Tag Archive for: leadershipdevelopment


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.

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?


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]

Jeff Marquez recently authored this piece on LinkedIn.

Message from the Middle Whether you are a CEO, president, owner, or Mid-Leader, the answers to these three questions reveal a lot about your leadership and organization. Unless you are the CEO, president, or owner, you are a Mid-Leader at some level. The answers reveal how you are taking care of your Mid-Leaders and how your boss is taking care of you.

I just watched an extraordinary video about the blue crab. To grow, it has to break out of its exoskeleton and grow new armor. Each breakout results in 25% growth. The molting takes about thirty minutes, followed by two days of shell hardening. 

To grow, you have to be sensibly vulnerable. You need to break loose from your mental and emotional armor while maintaining commonsense security for yourself and your business.

Growth, as my mentor Alan Weiss says, is different than problem-solving. The latter gets you back to the status quo. It’s like regrowing into your armor after shrinking. Growth means breaking out of your shell to get bigger.

What would 25% growth mean for you and your business?

Here are some excellent breakout opportunities.

Value-adding Leadership

This 8-week program begins in mid-May. You will develop the six habits that inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success. There are 5 of 8 spaces remaining.

Be Authentic: Authenticity is the opposite of selfishness. Impulse is not a permission slip (ask the former Uber CEO).

Trust Principles over Rules: Trustworthiness, Respect, and Stewardship point out true north in volatility and uncertainty.

Practice Empathy, not Sympathy: Pity is demeaning. Seeing and feeling an issue from someone else’s point of view is your bridge to cooperation.

Pass the Credit; Take the hit: Throw people under the spotlight, not under the bus, so that you empower them to innovate and take risks.

Describe the Why; Delegate the How: Describe what to do and what outcomes you want to achieve. Let your subordinates figure out how to do it, so they have ownership.

Multiply your Experiences: You don’t create new wins with old thinking. To think outside the box, you must expand your box. 

You will participate with other high-quality leaders in this by-application-only program. Go here for more information.

“The clarity, buy-in, and accountability we’ve gained,” said Ray Omar, Capital Brands CEO, “has put us on track to reduce costs by over $1m and increase revenues by over $2m.”

Antietam and Gettysburg Exclusive Event, July 14-17.

This exclusive event is for seven solo or small business leaders who want to take their businesses to new heights. Four of seven places are available.

We go to five points on each battlefield to discuss breakout ideas. You get enough history to know what happened so that you can draw business conclusions and insights that make the second half of 2021 your best ever and prepare your 2022 offensive.

Here are some examples:
Dunker Church. Simplify your business model so that your team works in concert and avoids miscommunication. You make a bigger impact striking with your fist than with open fingers. 

Little Round Top. Create buy-in so that people gain commitment to your success right away. Frontline decisions make the difference, so empower people to make decisions and execute boldly. Aggressive and unexpected plays can carry the day against superior odds.

Pickett’s Charge. When you smell your own fumes, foolish ideas look feasible, and good people get harmed trying to execute them. People flee poor leaders at the first opportunity.

That’s right — there’s no nerding-out on military trivia. The discussions focus on specific ways you can create breakouts that grow your business. 

I’ve rented out an entire B&B for this in-person event so that you get connection, reflection, and inspiration.

Contact me ([email protected]) for more information.

FOCUSED Business Growth

This 7-step program is for small and solo business leaders who want to strengthen their foundations for growth and build the business to new heights. The next start date is in early June. 7 of 8 places are open.

FOCUSED is an acronym for action steps you’ll take:
F — put First things First so that you focus on your priorities
O — Overcome obstacles that are impeding growth
C — Commitment and Culture so that you boost buy-in and accountability 
U — You leading as your best and most authentic self
S — Simplicity in your business model and game-plan
E — Execute
D — Decision-making that seizes opportunities and avoids expensive mistakes

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

Click here for more information and to apply.

Please email me ([email protected]) if you want to apply for or sponsor someone for a scholarship for one of these programs.

