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Author Archives: Caruso Admin

The Best Investment I Ever Made

Last week I was reading a book review of Malcom Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath.  While the reviewer had nice things to say both about the author and his book, he did question some of Gladwell’s past revelations. Specifically, the reviewer brought up Gladwell’s notion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to create mastery.

I myself have considered this notion in my life. Thirty-six years ago, I committed to a study of life’s simple, common, timeless human truths, not knowing whether it could be possible to master. Many of you who know me and my work know the promise I made at 18 years of age, when I committed to studying five hours per day, five days per week. My studies focused almost exclusively on life and how we live it; and how we as humans perceive life through our own perceptions as well as our interaction with others; it has been the best investment I have ever made. [A portion of my early reading is listed in the appendix of The Power of Losing Control.]

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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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Annual Great Places to Work List

Congratulations to the leadership team, and all the employees of Hagerty, on being named a Great Place to Work® on the annual 2013 Best Small & Medium Workplaces list, published in FORTUNE magazine. Can’t say I’m surprised as I’ve had the pleasure of working with the great leadership team and employees at Hagerty.

Not every company decides to invest in their employees with leadership and organizational development, especially when they are at the top of their game. It’s nice to see that commitment to the organization reflected in the exceptional workplace environment and client relationships they have created, which has been recognized as one of the top in the country with this unique award.

Well done Hagerty!

One of the Most Expensive Mistakes a Business Leader Can Make

Don’t Neglect the Fifth Column, aka, the Culture of Your Organization

Emilio Molo was a general with the rebel forces during the Spanish Civil War. He predicted in a radio broadcast that Madrid would fall – not only through the efforts of the four columns of troops approaching the city, but also by the efforts of an additional column of supporters hiding within the city, poised to join the invaders.

On October 17, 1936, William P. Carney, a New York Times correspondent, alluded to these supporters as “The Fifth Column.” The term became even more popular in 1937 when Ernest Hemingway used it for the title of his new play about the Spanish Civil War.

Business has much in common with war (also see: The Four Rules of Engagement). Both require great leaders, loyal troops, a well-defined chain of command, as well as sound strategy and execution.

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Miley Cyrus Demonstrates the Power of Context

Context: The general that lends meaning to the specific.

Yesterday, USA Today featured an article on Miley Cyrus.

According to the article, which discusses her upcoming promotional documentary, Miley Cyrus has no regrets about the way she’s behaving because her real goal is to make history.

You want to make history. … Everything’s about what’s going to be the big moment in pop culture.

Anytime you approach something single-mindedly and resolutely, there will be fall out.

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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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