Tag Archive for: leadership


Nobody wants to work under fear driven leadership. Give your Team more control, lower overall stress, and make big gains.


Fear-driven leadership is not an effective way to lead an organization. Employees with higher levels of stress and anxiety cannot function to the same levels as those who feel safe and have a greater sense of control in their jobs. Leaders should strive to create an environment where their employees enjoy coming to work and harness the feelings of belonging and buy-in. They will see better results in their bottom line.

We all make mistakes. Here’s one of mine: I was a middle school principal in the fall of 2020 when we returned to hybrid teaching/learning. As with most of the world, there were excessive amounts of divisiveness, fear, and stress among the staff and community. Unfortunately, I treated the staff in more of a punitive tone, than one of compassion. This caused my entire group of team leaders to hold a private meeting behind my back (yes, I am cringing while writing this) and then eventually talk to me as a group about how I was disciplining my staff.

It was a tough meeting, but I was glad they felt comfortable enough to discuss the issue with me so that I could make adjustments and be the best boss for my Team. It was a great and humbling reminder that we need to treat everyone around us with respect and grace because we never know what someone else is going through.

I’ve read a few books, namely the “360-Degree Leader by John Maxwell, “Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, “9 Lies About Work” by Buckingham and Goodall, and “The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham with an overwhelming theme that leaders should address their employees’ concerns with grace, empathy, and even sometimes an apology. Perhaps our expectations weren’t clear or we never explained the “why.” Somehow, I let these lessons slip in the fall of 2020. I’m sure it roots back to my self-preservation or fear of the unknown in an unprecedented time. As a leader, that’s no excuse.

I’m telling you this story to illustrate that even though one of my core values is compassion, I let it slip. My team leaders recognized that they weren’t seeing the real me and they let me know that. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistake. Take a look at your values. Are you holding true to what you believe in and what your Team needs from you?

Action steps to ditch fear-driven leadership:

•             Give your Team a sense of control: The less control we have in our jobs, the more stress we feel. The more stress we feel, the less productive our business is. People seize control through passive-aggressive behavior, gossip, and office politics, to name a few. You can give your team a greater sense of control by setting clear boundaries in terms of values, finance, fairness, and legal and let your Team make decisions based on those boundaries. Your Team’s productivity will increase, they will feel more influential, and your organization’s innovation will increase.

•             Foster a “safe” working environment: Psychological safety is key for productivity. Our brains can’t function when we are stuck in the flight or fight response. Examine the level of your Team’s psychological safety. Hire an outside consultant to do this work for full transparency. Make adjustments based on the examination and watch your business thrive.

•             Look in the mirror before disciplining your Team members: There are times when our Team makes mistakes, and we need to address those errors. There are other times when our lack of leadership is to blame. Before pointing the finger and getting angry. Pause and reflect on how you could have set clearer expectations, avoided the mistake with more frequent check-ins, or better explained the “why.” This reflection time will allow you to calm down, ditch the fear-driven leadership, and approach your Team member with more compassion.


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

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.


Physical diversity is what you can see; cognitive and experiential are below the waterline.

I am proud of President Biden for announcing that he will nominate a Black woman for the Supreme Court (he torpedoed President George W. Bush’s 2003 effort to appoint a Black woman). Organizations tend to be more legitimate when they reflect the demographics of the communities they serve, and there are plenty of Black women who will be superb justices in America’s highest court.

I hope he picks a truly diverse candidate — one from outside the Ivy League bubble. Diversity is more than skin deep. Physical diversity is only one element of a powerful triad. Like an iceberg, physical diversity is what you can see; cognitive and experiential are below the waterline.

People’s hardwiring affects how they lead organizations, solve problems, and deal with risk

The PROM archetypes(TM) illustrate the differences.

Like Malcolm X and General George Patton, Pioneers are tactical innovators who rally people behind new ideas and changes. 

Reconcilers (like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower) manage consensus and keep people on board. 

Operators (George Washington and Indra Nooyi, for example) make the trains run on time and get things done – like Steve Jobs and Alexander Hamilton.

Mavericks are your strategic innovators who solve complex, wicked problems. (Get your PROM Archetype here).

Many large organizations show the dangers of homogeneity. The military and government, for instance, love detail-oriented people and tend to resist idea-centric people. By the time a year-group reaches senior ranks, most of the Pioneers and Mavericks have gotten drummed out or left in frustration, leaving a disproportionate number of Reconcilers and Operators. The latter self-perpetuate by selecting and promoting people who think and act like them, a problem called affinity bias. Poor strategic innovation in recent wars shows the consequences of poor cognitive diversity.

