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Accountability is a four-way intersection.

Accountability means being answerable to someone for something important.

When you lead with accountability, you keep your commitments to your vision and mission, your employees, your customers, and your partners.

Lack of accountability leads to neglect, poor performance, abuse, and backbiting.

When you uphold accountability fairly, you show that you are sincere, you set the example, and you don’t play favorites.

Accountability improves commitment to your vision, mission, goals, and values.

Accountability reduces your need to micromanage and spend energy on compliance.

Accountability is possible when you make your goals and expectations clear.

Accountability improves when you share your goals and expectations.

An accountability group accelerates your performance because you are sharing your goals with people who are committed to your success.

Accountability gives you the focus to work on your business.

Accountability strengthens your promise to sharpen yourself so you can lead to greater success.

Accountability puts you back in command.

There’s a direct line from accountability to success.

Only you can draw it.

Leadership is the art of inspiring people to contribute their best to your team’s success (check out the free Leading Well masterclass) – accountability builds commitment so that people do what’s right even when no one is watching.

What’s your top takeaway from this article? Write me at [email protected]

Are you trying to put the eggs back together or are you making omelets?

There’s a world of difference between the two approaches.

COVID-19 and the economic shutdown have wrecked the economy and created new social expectations.

People are unlikely to gather closely together until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity.

Open office plans – Good riddance.

Work from home or from remote locations is no longer scary. More employees are going to demand these options. Your culture needs to treat in-office and remote as equals or you will have two classes of employees.

Online conferences and training are productive and far less expensive than doing them in-person. There are trade-offs, of course, but leaders now have options.

It’s tempting to want to put the broken eggs back together, to return to the way things were in January 2020.

For some leaders, that’s reasonable.

For many, though, it’s a fool’s errand.

You will miss opportunities to restore your growth as you cling stubbornly to past practices and expectations.

You won’t adapt your flywheel, so your competitors will pass you by as you spend time, energy, and resources trying to recreate the past.

Your top talent will leave because you are out-of-step with people’s expectations. It’s like asking Millenials to accept a Mad Men workplace. Not going to happen.

Imagine what it would be like to be making omelets while everyone else is fumbling around with the eggshells?

This is exactly where you want to be – ahead of the curve.

Here are some practical questions to help you do that.

1. What emerging social and economic trends are affecting your customers?

2. What steps can you take to meet these new needs and expectations?

3. What trends, such as remote workplaces, are affecting your culture?

4. What steps should you take to meet these expectations?

5. What resources do you need to take these steps?

You got it. Five clarifying questions that help you make omelets when everyone else is staring at the broken shell and drifting yolk.

We do not know what the post-crisis new normal will look like, but we can reasonably guess that distributed workplaces will be more norm than exception.

A distributed workforce creates distinct dilemmas for leaders. 

Monitoring work is much easier when everyone is in one place. For some, the open-office was the ultimate micro-management tool. Even so, two-thirds of American employees report being unengaged at work (Gallup). 

Micro-management ensures physical presence but does not seem to help much with engagement and productivity.

As more employees work from distributed locations, micromanagement becomes harder. 

A discussant at a recent webinar told us about a manager who required his employees to work in front of a live web-conferencing camera, so he could see that they were working. Others report incessant check-ins in which people need to explain what they are doing each hour of the day.

Yes, that’s a ton of time lost in micromanaging.

Culture is another dilemma. There is a considerable risk that managers will treat distributed or telework employees as second-class citizens, which is terrible for morale. 

Employees will vote with their feet and computers to a team that values their productivity.

Employee disengagement and turnover are a silent killer; they are the highest costs most companies face.

Here are three ways you can strengthen your culture is a distributed workplace.

First, Hire and Promote for Common-Good Fit.

There are a lot of essential cautions about hiring for culture fit, including undermining diversity and inclusion. Even if done well, hiring for culture fit is too-narrow. 

