Just because you built buy-in doesn’t mean it will stick around. It needs cultivation and invested time. 

Buy-in

So often, we feel as though we have to keep our cards close to our chests as leaders. We don’t want scrutiny. We worry that the plan has to be perfect—which doesn’t exist—before we reveal it. Maybe there’s a lack of trust within our Team. Perhaps we think our Team isn’t capable of thinking at our level. Or, we’re worried that our Team is not ready for change so we prolong telling them about it until the plan is done and it needs to be executed immediately. 

The best way to gain buy-in? Put your people first and treat them as professionals. How do you do that? You bring them to the table. You give them the confidence to provide valuable feedback. When you have time to do so, getting people to contribute their ideas before you make a decision allows you to adopt some or all of them and increase buy-in. Gaining their ideas in advance is more plausible than gaining feedback from them after you’ve made a decision. When you make this practice a habit, then people will better understand the times when you need to make an immediate decision.

How to gain organizational buy-in:

  1. Trust – Be authentic and vulnerable. Your Team is better together. One-on-one meetings and small team meetings are great ways to foster this trust.
  2. Psychologically safe environment – practice empathy and compassion and create a space where everyone can have a voice. 
  3. Request input and feedback – Ask specific questions and really address your Team’s concerns—allow everyone to speak. Don’t be overly attached to ideas. 

How to get buy-in for an idea: 

  1. The “WOW” factor – Let your Team know how this is going to positively impact them and the organization. 
  2. Share your journey on developing this plan – Tell them why you think this is the best one. Bring data to the table for your operational thinkers. Share examples of success. Use storytelling. Use  “what if we did nothing?” or “what else could we do?” scenarios so that your team can see why this is the best way forward.
  3. Ask for input and feedback early and often – Tell your Team that you’re still in the brainstorming stages and you want them to poke holes in the current plan. 

Once you have buy-in, how do you keep it?

  1. Communicate often – Clarify timelines, keep your direct reports and the Team updated on the progress. Document your various steps along the way on an open forum.
  2. Establish ownership – Use “we” and “us” when discussing the Team and the plan. These simple words will spread buy-in and a sense of belonging.
  3. Celebrate wins – Give credit to others when things go well. Take ownership of pitfalls.

What happens when you get crickets in a meeting? It could be one of three things. 

  1. Processing time – Make sure you are speaking at the speed of trust. Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and people shut down.
  2. Fear –  They don’t want to pop your balloon, they don’t want to look stupid, they may have been burned in the past, or they are afraid of speaking up. You can eliminate most of the fear by developing trust and psychological safety.
  3. Indifference – They may be thinking, why fix it if it isn’t broken, we’ve always done it this way, we’ve tried that before, what can I do anyways, or glad I’m not at the helm! These statements are in contrast with continuous improvement. Don’t let your Team drift with these negative mind frames.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

J

Insanity

What insanity, wishful thinking, and complacency have in common is the belief that doing the same things over and over will create success.



Einstein famously remarked that a definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Presumably, he meant better rather than worse results. We won’t get healthier, for instance, by practicing the same habits that created our current condition.

Einstein’s definition is closely related to wishful thinking — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting BETTER results. Americans saw that problem play out in places like Afghanistan. With minor variations, the U.S. government did the same things repeatedly and expected things to improve rather than continue their downward spiral.

On the other hand, complacency is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting the SAME results. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is fine for mechanical devices and rote tasks but shortens your path to ruin on almost everything else.
Sears expected their catalog-based shopping and mall-centered stores would continue delivering profits. They made only minor adjustments when the digital age arrived. Today, Sears is out of business while Amazon thrives. Blockbuster expected people to keep on coming to stores for movie rentals. Netflix crushed them. Toys R US face-planted. IBM saved a few bucks by renting instead of buying MS-DOS and went from the undisputed leader in the PC business to a humiliating exit from it.

Innovation is your complacency-vaccine. New practices and habits are the best ways to leap plateaus, shatter artificial barriers, and remove arbitrary finish lines. The best athletes vary their workouts. Military units alter the conditions under which they perform battle drills. The most agile thinkers read a variety of disciplines and views. Innovation keeps you out of comforting ruts.

