Chris Kolenda, founder of SLA, helps principled business owners who want to drive their growth at the right time, with the right team, in the right way.

If you get 1 percent better each day, you’ll be twice as good in just 70 days. Imagine the significant impact you can have on your career, health, and relationships if you can focus on making daily improvements. Learn how to break out of the survival loop.

survival

And yet, most people drift. It’s easy to take the path of least resistance and go with the flow – or be overly ambitious about what your future self will do. This is the survival loop at work!

You’ll start that diet on Monday. You’ll work on your business plan after Labor Day. You’ll hire that coach when you have more money. But when? When will the stars align for you to have more time, more money, and fewer demands?

The only time is NOW. Waiting costs you the one thing you can never get back. Your TIME!

Waiting for “the perfect moment” reinforces your bad habits and mires you in the survival cycle.

  • Instead of innovating, you’re working harder, guaranteeing you’ll never have more free time.
  • Instead of learning better sales and marketing techniques, you’re continually frustrated that you’re not reaching your income goals.
  • Instead of hiring and training people to help grow your business, you end up doing it all yourself, even the tasks you dislike and aren’t good at.
  • Staying in this survival loop is a recipe for burnout, negatively impacting your health and relationship.

I can always make another buck, says my friend Alan Weiss. I can never make another minute.
The only way out of the “I’m-too-busy / I can’t afford it / I’ll do it later” loop is to take action because you know there will NEVER be a perfect time. In fact, NOT having what you want can provide the exact motivation you need. When you’re HUNGRY, you’re motivated.

You may think, “Chris, I get the importance of personal growth, but here are the problems. Some of these programs become another part-time job, others give you ivory tower stuff that I can’t apply, and then there are the goofballs and charlatans. I don’t know which coaching program or adviser is right for me.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you that you are exactly right, and that’s why you need to get the right fit?


Applied learning is the essential improvement, and that’s why a trusted adviser is your shortest and most effective path to success.

Look for three ingredients in your trusted adviser:

  1. First, you need an emotional connection so that you know they have your best interests in mind and won’t waste your time.
  2. You want someone who gives you new tools, insights, and perspectives — who can help you expand your capacity and capabilities — not someone who just asks you questions.
  3. You need accountability to apply the right tools, insights, and perspectives at the right time, get feedback, adjust, and refine. That’s what trusted advisers help you do.

No one ever learned to ride a bicycle by watching a TikTok video or reading 3-ring-bound pdfs.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I meet with my trusted adviser for 30 minutes each week. That’s 1/80th of my time. It reduces the spinning and increases the winning.”
  • “I stopped a weekly meeting 90 days ago to spend 30 minutes with my coach. No one misses the meeting, and I’m twice as effective.”
  • “I save about four hours for every 30 minutes I spent with my adviser.”

To get good at getting better, start with finding the right-fit adviser. We have an entire team of advisers here at Strategic Leaders Academy, and we’ll pair you with the right fit.

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Conflict management and leadership in Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Gaining buy-inModern Leadership hosted by Jake Carlson: https://jakeacarlson.com/288-biking-1700-miles-for-my-troops-with-chris-kolenda/

Leaders as exemplars in Get Uncomfortable with Shae McMaster: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-uncomfortable/id1557553154?i=1000575764193

accountability
accountability

3X3 accountability is proactive because it helps you set clear expectations and assign responsibility for self, peer, and leader actions.

Accountability shapes behavior so that people do the right things in the right ways without you having to micromanage them, such as:

  • Meeting agreed on expectations
  • Delighting your customers
  • Working together to achieve your organization’s common good.

Without accountability, you find yourself cleaning messes and fixing problems. This kind of work is failure-work, and it sucks your time and energy for innovation and growth.

You may think, “But Chris, why don’t people do what they said they’d do? Why do I have to be the bad guy? I feel like I move from one difficult conversation to another, and it’s exhausting.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you that most accountability problems begin with unclear expectations? There’s a direct correlation between expectations and results. When people know the expectations — especially when they help you create them — they are far more likely to follow through.

3 X 3 accountability helps you create a virtuous expectations and reinforcement cycle.

1. Identify three behaviors or habits that will improve your team’s work together. Use the “What + So That + Results & Outcomes” formula. For example:

Report bad news as soon as you verify it so that we can take steps to address the problem.