Hire and promote people who demonstrate a commitment to your Common Good: Vision, Mission, Goals, Values, Standards & Expectations, and Strategy.

Second, Align Work with Strengths.

Leaders should design work to fit employee strengths, rather than treating everyone as interchangeable cogs.

People who report that they use their strengths each day at work are likely to be two-three-times more engaged and productive than those who don’t (Buckingham and Goodall, Nine Lies About Work). 

Leaders who do this well use two frames

Broad Framing. Use archetypes, such as SLA’s PROM™ Archetypes (Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks), so they have a clear mental picture of their team and how to put the right people in the right roles. 

Pioneers are innovators, Reconcilers are consensus builders, Operators implement your plans to a high standard, and Mavericks solve big, wicked problems. 

Narrow framing. Assign specific tasks based on particular strengths and inclinations. Programs like Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder can help leaders and employees identify the tight framing best for each person.

Third, Develop your Team Leaders.

Your workplace culture is not what’s written on the walls. It’s the total of what happens in the halls and on the zoom calls. 

Your team leaders, all the way down to your first-line managers, are the ones who create your workplace culture, one interaction at a time. 

You can strengthen your culture by improving the quality of one-on-one engagements. 

Each leader, from CEO to first-line manager, should engage with their direct reports at least once per week. If you cannot do that, you have probably exceeded your span of control. 

These one-on-ones are the most impact meetings in your organization because their quality directly correlates to levels of productivity and engagement. 

There are four great questions you can use as a foundation for these weekly one-on-ones. SLA has created this tool that guides you through these simple questions. Use it with each of your direct reports. 

Pro-Tip: Have your direct reports complete the worksheet and send it to you in advance of the meeting

The distributed workplace is probably here to stay. These three action steps will help you strengthen your culture and morale as you lead your team through this crisis and create the foundations to prosper in the post-crisis new-normal.

If you could change one thing about your team’s productivity, what would it be?

So, what’s holding you back from making that change?

The twin crises of COVID-19 and the economic shutdown are hurting a lot of us — me and our team at Strategic Leaders Academy included. Postponed work, canceled conferences and speaking events, experiential learning events on hold; the list goes on.

There’s also the pain of not being able to visit elderly loved ones for fear of passing along a virus you do not know you have.

It breaks my heart that I cannot safely visit my father, who is fighting cancer so bravely. A loved one in our extended family recently passed away. Her family cannot give her a proper funeral.

A friend has had to put work on hold as his wife has fought COVID-19. She has beaten the virus; I am delighted to say! He’s loved spending so much time with his children — who also got other illnesses — and yet he’s put everything else on hold. All of this comes at a cost.

Everyone I know is experiencing some version of this and more.

What to do?

There’s opportunity in crisis if we dare to look for it. It’s tough amidst all the challenges to look for the possibilities.

That’s precisely why we are putting together this series of webinars: RAMP – The Major Crisis LifeCycle.

If you missed our first webinar, you could register to watch it right here.

Check out our recent articles, too. RAMP: The Major Crisis Lifecycle.

These webinars help you put an eye on the future. When you know what to look for, you find it more easily.

We want to help you identify the opportunities you need and the tools to find them.

Our first webinar identified five shifts from conventional thinking that can help you put some structure around these ambiguous opportunities:

  1. From Firefighting to Gardening: how to focus on growth (working on your business rather than in your business).
  2. From Fear to Trust: how to strengthen workplace relationships even as we telework and practice physical distancing
  3. From Compliance to Commitment: how we can boost commitment to success and our culture. You’ve probably found that micromanaging is hard nowadays. You can expect people’s tolerance for being micromanaged to diminish after all this.
  4. From Single to Multiple Decision-Making Approaches: how to organize your decisions, so you make quick ones when the timing and conditions are right, gain the insights and support from your team, and empower and delegate to people’s strengths.
  5. From Crystal Ball and Blueprints to Intelligence and Agility: how to turn uncertainty into calculated risk, so you ask the right questions and execute quickly and precisely. The teams with the best intelligence and agility will prosper in the post-crisis new normal.