The comfort zone for owners, consultants, and experts is a powerful intoxicant.

You’ve been successful, and there’s no reason, you believe, for future success to look much different than present success. This common condition is called presentism. Business failure begins with a lack of imagination.

What are you doing to boost innovation? Who are the mentors and advisers who will bring in the fresh air? What events will you attend that expand your perspective and help you see your future from new points of view?  

Accelerating your Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.


Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. 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.

Biden
Biden

When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room.


I’ve admired President Biden since he visited our remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2008 and praised our paratroopers in a National VFW speech. I found his sincerity and open-mindedness refreshing, and he quickly got the importance of our relationship-building efforts to Afghans. Biden agreed that accumulating allies was more helpful than aggregating your enemies. He talks about that visit when he mentions the Kunar River Valley in his Afghanistan speeches.

I’m having difficulty reconciling his words in 2008 with his recent speech that branded half or more of his citizens as treasonous racists (here’s a favorable view of the speech). He deserves credit for building the most physically diverse cabinet in history and could benefit from boosting cognitive diversity among his advisers.

Just because people look different does not mean they think differently. Cognitive uniformity puts you in an echo chamber that leads to poor decisions. Confirmation bias is like freebasing your own gunpowder. When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room. [Stressed Pioneers, like Biden’s predecessor, often surround themselves with sycophants and become louder and more outrageous.]

Civil War General William Rosecrans, also a Reconciler, won a string of victories in Tennessee as his army captured Chattanooga. Battlelines drew together at Chickamauga. The Union generals nagged Rosecrans for particular places and reinforcements. The Confederates attacked when Rosecrans shifted forces to please a subordinate. The mass confusion led to a defeat that sent Union forces back to Chattanooga, and Rosecrans lost his job.

Lincoln and Eisenhower were Reconcilers, too, and valued cognitive diversity. They surrounded themselves with people committed to the common good who presented different points of view, respected each other, and challenged the leader’s thinking. This practice helped them to avoid super empowering the loudest and most pious. Their decisions weren’t always perfect, but they tended to avoid self-inflicted disasters.

Lincoln held the Union together, gained buy-in for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment, and won the war. Eisenhower amassed consensus to end the Korean War and build the interstate system, a large standing military, and a robust nuclear deterrent.

Cognitive diversity was also vital in the success of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I highly recommend The Sword and the Shield (which is on my 2022 reading list) in which Peniel E. Joseph discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Maverick) and Malcolm X (a Pioneer).\

Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks — our PROM archetypes — have distinct superpowers and different reactions when under significant stress (you tend to be your most extreme version). When you know this about yourself, you can sense the warning signs and avoid surrounding yourself with subordinates who egg you on to extremes. When you know your subordinates’ archetypes, you can recognize their stress reactions and take steps that bring them back to their best selves.

The value of history is not in teaching you what to think but in how it heightens your critical thinking skills, aids self-examination, and highlights the importance of gaining diverse perspectives from trusted sources. Freebasing gunpowder tends to create bad outcomes. Whose bringing in the fresh air for you?

Are you interested in using history to take your critical thinking skills to new heights and develop practical action steps that accelerate your success? Join me and seven others on March 15-18 for the Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive. When you have meaningful discussions with other extraordinary people at powerful venues, you gain perspective that pays dividends for life. There are three places still open.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

compassion

Communication, Compassion, and Clear Expectations will Boost Employee Buy-in and Belonging so that you can Retain your Team.

Managing people is one of, if not the most, difficult leadership responsibilities. Leading people can sometimes feel like herding cats. If you need a good laugh during your next break, check out this hilarious commercial

The kaleidoscope of personalities, emotions, traumas, and conflicts creates challenges far beyond that of writing an email, creating a meeting agenda, designing a new program, and any other non-people-driven leadership tasks. 

How, in a world where employees leave companies at a rate higher than ever before, can you retain your most valuable commodities—your people? You do this through consistent communication, compassion, and clear expectations.

A lack of consistent communication is akin to leading a Team blind. They may feel isolated, left in the dark, and undervalued. Trust will diminish quickly without open communication. 