Personal experiences matter

John McWhorter shows that socio-economic circumstances are far more potent in shaping perspectives than race or gender. People tend to share worldviews with people raised and educated in similar situations. Veterans who’ve experienced intense combat have points of view different from citizens who have not. If you’ve fought your way from poverty to the middle class, you are likely to have different outlooks than colleagues who’ve been middle-class suburbanites their whole lives.

When making policies or strategies that affect people of varying circumstances, these perspectives matter. Ideas that seem sound within an elite bubble can come across as condescending or ham-fisted to those outside of it. Some progressives cannot fathom why people view “woke” as revenge racism that’s ripping society apart. Even San Franciscans seem to have had enough, recalling three uber-woke school board members. At the same time, some conservatives don’t get the outrage after calling the January 6th riot legitimate political discourse. They cannot seem to resist stepping on the 2020 election rake. Experiential diversity helps you avoid inhaling your own gas.

It’s time to get beyond the view that diversity only involves chromosomes. Leaders like you perform best when people among all parts of the diversity triad work together toward the common good.

What’s the next step in building your diversity triad?

Building your Chest – Exclusive Events

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

The Hudson Valley in the Revolution (July 27-30) focuses on people-centric innovation. We’ll travel to Fort Ticonderoga on beautiful Lake Champlain, the famous Saratoga battlefield, the majestic garrison at West Point, and the Stony Point battlefield. Most threats to an organization’s success come from within, and this challenge was true for the Continental Army. We’ll use the history to discuss practical ways to address toxic workplace behaviors, engage and retain your top talent, inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success, and many others. You’ll build new thought leadership that will be game-changers for your clients and employees.


A robust culture and foundational trust cannot exist without benevolence.

When preparing for a 1:1 meeting with a Team member, I felt my stress levels heighten as I searched for ways to preserve my sense of self and uphold my integrity. I put a smile on my face even though I knew this person would dig for gossip and potentially twist anything I said into a “sky-is-falling” dramatic sentiment. Often, this person had a way of exposing my vulnerabilities. I replayed our conversations over and over to make sure that I didn’t say or do anything that this person could use against me in the future. I spent way too much mental capacity planning and debriefing after meeting with this individual.

This relationship was the opposite of benevolence. I was not confident that this individual had my best interest at heart.

Benevolence means we are not using mental and emotional energy worrying about the other individuals in our Team. It means that we will practice mutual kindness and have well-meaning intentions with our words and actions. A benevolent workplace equates to a trusting culture. Simply put, a workplace will turn toxic without benevolence.

If you lay a strong foundation of benevolence and your Team buys in, imagine how much less time people have to worry about looking behind their backs. Now your team can look forward and move your company to greater heights.

As a leader, how are you cultivating benevolence?

Actions steps to boost benevolence in your workplace:

  • Ensure a mutual attitude of well-meaning intentions: If you have to explicitly tell someone on your Team that your sentiments come from a place of respect and kindness, then do it. If something doesn’t come across as well-meaning, you can ask, “please help me to understand what you mean by that.” Don’t build up negative assumptions about the interaction. Stewing in anger and resentment does not build strong teams
  • Eliminate exposure of others’ weaknesses: If someone on your Team is struggling, have a 1:1 with them—don’t call them out in front of their peers. If you see this happen, stop it immediately. What you permit, you promote. Don’t be a boss who lets toxic behavior occur under your nose. Only bullies exploit the weak. Build your Team up instead of tearing them down.
  • Talk to your Team about benevolence: Explain to your Team that you would rather they spend their time on productivity, efficiency, and finding joy in their job than worrying about if they said or did the wrong thing during yesterday’s meeting. Ask them to be forward-focused and put their mental capacities toward constructive and innovative ideas.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • 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.

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.

[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.

Leading the Middle -2021 – A year in Reflection

Thank you for connecting, sharing your perspectives, thoughts, and experiences. I learned more about leadership, people, and myself than I ever expected. I am filled with gratitude because of you and the experience. I am especially grateful to my friend Aaron who passed earlier this year. I will treasure the lessons from the Bloody Knuckles Garage, his humanness, and grace. As I wrap up the year, I am sharing a few of my favorite words, phrases, and ideas that you gifted to me.

Be more elephant and less hippo

The Mid-Leader Six
As goes the middle, so goes the organization.
Would you follow you?
The Unknowing Mentor
What did your habits do for you today? LEADER
Seek first to understand before being understood.
Tap into the superpowers of your Team.
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
People are not on the Team; they are the Team.
They follow you not because they have to but because they want to.
So That…
Create that Friday feeling.
Wisdom is doing now what you will be happy with later.
Like weeds, you have to manage or prune away toxic behaviors.
Talking at the speed of trust.
Find your gratitude.
The power of the pause.
People are your purpose.

