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.

How do you keep your employees engaged and playing team ball?

Unemployment remains elevated, according to The Wall Street Journal, even as millions of jobs go unfilled. Part of the reason for this seeming incongruity is that people have a lower tolerance for bad work environments. People are voting with their feet to get away from bad bosses and unfulfilling work. 

I’ll be interested to see the 2021 Gallup study on workplace engagement. The 2019 data is revealing: two-thirds of American employees report being UNengaged at work. Imagine the productivity your team could achieve if you had 67% or more of your people giving a hundred percent.

What interests me the most is what inspires people to cross the line from disengaged to engaged and prevents people from crossing in the other direction. How do you fill the ranks of the engaged and keep them there?

An NFL coach showed me part of the answer this weekend. Each year, Gregg Williams hosts a golf tournament near Kansas City to raise funds for youth activities in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. I sponsored a team for the event. 

I rode in a van from the hotel to the golf course with four of Williams’ former players. Williams coached their high school football team. That was thirty years ago. One was a fourth-string quarterback who had to step into the starting role when others were injured. “He believed in me, and that gave me the confidence to win.” Another one told me that Williams “taught me life lessons that I’ll never forget.”

A third former player broke into tears. He grew up an orphan and was getting into trouble in high school. Coach Williams became the father figure he never had. “We come every year,” he told me, “Coach Williams changed our lives.” He’s now the mayor of his hometown.

Coach Williams brings out the best in his players by customizing roles to people’s natural strengths. “Put people in a position to succeed, and they will amaze you,” Williams said, “put them together in the right combination, and they’ll win.” That philosophy is how he gets people to cross from unengaged to engaged.

Agency keeps them engaged, Blake (Gregg’s son and also an NFL coach) tells me. When people know the bigger picture, how everyone contributes, and the essential role each individual plays, they can make smart decisions during the game. Agency is the ability to make decisions about the nature and outcomes of your work. 

People get engaged when you customize roles to their natural affinities. They stay engaged when they have agency. Assemble them in the right combinations, and you’ll have a winning team. 

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

People have seen that remote work can work and are creating solo- and expert-businesses in record numbers.

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me to apply: [email protected]

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

If you do the same things over and over again, you shouldn’t expect the same results.

Wait … what?

You’ve heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

This twist is about innovation.

If you keep doing the same things, you aren’t going to get the same results. You are going to fail. Look at Sears, ToysRUs, Blockbuster, Blackberry, FAO Schwartz, and others.

They did the same things over and over again and expected continued success. They got complacent, failed to innovate, and are now either out of business or struggling. 

Conditions change, competitors adapt, markets shift, technology advances. You cannot control these externalities, but you can control how you encourage strategic thinking, gain external points of view, and promote innovation. 


BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me directly if interested.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

It wasn’t the “snogging.” It was the hypocrisy. The Sun, a tabloid, plastered pictures of Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, in a passionate kiss indoors with an aide [snogging is the British term for smootching]. 

Hancock had been the public face of British mandates to wear masks and practice physical distancing. He’s got plenty of company among American politicians and business leaders. Ordinary people like you and me are tired of the elite snobbery that the rules are for everyone else.

I’m preparing for my next in-person elite event at Antietam and Gettysburg, reading about another Hancock: General Winfield Scott Hancock who commanded Union Army troops during the American Civil War.

Hancock was a leader-on-horseback, meaning that he set a visible example for others to follow. Riding horseback could be considered a privilege during long marches. In battle, you became the top target.

Your visibility is a bit better from the saddle, but the main purpose of being on horseback was to be seen by your soldiers. If the most exposed person in the unit shows courage under fire, so can I. Hancock’s corps stood their ground against Pickett’s charge during the battle of Gettysburg and won the battle that led to winning the war.

Nobody is shooting at you in business. Still, your employees look to your example: how do you treat people, do your actions match your words? Do I trust you?

Winfield Scott Hancock knew the power of being on horseback in battle. In business, you don’t always have the same simplicity. You might not know if your most talented are about to break and run. Like Matt Hancock, you might see yourself in the best light possible, but your employees see shades.

Who’s helping you see how others perceive you and fix the gaps that prompt disengagement and attrition? 


BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me to apply ([email protected])

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

Are battlefield lessons useless to business leaders?

More Americans are quitting their jobs, according to WSJ, than at any time in the last two decades. 