A leader’s level of empathy and compassion directly correlates with the Team’s joy and fulfillment. According to the Harvard Business Review, job satisfaction is 85% higher for an employee who works for a wise and compassionate leader than for an employee who does not. Empathy and compassion are powerful attributes that will enhance understanding and commitment. Without compassion, the Team moves into a compliance-driven environment.

Without clear expectations, work is based on assumptions and inefficiencies become the norm. Tear down the walls and offer clarity so that your Team has peace of mind and moves in the right direction.

Action steps to lead with enhanced communication, bolstered compassion, and clearer expectations:

  1. Communication:

Transparency – With increased workplace anxieties, it is vital that the leaders practice transparency to ease tensions and decrease the fight or flight inclinations that plague our workforce when people are under heightened stress. Your employees need to feel as though you aren’t holding anything back.

Close the loop – We often accomplish our tasks, but how often do we close the loop with our stakeholders? For example, if you promise to speak to your direct supervisor on behalf of a subordinate but don’t relay the conversation back to your subordinate, they lose faith in you and assume that you never had the conversation. 

Listen – Practice the “4:1 – two ears, two eyes, and one mouth approach.” It can be detrimental when the leader is the only one making the decision. It also eliminates a sense of autonomy and innovation with your employees. They need to feel heard and seen.

2. Compassion:

Feedback is a team effort – The book “Nine Lies About Work” and the Harvard Business Review Article “Feedback Isn’t Enough to Help Your Employees Grow” highlight the importance of positive corrective action. “Telling people they are missing the mark is not the same as helping them hit the mark.” Work through the challenge with your employees and take ownership if you were unclear with your expectations.

Honor diverse perspectives – make sure your most vulnerable feel safe so that they can contribute their best selves. If you accomplish this, your Team will have increased creativity, productivity, and joy. 

Have empathy, then move into compassion – Empathy is seeing things from someone else’s perspectives, which is vital but can stall our decision-making. Empathy + action = Compassion and allows us to address others’ concerns. Once you move to compassion, you can remove yourself from the emotions, ask what they need, and guide your employee to overcome their hurdles.

3. Clear Expectation:

Let go – Layout the “what” and the “why” and let your Team discover their “how.” As Harvard Business Review describes, “Leadership is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of controlling what happens next.” 

Have confidence in your Team – Have faith and patience in the process. It is more powerful to be an ally than a critic. 

Delegate tasks – Your people are your priority. Use this weekly check-in outline for productive conversations. If you don’t have time to check in weekly, delegate tasks that others can do so that you can check in and clarify expectations regularly. These expectations should be multilateral. The Team has expectations of their leaders and should be able to voice them. 

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

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 him. 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. 

Fake
Fake it Till You Make it - Not Anymore!
Fake

Fake it till you make it seems innocent enough: if you show competence, confidence, and optimism, then your power of positive thinking will deliver the results you want.

Bulls–t said with conviction is still bulls–t. The fraud trial of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes tears the mask off of Silicon Valley’s “Fake it till you make it” mantra. A jury convicted Holmes of fraud over her bogus claims that Theranos’ blood-testing could detect a wide variety of illnesses.

It was a story everyone wanted to believe. A 19-year old Stanford dropout with a breakthrough idea ready to shatter Silicon Valley’s douchebaggerous bro culture. Her charisma fooled even the likes of former U.S. Defense Secretary General James Mattis into coughing up investment money until “I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos anymore.” Even the most seasoned decision-makers believe what they want to until disaster tears the veil from the eyes.

Fake it till you make it seems innocent enough: if you show competence, confidence, and optimism, then your power of positive thinking will deliver the results you want. Law of Attraction enthusiast Rhonda Byrne counsels’ people to make-believe. As you make-believe, she tells us, you will begin to believe that you have received.

It’s total claptrap.

I’m all about the importance of positive self-talk, along the lines that Dan Gilbert suggests in Stumbling on Happiness. You’ve got to believe in your ability to succeed and encourage yourself to take action. You get good results when you take wise steps, which reinforce your positive beliefs. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Authenticity is the difference between positive self-talk and fake-it-till-you-make-it charlatanism. Charlatans have conviction — charisma taken to an unhealthy extreme. Authentic people are humble: they recognize that others have value and that you can learn from them. They have a healthy degree of imposter syndrome.