Jeff Marquez recently authored this piece for mid-level leaders on LinkedIn.

I have advised CEOs, owners, and senior executives that if you want to get the pulse on your organization, ask the mid-leaders—the heart and soul, the core of the company, business, or agency. They straddle the strategic and tactical levels of an organization, oscillate their thinking to increase value and impact up, down, and across, manage a finite set of resources, and are responsible for day-to-day operations more than any other manager or leader. More importantly, they are the critical link to employee recruiting and retention and, ultimately, to mission or project success. 

Mid-Leaders shoulder a lot of responsibility. How do you get it all done? It is because of your Team. You know you cannot do it alone. But are you leveraging the full intelligence of your Team? In her book, “Multipliers,” Liz Wiseman describes how two types of leaders leverage intelligence: 

Diminishers: Some leaders seemed to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room had a diminishing effect on everyone else. We’ve all worked with these black holes. They create a vortex that sucks energy out of everyone and everything around them. When they walk into a room, the shared IQ drops and the length of the meeting doubles. In countless settings these leaders were idea killers and energy destroyers. Other people’s ideas suffocated and died in their presence and the flow of intelligence came to an abrupt halt around them. Around these leaders, intelligence flowed only one way: from them to others.

Multipliers: “Other leaders used their intelligence in a fundamentally different way. They applied their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capability of people around them. People got smarter and better in their presence. Ideas grew; challenges were surmounted; hard problems were solved. When these leaders walked into a room, light bulbs started going off over people’s heads. Ideas flew so fast that you had to replay the meeting in slow motion just to see what was going on. Meetings with them were idea mash-up sessions. These leaders seemed to make everyone around them better and more capable. These leaders weren’t just intelligent themselves–they were intelligence Multipliers.

Perhaps these leaders understood that the person sitting at the apex of the intelligence hierarchy is the genius maker, not the genius.

Are you a diminisher or a multiplier? You used to be the one doing “it.” You might have been the smartest one in the room on “it,” but now your job is to be the genius maker of others. How do you do that? How do you inspire others to contribute their ideas, their intelligence? How do you become a multiplier? Wiseman offers five disciplines:

1. Attract and optimize talent – you are a talent magnet because you attract and deploy talent to its fullest regardless of who owns the resource.

2. Create intensity that requires the best thinking – you create a space where everyone has permission to think and do their best work; a comfortable, safe, and intense climate. 

3. Extend challenges – plants seeds for opportunity by challenging others, stretching the organization.

4. Debate decisions – you drive decisions by engaging people in debate upfront, leading to decisions that they understand and can execute efficiently. 

5. Instill ownership and accountability – transfer ownership, allowing your Team to own their work and expect complete work.  

Add these two habits to accompany your multiplier discipline: 

1. Ask great questions. Make them broad and open, so your Team will tap into and share their intelligence. 

2. Listen more and learn to appreciate the intelligence and genius of your Team. 

Be a multiplier. I often say the best ideas do not always come from the top. Carving out time and space for you to engage your Team’s genius is a low-cost, secure investment with a high payoff. 

My UN-heroes of the pandemic award goes to big city public school teacher union officials.

Teachers can make a lifelong impact. Mrs. Brayman, Mr. Brayman, Mrs. Evanoff, Mrs. Schneider, Ms. Peterson brought out my best and helped me be who I am today.

Millions of kids, mostly from low-income neighborhoods, have missed the opportunity this past year. The teachers have done their best. Many public school teachers’ unions have kept them out of the schools and away from kids who need them most. The Milwaukee public schools are still not doing ANY in-person classes.

I’m fascinated by how “the science” works differently in private and public schools. My niece and nephew in San Diego have been in person for almost the entire year, and everyone’s been fine. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, there’s no evidence of schools being superspreaders.

Data-denying teachers union officials, however, have fought tooth and nail to keep schools shuttered. The effects on kids who’ve missed a year of school will be long-lasting.

