Challenging the Status-Quo

Sharing best practices with other business owners and executives, then bouncing around ideas on how to solve current issues, can provide resources few in these roles ever have access to. When this happens within a group that’s been built strategically to ensure there’s no conflict of interest, or even the perception of direct competition, there can be an unguarded openness that rarely happens in any other setting. And if that’s all that goes on in this type of setting, the juice is already worth the squeeze! But what if there’s also an intentional focus on pushing each member of such an executive leadership council beyond their current situation and toward their desired future states for their respective organizations?

As Cindy and I worked to map out exactly what the quarterly half-day sessions in our Executive Leadership Elite Think Tank would consist of, we knew we had to make sure every single minute we had with the group would have to deliver significant...

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Iron Sharpens Iron

Over the last twenty years, I’ve had access to better mentors than I probably deserved. I’d like to think I’ve always worked as hard as I possibly could to earn that access but some of the folks who have sown into my life and career were nothing short of proof that God’s hand does indeed move in each of our lives when we’re willing to move with It! All that said, the type of mentorship I’ve needed has changed as I’ve held different roles with different types of responsibilities; personally and professionally!

When I worked in safety, there were three or four amazing safety professionals I was able to align myself with so I could have access to the best and most relevant information available. As I moved into a full time human resource role, a few of those guys who were great at safety just didn’t have experience in HR so I had to chase after experts in that field. The same that had been true in my personal life when I started working...

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Intense Pressure to Deliver Results!

I remember a Friday evening phone call a few years back with a friend who was serving as CEO for a locally owned company that was experiencing almost unbelievable growth. He had been very tuned into the topline and bottomline revenue the entire time I knew him. I had also seen firsthand how effective he was at developing relationships with the customers and clients his organization served. In spite of all the growth and how great he was at connecting with folks outside the organization, about half of the managers who reported directly to him were ready to throw him overboard. As our discussion moved to some of the challenges he was dealing with inside the organization, he made a statement that I don’t think I’ll ever forget: “My job is to grow the business. I don’t have time for all that touchy-feely stuff!”

I closed last time by referencing how frequently business owners and executives have typically face intense pressure to deliver results. Whether...

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An Unexpected Revelation

I closed last time by promising to share what I learned a few years ago about the origin of soft skills so let’s dive right in!

Many of the civilian folks I’ve interacted with for the majority of my life have had the perception that people in the military, especially those in commanding roles, are brash and dictate orders for everyone around them to follow without any consideration for those pesky feelings. I suppose movies like Full Metal Jacket have helped build that perception in many of us who have not served in the military. Truth be told though, I can’t point to a single military veteran that I’ve worked with who’s barked orders to the people reporting to them. In fact, I’ve seen the exact opposite!

The first former military manager I worked with, Terry, was also a West Point graduate. If anyone should have had that command and control approach, it should have been him - right? I mean, West Point has a reputation for being extremely tough on...

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Champions of Servant Leadership

As I dug a bit deeper into the SHRM article I referenced last time, I liked how they tied servant leadership back to early Eastern culture citing Laozi, a 5th century Chinese philosopher as suggesting that “when the best leaders finished their work, their people would say ‘we did it ourselves.’” That certainly goes right along with the idea that a genuine servant leader empowers their team to grow, develop, and achieve results without taking all the credit for themselves! One of the best examples I can think of occurred just a few hundred years later, a little bit farther West near the Red Sea, when droves of people came to hear an incredibly influential teacher and he was determined to feed them all before they started their long journeys home.

Both of those examples support what Pat Falotico, former IBM executive and current CEO of Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, said about having a servant leadership mindset, “If you have selfish...

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Is the Juice Really Worth the Squeeze?

Once we’ve accepted the reality that ongoing professional development is actually critical to being successful in each new challenge we take on as well as maintaining success in even our current role, and we create clarity around what we need our professional development process to look like, we need to make sure we’re taking advantage of the resources that will serve us best as we chase our goals.

Following strong examples is a great start, and finding the right people to mentor us along the way plays a key role too, but we’ll still need to make sure we’re taking advantage of every other resource we can get our hands on if we truly want to separate ourselves from the pack! So how can we determine which resources will give us the most value? How can we make sure the juice really is worth the squeeze?

The sky's the limit for what we can accomplish, but the one restriction we all have in common is the number of hours we have access to in our day. And...

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Who Keeps You In Line?

That’s an interesting question, huh… Who keeps you in line? If you know me well, you know at least one person who’s done that for me over the last twenty-plus years has been my darling bride! And that’s often been more than a full time job for her… But thankfully, she hasn’t had to do it all on her own the entire time.

In the last post, I shared how important I believe it is for each of us to identify the people around us who can serve as living, breathing professional development examples that we can study to make our own journey smoother and more effective. And while that certainly provides us with a solid starting point as we move into each new role throughout our career progression, simply observing and asking a question here and there won’t likely always be enough to help us really separate ourselves from the masses. That’s where the value of strong mentorship comes into play; more specifically, having access to people who are...

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Professional Development Examples

Leading up to this point, we’ve looked at several answers to Why is Professional Development Important? and we’ve worked through several key things we each need to consider as we set our Professional Development Goals. While that should serve as a reasonable foundation that we can build on as we’re intentional about growing professionally, there’s no reason we should feel like we’re alone in the process! Having strong examples to follow can help the process go much more smoothly…

Let’s face it, no two people will follow the exact same journey when it comes to their professional development. We all have different experiences we’re building on and it’s extremely rare for any of us to have the same long term goals - especially when we’ve invested the time and energy necessary to gain the kind of specificity my friend challenged me to get. But regardless of where we’re coming from or where we’re heading,...

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Shores We May Never See Ourselves...

I closed the last post with a commitment to share an example I’ve personally seen of someone who turned their ripples into waves by selflessly serving the people around them. I’m not gonna do that; I’m going to share two… (but I could easily point to dozens more!)

Yesterday afternoon, I had a conversation with a friend I had worked with several years back. Truth be told, he was listed as my immediate supervisor on the org chart but I can’t recall a single time where I saw him use positional authority - with me or anyone else in the company! While I had a pretty significant amount of experience in the work I was hired to do, I had no experience whatsoever in the industry we were working in. He was extremely intentional about helping me get up to speed and was always quick to brag on the work I was doing to the owners of the company; it was incredibly humbling…

I had started our business around that same time. Where many supervisors and managers...

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When I Did This, Everything Changed

It was a bit shocking to learn 95% of all people never take action on their intentions. And many of the remaining 5% that do take action, never take action on the things that will get them the results they're after!  I remember soberly thinking, that is nearly everyone.  Wait a minute...that is me!  There were plenty of things I was not taking action on that I knew would move me forward in life.  I was the person holding me back. 

When I (Cindy) learned there were simple step’s I could take to bridge the gap from good intentions to taking intentional action, my results started changing.  When I learned to identify the right actions to take that would give me the results I was after…I started seeing faster growth in areas that not only helped me accomplish my goals but first increased my awareness which grew me personally and professionally in the process.  When your awareness increases you grow in many ways! 

Remember the stat I...

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