Focus on cause, not blame, when problems arise so that we can quickly take corrective action and improve psychological safety in reporting.

Underwrite honest mistakes and shortfalls and celebrate wins when people try new things so that we encourage innovation.

2. For each behavior or habit, what do acceptable, unacceptable, and awesome look like?

Report bad news as soon as you verify it so that we can take steps to address the problem.

– Unacceptable: hiding bad news, shooting the messenger, flying off the handle, finger-pointing.

– Acceptable: Report the bad news as soon as it’s verified. Receive the news without judgment or finger-pointing, and identify and address the cause(s). No finger-pointing.

– Awesome: identify the problem, diagnose the cause, and recommend ways to address it.


3. Identify responsibilities for people to self-correct, when peer-correct should happen, and when leader-correct should occur.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I like how you identified the cause and gave me a recommendation. Let’s go with it.”
  • “I didn’t react properly to your report. I should have thanked you and taken action instead of getting angry. I’m sorry about that. What do you suggest we do about the problem you reported.”
  • “You nailed it when you took action to fix that bottleneck. That’s exactly the initiative we need.”

3X3 accountability is proactive because it helps you set clear expectations and assign responsibility for self, peer, and leader actions. You’ll improve psychological safety when you have buy-in for the performance and behavioral standards.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Modern Leadership hosted by Jake Carlson: https://jakeacarlson.com/288-biking-1700-miles-for-my-troops-with-chris-kolenda/

Wealthability hosted by Tom Wheelwright: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lead-to-win/id1460072138?i=1000559631933

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I have several programs geared to developing leadership skills, such as Becoming a WHY Leader (TM), CEO mastermind groups, and 1-on-1 personal trusted advising.

To see which ones fit your needs, hit reply or schedule a call with me: https://callSLA.as.me/Chris.

Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.

Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions



accountability
accountability

Unfortunately, you cannot completely avoid reactive accountability. You have to tally the metrics and address the mishaps, wins, and mixed performances that are parts of business and life.

To run a successful business, we must hold people accountable to do the things they promised to do, such as:

  • Finishing tasks
  • Following up with clients
  • Achieving sales quotas

Without accountability, your plans can quickly fall apart. You may think, “But Chris, why don’t people just do what they said they’d do? Why do I have to keep track of everything? Why don’t they just tell me the truth? I can’t do anything about the situation after the fact. I need my team to act like grown-ups.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you there’s a better way to hold your team accountable? There are actually two types of accountability – reactive and proactive.

Reactive accountability happens after the fact: you tally the quarterly metrics, your team had an incident, the report is late, you lost a key account.

Now you’re mad.
You’re embarrassed.
You’re losing money.

With emotions surging, it’s easy to fly off the handle – or to push others out of the way and do the work yourself. The worst part is that you have to have those difficult conversations. Ugh!  

And if you don’t, you know the problem will only get worse. Lowering your standards is not the answer. Having others redo the work is a recipe for resentment. Constantly operating in fire-fighting mode is stressful, leaving little time for innovation, creativity and joy.

Problems that are chronically avoided create a toxic work environment.

Unfortunately, you cannot completely avoid reactive accountability. You have to tally the metrics and address the mishaps, wins, and mixed performances that are parts of business and life. But you can have a lot less stress in your life and business when you embrace proactive accountability.

Proactive accountability reduces the likelihood of misfires and increases the probability of success. It’s also a lot more fun. Proactive accountability is what you do to shape behavior. You set expectations, provide the nudges that celebrate the right actions, and adjust the habits that lead to breakdowns.

Remember when you taught your child to ride a bike? You didn’t simply correct them when they fell over (reactive accountability), you showed them how to ride and encouraged the right habits.

Keep pedaling!
Keep your back straight!
Look where you want to go!
You got it! Keep going
!

If you saw them wobbling or slowing their pedal speed, you nudged them to change their actions because you knew in advance the consequences of bad habits and poor skills.

Your awesomeness in teaching your child to ride a bike is your secret to leadership success.

By encouraging the behaviors and habits that lead to success and nudging ineffective practices in a better direction, you dramatically increase the chances of superior performance — and joyful high-fives when it comes to measuring results.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I like how you made the customer feel heard and addressed his problem immediately.”
  • “You did right by raising the red flag on this safety concern. Now we can fix it before someone gets hurt.”
  • “You nailed it when you took action to fix that bottleneck. That’s exactly the initiative we need.”

