practices

You need better practices, and these come with innovation which is only possible in an Inspiring Culture.

Practices

Alan Weiss is right — it’s time to ditch best practices. You need better practices, and these come with innovation which is only possible in an Inspiring Culture.

Best practices are seductive. After all, who doesn’t want the best for your business? Once you adopt a best practice, no improvement is necessary — it’s the best.

This mentality leads to complacency: doing the same things over and over and expecting the same results. When someone comes up with better practices, you get left behind.

I’m sure that companies like Sears, Toys R US, Blockbuster, and the like employed best practices as they maintained a comfortable status quo. They’re out of business, eclipsed by innovations that led to better practices, ideas, and products. The military schoolhouses issue best practices at a cyclic rate of fire. None of them helped to defeat a rag-tag militant group like the Afghan Taliban. The California DMV’s so-called Strategic Plan implores the organization to “Apply best practices in the hiring and selection process.”

Being a “Hands-on” leader was once a best practice, prompting its advocates to micromanage their employees, stifle initiative, and reduce innovation. Annual performance reviews tend to heighten workplace tensions and reduce vital one-on-one leader-to-subordinate conversations that should be happening weekly, thus lowering performance. People still believe the nonsense that focusing on your weaknesses, rather than playing to strengths, leads to better outcomes. HR departments continue hiring based on skills while ignoring natural affinities. The Great Escape from bad bosses, rotten workplaces, and ill-fitting jobs continues at an alarming rate.

I’m all for learning from what others do well. If it’s a better practice than what you are using and fits well, then go for it. Don’t rest on your laurels, though. Keep promoting better practices.

Building an Inspiring Culture (TM) that promotes innovation requires clarity and alignment on your organization’s common good, authority at first-line levels and above to solve problems and experiment with new ideas, and top cover from you that includes guidance, resources, and willingness to underwrite honest mistakes and shortfalls.

Without clarity and buy-in on the common good, people will move in unproductive directions. If people do not believe they have agency, they won’t make decisions. Unless you provide top cover, people will be afraid that you’ll throw them under the bus.

What action steps are you taking to promote better practices?

Building your Chest


Growth Programs

The Innovation Mindset. Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. We’re in a period of persistent a-Normal volatility and uncertainty. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in early April. I’ll train you on the use of my powerful visual models, which we will use to examine the most important 2022 trends so that you can provide clear and compelling thought leadership to frame issues and improve decision-making. 

Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

The Global CEO Mastermind is for CEOs and senior leaders who want to surround themselves with people united in the common purpose of being the best they can possibly be, learning from each other, avoiding drift and complacency, and soaring to new heights. We meet monthly via zoom, plus you get unlimited access to me. I’m limiting the group to 8. Reply to me for more details.

Your leadership style can accelerate your organization’s innovation and your Team’s Autonomy. 

team

I want to ask you three questions. 

  1. Who is your favorite leader, and why?
  2. What kind of leader did you aspire to be before becoming one?
  3. What kind of leader are you now?

I’m assuming that many of you wanted to be the kind of leader who inspired your Team to willingly give their best to your organization. You probably don’t want to be a fire-breathing leader that micromanages every little nuance. 

According to the chart below, many of us aspire to be the “Sage” leader–the one who creates transformation and helps our Team to accomplish their dreams. To do this, we need to share the “why” with our Team. 

It is no easy feat to cross the line between “Hero” and “Sage.” Many leaders are perfectly happy in the “Hero” role and have little ambition to move into “Sage.” Being the hero is seductive. People look to you for answers and solutions, which can actually slow down your business’s progress because it creates a sense of dependency. This “Hero” designation is fine if you are ok with the status quo, steady turnover, and employees who come to work to simply receive a paycheck. The “Hero” leaders run out of “how” when things become too complex. They give people agency to solve problems and innovate at the lowest levels possible.

On the other hand, there are those special organizations that create Teams with high autonomy. Only “why” leaders can handle complexity. “Sage” leaders aren’t afraid to shed their tough exterior shell, admit that the sum of its parts is greater than the whole, and explain the “why” so that their Team thrives in a complex world through autonomy and innovation. Everyone has the “roll up the sleeves” mentality. Not only does the job get done, but it’s more impactful than before.