Be for real, get the deal, is the antidote to charlatanism. Look for humility in business leaders, politicians, pundits, and others who want your support. Always get the other side of the story.

Attune your b.s. meter to those who speak with absolute conviction; run, don’t walk away.  

Here’s my 2022 reading list for leaders and consultants.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.

Consulting Masterclass. In this interactive, 90-minute masterclass on January 13, you will gain the action steps you need to take your expert business to new heights.

1. How to carve your compelling niche: the three core ingredients to a successful expert business.

2. How to move your clients along the value chain that increases their results and your fees.

3. Setting solid foundations on the three most essential elements in taking your business to new heights.

4. Ways to innovate so that your business stays relevant to your clients and avoids complacency.

5. Action steps to maintain a positive trajectory and avoid the drift of most expert businesses.

I’ll take your questions during the event and remain available for an additional 30 minutes afterward. You’ll get a recording of the session.

By the end of this masterclass, you will have the actions you need to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable expert business.

Register by clicking on the session you want.
11 am – 1 pm US Central.
2:30 – 4:30 pm US Central.

The fee is $379.

Invest in the Proper Leadership Training to Insure Promoted Leaders can Succeed and Thrive

You just promoted one of your best workers into a leadership position. They are rocking it. They are putting in the time, arriving first and leaving last, getting the job done, and the energy seems to never cease. Are you worried? Perhaps you should be.

Like all new things, there is a honeymoon period—a time when the grass couldn’t be greener. Relationships are new and exciting, the new leader is powering through, making decisions, and learning the ropes.

But then someone doesn’t agree with their idea, a plan didn’t go as planned, or there is an interpersonal conflict. The long days soon catch up with them. Their kids are growing up before their eyes but they’ve missed many special moments because they were too engrossed in the work. The new leader grows resentful and starts to burn out.

Is it too late to change course, to start coming in later and leave a little earlier, to downshift on their new initiatives? How can they get the energy, drive, passion, zest, and commitment back? We’ve all heard that in today’s stressful world we need to “slow down,” and “take care of ourselves.”

Hiring a new leader is an investment. It can cost up to 200% of their annual salary to replace an employee. If their salary is $100,000 a year and they decide to leave, you could lose up to $200,000 in order to replace them. What business can afford to waste this much money? What could you do with $200,000 to grow your business?

Make sure you invest in the proper leadership training so that your newly promoted leaders can succeed and thrive within your organization. Additionally, how do you, as a leader of leaders, model the slow and steady approach and convey the message that being a leader is more of a marathon than a sprint. What kind of conversations are you having with your new leader to help them take care of themselves?

Help your newly promoted leaders maintain passion and joy with these simple action steps:

  • Meet with your new leaders often. Once a week is a great timeline. Use our weekly check-in method to keep the conversation on the right track. Ask them the tough questions to find out how they’re doing and provide support when needed. Celebrate their wins and compliment their successes.
  • Model, model, model. Show them how to lead in tough situations, role-play crucial conversations, display an appropriate amount of work/life balance, and exhibit your own joy in passion for the work—it’s contagious!
  • Create clear expectations that go both ways. Make the relationship one of respect and reciprocity and the communication lines will remain open and honest.

The bottom line: Set your leaders up for success. If you think I might be a good fit to help with this then here are some options:

  1. 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.
  1. 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. The next program begins at the beginning of February. There are only 8 spaces available. Click here to download the one-pager. Are you a good fit for this program? SIGN UP NOW! Book a 30-minute appointment with Laura to make sure this is the best fit for you.

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.

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.

[email protected]

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox. Click Here.

Sign up for a free quick coaching session here to see if we’re a good fit.

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Joe bragged about berating a hotel desk agent for a problem with his room. “He was worthless to me. I yelled at him. He yelled back at me and then walked out — quit on the spot.” He won’t be worthless to any more customers, joked Joe.

“I don’t care about employee turnover,” Lisa, a restaurant owner, told me, “There’s always another body waiting to fill the job. I’m a tough employer with high standards. If they can’t hack it, I’m happy to show them the door.”