Proactive accountability improves results and creates more opportunities for joyful reactive accountability.

Schedule a call with Chris

Better accountability increases performance and reduces corrective action, so you have the time and energy to innovate and grow.

The 3 C’s of Accountability

1. Clarity. Your expectations must be so clear that an 8-year-old could say them to you perfectly. People need to know the why behind the expectations. All you need to do is add “so that we achieve x. y, z outcomes.”

Checklists are terrific ways to make expectations clear. If they’re good enough for astronauts to use, then they’re probably intelligent steps for me and you.

2. Consistent Consequences. Recognize when people are doing the little things right and be specific. “I like how you took the initiative to pull the irate customer away from Jim.”

Apply the right nudge when you see indicators that the person has not yet mastered the proper habits, “Here’s a different way to defuse tension. [Practice] How does that feel to you?”

Step in when you notice someone is distracted, “You seem pre-occupied today. Am I wrong about that?” If necessary, give them the time to deal with whatever’s on their mind so they can rejoin the workday free of distractions.

Standards are arbitrary if you only address them on certain days of the week or with some people and not others. If the rules do not apply to you, they should not apply to any other employee.

Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite.

At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

3. Caring. People respond well to feedback when they believe you have their best interests at heart. Otherwise, they feel like you are picking on them or playing favorites. Use your weekly 15-minute check-in with your subordinates and quarterly counseling to build your relationship, help them develop and use their superpowers, and set them up for future success.

accountability

You can tell whether you have accountability by the number of skill breakdowns that occur.

Inadequate accountability leads to high error rates because people do not know what right looks like. Even after corrective action, they find new ways to achieve skill breakdowns.

The reason why is pretty simple: there are infinite ways to screw up something and only a few ways to perform it correctly.

Jim was a yeller. He would fly off the handle whenever something did not meet his standards. “I’m holding them accountable,” he told me.

How’s that working for you?

“I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’ve seen the employees do it right before, so I know they can do it. They choose not to, and I cannot figure out why.”

When do you hold people accountable?

“When they screw up.”

There’s the problem. That’s lazy accountability.

“What do you mean?”

Any amateur can tell when a skill breakdown occurs. That’s easy. What’s difficult is to notice the little things that point to success or failure.

The #1 myth about accountability is that it is punishment or corrective action.

Eighty percent of accountability should be a celebration of what’s going right.

When you were teaching a kid to ride a bike, did you yell at her when she fell over, “What’s the matter with you?”

Or did you encourage successful behavior? “Keep pedaling, focus your eyes on where you want to go…”

Accountability is the art of bringing about the desired behavior. You need to let people know what right looks like and encourage the habits that lead to success.

You also need to notice the little indicators of things going astray and address them before the skill breakdown occurs. An early nudge in the right direction is far easier and less costly than cleaning up a problem.

The pros in any endeavor know the little things that lead to success or failure and focus on shaping desired behaviors.

Accountability is what you use to build greater load-bearing capacity. If you don’t build an accountable workplace, you’ll experience repeated breakdowns and feel trapped in a game of whack-a-mole.

The good news is that fostering accountability is a learnable leadership skill.

Click HERE to schedule a call with Chris

Better accountability increases performance and reduces corrective action so that you have the time and energy to innovate and grow.

The three C’s of Accountability

1. Clarity. Your expectations must be so clear that an 8-year-old could say them to you perfectly. People need to know the why behind the expectations. All you need to do is add “so that we achieve x. y, z outcomes.”

Checklists are terrific ways to make expectations clear. If they’re good enough for astronauts to use, then they’re probably intelligent steps for me and you.

2. Consequences. Recognize when people are doing the little things right and be specific. “I like how you took the initiative to pull the irate customer away from Jim.”

Apply the right nudge when you see indicators that the person has not yet mastered the proper habits, “Here’s a different way to defuse tension. [Practice] How does that feel to you?”

Step in when you notice someone is distracted, “You seem pre-occupied today. Am I wrong about that?” If necessary, give them the time to deal with whatever’s on their mind so they can rejoin the workday free of distractions.

3. Consistency. Standards are arbitrary if you only address them on certain days of the week or with some people and not others. If the rules do not apply to you, they should not apply to any other employee.

Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite.