If you missed our first webinar, you could register to watch it right here.

For the next five weeks, our webinars are going to drill down into these themes.

This week builds on the Firefighting to Gardening shift. We are calling it Double your Productivity: Organizing your Time and Team for Sustainable Success. This webinar will help you:

 * Gain time for growth by using these practical delegation tips;

 * Boost your results by reducing hyperactivity and creating your organizational rhythm;

 * Slash wasted time and energy by letting your leadership emerge from the middle; 

 * Improve innovation with three techniques that promote your creativity and focus;

 * Reset your trajectory by seizing this opportunity reform nagging issues that have been holding your team back.

RAMP Webinar #2: Double your Productivity is live at 12:30 am Eastern time on April 2.

RAMP – The Major Crisis Lifecycle™:

The Four Phases you need to Know

RAMP Crisis

When biking, do you focus on the pothole or where you want to go? 

I learned that lesson the hard way. The more I focused on the pothole, the more likely that I smacked right into it. 

That all changed when I focused on where I wanted to go instead. I maintained awareness of the pothole but concentrated on the path forward. 

Whew. No more face-plants or blown tires! 

Major crises tend to have a specific life-cycle. We call it RAMP: React, Adjust, Manage, Prosper. 

Organizations that fixate on the crisis tend to stay mired in it. They adapt too late to the new normal and often fail. The ones most likely to power through the crisis and prosper, put an eye on the future and begin working toward it. 

By now, you have gotten tons of advice on crisis management from some very talented people and organizations, like Jan Rutherford, Stan McChrystal, Bill Watkins, Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey, to name a few. 

You have put the best ideas into practice. You are starting to get on top of things again.

Here’s the problem with staying focused on crisis management: you fixate on the crisis rather than anticipate and shape the future.

You are at risk of staring at the pothole. 

You need to keep one eye on the crisis; you need to set your other eye forward.

Crises tend to follow a life-cycle. It goes something like this.

1. React. Government, business, and nonprofit leaders, and others take measures to address the crisis. T
he novelty of the situation and inadequate information undermine decision-making. Some actions turn out to be insufficient; many wind up being excessive; others are spot-on. The back and forth is a normal response to uncertainty, but it is not the new normal.   

2. Adjust. As the novelty wears off and better information becomes available, leaders adjust their policies for a more significant effect. They strengthen the inadequate measures and modify the excessive ones. Leaders and policy-makers are now making fine rather than coarse corrections. The downward spiral stops, and the situation begins to stabilize. 

3. Manage. The crisis wears off, and the situation stabilizes. Sound policies are in place and need only minor adjustments. This situation is the New Normal, a post-crisis status quo. New rules, written and unwritten, govern the marketplace. Many organizations that survived the worst parts of the crisis get caught flat-footed here because they presume things will return to the pre-crisis status quo. 

4. Prosper. The New Normal creates new opportunities and risks. Some of these are traditional ones in a post-crisis context. Others emerge as needs and interests adapt to the New Normal. Overall economic growth resumes.

Organizations that anticipate the New Normal are best positioned to power through the crisis and thrive afterward. High tech companies like Apple and Google did this well as the 2008 financial crisis subsided. Ford avoided a bailout. 

Most companies and nonprofits adjust too slowly because they do not keep an eye on the future. They follow the pack, which always swings way behind the pitch. Companies like General Motors and big banks survived thanks to government bailouts. Others managed to make the big leap on their own. 

1.8 million small businesses reportedly failed due to the financial crisis. The gap between capabilities and new opportunities was too big.

To help you follow the green line, we are putting together a series of free webinars.