Joe and Lisa are otherwise decent people whose sense of entitlement and inability to handle chronic stress have made them into monsters. It’s no wonder that roughly 46 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 — the so-called Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Employee turnover plus high inflation are going to eviscerate small businesses in 2022. Turnover can cost up to 2X an employee’s annual salary. Replacing one $50k employee is likely to cost you at least that much due to factors such as recruiting, time costs, lost momentum, and rebuilding relationships, among others.

If you lost ten such employees per year, you’ve just thrown $500k or more down the drain.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and crappy work environments. They vote with their feet more quickly to find a better place. Hence, The Great Reshuffle.

The Great Resignation

Add in the inflation costs, and you can see why low-margin businesses with high employee turnover rates are at high-risk next year.

Employers are turning to workplace gimmicks to attract and keep employees. No one ever stayed with a rotten boss for a bag of trail mix or a free yoga mat.

What can you do to keep your top talent engaged and on the job?

1. Custom-fit roles to people’s natural strengths (a.k.a. affinities or superpowers). The skill-fixation has perverted the hiring process and locked people into high-skill, low-superpower roles. Their energy drains faster, leading to frustration, burnout, and the need to find more challenging work. For a great starting point to identifying your superpowers, take our PROM (TM) Leader Archetype quiz. You may be surprised at your results.

2. Train your first-line leaders and middle managers. Most companies have programs for senior leaders but neglect their junior leaders, creating a trust gap at the employee-management interface. Very few junior and mid-level leaders have had good exemplars. Too many companies are on quicksand. Jeff Marquez and Laura Colbert help you strengthen these vital foundations. Junior and mid-level leader training rank among the best low-cost, high-payoff actions you can take in 2022.

3. Increase front-line agency. Give people the latitude and resources to solve problems at the lowest possible levels. This practice lowers the probability of unhappy, stressed-out customers like Joe taking it out on your employees and damaging their emotional well-being. The serotonin boost they get from solving problems will put them on an emotional high. Joe might even become less of a jerk.

In the musical chairs game of the Great Reshuffle, the best employees will find the best-led teams. You will get the virtuous cycle of the top talent coming to and staying with your company.

Are you leading at your very best?

What action steps will you take to make 2022 your best year?

https://strategicleadersacademy.com/

Trusted Advisor

A trusted advisor can use their prior experience to help your new leaders understand what to do and what NOT to do.

You’re having a rough week. You are not getting applicants for an important job opening within your organization, your team hit an impasse on a difficult decision and they aren’t getting along, you’re working too many hours and feel inadequate when it comes to being a good parent and/or significant other, your housework is getting behind, and it’s been months since you took any time for yourself. Who are you going to call?

According to a recent LinkedIn Poll, 43% will call a trusted advisor and 43% will reach out to their peer network. Let me ask you this, do you have a trusted advisor or a reliable peer network? Perhaps you do, but what about your newly promoted leaders? How are they doing? To whom are they reaching out? Have you set them up for success when they have a difficult day, week, month, or year? How are you creating resiliency within your leadership team?

A trusted advisor can use their prior experience to help your new leaders understand what to do and what NOT to do. Many times, leaders reach for immediate action. It’s in the fiber of our beings and lets our employees know that we get things done. Sometimes, however, this is not what needs to be done and only prior experience can give us the wherewithal to make this kind of calculated decision.

Additionally, a trusted advisor provides advice, pushes innovation, offers clarity, and presents a variety of perspectives. Notice in the diagram below that the chaos zone looks chaotic because sometimes we are so entrenched in our work that we do not see how the dots connect. Therefore, most leaders stay in their comfort zone. A trusted adviser helps you to connect the dots so that you can transition into the progress zone.

Trusted Advisor

Set your newly promoted leaders up for success with these simple action steps:

  • Hire a trusted advisor to help them through their difficult moments.
  • Provide networking opportunities to expand their newfound peer group.
  • Be there when your leaders need you. Give them grace and understanding as they discover their leadership potential.

The bottom line: Seek out advisors that you trust to help your first-line leaders. If you think I might be a good fit then here are some options:

  1. 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.
  1. 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. The next program begins at the beginning of February there are only eight spaces available. Click here for more information. Call or email to apply.

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.

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.

[email protected]

I’m dedicating this Thanksgiving to the exemplars in my life.

I’m thankful for Iqbal.

