Reflection

Find time to pause, practice gratitude, and reflection.

Reflection

Why is reflection so important?

I had a bad dream last weekend that jarred me from my sleep and almost stole the rest of my night away. I attribute the dream to the Ukrainian tragedy and a book I’m reading called, “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri which is about a Syrian refugee and his wife in 2015.

My dream was related to my five-year-old. This five-year-old has the kindest heart. He cries when he accidentally hurts someone, he’s distraught when someone dies on TV, and he loves to cuddle and give others his “hug attacks.” When I pick him up from daycare, the kids line up to say goodbye and get a hug from him. In my dream, he was sitting on my lap and I was embracing him tightly, telling him that I loved him with earnest conviction because I knew, based on what was happening around me, that his innocence was going to be destroyed within the next few moments.

I can’t remember if it was terrorists coming to steal him from me or bombs exploding around us, but I knew I was going to lose my sweet and tenderhearted boy. As someone who typically forgets everything about my dreams, I can’t believe how vividly I still remember this gut-wrenching feeling.

I spent the next few hours in a reflective state, grateful that my family lives a “privileged” life and almost laughing at the mundane things that we decide to get upset and worried about. Of course, my thoughts veered towards business leadership.

It’s already May and 2022 is approaching its halfway point. Schools are finishing up for the year, the hustle and bustle of summer is quickly approaching, and we’re busier than ever. This dream came at an opportune time to pause, practice reflection, and be grateful for all that has happened so far this year. We often get so engrossed with our day-to-day habits, that we forget to look at the big picture and make sure we’re still following our dreams—even the bad ones.

Here are my key takeaways:

  • We are fortunate that our worries do not typically have life or death consequences. My worries might include obtaining my next client, preparing for my next meeting, practicing for my next speaking engagement, making sure that the website is up-to-date, or writing my next newsletter. This dream puts things into perspective. Even though most of our worries seem like we’re climbing Mt. Everest, they are rolling hills compared to what others have to endure.


**How can you put your worries and those of your Team into perspective?

  • Make the most out of the life that we are fortunate to live and find ways to help those around us in whatever capacity we can. If you can give to Ukraine, support your family, be philanthropists within your community, or join a cause—please find a way to help those less fortunate.


**How are you and your organization giving back?

  • Don’t forsake your priorities. My priorities are my family. When my 6-year-old asked me to attend his last field trip of the year, I shifted things around to make it happen. They’re only going to be young once and I don’t want them to feel like anything is more important than they are.


**How can you stick to your priorities and allow your Team to do the same?

  • We need to live our best lives and do the things that bring us joy and happiness. Life is fleeting; we never know when or how it’s going to end. Avoid living a life that is hollow, only focused on money, or passionless. Let’s live fully, richly, and with love.

**How can you find more joy in your life both at work and at home?

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.


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.



leadership

Dictators, by definition, are HOW leaders. They erect personality cults that showcase them as the man-with-the-plan, the hero with all the answers.

Leaders

HOW Leadership is seductive. Who doesn’t want people to think of them as heroes and difference-makers? Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping show the limits of this approach.


From my article a few weeks ago, you’ll recall that leaders come in three broad types. WHAT leaders manage their teams to achieve what the boss wants. HOW leaders provide the answers and plans for WHAT leaders to execute. WHY? Leaders (TM) provide guidance and purpose so that their subordinates can take initiative, develop ideas, and take the organization to new heights.

Leaders

As Russia’s invasion enters its second phase, having failed to seize Kyiv and overthrow Ukraine’s government, Putin’s legions struggle against the mud, stubborn resistance, poor leadership, and inadequate logistics. Putin, Russia’s HOW leader, freebased his own gunpowder for so long that he believed Ukrainians would welcome his invasion as liberation. He’s surrounded himself with cronies and sycophants who owe him their lives and fortunes and thus won’t challenge his fantasies.