As COVID lifts, people’s interests are shifting from job security to professional fulfillment. We’re seeing the beginning of a massive employee turnover wave. You can ride it successfully to gain new talent or get pulled under and lose some of your best employees. How well are you positioned? 

On the eve of the Gettysburg battle, Col. Joshua Chamberlain was told to watch over 120 disgruntled soldiers accused of desertion. Chamberlain’s own force was around 300, and every soldier devoted to guarding the group reduced the number of rifles he could put into the line. 

Chamberlain won their trust and gained their buy-in (hint: he did not offer them better pay & benefits or threaten them). 117 of the 120 agreed to fight in Chamberlain’s ranks. The added rifles enabled Chamberlain’s unit to stand their ground at Little Round Top, counterattack, and win. They saved the Union Army.

The ABCs — Accountability, Buy-in, and Clarity — turned the tide. How well are the ABCs working in your organization? 

We’ll discuss practical steps to get the ABCs right on June 30th at 10:30 am U.S. Central in a live zoom session (Register here https://lnkd.in/d3hWGNy). 

Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses in the right ways at the right pace with the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

I awoke in my tent a little after 5 am on Saturday. I could see two flying insects circling each other in the space between the tent netting and the waterproof cover in the morning light. They closed in and began mating. 

After finishing, one of the insects pulled away. Its movements were jerky, as if it remained in an agitated state. The other was still. I’m not sure if it was dead or exhausted. Nature is extraordinary.

A spider lurked an inch away the entire time. The insects were so fixated on mating that they did not see the danger nearby. The spider struck, immobilizing the one insect and wrapping it with the other. Breakfast.

In battle, the savvy commanders launch counterattacks after the enemy has taken an objective. The psychology is brutally effective: the adrenaline release after success leaves people physically, mentally, and emotionally spent. This point is your adversary’s greatest vulnerability. The spider waited for the successful mating and got a double meal.

Who’s helping you avoid complacency, spur innovation, and stay vigilant?

Blackberry’s CEO doubled down on keyboards when plenty of data showed customers favored touchscreens. Blockbuster fixated on in-store VHS rentals and missed the move to mail-in and streaming that powered Netflix. It’s tough for your employees to challenge your thinking when things are going well, and yet that’s when you most need it. 

When a victorious general entered ancient Rome for a victory parade, an adviser rode alongside and repeated, “All glory is fleeting.” 

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES
1. I’m putting together an exclusive event, July 14-17, to help seven leaders spur innovation to make the second half of 2021 their best ever and turbocharge 2022. 

Breakthroughs come when you look at your situation from a novel point of view. That’s exactly why we are going to the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields for the event. At each point, you’ll focus on insights relevant to new successes. Being together with other extraordinary people inspires you to new heights.

Two of seven places are open. Contact me for more information.

2. If you cannot join the exclusive event, you can register for an interactive, hour-long Zoom session on June 30th at 10:30 am U.S. Central, plus I’ll stick around for 30 minutes afterward to answer your questions. Among the outcomes:

  • Action steps to put the right leaders on the scene and empower them to make decisions.
  • How to help your subordinates achieve “leader-on-horseback” inspiration so that people have clear examples to follow.
  • How to avoid common pitfalls when facing leader turnover.
  • Ways to set up your new subordinates for success and keep them winning.
  • Action steps that create clarity, buy-in, and accountability.
  • Ways to let in fresh ideas and avoid smelling your own gunpowder.
  • How to plan for success instead of simply hoping for success and planning for failure.

The fee for the zoom session is $297. The first twenty to register by June 15th get 50% off. Use coupon code Members50 at checkout

Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg

Taking your business to new heights: Seven unique insights from Gettysburg to make the 2nd half of 2021 your best ever.

I use history, entrepreneurship, and perspective to help people grow their businesses. The combination is vital. When there’s too much nerding-out on the history, you get lost in trivia. All business with no context, on the other hand, creates spurious ideas. Without perspective, you are likely to overreact. Blending the three is an art.

If you don’t apply the experiences of others to your situation, you will miss analogous opportunities and repeat similar mistakes.

Join me on June 30th at 10:30 am U.S. Central for an interactive, hour-long Zoom session (which will be recorded and forwarded to everyone who registers), plus I’ll stick around for 30 minutes afterward to answer your questions. Among my topics:

  • Action steps to put the right leaders on the scene and empower them to make decisions.
  • How to help your subordinates achieve “leader-on-horseback” inspiration so that people have clear examples to follow.
  • How to avoid common pitfalls when facing leader turnover.
  • Ways to set up your new subordinates for success and keep them winning.
  • Action steps that create clarity, buy-in, and accountability.
  • Ways to let in fresh ideas and avoid smelling your own gunpowder.
  • How to plan for success instead of simply hoping for success and planning for failure.