He and his family arrived in America with only the clothes on their backs. A group of us visited him in Seattle this weekend.

Iqbal worked his way from being a day-laborer on our outpost in Afghanistan to a cultural advisor and then an interpreter because he taught himself English (Iqbal speaks 5 languages). He helped Nate Springer (below, right) and I build bridges to local communities by letting us know about decades-long blood feuds, ways people tried to manipulate us, and behind-the-scenes issues that helped us understand why people were doing what they were doing. His support saved American lives. Iqbal never used his position for illicit gain.

He applied for a Special Immigrant Visa in 2014. A bureaucratic error from a human resources officer at a government contractor resulted in the State Department denying the application. I threw up in my mouth when I read the letter. Several of us, spearheaded by Dan Wilson (2nd from right), helped him re-apply.

He tried to start a business, but the corruption costs were too high. He enlisted to serve in a special operations force. Despite having no formal schooling, Iqbal rose in the ranks quickly to become an officer. By 2021, he was a lieutenant colonel in charge of 1000 soldiers.

His bosses expected him to use his position to move money into their pockets. Iqbal refused. His integrity earned him spite from those officials and dangerous assignments. The last of those was defending the Kandahar airfield in August as the Afghan state was disintegrating. Nearly out of food, water, and ammunition, Iqbal’s unit fended off Taliban attacks as hundreds of Afghans evacuated to Kabul. Iqbal made certain that two American reporters made their way out safely.

When he discovered that not all his soldiers had gotten out, Iqbal flew back to Kandahar to get them. The plane returned to Kabul, stranding Iqbal and about 100 others. He delayed the Taliban through skillful negotiations. Miraculously, a final aircraft returned to Kandahar to pick up Iqbal and his men.

Iqbal and his family made their way to America during the chaotic evacuation and just arrived in Seattle. Josh Rodriguez (seated between me and Iqbal), who Iqbal advised in 2008, started a fundraiser. Thanks to boosts from people like CNN’s Jake Tapper, the fundraiser amassed over $104,000. Iqbal had no idea.

Thanksgiving

As we gathered around the carpet in his new apartment, Iqbal (in the corner to my left) told us how thankful he was. “I’ve never had formal schooling,” he said, “but you taught me how to lead, to live a life of integrity, to do what’s right, and to take care of the people on my team.”

“When you came to my country, I was very grateful. You left behind your families to help us. When I arrived in America, I became even more thankful.”

What do you mean by that, one of us asked?

“Being here has allowed me to see what you left behind to come to Afghanistan.”

Tears welled in his eyes when Josh told him about the fundraiser. He could not believe that Americans could be so generous.

He plans to build a business and employ as many of his former soldiers as possible. They stood their ground in Kandahar because Iqbal was their exemplar of courage, integrity, and caring.

I’m dedicating this Thanksgiving to the exemplars in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The veteran community is robust, passionate, gritty, funny, caring, empathetic, resourceful, and tough as nails – These are my people

Yup, that’s me in the photo—the one with hair. I’m not sharing the picture to boast or brag, but rather to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU! I’m bursting with gratitude as I write this. Gratitude to be surrounded by so many other wonderful veterans, so many civilians that care, and for a country that honors its heroes. I have had the utmost privilege of meeting many outstanding service members since my return home, and especially since I’ve changed careers in July.

My life is deeply impacted by these brothers and sisters in arms. The kindred spirit flows through our interwoven relationships and the unspoken bond strengthens with every interaction. The veteran community is robust, passionate, gritty, funny, caring, empathetic, resourceful, and tough as nails. Our go-to answer is, “yes” and then we figure out how to do it. Work ethic and gumption ooze out of every pore. These are my people.
Please know that every thank you and Veterans Day acknowledgment means the world to me/us and it fills my heart with joy and gratitude.

I had to share this outstanding drawing that a 6th grader gave me this morning. Her talent is out of this world and it almost brought me to tears.
Originally, this article was meant to create awareness about Veterans. However, as the day unfolds, and the love continues to grow, I simply want to say, “Thank you!” And if you haven’t reached out to a veteran today, perhaps think about the positive impact of that interaction.
Blessings to you all and thanks to all the Veterans in my life.

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blessings