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Category Archives: Leadership Development

Learn the New Rules, or Learn the New Game?

When you were a kid, you probably had a few games you cherished as favorites. Chances are your favorite games were the ones you were better at playing, and given the choice, you would prefer to teach someone your game than to learn the new game.

In a lot of ways, we are kids in grown-up clothes. And millions of us in corporate America are facing the same dilemma:

  • stick to the same game?
  • or learn the new game?

By and large, we would rather hold on to our old ways than embrace the new games these fast-changing times have forced onto our respective industries.

“Change is the only thing that is certain.”

It is hard to dispute that nearly every role in business today requires a different set of skills and competency than it did as few as five years ago. Business leaders are not oblivious to this challenge.

However, in an effort to help their teams adapt quickly, leaders often key in on the new rules rather than think about what it takes to master the new game. Herein lies a subtle, yet defining and often debilitating difference in approach.

Consider this: when we change the rules of any game often enough, it essentially becomes a different game entirely. You may be able to understand and even play the new game by learning the new rules, but this alone will not be enough for you to become proficient in the new game. Yes, it is important to learn the new rules, but it is best done by first establishing the context of the new game.

Leaders regularly place highly trained professionals who take great pride in their performance into new, complex, working relationships with other proud, highly trained professionals. These same leaders then ask that they perform those tasks with a set of skills they didn’t need to learn or use before.

When you consider that this scenario applies to a majority of positions in business today, and toss in our natural human aversion to change, you have the makings of a crisis. In organizations around the country, pride and ego are clashing with fear and ignorance, creating a cacophony of poor performance, miscommunication, stress and inefficiency.

When the New Game Impacts the Culture

When leadership appears more concerned with enforcing the new rules than with helping its team learn to excel in the new game, frustration, bitterness and perhaps even anger become a debilitating part of the corporate culture. We live and work in a time when a large number of American workers have developed a type of authority complex. This scenario may be more prevalent than one might think.

Take heart – it is possible to reverse the negative trend and help workers more positively meet the exciting new challenges that inevitably come with the changing times. A key element in this process is to teach people new perspectives and approaches that will help them accept, and more willingly understand, the new game.

How do you create a culture that is willing to embrace new ideas? It all boils down to the “law of letting go” which simply states: “Our willingness to grow is inextricably linked to our willingness to let go.”

When I work with leadership teams and organizations that struggle with change, (change that is often brought on by external forces), I begin by teaching each individual how to discern the elements of their game that no longer serve them. Then I show them how to comfortably let go of those elements so they can readily adapt to and even embrace the new game. Essentially, you must help take the mind out of the old game and place it in the new game. This shift in mindset is critical to getting a mind to be open to learn the new rules of the new game.

Learn the New Game Willingness to Grow

Change can be as difficult as it is necessary. The German philosopher Hegel taught us, “Struggle is the law of growth.” Pain, in my opinion, is an option. Our ability to mature is directly related to the amount of embarrassment we are able to stand as we learn how to become skilled at the new game.

Take the Next Step

How to you get a mind to consider a new notion (i.e. learn the new game)?
Watch Joe Caruso discuss ‘How to influence the mind’ in this brief video.

Need help with Letting Go? Get The Power of Losing Control

Cacophony Requires Clarity

I recently visited Lisbon with my wife and a few close friends. It was a wonderful trip; I enjoyed the history, culture, art and architecture, and of course, the food and wine. Those who know me know that no trip would be complete without some time spent on culture and the lessons we can draw from history – especially as it relates to leadership and success. Here, I saw a great example of a powerful lesson: cacophony requires clarity.

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Why Start With the Mind for Effective Leadership

Why start with the mind for effective leadership? The video below captures the essence of Joe Caruso’s work, in less than 5 minutes.

Joe explains why he focuses on the mind at the beginning of the relationship when he approaches problems with clients. “When I hear how the individual and collective mind is processing what this problem means, I am able to bring an objective perspective to an understanding of the problem.”

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Ask Yourself, Who Do I Want to Be?

Before New Year’s Resolutions, Ask Yourself, Who Do I Want to Be?

In this time of year when we attend parties and meet new people, one of the first questions people often ask is,

“What do you do?”

This reminds me that there is a much more important question to be asked – one that not enough people ask themselves. And now is a great time of year to ask (or re-ask) the question of yourself:

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Win-Win Negotiation: Respond Rather than React

Win-Win Negotiation

“Realize that you are always in a negotiation, if not with others, then with yourself.”  – Joe Caruso

It’s not a question of whether or not you negotiate, it’s how good you are when you do. There is an inherent danger of being in the midst of a negotiation and not recognizing it as such. Virtually all of your communication with other people is a form of negotiation.

You are the only one who can know exactly what you want and what you need. You are the only one who has the bottom-line responsibility of making sure you get it. It is not about taking advantage of people to get what you want in life. It’s about win-win negotiation.

There are five basic characteristics of a successful, win-win negotiation:
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Do Your Habits and Processes Pass the Relevance Test?

In our personal and professional lives, we are creatures of habit. As we mature we tend to hold onto old habits or approaches that are no longer relevant to our needs.

If you are guilty of this natural human phenomenon like most of us are, I urge you to reevaluate your processes from time to time to see if they pass what I call the “relevance” test.

Consider this story:

A loving mother was teaching her newly engaged daughter how to cook a roast “just like Grandma’s.”

“First,” the mother said, “you have to cut two inches from each end.”

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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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