During these sessions, you will:

  • Gain a clear eye on the future by discussing the RAMP stages and how they affect you and your business;
  • Boost your clarity and confidence as you exchange tips and insights with a high-performing peer group;
  • Slash engagement-distancing by examining ways to keep everyone focused, connected, and using their strengths;
  • Anticipate the New Normal by considering the key variables that will shape it;
  • Get ahead of the curve by framing likely New Normal scenarios and key indicators;
  • Improve your team’s post-crisis outcomes by using a simple set of intelligence and planning techniques that keep you agile and oriented on the future
  • Avoid the expensive mistakes of trying to crystal-ball the future and being locked into a losing plan.

The live webinar is on Friday, March 27, 3-4 pm Central Time. Register here.

When you are ready, here are four great ways to work together

Speaking: Do you want a professional keynote speaker to talk with your team on leadership, culture, and strategy? I’ve talked to business, NFL, academic, government, nonprofit, and military audiences. I always tailor the presentation to you, so the message inspires action for you and your team. I’m a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which means I have a proven track record of professionalism and performance.

Training: If you want an even higher impact for your team, training and workshops are a great way to go. I teach teams and organizations on a range of Leadership, Culture, and Strategy themes, to include: how to elevate your team’s performance, how to build a culture of excellence, how to slash employee burnout and turnover, how to develop a winning strategy and how to prevent expensive mistakes. Programs for you range from half-day primers to three-day intensives, to include offsite at places like Normandy and Gettysburg.

Self-Directed Courses: Do you want your team to stay engaged on these key themes but do not want to send them away to an executive education course? We have a suite of online programs that are perfect for you. The courses are excellent ways to follow-up a training event to keep your team learning at your own pace.

Consulting: Do you want to improve your leadership development programs, build a culture of excellence, and create a winning strategy? Unlike the big, gucci, consulting firms that are slow, bureaucratic, and stick you with junior MBAs, I work personally with you and your team, so you get results quickly and cost-effectively with no hassle.

What results can you expect? Check out these video testimonials.
Reach out to me anytime you are curious about working together.

Eight Questions to Ask Employees

 

As a leader right now, your concerns are overwhelming: family, friends, employees, the future of your business. The dual crisis of COVID-19 and the economic shutdown could have your business hanging in the balance, too.

There is so much to do, so much worry, so much uncertainty. But you are tackling the challenge.

By now, you have gotten a lot of good advice on crisis management. You and your team have started to adapt.

You also know that we are at the beginning of the crisis lifecycle. We are not yet at a new normal.

Still, you want to make sure that the measures you are putting in place are both prudent and resonate with your employees. You want them to have confidence in you and the future.

Now is the time to check-in with your team on these issues, so you can make changes that sustain your high-performing team. 

Here are eight questions to ask your team. You can use the standard Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree scale. I’ve adapted these from the excellent Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall.

As we are adjusting to the crisis:

1. I am very enthusiastic about my company’s mission.

2. At work, I clearly understand what my leader expects of me.

3. I believe that the people on my team share my values.

4. I use my strengths every day at work.

5. My teammates have my back.

6. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.

7. I have high confidence in my company’s future.

8. My work challenges me to grow.

Buckingham and Goodall argue that high performing teams consistently answer Strongly Agree or Agree to these questions. 

These questions also serve as an excellent inventory for you as you manage the crisis and look ahead to the future. 

When you are ready, here are four great ways to work together

Speaking: Do you want a professional keynote speaker to talk with your team on leadership, culture, and strategy? I’ve talked to business, NFL, academic, government, nonprofit, and military audiences. I always tailor the presentation to you, so the message inspires action for you and your team. I’m a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which means I have a proven track record of professionalism and performance.

Training: If you want an even higher impact for your team, training and workshops are a great way to go. I teach teams and organizations on a range of Leadership, Culture, and Strategy themes, to include: how to elevate your team’s performance, how to build a culture of excellence, how to slash employee burnout and turnover, how to develop a winning strategy and how to prevent expensive mistakes. Programs for you range from half-day primers to three-day intensives, to include offsite at places like Normandy and Gettysburg.

Self-Directed Courses: Do you want your team to stay engaged on these key themes but do not want to send them away to an executive education course? We have a suite of online programs that are perfect for you. The courses are excellent ways to follow-up a training event to keep your team learning at your own pace.