Action Steps to become a “Sage” leader:

  • Take the Lead Well program: This program illustrates the six habits you need to become a “Why/Sage” leader. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? Apply Here! The next program starts in June.
  • Understand and Execute the “Lobster Principle:” Lobsters are animals that never stop growing. However, they need to shed their skin and be vulnerable for brief periods to move forward with their growth. Like lobsters, leaders need to shed their tough exterior once in a while to grow. Vulnerability means that you don’t always have the answers and that you’re willing to lean on your Team. It shows that you value them and their input, creating more buy-in and belonging.
  • Get to know your Team: You can’t become a transformational leader without getting to know your team. This takes time and energy, and it always pays off. It coincides with the “teach your Team to fish” analogy; the upfront time will pay off in the end. A “Manager” will give their Team a fish and feed them for a day. The “Sage” will teach their team to fish and feed them for a lifetime. Knowing your Team’s dreams and aspirations will help you create those meaningful transformations in their lives.
  • Practice sharing the “why” and then let go: This is a scary thing to do for the first time. There will be hurdles, pitfalls, and errors and that’s ok. Learn from the mishaps and keep handing over the reins. Eventually, your Team will gain a greater sense of agency, become more intuitive, and learn to ask the right questions to better guide their decision-making. Before you know it, your business sustainability will bolster, and the magic will happen in spite of you, not because of you.

Greek

As the pandemic recedes, we’re not moving into a new normal but an a-Normal: the opposite of normal. Volatility and uncertainty will dominate, and the most principled and agile will emerge stronger. The ancient Greeks and Romans have essential insights on the kinds of leaders who succeed in these situations.

Greek

Why listen to the ancient Greeks and Romans?

Presentism is the belief that only contemporary ideas matter and that you can ignore or sit in judgment over history. It’s a form of hubris and a fast track to dangerous fads and bad decisions.

The reason is simple. People hyper-focused on the present have no basis for judgment. They are guessing and consistently wrong. Why take advice from someone who lacks perspective?

You’ll be better off speaking with someone you respect who has a perspective on what you’re facing in any endeavor. The person may have had personal experience in the matter, helped others, or can draw usefully from the experiences of others.

What are the keys to success in a-Normal times?

The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and historians lived through a-Normal periods and left written records about what worked and what didn’t. On the subject of leadership, they were very clear. Leaders with arete (excellence) guided their polities, armies, and countries through a-Normality. Demagogues led people to ruin.

An Athenian citizen living in the 5th or 4th century BCE or Roman citizen in the 1st century BCE likely experienced existential wars, clear and present prospects of starvation and economic ruin, pandemics, plagues, new ideas and technologies, and deadly political intrigue. Contemporary thought leaders celebrated officials with arete who guided their communities successfully through such times and wrote comedies and tragedies about those whose love of vulgar fame led to catastrophe.

The concept of arete was simple: demonstrated competence and character in active service to the community. Such leaders possessed the skills needed to do their jobs well and the judgment to make sound decisions in challenging circumstances

Greek

They adhered to the four cardinal virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline, using those principles for guidance through ambiguity and accountability to do the right thing, even when it was not popular.

Being competent and following the virtues was not enough. You had to be an exemplar and demonstrate these qualities in service to your community to advance the common good.

If you did not have competence, no one trusted your abilities. Without character, you lacked the moral compass to make tough choices for the common good. Unless you demonstrated arete in the public square, people would think you couldn’t walk the talk.

Too often, public figures proved the importance of these three elements by showing the consequences of their absence. After Pericles died in the plague, corrupt Athenian politicians led the most powerful city of the Mediterranean world into defeat. Alexander the Great conquered a vast empire but lost trust when his soldiers and citizens grew to doubt his character. Julius Caesar was the most celebrated leader in Rome until he set himself up as a dictator. Much of ancient tragedy, comedy, and history are cautionary tales of hubris and vulgar fame.

What does arete mean to us today?