In China, the Shanghai lockdown of more than 25 million people continues as Xi Jinping stakes his legitimacy on a zero-COVID policy. Over 370 million Chinese face movement restrictions, more than the entire United States population. The virus, however, is evolving much faster than China’s policies — they are fighting a 2022 virus with 2020 measures.

leadership



Dictators, by definition, are HOW leaders. They erect personality cults that showcase them as the man-with-the-plan, the hero with all the answers. This approach also means that they have a tough time adapting to new circumstances or changing their policies in the face of new evidence. They tend to surround themselves with lackeys and goofballs because competence and independent thinking threaten the HOW leader’s hold on power.

The inherent contradiction to HOW leadership is that by centralizing decisions, inhaling their own gas, and preventing the rise of others, they limit the flow of information, ideas, and initiative vital for learning and growth.

Where do the new ideas arise in your business? When is the last time one of your subordinates challenged your thinking or proposed a new approach? When you talk about your business to the press or a colleague, do you show off the achievements of your employees or humble-brag about how I did it?

leadership

For CEOs and owners, Becoming a WHY? Leader (TM) is the alternative to the self-inflicted limits of HOW leadership. If you want true bench strength and an Inspiring Culture (TM) to take your business to new heights, you need your subordinates to become WHY? Leaders, too.

What are you doing to develop WHY? Leaders (TM) in your organization?

Building your Chest for Leaders

Growth Programs

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.





Diversity

Surround yourself with thought diversity to innovate, build consensus, solve wicked problems, and manage the details.

Diversity

Have you ever looked around and thought, “Wow, I’m surrounding myself with people who are just like me.” Our affinity bias, otherwise known as our implicit egotism, has a way of attracting us to people who think, look, and act like we do. 

As leaders and well-rounded individuals it is important to surround ourselves with thought diversity. Imagine if everyone on your Team were big-thinkers (Mavericks and Pioneers). Who would handle the fine details and keep the organization grounded while the big-thinkers and innovators come up with the next best thing?

Conversely, what happens if you only have detail-oriented individuals (Reconcilers and Operators) and no one around to innovate and think into the future? Chances are, both of these organizations are going to drift and eventually fail.

The servant-leader archetypes—Pioneer, Reconciler, Operator, and Maverick—are observable contributions each member of the Team provides to an organization. A well-balanced organization has individuals who embody each of these archetypes.

In the quad-chart below, you can see that leaders are either introverted or extroverted; they are energized by being alone (introvert) or they get their energy from socializing (extrovert). Both leaders are great leaders, they simply recharge their batteries in different ways. Then you have the big-idea individuals and the detail-oriented individuals; neither designation is better than the other. 

Great leaders can fit anywhere on this quad chart. The secret is that they need to surround themselves with the other archetypes and avoid turning everyone on their Team into their mini-mes.

Just like Mark Zuckerberg, Pioneers innovate, while Reconcilers such as Abraham Lincoln build consensus. Operators implement to a high standard and care about the details as Queen Elizabeth II does and Mavericks, like Oprah Winfrey, think strategically and solve wicked problems.

I’m a Pioneer. As a principal, I was grateful for my Team Leaders who were Operators. They were able to bring me down from the clouds, ask me technical questions that I hadn’t thought of, and allowed me to be a stronger leader for the whole school. I valued them more than they could possibly know.

Action steps to create more thought diversity within your organization:

  • Take the Servant-Leader Archetype 2-minute quiz with your Team and evaluate your thought diversity.  Knowing your archetype helps you be the best version of yourself by building the healthy habits that make the most of your superpowers and pruning away average or unhealthy habits that hold you back.
  • Be aware of your gaps in thought-diversity when hiring. Don’t fall prey to the trap of hiring people that you’re attracted to simply because they remind you of yourself. 
  • Allow each voice at the table to have equal bearing. Open yourself up to diverse-thinking instead of closing it off and seeing it as conflict. 
  • Value and be receptive to those that think differently than you. Chances are, you will be a more well-rounded leader when you surround yourself with the right people who help you grow as opposed to “yes” people who do what you say and allow you to drift.