Consulting: Do you want to improve your leadership development programs, build a culture of excellence, and create a winning strategy? Unlike the big, gucci, consulting firms that are slow, bureaucratic, and stick you with junior MBAs, I work personally with you and your team, so you get results quickly and cost-effectively with no hassle.

What results can you expect? Check out these video testimonials.
Reach out to me anytime you are curious about working together.

Invest in your team

How are you investing in your team? 

I just finished reading Nine Lies About Work, a terrific book about ways to build high-performing teams. 

They discuss eight questions that reliably indicate a high-performing team. Here’s #8: “In my work, I am always challenged to grow.” When your employees answer “strongly agree” on this and seven other questions, there is a very high probability that your team is high-performing.

There are some excellent ways you can challenge your team members to grow. Regular, personal check-ins where team leaders ask questions like “what’s going right for you?” and “in what ways can I help you?” boost engagement. 

So do opportunities to grow and develop. The best leaders resist the urge to use classes or programs to make your employees more well-rounded — to work on their supposed weaknesses.

After all, a manager’s ability to accurately assess a person’s strengths and weaknesses are meager. The best person to determine your strengths and weaknesses is YOU.

Real strength is what you love to do, not just tasks that you perform well. What you love to do strengthens you and gives you energy. These are the kinds of jobs, activities, roles that put you in a natural state of flow. 

Tasks or activities that drain you sucks your energy and leaves you mentally and emotionally exhausted – even if you do it well – it is not a strength. You will burn out quickly.

When you work with your team to learn their real strengths and put them in positions that let them use their strengths each day, you are more likely to create a highly-engaged, high-performing team.

An excellent place for you to start is to help your people understand their servant-leader archetype: Pioneer, Reconciler, Operator, or Maverick. This assessment helps them narrow down the ways they best contribute — the roles that put them in a natural state of flow.

Next, design each person’s work around their natural state of flow. 

Third, map your team to find out if you have any gaps. If you are missing an archetype or have a significant imbalance across the four, you will need to find ways to cover the holes. Doing so will probably include having some people do tasks that are outside their flow. That’s ok as long as you provide them opportunities to replenish their energy, AND you have most of their work inside their flow.

Finally, do a weekly one-on-one check-in with each direct report. Help each person be the best version of themselves and provide them the resources and clear expectations they need to excel.

SLA’s Sustainable Growth Mindset® courses give you step by step ways to Elevate your Team’s PerformanceDevelop your Healthy Culture, and Build your Winning Strategy.

You can take these self-directed courses at your own pace as you boost your team’s engagement and performance. 

Investing in yourself and your team is among the most worthwhile things you can do. 

L
earn more about these courses by clicking HERE.  When you’re ready use promo code SLABLOG and save 20%!

When you are ready, here are four great ways to work together

Speaking: Do you want a professional keynote speaker to talk with your team on leadership, culture, and strategy? I’ve talked to business, NFL, academic, government, nonprofit, and military audiences. I always tailor the presentation to you, so the message inspires action for you and your team. I’m a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which means I have a proven track record of professionalism and performance.

Training: If you want an even higher impact for your team, training and workshops are a great way to go. I teach teams and organizations on a range of Leadership, Culture, and Strategy themes, to include: how to elevate your team’s performance, how to build a culture of excellence, how to slash employee burnout and turnover, how to develop a winning strategy and how to prevent expensive mistakes. Programs for you range from half-day primers to three-day intensives, to include offsite at places like Normandy and Gettysburg.

Self-Directed Courses: Do you want your team to stay engaged on these key themes but do not want to send them away to an executive education course? We have a suite of online programs that are perfect for you. The courses are excellent ways to follow-up a training event to keep your team learning at your own pace.