The fee for these is outcomes is $297. The first twenty to register by June 15th get 50% off. Use coupon code Members50 at checkout

Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg

The business boom is well underway, and the rising tide is lifting a lot of boats. Breakthrough success will come to those who advance from a secure base, defend their value, and innovate boldly.

PLUS: Did you know that Abraham Lincoln enjoyed champagne and probably had a sip or two of the bubbly after the Union victory at Gettysburg? Wine expert Nicole Kauss is going to give you exactly what you need to know to choose the right champagne to put a smile on your face and wow your guests.

The first twenty to register by June 15th get 50% off. Use coupon code Members50 at checkout. Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg

Accelerating Success

FOCUSED is for leaders and entrepreneurs who want to create and sustain great teams that drive the business to new heights. Apply here.

TAP. The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. Get the details here.

Build your StrategyThis program is perfect for small business and nonprofit leaders who want to create a winning game plan without breaking the bank.

Scholarships.
If you want to apply for or sponsor someone for a scholarship, please email me at [email protected].

Seeing a situation through a single lens distorts your view and leads to bad decisions.

June 6, 2021, was the 77th anniversary of D-Day. A vital part of the Allies’ success was Operation Fortitude, which was the biggest deception operation of the war. It played on the German high command’s belief that General George S. Patton, Jr. would lead the main attack into France at Calais. 

Eisenhower wanted to blind the Germans to the real attack at Normandy, delay their reinforcements, and buy time to build up a huge allied force in France. 

The Germans saw what they expected to see — Patton’s massive army ready to pounce. Their fixation had the effect that Eisenhower wanted. They did not give up on their fear of a Patton-led attack at Calais until six weeks after the Normandy landings. By then, Patton was leading his tanks toward Paris.   

BlackBerry’s CEO Mike Lazaridis believed that keyboards were essential for hand-held devices. Despite data suggesting that touch screens were gaining popularity, Lazaridis clung stubbornly to his original design. When’s the last time you saw a BlackBerry?

Your blinders thicken when you see what you expect to see.

The single-colored lens is comforting in a world with so much noise. The problem is that you only see what you expect to see, so you are blind to information that gets filtered, and you dig in your heels when information challenges your point of view.

A trusted adviser acts as your kaleidoscope so that you can see the complexity and zero in on the most important data points. Who’s helping you see the tapestry and frame the most important scenes? 

CEOs are struggling with their return to the office policies. Employees “who are least engaged,” WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani told The Wall Street Journal, “are very comfortable working from home.” 

Cathy Merrill, the chief executive of Washingtonian Media, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post warning employees about the risks of not returning to the office. “The hardest people to let go are the ones you know.” Her employees staged a work-stoppage.

A friend who works in the high-tech industry stated that their company will use a 75-25 rule: employees need to spend 75 percent of their time in the office and work from anywhere for the remainder.

Leaders can do better than use proximity to make judgments about value, issue veiled threats, and come up with arbitrary rules that will waste time and energy in the monitoring.

Here’s a better way.

There are plenty of jobs that are done mostly in isolation, such as research-oriented work. Other jobs, like manufacturing, need to be performed in person.

Companies also have roles in which employees perform recurring tasks: assembly-line work, IT monitoring, coordinating activities, and the like. You also have to handle non-routine requirements, including innovation, crisis management, and product development.

When you put these variables together in a quad-chart, you get a better way to organize your return-to-office requirements. 

Recurring work that employees can do in isolation are prime candidates for very permissive work-from-home arrangements. 

Roles that require innovative work that employees can perform in isolation should have permissive arrangements, too, but less so than the former because the free exchange of ideas improves quality and reduces the risk of science projects taking on lives of their own.

By contrast, innovative roles requiring substantial collaboration should probably be performed more at the office than elsewhere.

Recurring, on-site roles often require the highest in-office frequency. 

Apply a commonsense method like this one, and you’ll boost productivity, retain your top talent, and make smart choices about office space.

P.S. How action-oriented are your company’s values? Slogans mostly create cynicism. Actionable values boost accountability for employees doing what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch.

I’m teaming up with leadership expert Jan Rutherford on June 2 at 1 pm US Central time to offer you a Values Do-in-Ar. Inc magazine recognized Jan as one of America’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers. 