As American society rips itself apart, we see self-dealing politicians and celebrities who pander to various interest groups that egg them on to more narrow-minded actions. People seek social media fame through demeaning antics or moral grandstanding in their own echo chambers. Social and political trust are at historic lows; selfishness and cynicism are high.

Where are today’s Washington’s, Lincolns, and Grants? George Washington showed courage and self-discipline in rejecting demands from his soldiers that he set himself up as a dictator and in leaving the Presidency after two terms. Abraham Lincoln showed wisdom and courage in carefully turning the American Civil War from a war to preserve the Union to a battle to abolish slavery. Ulysses S. Grant had the courage and justice to face down bigots who wanted to turn back the clock on emancipation, thus presiding over one of this country’s most remarkable advances in African-American rights and prosperity.

Like their ancient predecessors, these three Americans were imperfect, but their arete guided this country through volatile and uncertain times. They won the battle with themselves first and then served as exemplars who rallied people to their better natures.

Learning from ancient Greeks and Romans can help you emerge stronger in a-Normal times. Leading with arete will help you make the pivotal decisions that guide your business to new heights and serve as the exemplar who inspires your employee to contribute their best to your organization’s success.


P.S. I invite you to join my online forum Chris Kolenda’s Sustainable Growth Mindset ®. I post unique thought leadership there nearly every day, using historical and world events to boost your imagination about growth and innovation. It’s free for you, and you can sign up here.

P.P.S. I also want to alert you to a new program I’m rolling out soon — a global CEO Mastermind Group that meets monthly via zoom. You get unlimited access to me and interaction with other exceptional people to exchange ideas, help you be your best self, and keep you soaring to new heights. I’m limiting the group to 8 people. Reply to this email for more information.










Charisma

Charisma is your secret weapon to inspire and retain your employees 

Charisma is about connecting with people in ways that resonate with them. Real charisma is other-centered, not me-centered.

Charisma can take many different forms—make it specific to who you are. You might be the vivacious big talker who swaggers down the halls or through the cubicles. Conversely, you might be the leader whose charisma comes out through emails, videos, or even during 1:1 conversations. Regardless, your employees are watching you and will emulate the genuine energy you exude. 

I once worked with a leader who kept his head down as he walked the halls. It was apparent he was thinking about the latest fire he had to put out or processing the last meeting in which he just left. Regardless, his lack of charisma left everyone around him feeling flat, dejected, and undervalued. This leader was so isolating that employees took his lack of charisma as a personal affront

When this leader was up for promotion, it was a tough sell because even though he was great at the inner workings of the job, his outward façade left a lot to be desired. He got the promotion, but he still didn’t win the hearts and minds of a lot of his employees and many of them left. 

Action Steps to lead with Charisma:

  • Find and amplify your Charisma: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Find ways to boost morale in your own way. Once you find your niche, amplify it. If you send the best and most inspirational emails, then send them. If you hold incredible staff meetings, then hold meetings! If you thrive with small group conversations, then gather intimate groups and inspire. Show your people your value the best way you know how.
  • Pay attention to your outward facade: Just like you check your posture while sitting at your computer, you need to check your charisma when you’re in front of your Team. Make sure your posture is open and inviting, you mirror your employees, or better yet, you lead a positive posture that they mirror. 
  • Be Present: You can’t lead with charisma if you never show yourself. Get out there and walk among your Team. Feels awkward at first? Good—do it some more. Everyone will get used to it, you’ll have a better pulse on your organization, and your employees will feel like you care, they will feel valued, and your presence will boost their engagement and productivity.
  • Put on a smile: Yes, it can be that simple. We’re human; I get it. There are days that we would rather put our head in the sand and “just get through.” It’s ok not to be ok sometimes. However, part of the leader’s role is to put on a brave face in front of your Team. Besides, smiling has a positive neurological effect on the giver and receiver. 

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

Book:

Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

fumes

Personal climate change subtly undermines your decision-making, sending you into drift as you inhale your own fumes and enjoy the aroma.

Personal climate change subtly undermines your decision-making, sending you into drift as you inhale your own fumes and enjoy the aroma. Until you allow in the fresh air, you will think the increasingly toxic fumes are normal.