Consulting: Do you want to improve your leadership development programs, build a culture of excellence, and create a winning strategy? Unlike the big, gucci, consulting firms that are slow, bureaucratic, and stick you with junior MBAs, I work personally with you and your team, so you get results quickly and cost-effectively with no hassle.

What results can you expect? Check out these video testimonials.
Reach out to me anytime you are curious about working together.

 

Avoid being Scapegoated

Want to avoid being scapegoated for the next breach?
You need Total Trust alongside Zero Trust

You are a new CISO in the financial services industry. You are excited about the job but anxious due to the scale of the cyber threat from a range of actors: lone-wolf hackers, organized crime syndicates, governments and their proxies, and insiders. As you think through your game plan for addressing these threats, what’s your most important first step?

A. Get the latest technology and management tools.
B. Develop new, mandatory, IT security training for the company or client.
C. Bring in consultants to advise you on the latest threats.
D. Tighten protocols and increase penetration stress tests.
E. None of the above

Unless you picked E you will end up as just another victim. Your company will be
inadequately prepared to prevent a breach. Your team’s flat-footed response after the breach
will result in major losses to the business. You will be the scapegoat.

When your back is against the wall and you have to prepare your team to deal with new and
unprecedented threats, this is what you should do. It’s the opposite of what every guru is
preaching.

Your first step: Build Trust. Up and Out; Down and In

Zero Trust is an important technology and cyber security precaution. No one should be
granted total access to information.

A zero-trust approach to workplace relationships, however, is disastrous. When dealing with
your people and teams and those you support, you need to earn Total Trust.

You were hired because you seemed to be the best qualified person for the job, but that does
not mean you are trusted by your CEO, peers or team.

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

Lack of total trust sets you up for failure:
 You will not make much headway on getting cyber security imbedded in the culture;
 You will not be invited to board meetings to discuss cyber security;
 You will have little interaction with the CEO;
 Your C-suite colleagues will try to poach your budget and client;
 You will be seen as an impediment to growth; a distraction from business;
 You will have high rates of employee burnout and turnover;
 Your team’s vigilance and responsiveness to threats will be unequal to the task.

Fortunately, you do not have to share in this fate.

When building trust, think 1) Up and Out and 2) Down and In.

Up and Out: It is tempting, particularly for leaders of highly technical teams whose missions
are poorly understood across the company, to start building relationships from your silo –
your comfort zone and point of view. This common approach is the fast track to poor
communication and mistrust.

To build a trusting relationship with your boss and your peers, you have to meet them at their
bus stop. That is, you must see things from their point of view, talk their language, and
understand their interests and concerns. They won’t trust you fully unless they know you “get
it.”

How do you know that you are on the right track?
 You can “see yourself” and the business from their point of view.
 You discern how they view you and your team.
 You recognize their perceptions about how you affect their performance and the company overall.
 You understand the company’s vision, mission, goals and values and how you contribute to success.

Question: Can you explain all the above so clearly that it makes sense to a 5-year-old? If not,
you do not know it well enough.

Down and In. Build trust with your team. Trust is earned. It is not given because of your
position.

Being trustworthy means being worthy of trust. This is most powerfully expressed in your
competence and your character. Your team needs to believe that you can do the job, that your
word is good, that you will treat each employee with respect, and that you will be a good
steward of your people, teams and organization.

How do you know that you are on the right track?
 You set clear performance and behavior expectations;
 You meet those expectations yourself;
 You hold everyone equally accountable – no favorites;
 People bring you bad news immediately without sugar coating;
 Employees provide you with candid feedback without fear of backlash;
 Your employees understand their mission clearly and how it relates to the mission and goals of the company.

Question: What have you done today to show your team that you are worthy of their trust and
respect?

When you have total trust, your CEO and board want to hear what you have to say, your
colleagues will see you are a partner, and your team will have higher rates of engagement and
lower risk of burnout and turnover. Your company’s cyber security will be far stronger, too.

Christopher Kolenda, PhD, founder of the Strategic Leaders Academy, helps CISOs and
Cyber Security leaders elevate the performance of their teams, slash disengagement and
burnout, and boost the quality of their strategies and plans.