Looking to Broaden your Thought Diversity?

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. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW!

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.

Fallen Hero Honor Ride

If you are willing to go into the arena, you never know who you might meet and their impact on your life and business.

Jerry showed me that being personal was so much more than personalizing.

Synthetic connections give you a seductive promise: you can engage with prospects en masse in a seemingly intimate way, generating more business with less effort.

It seems like paradise for a consultant.

Except it’s damaging your credibility and decreasing the impact you can make on the world.

When you get the “Dear # Firstname …” email, how do you feel?

How about the Linkedin connection request, “It’s great to connect with you, and I hope you’re doing well during these interesting times. I’ve had the privilege of working with many business owners and always like to be surrounded by smart people with a winning mindset. I’m curious, # First Name, how has your business been affected with everything going on?”

Blah, blah, blah.

I listened to a podcast interview while cycling on Saturday. College students tend to prefer text over voice calls because they feel in control. They can respond when and how they want and not have to worry about the rough and tumble of personal conversations in which they might say something wrong or miss an important signal.


You do not have to be vulnerable or uncomfortable when everyone is like you. Digging trenches instead of building bridges diminishes our lives and businesses.

If you are willing to go into the arena, you never know who you might meet and their impact on your life and business.

One year ago, I decided to undertake a bicycle ride to visit the graves of the six paratroopers from my unit killed in action in Afghanistan. I hadn’t ridden in twenty years. I was tempted to buy a bike online and save the frustration of salespeople.

Personal



Recognizing that I was sure to make a poor choice on my own, I braved the crowds and ventured to Wheel & Sprocket, a local bike store. Jerry met me and asked what I was looking for.

Jerry was genuinely curious. He wanted to know what I wanted to accomplish by riding — exercise, distance, cross-country, acrobatics?

I was reluctant to let him know about the Honor Ride I was planning, but I relented because I figured it would have a bearing on which bicycle would be best. Jerry suggested the TREK Domane SL7. I did some more research and returned a few days later to purchase the bike. I wanted to make sure Jerry was at the store so he would get credit for the sale.

Jerry custom-painted bicycles and offered to paint a legacy bike for the ride. He refused to be paid for it.

His generosity got me thinking a bit bigger. He was helping me achieve a dream — completing the 1700-mile endeavor. What if I could create some lasting value from the Honor Ride to help people achieve their goals?

Personal



Jerry’s personal approach, getting to know me and the dreams I wanted to achieve by riding a bicycle, inspired me to launch the Saber Six Foundation, which helps my unit’s veterans and their families to achieve their dreams.

Jerry’s a true artist. He painted the bicycle while reading Jake Tapper’s bestseller, The Outpost, which, in part, is about our unit.


Because Jerry cared so much, he created something beyond our imaginations.

Jerry shows that personal connections — authenticity, emotion, and vulnerability — enrich our lives and create meaningful opportunities and outcomes. You personalize with hashtags, ads, and social media. You need to be in the arena to be personal.

There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do when you care enough to learn about someone’s dreams and ways to help them succeed. That, after all, is what personal connection is all about.

I’m so grateful for your kindness, generosity, and inspiration, Jerry.

P.S. Does anyone know how to get rid of those personalized ads showing me bicycles that I don’t need?





tiktok

In a world with a shrinking workforce, we need to find ways to attract and keep our Generation Z workers. 

How are you bringing out the best in the TikTok generation?

tiktok

“My Gen Z employees won’t stick around. They want to be the next TikTok sensation.” a business leader said to me. Another leader said, “It’s hard to teach my Gen Z employees, they think they know everything with their technology so readily available.” It’s apparent that business leaders are feeling yet another generational divide.