Decision-making was a hot conversation topic during last week’s leadership event at Antietam and Gettysburg. Union General McClellan habitually inflated confederate strength, which caused him to move with an abundance of caution and attack in the most risk-averse manner he could conceive. He lost an opportunity to win the war in September 1862, instead of presiding over the bloodiest day in American history.

Less than a year later, confederate general Lee invaded the Union again hoping to win a big victory and force the Union to sue for peace. The strategy relied on assumptions so flawed that even a big victory would have been inconsequential. Lee believe his army was invincible and attacked a larger Union force that occupied better terrain. After two days of bloody and inconclusive fighting, Lee ignored sensible advice from one of his subordinates and ordered the disastrous Pickett’s charge. The picture below is from the High Water Mark.

The high-water mark of the Confederacy or high tide of the Confederacy refers to an area on Cemetery Ridge near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, marking the farthest point reached by Confederate forces during Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863.

We see the consequences of people becoming accustomed to their own fumes. People shout at one another from ideological silos. We elect idiots to Congress. Putin surrounds himself with sycophants who have a vested interest in pleasing the boss. He gets a green light from China, which is interested in seeing how the West reacts to the invasion of Ukraine as China set its crosshairs on Taiwan.

Former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani continued to believe that America would leave troops in the country until the final moments. When the scales finally fell from his eyes, he fled and left people to fend for themselves (Ukraine’s Zelensky is a welcome distinction). President Lincoln, by contrast, surrounded himself with people who thought differently than he did and would provide alternative views. Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in July 1862 as part of his effort to reframe the war from preserving the Union to freedom versus slavery.

Secretary of State Seward counseled waiting. Union forces had suffered recent setbacks, and European powers considered recognizing the confederacy. Issuing the Proclamation in the wake of defeats would be seen as desperation at home and abroad. Lincoln accepted the logic and waited until after Lee’s invasion of Maryland had failed. The Emancipation Proclamation gained sufficient support at home and ended European considerations of confederacy recognition.

Action steps:

1. Get outside points of view from people who are willing to tell you hard truths. You might not always take their advice, but they will keep you breathing the fresh air.

2. Test your assumptions by asking yourself: “what must be true for this plan to work.” You’ll reveal implicit assumptions that you can evaluate for validity.

3. Participate in mastermind groups of like-minded people who help you stay true to your purpose, push you to be your best self, and remind you when your fumes start smelling too good.

Also – I invite you to join my online forum Chris Kolenda’s Sustainable Growth Mindset ®. I post unique thought leadership there nearly every day, using historical and world events to boost your imagination about growth and innovation. It’s free for you and you can sign up here.




Russian

Like many Russian ice-skaters, your top performers have something extra (hopefully not performance-enhancing drugs). What are you doing to cultivate them so that you build bench strength and prepare them for greater responsibilities, without burning them out?

Russian

Like many Russian ice-skaters, your top performers have something extra (hopefully not performance-enhancing drugs). What are you doing to cultivate them so that you build bench strength and prepare them for greater responsibilities, without burning them out?

The Russian women’s ice-staking coach’s practices horrify me. A 15-year old was given performance-enhancing drugs and there’s no way she could have given informed consent. The gold medal winner skated listlessly around the ice clutching a doll. The Russian silver medalist was overheard saying how much she hated the sport. There’s something desperately wrong in that program and it seems like child abuse.

There’s also something desperately wrong with the way many managers treat their top talent, creating cynicism, burnout, and sometimes lifelong damage. Like many Russian ice-skaters, your top performers have something extra (hopefully not performance-enhancing drugs). What are you doing to cultivate them so that you build bench strength and prepare them for greater responsibilities, without burning them out?

My colleague Laura Colbert shows how simply promoting your top experts into management roles runs the risk of ruining two positions, damaging confidence in your judgment, and creating a snowball effect of accumulating problems. She’ll help you give them the support, resources, and guidance that they need to succeed.