When you are ready, here are four great ways to work together

Speaking: Do you want a professional keynote speaker to talk with your team on leadership, culture, and strategy? I’ve talked to business, NFL, academic, government, nonprofit, and military audiences. I always tailor the presentation to you, so the message inspires action for you and your team. I’m a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which means I have a proven track record of professionalism and performance.

Training: If you want an even higher impact for your team, training and workshops are a great way to go. I teach teams and organizations on a range of Leadership, Culture, and Strategy themes, to include: how to elevate your team’s performance, how to build a culture of excellence, how to slash employee burnout and turnover, how to develop a winning strategy and how to prevent expensive mistakes. Programs for you range from half-day primers to three-day intensives, to include offsite at places like Normandy and Gettysburg.

Self-Directed Courses: Do you want your team to stay engaged on these key themes but do not want to send them away to an executive education course? We have a suite of online programs that are perfect for you. The courses are excellent ways to follow-up a training event to keep your team learning at your own pace.

Consulting: Do you want to improve your leadership development programs, build a culture of excellence, and create a winning strategy? Unlike the big, gucci, consulting firms that are slow, bureaucratic, and stick you with junior MBAs, I work personally with you and your team, so you get results quickly and cost-effectively with no hassle.

What results can you expect? Check out these video testimonials.
Reach out to me anytime you are curious about working together.

Make a new mistake

Are you Ready to Make New Mistakes?

There are many reasons not to trust people who say they have never been wrong. Every leader who dares to grow, innovate, defy conventional wisdom, or make a positive impact makes mistakes and experiences failure. To err, after all, is human. We all make mistakes.

Good leaders, though, make new mistakes.

They learn and avoid repeating the errors they have made — especially the expensive ones. Your new mistakes, though, can be expensive. Some are catastrophic.

Leaders in a competitive market who rely solely on personal experience are particularly vulnerable to business-ending new mistakes.

They only learn in the school of hard-knocks where the tuition is really expensive. Sometimes those hard-knocks are knockouts.

How do the most successful leaders avoid these problems?

They learn from their own experiences and those of others. The very best leaders make truly new mistakes. They avoid the mistakes that they have made themselves AND they avoid the mistakes that others have made.

Reading is the fast track to learning from others.

How do you know which books and articles to read?

That’s exactly why we’ve created this reading list. It contains some of the best books and articles on Leadership, Culture, and Strategy, so you can avoid wasting time on nonsense.

We have also organized the list by theme, so you can focus on the issues most important to you.  For instance,

Our Leadership Themes include:

  • Lead Well: Trustworthiness, Respect, and Stewardship
  • Practice Empathy: Your Short-Cut to Gaining Cooperation
  • Take Responsibility: How to promote innovation
  • Connect the Why: Gain commitment through Common Purpose

Check out our Culture Themes:

  • Forge Balanced Teams: How to Strengthen Diversity and Inclusion
  • Align Values and Practice: What Happens in the Halls Trumps What’s Written on the Walls
  • Build Resilience: How to Bounce Back Higher
  • Stop Toxic Subordinates: The Altar of Short-term Results is the Fast Track to Failure
  • Position High Impact Leaders: Put your Top Talent in a State of Flow

How are these for Strategy Themes:

  • Strategy governs Plans: How to Make Sure the Dog Wags the Tail
  • Manage Silos: How to Avoid Letting Success Fall through the Cracks
  • Embrace Complexity and Uncertainty: How to Create and Seize Opportunity in Chaos
  • Courage: Developing the Strength and Wisdom to Decide
  • Learn and Adapt: How to Make New Mistakes

So, are you happy to repeat your errors and those of others…

Or, are you ready to make truly new mistakes?

Get the Reading List HERE

If you already have our Reading List, check out these webinars:

Wait? These webinars say they are for Cyber Security Leaders.

That’s true, but the same concepts work for anyone who leads human beings.