Do you find it difficult to engage with your Gen Z workers? How are you bringing out the best in the TikTok generation?

This is what we know about the next generation of workers: they want to make a big splash in this world, they move fast and expect the world to move faster, they are used to instant gratification, and their dopamine button gets bored if it doesn’t get a hit quickly enough. They care about DEI and social issues, and they know that even one person can make a huge difference. There are over a billion TikTok users and a whole generation aspiring to become influencers.

Business leaders need to prepare for this next generation entering our workforce. As always, we need to adjust and grow with the ever-changing society. With labor shortages and workplace longevity decreasing, we need to act now.

Action Steps to hold onto the Tik Tok generation:

  • Give them ways to influence: Allowing your employees to have a voice at the table will create a sense of belonging, a greater purpose, boost buy-in, and it will lengthen their tenure. When your employees feel like they can impact their workplace, they’re more likely to stick around and their need for influence will be satiated.
  • Flexibility is key: Find ways to integrate a hybrid work environment. Readdress your dress code–even banks are moving into a more casual attire to attract younger patrons. Offer flexible seating and create exciting physical spaces to invigorate the mind.
  • Make the work exciting and fresh: Allow for inter-office lateral moves, find ways to promote and show your appreciation for jobs that are well done, provide fun and effective training opportunities, host office get-togethers, provide mentors that are well-matched with their mentees, and encourage cross-generational teamwork to create more appreciation and understanding among your employees.

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. 

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. 

L

I

leadership

Only one type of leader creates sustainable growth and inspires people to contribute their best to the team’s success.

Leaders

The WHAT Leader


WHATs do what the boss tells them to do. They get a task or mission from the boss, organize their team, and get the job done according to the company’s standard operating procedures. WHATs tend to be good first-line leaders — they execute specific tasks and come back for more.

The boss is the hero. The boss makes it rain and tells the WHATs how to do the job.

WHATs do not innovate and tend not to think for themselves outside the confines of carefully delineated boundaries. The best ones take care of their people, ensuring they have the tools and skills to do the job safely and to standard.

WHATs succeed as long as the boss is present to explain what and how to do it. Promote them into a position where they have to develop the plans, and WHATs will struggle.

The HOW Leader

HOWs have the answers and the secret sauce. Their employees look to them for the master plan. HOWs are comfortable with autonomy and don’t like being told how to do their jobs. HOWs can be effective department heads and CEOs as long as the task is within their realm of expertise.

The HOWs set themselves up to be heroes because they have the solutions and plans. They tell people what to do and how to do it. As long as you comply with the HOWs, you are good to go. HOWs tend to strike down innovation because it threatens their hero status.

HOWs succeed as long as they are in their comfort zone but struggle in environments that exceed their expertise.

Some of them will try to be the hero anyway and fail miserably, like J.C. Penny’s Ron Johnson, who brought his HOW from Apple and nearly destroyed the aging retailer. The volcanic rise and meteoric crash of Adam Neumann’s WeWork became the subject of We Crashed, a docu-drama. Some HOWs get consumed by imposter syndrome when they recognize the impossibility of being the hero in a new context.

HOWs fail in a competitive marketplace because they cannot keep pace with innovation. The playbook works well in a static environment but not in a dynamic one. Because the HOW must be the hero, there can be only one authoritative source of ideas. Everyone else gets thrown under the bus. Blockbuster could not adapt when Netflix changed the game. Sony believed its hype about the digital walkman and got trounced by the iPod.

WHY Leaders

WHY leaders are the ones with the questions, they provide guidance and purpose and let their subordinates figure out the how. WHYs have elasticity; they grow into new jobs and environments because growth and innovation are not dependent upon them having the answers.

Their subordinates are the heroes. By inspiring people to contribute their best to the team’s success, WHYs can serve in various contexts. WHYs do not tie their ego to their own particular plans, systems, or ideas.

