Shaping Leaders

“Leaders learn best by leading in the face of obstacles. As weather shapes mountains, problems shape leaders.”~Warren Bennis Leaders perpetually face problems and challenges – it’s a responsibility that’s part of the job. Some are planned like change initiatives, and some arrive unforeseen. Some are familiar, and some are new; but every one of them involves barriers to be overcome and priorities to be sorted. Each challenge presents an opportunity for leaders to learn and …

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Better Discovery Boosts Business

When a customer encounters a problem, they tend to tightly control the information shared with external suppliers in their quotation requests. There is urgency to resolve the problem, so these If your solution is more complex, offering to produce more benefits for the customer with a related higher purchase investment, then responding as the customer expects, with simplicity, speed, and minimal dialogue, reduces your chance to earn their business. Proposing your solution, without first discovering why resolving their …

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The Cost for Autonomy

Daniel Pink cites 3 motivators that drive performance for those doing cognitive work: 1. Their purpose: yearning to do meaningful work that makes a difference, to do what they do in the service of something larger than themselves; 2. Their pursuit of mastery: striving to continuously improve “something that matters;” 3. Their desire for autonomy: wanting to direct their own lives. Daniel’s theory ranks autonomy as the primary motivator, and purpose as the 3rd . …

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Feedback Drives Performance

The most effective and proven tool for improving performance is feedback. Positive feedback validates our strengths, and our sense of value in the workplace, increasing confidence and satisfaction. But it’s constructive feedback that teaches us and helps us grow; it reveals what others see, what they value about our contributions, and what they expect or need from us. Seeking feedback from others shows that we value their input, and are secure enough to hear how …

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Purposeful Reflections

Last weekend, I gathered with classmates and cherished friends for our 50th college reunion. After revisiting time-worn stories and tired jokes, we began to reflect on our shared experience all those years ago. At that time, we had arrived at our esteemed university with just our dreams, and a common goal of learning and growing to build our future. Our hard work, the dedication of our teachers, and the values instilled by our families had produced the opportunity, but it was …

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Practice Makes Learning

Business environments are increasingly dynamic, challenging leaders to promptly solve unique, divergent problems, often under substantial pressure. Because the pace of change, and the complexity of the issues, can test their experience and expertise, many leaders strive to learn new skills or behaviors that strengthen their competencies. Learning comes from doing, from practicing. An effective practice routine specifies a challenging goal, and identifies metrics to monitor progress; to be sustainable, it should include relevant, appropriate, and objective …

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The Invaluable Leadership Quality

There is one leadership characteristic that is seldom noticed, and rarely celebrated. And yet it stands alone among leadership qualities, as invaluable as it is scarce. Humility. What makes humility distinct is that it is most apparent when it is absent, when it is not exhibited; its impact more evident not when it is present, but instead, when it’s not. Humility is often overlooked as a vital leadership quality because it sometimes gets confused with a lack of …

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Process Improvement Lessons

Process improvement projects must navigate disruptions, resource constraints, egos, and other challenges. And like the military’s awareness that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, the same is true for your project plan, substituting ‘reality’ for ‘enemy.’ Here are some project lessons learned for your consideration: – Every process has a primary constraint where work-in-progress builds. Find yours and design your new process to minimize that constraint’s impact on productivity. Then, find the next …

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Data and Stories

Data is readily accessible to leaders. Often, there’s so much available that it consumes valuable time to carve out the facts which best fit a specific need. When that need is motivating your team to drive a change initiative or implement a strategy, revealing only the data is rarely enough to prompt action. Most people have a limited capacity to absorb data; share too much and it begins to sound like noise, with no compelling …

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The Quest for Transformation

The prime directive for leaders is to make things better – to improve results, strengthen culture, develop talent, nurture relationships. Some leaders see their mission as going beyond improvement, to leading a transformation of their operation or business. But transformation can result in a broad array of outcomes depending on multiple variables including the circumstances of the business, the impact of the culture, or the experience and vision of the leader. Some transformations are small …

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