Ready to make truly new mistakes? Get the Reading List HERE

When you are ready, here are four great ways to work together

Speaking: Do you want a professional keynote speaker to talk with your team on leadership, culture, and strategy? I’ve talked to business, NFL, academic, government, nonprofit, and military audiences. I always tailor the presentation to you, so the message inspires action for you and your team. I’m a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which means I have a proven track record of professionalism and performance.

Training: If you want an even higher impact for your team, training and workshops are a great way to go. I teach teams and organizations on a range of Leadership, Culture, and Strategy themes, to include: how to elevate your team’s performance, how to build a culture of excellence, how to slash employee burnout and turnover, how to develop a winning strategy and how to prevent expensive mistakes. Programs for you range from half-day primers to three-day intensives, to include offsite at places like Normandy and Gettysburg.

Self-Directed Courses: Do you want your team to stay engaged on these key themes but do not want to send them away to an executive education course? We have a suite of online programs that are perfect for you. The courses are excellent ways to follow-up a training event to keep your team learning at your own pace.

Consulting: Do you want to improve your leadership development programs, build a culture of excellence, and create a winning strategy? Unlike the big, gucci, consulting firms that are slow, bureaucratic, and stick you with junior MBAs, I work personally with you and your team, so you get results quickly and cost-effectively with no hassle.

What results can you expect? Check out these video testimonials.
Reach out to me anytime you are curious about working together.

Get Ahead Of The Cyber-Threat

with this one powerful habit

cyber security

You face a dizzying array of threats: lone-wolf hackers, organized crime, government-sponsored proxies, and insider threats. These groups are highly aggressive and adaptive and often operate with impunity. They threaten our businesses, infrastructure, livelihoods, and way of life. Cyber is the new frontier of freedom and you are on the front lines.

The enemy always finds a new tool or tactic.

If you are a cyber-security leader, it’s natural to look for an advantage in technology because those are the tools of the battle. Any technical superiority you gain, however, seems fleeting. It’s like a hamster wheel. The enemy always finds a new tool or tactic. The adversary also has advantages in timing, being able to stage attacks when they want. They can attract talent for higher pay than you can afford. They take advantage of people in your company who are cyber-complacent or simply not paying attention. You have to be vigilant constantly.

Your advantage comes from your leadership.

Your competitive advantage, though, is not in the technology or tools. Your real competitive advantage comes from your leadership: your ability to build relationships with the C-Suite and board to get cyber-security ingrained in the culture and governance, create a culture on your team that attracts, engages, and retains the right talent, and act strategically by making sound decisions, managing risk and uncertainty, bridging silos, and learning and adapting. As you know, personal experience is the best teacher of leadership. It’s the school of hard knocks. Learning from your own mistakes and triumphs helps you improve on what you have done before.

Personal experience, however, has a very poor track record in preparing leaders to face new and different challenges and opportunities. Many find themselves to be prisoners of their own past, searching in vain for answers as their competitors race forward. The Blockbusters in a Netflix world.

Leaders who rely on personal experience are guaranteed to be incompetent.

As a Cyber Security Leader, you cannot afford to simply learn from experience. The adversary is too adaptive and the consequences of being outmaneuvered by them are too high. You are fighting a chameleon-like cyber-insurgency with ever-evolving tactics, techniques and procedures. You need every strategic edge you can get.

Learning from others in a variety of disciplines is the best way to multiply your experiences in a very short amount of time. There are three great ways to do this. Reading great books and articles, using advisers and mentors to challenge our thinking and provide different perspectives, and experiential learning – training, workshops, and off-sites that help us gain different ways of thinking about the challenges and opportunities we face.

This is exactly why we have put together this reading list for cyber security leaders. It is organized thematically by what we call the 3 BIG things: Leadership, Culture, and Strategy. This combination of great books and articles allows you to be highly targeted in your approach to multiplying your experiences by learning from others.

Check out the reading list here: Cyber Security Leaders Reading List