WHYs are comfortable in their own skin, so they can pass the credit for success to their subordinates and take the heat when something goes wrong. Having everyone’s back encourages risk-taking and innovation. Clarity about the purpose and direction of the organization reduces the likelihood that people will go 100-miles-per-hour in the wrong direction. They practice empathy and use trusted advisors to avoid getting high from their own fumes. WHYs habitually grow their imaginations and develop their subordinates.

In his initial run at Apple, Steve Jobs was a HOW, and the board ousted him as the CEO. He learned from those and subsequent experiences and became a WHY leader, making Apple one of the world’s most successful companies. Jobs prepared his successor, Tim Cook, to take the company to new heights.

Eisenhower was criticized by HOW leader contemporaries for not being more like them. British Field Marshall Montgomery dismissed him as a “Nice chap, no soldier.” Patton and Bradley criticized him for being too lenient on the British. Eisenhower’s WHY leadership promoted the innovation, teamwork, and strategic thinking needed to win the war in Europe.

Becoming a WHY Leader

You become a WHY leader by practicing six habits:

  • 1. Be true to yourself. Authenticity is the opposite of selfishness. Impulse is not a permission slip (ask the former Uber CEO). Since there’s no single leadership ideal, be your best you.
  • 2. Trust Principles Over Rules. Trustworthiness, Respect, and Stewardship point out true north involatility and uncertainty.
  • 3. Practice Empathy, Not Sympathy. Pity is demeaning. Seeing and feeling an issue from someone else’s point of view is your bridge to cooperation.
  • 4. Pass the Credit, Take the Hit. Throw people under the spotlight, not under the bus, so that you empower people to innovate and take risks.
  • 5. Describe The Why; Delegate The How. Describe what to do and the outcomes you want to achieve. Let your subordinates figure out how to do it, so they have ownership.
  • 6. Multiply Your Experiences. You don’t create new wins with status quo thinking. To think outside the box, you must expand your box.

What action steps are you taking to build WHY leaders in your company? Please share in the comments below.




wins

If you let your innovation and commitment lag you’ll end up behind the curve

Wins

We all want to win

Imagine that your business is on an upward trajectory. You’re on the right track, getting ahead of your competitors, and life is good. You sit back and watch the fruits of labor. Then all of a sudden a competitor does something better than your company and you realize that you were sitting on your laurels basking in perceived glory while everyone else was out there thinking, adapting, developing, winning, and growing. We can think of many major companies that not only basked in their glory for too long but refused to innovate. Kodak, Blockbuster, and Sears are a few that come to mind.

I recently went through a minor setback after reaching a milestone with my consulting in February. I finished writing my new 8-week program and I was ecstatic! My husband and I went out for delicious Indian food and I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I decided to focus on my family the following week, which happened to be my kids’ very early Spring Break and then I found excuse after excuse to not get back to innovating.

Woah… lesson learned. I should have taken the momentum that I had built up and used that euphoria of crossing the item off my list to propel me into my next large project. Should I have celebrated my win? Absolutely! Should I have taken so long to get back to work? No way! Thank goodness I have an incredible mentor and mastermind group who helped get me back in the game.

Action steps to get back into the game:

Get a trusted advisor who can keep you on the right track: I can help with this. My 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.

Take time to process, plan, and execute: Instead of looking at “time” as a barrier, perceive your busy times as the perfect time to leverage your momentum. Let’s face it, when was the last time you weren’t busy? Intentionally block off time in your week to process where your business is, plan for where you want to be with actionable steps, and then execute those steps in bite-size chunks.

Continue to learn and innovate: Don’t let the status quo and complacency slow you down. Read, research, talk with mastermind groups, meet with your mentor, meet with peers, and do what you can to keep your mind sharp and your imagination brewing. If you find yourself in a world of complacency, your organization will plateau and then eventually drift downward. The longer you find yourself drifting, the harder it is to get back in line with your competitors.

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.

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.

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.

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.