Page through my posts if you would like a refresher on any or reach out to me. What was your favorite? Feel free to print and post the word art. Take care of people and take care of yourself.

Values misalignment can be one of the costliest mistakes, both financially and emotionally.

On a recent Monday, I had one of the most energizing discussions with my mastermind group. The topic was values. When was the last time you had an honest discussion about your Team or business values, about your values? Are you able to put your values into practice? How do you apply values when talking to potential clients, or do you even consider them? How do you engage and discuss values with your employees? How do values weave into your world of work?

Values misalignment can be one of the costliest mistakes, both financially and emotionally. They are rarely discussed except in one-way conversations when the boss shares their values, and we see them plastered on the walls. You can do better.

Christopher Kolenda, Ph.D. and Strategic Leaders Academy developed a short questionnaire to help you determine your “What/Values” archetype to help you define the moral and ethical values most important to you so that you can hire, partner with, and support the right people. It is a pairwise comparison based on the Stoics’ four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, justice, and self-discipline. The six archetypes are:

– The Executive (Self-discipline and Wisdom) – best known for keen discernment and quiet competence. They tend to emphasize sound decision-making, persistence, and keen stewardship of resources.

– The Decision-Maker (Wisdom and Courage) – best known for keen discernment and willingness to take sensible risks. They tend to look for and seize upon key opportunities that others miss.

– The Protector (Courage and Justice) – best known for their willingness to take a risk for the safety and well-being of others. They tend to seek roles that emphasize service and protection of vulnerable people or causes.

– The Entrepreneur (Courage and Self-Discipline) – best known for their willingness to take risks to create something of new and important social or economic impact. They tend to seek roles that enable them to create and innovate ideas, products, or causes that benefit others.

– The Advocate (Self-Discipline and Justice) – best known for their persistence in fairness and respect for others and important causes. They tend to fight over the long haul for rights in the face of complex challenges.

– The Campaigner (Justice and Wisdom) – best known for their sound judgment and fairness. They tend to seek equitable and moral solutions to complex challenges.

While there are many approaches out there, this one is accessible, ancient, and secular. Take the quiz at https://lnkd.in/gPv-TJHT , have your Team members take it, think, engage, and let the growth begin! Thank you, Chris, and the FOCUS Mastermind Group.


Someone is always watching, listening, and learning from your leadership. 

“Why, Sir?” I asked. “I thought it would be easier to give it to you instead,” said the Operations Officer, who outranked me. I was a commander in Germany. I was at the senior level of my unit but a Mid-Leader at the next higher echelon. I do not remember the mission or task we talked about, but I’ll never forget the leadership in action that day. I responded, “Sir, it may be easier for you and the staff, but not for my Soldiers and me who have to execute.” As he looked at me, it was as if I could see the realization come across his face. We talked about it a bit more. I gave it the good fight, saluted, and left his office.

At the end of the day, I hear my Charge of Quarters calling the unit to attention. The Operations Officer walks into my office. We exchanged greetings, and the conversation went something like this, “Jeff, I changed it back, I thought about it, and you were right. You know, sometimes we, at the next level, forget what it takes to execute. We also have to remember that the staff exists to support commanders and line units.”  

The leadership in action? Not that I pushed back. Not that I influenced the decision. It was about this senior officer coming to my office and taking the time to share his thoughts with me face-to-face. He could have easily told me over the phone, but that was not good enough for him. That day he unknowingly mentored me in empathy, respect, trust, humility, courage, and professionalism in one exchange. He rightly rose through the ranks, retired, and continues to lead today. He gets it.

Someone is always watching, listening, and learning from your leadership. 

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.


I Focused my Forecasts for 2022 and Beyond on Trends most Relevant for Small Businesses, Consultants, and Experts.

I’ll host an 8-week mastermind group in January to discuss the implications of these forecasts and others so that you can provide vital thought leadership to your clients and anticipate the future for your business.

1. The Inflation bubble bursts. Due to employee turnover and inflation, small businesses will fail at a historic rate. COVID has decreased tolerance of bad bosses and poor work environments. Inflation rises to 4% if BBB fails and 6% if BBB passes, forcing many poorly-led, low-margin small businesses to close. High-margin solo and expert businesses will thrive.


2. Landgrabs. Russia and China seek to time moves against Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, on signals that President Biden’s health fails. Iran and North Korea will do the same with their nuclear weapons and missile programs. A gulf state reveals its atomic weapons program in response to Iran’s.

3. Change for a BitCoin? Countries will begin to adopt crypto as alternate reserve currencies in response to America’s increasing weaponization of the dollar; investors will add crypto to their portfolios to hedge against inflation.