You will come away from this Do-in-ar with action-oriented, accountability-inspiring values that enhance your company’s performance, reputation, and well-being.

To get your invitation, please donate to your favorite charity and let me know that you’ve done so (I work on the honor system).

I’ve just donated to the Milwaukee War Memorial, which is holding a special event in honor of Memorial Day.

A cyberattack on an east coast pipeline put a major crunch on gasoline availability. Thousands of Americans lined up at pump stations wanting to get every drop of fuel possible. Some even put gas in plastic bags. 

The hoarding reminded me of the toilet paper pirates at the start of the pandemic.

The gas shortage is only for three days, and yet panic-buying sent prices soaring and people waiting on a pump for hours. Some probably burned more gas in sitting the queue than they originally needed to fill the tank. 

What perspective can you gain from this head-shaking episode?

1. Busy people get more done but also make more mistakes

You opt for the easy button to move forward. Instinctive decision-making works a lot of the time, but it’s also the impulse that leads to toilet paper hoarding and burning time waiting on the pump when you could be doing something more productive.

Normally, a quick discussion with a trusted advisor gives you the perspective you need to make a better decision and move forward with confidence.

2. Overwhelm means that you’ve got more to do than you can process

The feeling can be paralytic or lead people to tick off inconsequential tasks while neglecting the vital ones. In this situation, take 1 minute to write down your top 3 priorities and an action step to move each one forward. Then, get going.

A 5-minute call with someone you trust helps you get these priorities and actions right, which will save you hours of rework and anxiety.

3. Opportunities abound when you keep your head while everyone else is losing theirs

When you’re too close to the action, you cannot see the whole stage. Gaining perspective is the art of identifying the important details and seeing the bigger picture so that you can seize opportunities others miss.

Who helps you gain perspective?

P.S. VALUE-ADDING Leadership(TM) is a master program for leaders and entrepreneurs who want to inspire people to contribute their best and drive the business to new heights. The next program begins the week of May 24. More here.

“The clarity, buy-in, and accountability we’ve gained from this program,” said Ray Omar, Capital Brands CEO, “has put us on track to reduce costs by over $1m and increase revenues by over $2m.”

OMAHA WORLD HERALD

I gave a presentation to the Milwaukee Rotary Club this week on Afghanistan. As many of you know, I spent four combat tours there: three in uniform and one as a civilian. 

Members of the club told me that they’d like to hear about some personal experiences, ways to understand the withdrawal decision, and what’s likely to happen next. I synthesized all that into three main points that apply beyond Afghanistan.

1. You don’t create new wins with old thinking. It seems safer to do what you’ve been doing, even if it’s not working, but there are opportunity costs, too. According to Nobel Prize recipient Daniel Kahneman, people tend to be risk-averse. hey fear losses more than they prize gains. They prefer to smell their own fumes rather than be hit with a blast of fresh air. Whose pumping in the fresh air for you?

2. To grow, you need vulnerability and security. Security without vulnerability leaves you buttoned up and unable to grow. You cannot grow unless you are willing to take off your mental and emotional body armor, and gain exposure to new ideas. Vulnerability without security means you are likely to become someone else’s dinner. Who are your trusted advisers?

3. You gain ground by building bridges, not by digging trenches.  Americans are tossing bombs at each other over politics, identity, and other matters. You can’t move forward while you are digging in. I found in Afghanistan that the only way to make progress was to get out of the trenches and build bridges with people who didn’t agree with me (some of whom were trying to kill me).  Who’s helping you build relationships that broaden your reach and impact?

You can view the presentation at the Rotary Club’s YouTube channel here.

P.S. VALUE-ADDING Leadership(TM) is a master program for leaders and entrepreneurs who want to inspire people to contribute their best and drive the business to new heights. The next program begins the week of May 24. More here.

Accelerating Success

FOCUSED is for leaders and entrepreneurs who want to create and sustain great teams that drive the business to new heights. Apply here.

SENIOR LEADER MENTORING. I have only 1 space available. Get the details here.

Build your StrategyThis program is perfect for small business and nonprofit leaders who want to create a winning game-plan without breaking the bank.

VALUE-ADDING Leadership (self-directed version) is perfect for young leaders people who want to lead as their best selves and inspire people to contribute their best. Check it out herehttps://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/leading-well/

Scholarships

If you want to apply for or sponsor someone for a scholarship, contact me at [email protected]