At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

Without clarity, people are groping in the dark. The lack of consequences indicates a lack of seriousness. Inconsistency means the expectations are random.

Are you ready to improve accountability so that you soar to new heights?

schedule a call
mastermind group


respect

The truth about becoming a good leader: you don’t need to be loved or feared. You need people to respect you.

You can tell whether you have someone’s respect by how they act around you. Think of your employees, colleagues, or even your friends:

respect

Do they hide the truth, slow-roll implementation of your decisions, whisper behind your back, say what you want to hear but do something

OR

Or do they do the opposite: provide candid assessments, give you bad news immediately, give you their discretionary effort, and let you know when they disagree?

Leaders can struggle to gain respect. People will do what you say because you are their boss, but no one admires you for your position in the hierarchy, your paycheck, or the credentials on your wall. Without respect, you are not a leader. You are simply a person putting on a management exhibition.

Here are five ways to earn respect:

1. Follow the Socrates principle. Socrates gave everyone he was speaking with his full attention. You communicate that you value the other person and what they are saying. Multi-tasking conveys the opposite: you are less important than the TikTok notification that just popped on my phone. What you hoped was saving time creates miscommunication, failure work, and disengagement.

2. Observe the Platinum Rule. Treat people as they wish to be treated. Doing so means that you need to get to know them and their interests, concerns, and expectations. You don’t want to be the creep who tries to hug everybody because you like hugs.

3. Be the Exemplar. People learn best from example. Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite. If the rule’s not important enough for you to follow, get rid of it.

4. Use common-sense consistency. People believe the standards and rules are arbitrary when you are not consistent. You cannot have rules that apply to some people and not others or that you enforce sometimes but ignore the rest. At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

5. Be worthy of trust. You gain trust through competence, character, and reciprocity. If you are not competent, you won’t be able to do what you are supposed to do. Without character, people won’t believe that you will do what you say you will do. When you take, take, take while your employees suffer poor pay and conditions, people see you as a bully or thief rather than a leader they want to follow.

Higher workplace respect leads to lower anxiety and stress, less time wasted in dispute resolution, fewer misunderstandings, and smaller amounts of failure work. What would change if you cut in half the time you waste dealing with these problems?

Do you want to improve how your subordinate leaders earn respect? Schedule a call. https://callSLA.as.me/Chris

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Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions





You have to put strategy, innovation, leadership development, growth, and other important-but-not-urgent initiatives on the back burner, even though these matters are vital for durable success.

Chronic workplace conflict consumes your time, saps your energy, increases anxiety, and adds frustration to everyday stress.

Sometimes the conflict is overt. People get into arguments, and meetings drag on endlessly as managers bicker back and forth but never seem to get anywhere. Silos become ends in themselves — your direct reports focus on looking good in their lanes but lose sight of the bigger picture.

Bureaucratic scheming happens below the surface. People ignore new demands without several prompts. Managers slow roll changes they oppose hoping that the new initiative implodes. The more aggressive practice guerilla warfare to undermine changes or stab their colleagues in the back. The most brazen do what they want to do and tell you what you want to hear.

Conflict consumes time and energy because it’s urgent and important: you must address it. You have to put strategy, innovation, leadership development, growth, and other important-but-not-urgent initiatives on the back burner, even though these matters are vital for durable success. You try to think through them in the evenings, but you are too exhausted and tired of sacrificing your family and other priorities to the hamster wheel at work. Chopping the same wood gets harder as your ax dulls.

conflict

It does not have to be this way.

Many leaders look for solutions in the wrong places. Play areas, company picnics, and more remote work opportunities can be good ideas, but they do not reduce or resolve conflict. The reduction in cognitive diversity among businesses is a new, alarming trend. More CEOs reportedly surround themselves with people who share their political opinions and get rid of those who don’t.

Professional workplace conflict can only be about two issues: goals and ways to achieve them.

That’s it. Period.

By isolating the source of the disagreement, you can manage conflict and strengthen your team. Here are some action steps to help you do that.

1. Check commitment to the goal. Ensure you are framing the objective to include the “SO THAT” — the results or outcomes you aim to achieve. “Improve our pre-execution process SO THAT we reduce the number of expensive mistakes and improve cost forecasting.” If all parties agree on the destination, the conflict is about ways to get there.

2. Understand the options. Ways are tricky to resolve because they involve differing facts, interpretations, and prescriptions.