4. Trades strike back. Companies will lose confidence in supply chains that include overseas vendors. Local manufacturing and storage will rebound. Elite snobbery that the only road to a dignified professional life is an expensive 4-year degree will reduce. More people will enter trades and find substantial prosperity, independence, and joy.

5. Waking up to Woke. Businesses stop hiring consultants who pedal revenge racism and begin hiring people who improve teamwork. The best companies will hold CEOs and line managers responsible for diversity and inclusion; women and non-whites will gain a more significant share of P&L roles.

6. 280 characters fewer. Trust in conventional news outlets, experts, and punditry will continue declining, forcing at least one primary news channel, newspaper, and social media platform to close. People will turn increasingly to trusted advisers for perspective.

7. Revenge of the Nerds. Zillow Offers is the tip of an iceberg. Businesses that rely on AI platforms for customer relations and marketing will face significant setbacks because they act as a blunt instrument when customers expect concierge service. Hackers will learn to spoof AI decision-making tools by acting more like humans and luring machine decisions into unproductive corners.
8. AC Anyone? Climate change debates will shift towards alleviating the effects of rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Wisconsin’s climate by 2040 will be like Tennessee’s in 2010.

9. Rolling Green-outs. Fossil fuels and nuclear power will make a comeback as a reliable base for energy supply. During extreme weather events, cities that rely on renewables will face significant power outages. Global predators will intensify cyberattacks against vulnerable power grids.

10. The open office is dead. Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. The most innovative companies will create in-office requirements based on need rather than arbitrary percentages. The most talented will seek jobs with those companies.

11. COVID theater closes. Companies will reduce wasteful activities that do little or nothing to stop the spread of COVID. The major media will reduce COVID-hype. The vaccinated will begin to revolt against COVID-control mandates because the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are tired of feeling punished. More businesses will require proof of vaccination or infection within the past six months for entry and employment. Vaccine boosters will be annual as COVID becomes endemic.

12. Big Red Resurgence. The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will go to the BIG 10 championship game in 2022.

The Innovation Mindset Group is an 8-week mastermind that examines these trends and others for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. We’ll meet for 90-minutes each week and develop unique thought leadership that will help you anticipate the needs of your businesses and clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8. $4500 if you enroll by December 31, then the fee goes to $5500. Click here  https://bit.ly/3DTcL6C and scroll to the bottom to register to learn more about this limited time offer.

Small Business Failure

The Pressures of Low or Negative Margins and Employee Turnover will Create a Downward Spiral for Many Small Businesses

Small Business Failure

The combination of inflation, poor first-line leadership, and expensive mistakes spell trouble for low-margin small businesses. I think we will see small businesses fail at historically high rates in 2022.

Inflation of 4 percent or higher will persist due to supply chain challenges and demands for higher wages. The Biden administration’s Build Back Better initiative, if it passes, will heighten inflation even as it invests in (hopefully) high-payoff programs. Inflationary pressures are going to reduce margins. In some cases, small businesses could find themselves completing projects and selling products at a loss.

The so-called great resignation will continue because COVID has reduced people’s tolerance for poor leadership, toxic work environments, and poor work conditions. Some people are leaving their jobs to upgrade their skills and enter new lines of work. Most seem to be switching jobs within their current industries.

The best talent will find their way to companies that have good leadership, healthy cultures, and quality work environments. Provided that these companies can innovate successfully to outpace inflation and higher costs, they will thrive in an upward spiral of better talent, higher quality products and services, and greater continuity.

Business Failure
Small Business Failure

The pressures of low or negative margins and employee turnover will create a downward spiral for many small businesses. CEOs will work longer hours and get consumed in problem-solving, which heightens the risks of expensive mistakes. They’ll lack the bandwidth to innovate, so the margins will continue shrinking until the business is no longer sustainable.

You cannot do much about inflation (except raise their prices), but you can take these steps:
1. Fire managers who are driving employees away,
2. Invest in leader development so that you attract and retain great talent,
3. Reduce the likelihood of expensive mistakes by having trusted advisers who will help you avoid falling in love with your own plans and getting high from your own fumes, and
4. Innovate to create higher-margin products and services.

Programs that Accelerate Success

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. I’m limiting the group to 8. Six places are remaining.

FOCUSED is my 8-week mastery program for small business leaders and consultants to put the action plans in place to make 2022 their best year ever. The next program begins in late January; there are only eight spaces available. Click here for more information and to apply.

Innovation Mindset is a new 8-week program for consultants and small business leaders that I intend to launch in January, based on interest. This program gives you the tools to address (and help your clients address) the challenges facing small businesses in 2022 so that you can create an upward spiral that propels your business to new heights. Please reply to this email if you are interested.

The Trusted Adviser 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, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results. Get the details here.

Exclusive Events

The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop where you will develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There are four spaces left.


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

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