Jeff Marquez illustrates that forgetting your middle management undermines performance, dilutes your vision, and drives away your top talent. If you want to build your bench strength, implement your vision, and lead your business to new heights, Jeff will help you develop middle managers that power your success.

The military has an adage that ten percent of your people occupy ninety percent of your time. I also found that to be a horrible practice. Why devote your time to your worst performers and neglect your top talent? When you do so, you are engaged in failure work.

Instead, invest your time and energy in your top performers throughout your organization. When you fire your low-performers you are doing yourself, them, and your other employees a huge favor. Are you worried about employee attrition? Stop bribing people with snacks and putting greens. Fire the people causing the attrition — you’ll gain addition by subtraction.

Let’s face it, few employees are going flat out for 40 or more hours per week. Most are probably productive for around 25 of those hours. Imagine the results if they could spend just one of those fifteen remaining hours sharpening their skills. If you improve by 1% each day, you are twice as good seventy days later.

Recognize what’s special in each person and cultivate those superpowers so that they contribute their best to your team’s success. When you invest in their success, they will invest themselves in yours.

What’s your process for cultivating the talents of your employees?

Building your Chest

Growth Programs

The Innovation Mindset. Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. There’s no new normal. We’re in a persistent a-Normal. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in early April. I’ll train you on the use of my powerful visual models, which we will use to examine the most important 2022 trends so that you can provide clear and compelling thought leadership to frame issues and improve decision-making. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.



Books

LEADERSHIP: THE WARRIOR’S ART, second edition. We expect leaders to anticipate and shape the future so that your team can succeed. To do so, you need imagination grounded in a  practical perspective. That’s what you get with this book, which is why it’s been in print for over 20 years. The 2nd edition is updated for a post 9/11, post-pandemic world.

Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War is my latest book about strategic decision-making. I use the disasters in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq to give you the tools and mental models to avoid the traps and own goals that have created quagmires for the United States. You’ll gain ways to improve agency, bridge silos, pivot smartly, avoid breathing your own exhaust, and many other outcomes.



Bias

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Break the Bias.”

bias

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Break the Bias.” This theme resonates with me on so many levels. I have always positioned myself in more male-dominated roles as a physical education teacher, a military police officer, and a school administrator. My life’s underlying mission is to thrive in every capacity, regardless of my gender. I have had to prove myself time and time again and sometimes work harder than my male counterparts to achieve the same level of respect and understanding. Through it all, I’ve dealt with countless biases, microaggressions, and harassment. This article includes a few of the many times I’ve observed biases.

“Did you serve in a women’s war?” A question I was asked when I told someone that I was a veteran, which was soon followed by, “did you carry a gun?”

“Wow, you’re young for a principal.” A comment often made even though my same-age male counterparts never received this comment.

Business leadership is still vastly lopsided, with many more male than female leaders. We have a lot of work to do to close the gender divide. Until then, we need to do our best to break through our own biases and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. There are many systemic changes that need to occur such as better maternity leave, a deeper understanding of the constraints of nursing moms, and more family-oriented business models, to name a few.

Until then, here are a few immediate steps to break the bias in business:

  1. Eliminate the use of “you guys” – There are so many other terms of inclusion that one can use: Team, everyone, you all or y’all, folks, friends, etc.
  1. Eliminate calling women “girls” – If we don’t call men “boys,” why do we call women “girls?” This affects everyone on a subconscious level by labeling women as children instead of adults. 
  1. Stop calling women bossy – Assertive women are not bossy. They are leaders. If their leadership style is not desirable, talk to them as an individual, not as a woman who comes across too strong. Additionally, ask yourself if this behavior would be noteworthy if a man exhibited the same assertiveness. Chances are, we wouldn’t think twice about the assertiveness of a man. 

Most importantly, pay attention to your inner voice, your initial judgment, and check what your subconscious may be trying to tell you. I have been guilty of pre-judging women or assuming a man holds the leadership position over the woman. It’s in our nature. If we are aware of our actions and work to change our inner dialogue, it will impact how we think. As the famous saying goes, “our thoughts become our actions.”

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you. NEXT PROGRAM STARTS IN JUNE.

The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy. Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams.