There are some good lessons here for small businesses. As the massive economic renewal gets underway, you’ll want to avoid un-heroes because they are subtraction-by-addition productivity and morale bandits.

1. Say no to selfish talent. A team or unit leader who cares only for their fiefdom will damage your team. I’m sure teachers union officials think they are protecting their dues-paying members, but they’ve forgotten about the common good. My mentor, Alan Weiss, pointed out that attorneys are officers of the court and advocates for their clients. The justice system breaks down when lawyers neglect one of these responsibilities. The same goes for your subordinate leaders.

2. Mind the customer. Had teachers union officials cared about kids and parents — the real customers of schools — they would have fought to get schools open safely instead of throwing up roadblocks. Grocery stores stayed open by putting common-sense measures in place to keep employees and customers safe. Single-issue advocates provide self-interested advice that’s good for their narrow interests but most likely damaging to your community.  

3. Beware of perverse incentives. What you measure creates workplace behaviors, so be careful to avoid metrics and awards that discourage teamwork. Too many teachers union officials felt accountable to dues-paying members and not to the community. Use one-on-one check-ins and meetings to have your senior leaders frame their work in terms of advancing company goals and objectives.

Say no to selfish talent, keep the customer in mind, and avoid perverse incentives so that you can make sure un-heroes don’t make their way onto your team.

Amy Mizialko, head of the union in Milwaukee, said in a March 14th television interview, “We will not legitimize this notion of learning loss. Our students in Milwaukee Public Schools and students across the nation have learned skills this year that probably families and educators never anticipated that they would learn in terms of self-direction, organization, working with peers in a new way, so we’re not going to agree that a standardized test is somehow a measure of learning or somehow a measure of learning loss.”

I rest my case.

How does Tom Brady keep on winning?

He surrounds himself with people who help him be his best self.

I’m a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan, so I was disappointed in the Super Bowl outcome.

Still, it’s a privilege to watch Tom Brady play.

At age 43, he’s the oldest quarterback ever to win a championship.

He gets the mental, physical, emotional, nutritional, and skill-development support that he needs to stay atop his profession.

Yes, Tom Brady has coaches and advisers.

The best in any profession have people help them do the right things in the right way to shorten the path to success.

Plenty of talented people never reach their potential because they try to lone-wolf-it.

It’s not arrogance, for the most part.

Sometimes it’s a poverty mentality. 

I don’t want to pay for support. I’ll figure it out on my own.

Mostly, though, you lone-wolf-it because you fear that others will see you as weak or damaged. 

Lone-wolfing-it is the fast-track to mediocrity.

It’s the school of hard knocks, and the tuition is costly.

The secret to the success of people like Tom Brady is that they don’t lone-wolf-it.

Surround yourself with people who help you be the best version of yourself.

You might not gain Brady-like stature, but you’ll go farther, rack up more wins, and make a much greater impact on the people and causes that mean the most to you.

Mid-level leaders, this is for you.  

As we enter 2021, the challenges you face have never been greater:  
· You must contend with all the new ideas to kick-off the new year
· You must influence your boss without whining, nagging, or appearing as a threat
· You need to influence your peers, so you gain buy-in and avoid coming across as a threat, a backstabber, or a goober
· You need to lead your team and get results, sometimes implementing plans that you do not fully agree with but need to support
· Let’s face it, you will have to develop and execute the return-to-new normal/office/remote work plan

As tough as 2020 was, you are resilient. 

It’s time to invest your 2020 lessons into your 2021 success. 

Join me on Wednesdays in 2021 for “Message from the Middle,” your weekly “share” to increase your value and expand your impact on your team, the boss, peers, and clients. 

Follow me here or join the group at https://lnkd.in/gNpE9JA

CEOs and C-suiters who know where their strength comes from are also welcome.

John O’Grady recently authored a 3 part series with Forbes Coaches Council on “Cultivating a Culture of Trust.”

Part 1: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Part 2: Common Challenges

Part 3: Pragmatic Ways to Overcome Common Challenges