Ask people to put their prescriptions on the table, so everyone is clear on the options. Have them note the reasons for their position and what factors would cause them to change it. This approach improves open-mindedness.

3. Establish the relevant facts. You need to be working from a common data set, or you’ll spin your wheels.

4. What do the facts mean? Interpretations of the relevant data are the source of most “ways disagreements.” Some of the filters people use are status quo, confirmation bias, and risk aversion. Get the mental models into the open. Once the interpretations are aligned or differences are clear, then you can debate the ways forward.

5. Discuss the prescriptions. If the matter is time-sensitive, you might need to gather input and decide yourself. Otherwise, you can improve buy-in by letting your subordinates develop a solution or present you with options for decision.

conflict

If everyone agrees on the goals and ways but workplace conflict persists, you have an unprofessional personal dispute; you should fire the people responsible.

Do you want to discuss one of your workplace conflicts? Reply to this email or Schedule a call. https://callSLA.as.me/Chris

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Chris’s leader archetypes have given me a framework to think about leader diversity and what natural inclinations people bring to the table. It’s also helped me communicate more effectively and develop action plans with my team and clients.
Karen Seitz, Founder and Managing Director, Fusion Partners Global

We see at least a 50% improvement in ownership and engagement, and our conversion numbers have increased by 15%, bringing more revenue into the company.
Stefan McFarland, Vice President, Aspire

Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions



What the best performers get that most others don’t is that having the right coaches saves you time, money, and energy so that you can focus on your highest payoff work.

“I can always make another buck,” Alan Weiss told me, “But I cannot make another minute.”

What the best performers get that most others don’t is that having the right coaches saves you time, money, and energy so that you can focus on your highest payoff work.

I’m sure that Tom Brady could research the best food to eat, exercises to perform, how to improve his footwork, and what equipment fits best. Or, he could hire coaches so that he can focus on doing rather than learning. Having coaches seems to work out well for him.

coaching

How does not having a coach work out for you?

Suppose you were like me a few years ago. In that case, you can spend hours reading books on building your solo practice, creating a value proposition and sound business model, marketing without feeling like a goofball, and turning prospects into clients without feeling pushy.

Like many business leaders, you can spend hours reading books about how to lead, gain buy-in, manage change, eat last, go from good to great, and boost performance and sustainable success.

Yes, you are smart enough to figure it out on your own … eventually. You learn on your own, undergo a series of trials and errors until you find something that works for you, and scour the internet for new ideas to innovate.

Good. Great. Bravo!

Have you thought about the opportunity cost of lone-wolfing it?

What could you be doing instead of learning about your job on the job?

Tom Brady and other top performers spend their time in the arena — practicing their profession and applying it when it counts. They avoid spinning their wheels in discovery learning and needless trial and error.

“Wow! He solved my problem in 15 minutes,” a friend told me. “I’ve spent years spinning my wheels, and he got me going in the right direction in 15 minutes. Thank you!”

What I love about having a coach like Alan Weiss is that he can tell me in 5 minutes what would take me 5 hours or longer to figure out on my own.

I get back all of that time and energy I would have spent spinning my wheels. One success tends to pay for a year of coaching. Everything else is profit. I read voraciously, and coaching helps me implement the general ideas in books into specific ideas that work for me.

I can spend the next 5 minutes practicing with him and then implement what I’ve learned.

Here are some keys to finding the right fit for you:

1.They’ve trod the path you want to tread. They’ll shorten your path to success and help you avoid the blind spots that created crashes for many others. Avoid the people waving the coaching certificate who’ve never walked a mile in your shoes or gone where you aim to go.

2. They’ve got coaches and mentors. “Who’s your coach?” is an excellent filtering question. If they don’t believe in coaching for themselves, why do they try to sell it to others? There’s a term for that.

3. They get you. You want someone who takes the time to learn about your goals, the keys to success, and the puzzles you need to solve. They don’t care enough to be your coach if they cannot recap all that back to you satisfactorily.

4. They got you. Your coach has your back. They are responsive. They boost your energy, hold you accountable, and always act in your best interests.

5. They can help you. Your mentor got the firepower to shorten your path to success, position you for the future, and reduce your risks.

Are you ready to soar to new heights? Schedule a call to see if we’re a good fit for each other.