Putin

Undoubtedly, there are whispers in the halls of power about Putin’s future.

Putin miscalculated badly. His Army is getting hammered, financial sanctions are crippling, the Russian economy is cratering, and his own people are protesting in the streets. I hope the Biden administration is putting some thinking into managing success.

There’s an urge in these situations to go for the jugular. That approach works in the movies but not in international relations. Humiliating your enemy might feel good at the moment but tends to create resentment and long-term problems. The treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War sowed the seeds for a more destructive Second World War.

Putin’s decision-making seems compromised. He launched a war on a thin pretext. His military has performed poorly in the face of stubborn Ukrainian resistance. Undoubtedly, there are whispers in the halls of power about the future. If Putin gets deposed, he’s unlikely to survive.

Leaders in his position tend to gamble for resurrection — to make a big move that changes the game in their favor. The gambles rarely pay off, and many people get killed in the process, but dictators often go for an improbable win rather than settle for an inevitable loss. The Battle of the Bulge in World War Two is a classic example.

How America handles Putin’s failure will determine whether Russia seeks new revenge or becomes a constructive player. Creating a face-saving way for Putin to end the conflict that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and avoids concessions that encourage future Russian adventurism will take imagination and artful diplomacy.

Failure to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty would damage western credibility. Failure to discourage adventurism creates a frozen conflict. Humiliating Russia encourages revenge. Mutual respect and accountability promote sustainable peace.

You can imagine ways to translate this situation into your business and life. How do you create buy-in when you win a battle for resources or policy?

The three elements of buy-in are the Common Good, Self-interest, and Accountability. Without respect for the Common Good, people act selfishly. If people do not see how they will be better off, they will only go through the motions and may even play guerilla warfare. No accountability means backsliding and chaos.

Manage success so that you soar to new heights and avoid getting bogged down by guilt or envy.

Building your Chest

Exclusive Events

The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations that move you from competitive to better and distinct. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop to develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There is one space left. Your investment (including food and lodging) is $4500 until February 21 and $5500 after that. Spouses or significant others welcome.


Growth Programs

The Innovation Mindset. Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in early April. I’ll train you on the use of my powerful visual models, which we will use to examine the most important 2022 trends so that you can provide clear and compelling thought leadership to frame issues and improve decision-making. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale.



Encourage

Put the metaphorical “elephant in the room” on the table

Encourage employees to resolve conflicts such as this:

“Hey boss, Hannah interrupted me and was rude to me during our team meeting,” said Paul. 

 As a leader, how do you proceed?

  1. Go directly to Hannah and ask her about the situation with a reprimand in your back pocket.
  2. Ask Paul what he did to make Hannah act like that.
  3. Give Paul the resources needed to address Hannah himself to resolve the issue.

We can all agree that option #3 is the ideal solution. Yes, it takes time, patience, resources, and, oftentimes, a change in behaviors and beliefs. Having the ability to have encourage tough conversations, however, can change the entire dynamic within your Team. When your employees have the wherewithal and confidence to take these conversations into their own hands your time is freed up to do more important things.

I am trying to develop this lesson with my own kids, ages 4,6, and 8. When they run from their conflict to tell on each other my first question is always, “Did you tell your sibling how their actions made you feel?” If they answer, “no,” then I send them back to the room to have a conversation with each other first. If that doesn’t resolve the situation, then we have a group conversation about what happened and how we can fix the situation in the future. Oftentimes, the tattletale is just as guilty.

Here’s the really important part. I explicitly lay out how we treat our family members and what the Colbert family norms/expectations are. I am building a strong foundation of the expected and appropriate rules of engagement. I am giving the kids the tools needed now so that in the future I won’t have to referee. Additionally, I am help and encourage them develop their own skills and confidence when dealing with conflict outside of our home.

