meetings. This is a style regularly used by those who are deeply concerned for others. The objective of accommodation is to make everyone happy, and is a style often used by people who believe that open conflict is extremely destructive, and that good outward relationships must be maintained at all costs.

Accommodation may be the best response when:

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