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Chris’s leader archetypes have given me a framework to think about leader diversity and what natural inclinations people bring to the table. It’s also helped me communicate more effectively and develop action plans with my team and clients.


Karen Seitz, Founder and Managing Director, Fusion Partners GlobalWe are seeing at least a 50% improvement in ownership and engagement, and our conversion numbers have increased by 15%, bringing more revenue into the company.


Stefan McFarland, Vice President, Aspire
Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed. Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions







trusted

When Samantha finishes trimming my locks, she spins my chair to face the mirror and holds up another mirror so I can see the back of my head.

Eureka!

A trusted adviser helps you see what you cannot see on your own. When you become more self-aware, you can develop action steps to improve daily.

Self-awareness has internal and external dimensions: knowing yourself and understanding how others see you.

The mirror gives you an impression of yourself, but a trusted adviser helps you understand what’s creating the image that you see. When you want to change something, your adviser encourages you to add skills or chip away at anything holding you back.

trusted

Understanding how others see you can be difficult, too. You need someone to hold up the second mirror so you can see what others see: your backside.

People get into trouble when they look into distorted mirrors. Sometimes we create those mirrors, and sometimes others make them for us.

I used to think leaders had to be extroverts, so I created a distorted mirror to see an extroverted me.

It was a disaster that burned me out and damaged my relationships. When someone finally held up an accurate mirror, everything started to make sense, and I learned how to be a better version of myself.

How often are trusted leaders surprised when people who say how much they love working for them quit their jobs or turn against them (Et tu Brute?)? In these cases, subordinates may be holding distorted mirrors that lead someone to believe they have more support than they do.

So-called “validated” 360-degree instruments tend to be distorted mirrors, too. Most busy people do what you do when given an exhaustive survey with responses ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” — you vote straight ticket right down the line so you can get the questions over with and get back to work. (I have a simple 8-question tool that gives you quality feedback — reply to this email for more information).

More troubling are the mirrors held by frenemies.

People who pose (trusted) as supporters but are trying to bring you down. These trusted are bureaucratic rivals or people offering unsolicited “feedback” designed to make you feel bad about yourself or make them feel good about themselves. Unsolicited advice is never about helping you be your best self, which is why you should ignore it.

What mirrors are you using to know yourself and understand how others see you?

Are you ready for accurate mirrors?

Solopreneurs:

There’s still time to register for Joyful Sales Conversations, where I’ll show you how to put the gardener’s principle into action. When you create trust, you will transform your business.

June 17th & 28th 11:00 – 11:30 am US Central (plus 30-minutes for Q&A afterward)
REGISTER HERE






Character

Character, Aristotle said some 2300 years ago, is a habit. It’s the sum total of our daily choices of right versus wrong, responsibility versus convenience, virtue versus selfishness.

He’s a jerk, but he’s our jerk.

She’s a bully, but she gets results.

Character, Aristotle said some 2300 years ago, is a habit. It’s the sum total of our daily choices of right versus wrong, responsibility versus convenience, virtue versus selfishness.

Your character, forged in those daily choices, is revealed in a crisis

It’s no wonder jerks, bullies, creeps, and goofballs never surprise us when the shit hits the fan. You always do you, and they always do them. The habits you form every hour of every day determine your responses long before the moment of truth.

It’s hard to believe that people still fall for the fantasy that you can co-opt a predator, contain a jerk, and reform a bully. That people still wish away a person’s history of disgusting, belligerent, or bigoted behavior simply because they agree with you on something is what keeps petty tyrants in business.

A group of executives from a company approached me about doing leadership training. Their CEO engaged in toxic behavior, and they were looking for a solution. “Have you confronted the CEO about his behavior?” “No,” they replied, “We hope the leadership training will show him the error of his ways.”

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way and never has. Most people want to do well and will change their practices when confronted constructively about off-putting behavior. Addressing the problem right away is always easier than letting it fester. The longer it goes on, the more ingrained it becomes.

Early on, you would only need a minute to address the problem. You do it, and it’s over, or you move on. Letting it fester is more challenging because the longer you avoid the situation, the more you have to face it at work, and every time you look in the mirror. You wake up, and there it is. You go to work, and there it is. You check your phone, and there it is. You get ready for bed, and there it is.

I tried ignoring, accommodating, befriending, and outmaneuvering. I lost every time and even more in anxiety, frustration, and lunch money.