Action Steps to Encourage your Team to work it out without you having to referee:

  1. Co-developed strong Team norms. If your people are part of the planning, they will take ownership and will be more likely to use the norms to steer the conversation in the right direction. Don’t stop there! You have to model how to use the norms. Before I start a meeting, I ask each person to pick a norm they want to stick to during the meeting. Oftentimes, people pick a norm counter to their current mood. For example, if someone is crabby, they pick the “stay positive” norm. This creates an immediate behavior shift, which benefits everyone at the meeting, and I don’t have to lift a finger. 
  2. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations—lead! You’re the leader, show your team how it’s done! Ask clarifying questions, don’t make rash assumptions, and always address inappropriate behaviorsdon’t tolerate bullies. Here are some great phrases/questions to steer the conversations: 
  • “Tell me more about what you mean by that.” 
  • “Can you please repeat what you just said?” Oftentimes people are too embarrassed to repeat a negative comment. You can then say, “If you’re too embarrassed to say it now, why did you say it in the first place?” Then point to the “staying positive” norm.
  • “Is this in line with our common purpose” or “Is this in line with our norms?”

  3. Give your Team the tools needed to address inappropriate behaviors. Share the above phrases/questions with your team. Role-play, if necessary. 

  4. Provide clear expectations. Make sure your Team understands that you do not tolerate negative behaviors and that you expect them to have the fortitude to address each other when something seems amiss.

It seems simple, but for some reason, we don’t often take the time to have these conversations. Why wait? Less drama and conflict improves productivity and overall joy. Encourage your team to be open to understanding others and having mutual respect in the workplace.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs 

Lead Well: For Newly Promoted Leaders is an 8-week program that will help your newly promoted leaders thrive as they move from peer status to power status. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a free 30-minute consultation with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you. NEXT PROGRAM STARTS IN JUNE.

The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

 Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

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Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up – An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home. This book depicts the time of war and its aftermath. It seamlessly bridges the civilian and military divide and offers clarity to moral injury and post-traumatic stress. 

consulting

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shows that bullies don’t stop until they get punched in the mouth.

Various world leaders had coddled, supported, excused, and rationalized Putin’s aggressive actions, such as invading Georgia in 2008, seizing Crimea in 2014, condoning cyberattacks, and meddling in other countries elections. Sure, there was plenty of finger-wagging and grandstanding, but bullies don’t care about what you say or write. They only believe what you do.

Twenty years of quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq and other military misadventures seem to have convinced Putin that a punch-drunk America and divided NATO would not impose high costs, so he turned his eyes on Ukraine. Quagmires have consequences beyond their economic costs, as I discuss in my latest book Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War.

Like most competent bullies, Putin has created defenses against retaliation (amassing a substantial financial reserve) and made clear that he can respond in kind with even more significant pain on those who oppose him. Thus, current sanctions have not targeted Russian gas exports, full participation in the SWIFT banking system, or the properties and assets of Russian oligarchs in places like London and Miami. Western countries have sent only limited military supplies to Ukraine.

Bullies follow the grapefruit principle: they don’t stop until they believe that the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.


That reckoning could come sooner rather than later. Several sources in Poland say that the Ukrainians are punishing the Russian offensive heavily.


Who are the Putin’s in your company? Chances are they are the ones who get short-term results and have the highest employee turnover rates. Looking the other way or rationalizing (“he’s a jerk, but he gets results”) enables the behavior and damages to your company. Don’t try to fix employee turnover by dangling more carrots. Fire the people who are creating the problem.

Who are the Putin’s in your life? They are the ones telling you that you can’t achieve your dreams, that you won’t succeed as a solo practitioner, that you have to go with the flow (even dead fish go with the flow, BTW). These bullies are the success-shamers, trauma-dumpers, naysayers, mediocrats, and finger-wagging conformity scolds who tell you that every success is dumb luck and any setback is evidence that “you can’t do it.”   

What are you doing to replace your Putin’s with people who help you soar to new heights?

Exclusive Events

The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations that move you from competitive to better and distinct. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop to develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There is one space left. Your investment (including food and lodging) is $4500 until February 21 and $5500 after that. Spouses or significant others welcome.

Growth Programs

The Innovation Mindset. Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in early April. I’ll train you on the use of my powerful visual models, which we will use to examine the most important 2022 trends so that you can provide clear and compelling thought leadership to frame issues and improve decision-making. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.