Enabling a bully with power is like boosting the raging river running through a canyon. The grooves don’t become more shallow; they grow deeper.

What are you doing to keep the bullies and jerks from ruining your life and business?

ALSO – I’m thrilled to announce that my book Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War has been named the INDIES 2021 book of the year in the War & Military category.

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Strategic Leaders Academy (SLA) helps former senior military leaders, combat veterans, and public servants build joyful, meaningful, and profitable consulting businesses that delight their clients.

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We work with your organization and leader teams to help you develop your leaders, build a healthy culture, and create a winning strategy. The results include higher employee engagement and ownership in success, reduced employee stress, burnout and turnover, fewer expensive mistakes, and better and more effective execution of your strategy and resilience plans. You get the highest payoff when you have consistent, dedicated support over one year or longer.

Here’s a thought I want to leave you leader’s with:

Describe The Why to your team; Delegate The How-
Describe what to do and what
outcomes you want to achieve.

Let your subordinates figure out how to
do it so they have ownership.





Trust

Trust intersects three factors: reciprocity, competence, and reliability. Reciprocity means the relationship is a two-way street: both parties are better off.

The single most important thing you need to know about trust is reciprocity, which will make or break your small business or solo practice.

Suppose you are like many small business CEOs and have frustrations with employee disengagement and turnover, lack of buy-in, and poor accountability. In that case, you probably have a low-trust workplace that’s damaging your profitability, sustainability, and peace of mind.

“Compared with people at low-trust companies,” a study in Harvard Business Review reports, “people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.”

trust

How would you feel having fifty percent higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and tremendous energy?

For solo practitioners, common objections from your prospects, such as lack of time, money, or need, are reflections of a trust deficit. Your prospective clients ask themselves, “do I feel safe, will the support be helpful, is the juice worth the squeeze?”  Competence is the ability to do your job to the required standards, and reliability is that you will do what you say you will do.

Competence is the ability to do your job to the required standards, and reliability is that you will do what you say you will do.

You need all three in place to have a trusting relationship. Without reciprocity, you have one party taking advantage of the other. Lack of competence means underperformance, and poor reliability creates inconsistency.

The element most often missing in low-trust situations is reciprocity.

I spoke with a company executive who complained that she did not have the budget for leadership training and that the CEO wouldn’t reallocate any money.

She’s facing workplace burnout, employee turnover, and presentism — where people are (or appear to be) physically present but are unengaged and unproductive. Helping her direct reports become better leaders would alleviate these problems and allow her to focus on growth and innovation rather than getting stuck in failure work and dispute resolution.

These problems are costing the company millions.

She’s facing workplace burnout, employee turnover, and presentism — where people are (or appear to be) physically present but are unengaged and unproductive. Helping her direct reports become better leaders would alleviate these problems and allow her to focus on growth and innovation rather than getting stuck in failure work and dispute resolution.

These problems are costing the company millions.

The CEO makes $20 million annually; the next highest-paid person makes a fraction. He could reallocate .01 percent of his annual salary to develop key subordinates and see a 10:1 return on investment or higher payoff for the company.

The problem, of course, is that the CEO has little incentive to improve things. He’ll get a massive payout even if he’s fired for underperforming. Burnout, turnover, and presentism are symptoms of an overall lack of trust within the company.

The senior leaders are violating the gardener’s principle: the responsibility to provide the cultivation so that the best version of each person blooms.

Gardner’s till the soil and feed the plants to stimulate growth. They prune away anything preventing the plant from being its best self. They do not try to turn one vegetable into another.

When you cultivate your employees to become their best selves, they’ll respond by contributing their best to your company’s success.

The employees at this company, I’m told, see the vast discrepancies in salary and unwillingness to invest in them. The relationship seems one way.

The employees thus treat the company as a commodity — a bargaining chip to a better-paying job at a different company.

The gardener’s principle works for solo practitioners, too. When you show how you help your clients achieve their dreams and be the heroes of their own stories, they’ll drop the money, time, and need objections.

Solopreneurs:

There’s still time to register for Joyful Sales Conversations, where I’ll show you how to put the gardener’s principle into action. When you create trust, you will transform your business.

June 17th & 28th 11:00 – 11:30 am US Central (plus 30-minutes for Q&A afterward)
REGISTER HERE