Category Archives: On the personal side

Insanity, Leadership and Running

As I was mentally preparing to run the Fargo Marathon this weekend, I came across one of my most favorite quotes: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results” (often attributed to Albert Einstein).

Training for a marathon takes both time and commitment. It also takes a solid training plan and being able to stick to it. I’m not very good at that last thing, sticking to it. I like to run hard, fast and long, even if the plan says I should run short and take it easy at times.

This year I joined a running group. These runners are just as passionate, driven and dedicated as me, but most follow a plan. Joining the group has made a world of difference to me. Even when I’m not physically running with the group, I compare and align my training and performance to theirs. We’re doing this together and we’re sticking to the plan.

I work with leaders and teams, helping them to become more effective, focused and aligned. Most leaders and teams have a plan and they know what to do. But they often get busy, distracted, focused on performing individual tasks and completing projects on time rather than following the plan. They focus on their individual areas and goals and lose sight of organizational results.

Following the plan and achieving results takes discipline and commitment on every level. It takes clarity of vision, healthy conflict skills, commitment to goals across functional areas, and everyone holding each other accountable to their commitments. Only then can the team or company successfully execute on their strategy. Only then can the team build true magic and achieve the most important organizational goals.

The forecast for the marathon this weekend is for rain and 20-30 mph wind. Wish me luck!

2013 is here. Now. It’s your turn to lead.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. How did you do with New Year’s resolutions in the past? Were you able to make real changes? Or did things return to normal too quickly?

Some among us spent a lot of time talking about how the world would end. It didn’t. We’re still here. Congratulations!

Now it’s time for action. No more excuses.

It’s time to fulfil your promise. It’s time to reignite your passion and your purpose.

It’s your turn to lead.

You have it in you to make extraordinary things happen. In your life, in your family, in your work.

It starts with clarifying your core values.

Align those values with your actions and the values of those around you. Small steps, every day.

We call this to Model the Way.

Next step: When are you at your best, both as a leader and as a person?

Most people describe their personal-best experiences as times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for themselves, their families or organizations. They believe in their dreams and visions of what could be. They are able to live what they believe.

Do you remember the feeling? It’s like a drug. And still it’s real. And powerful.

Some people are able to maintain this optimism and state of mind on a continuous basis. Like the people who walk in the door and instantly make an impression of credibility and respect.

That is you.

You can Inspire a Shared Vision.

This is just the beginning of The Leadership Challenge. Small, deliberate steps with big real-world consequences.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. It’s you turn to lead. The Future is Ours.

Thank you, Kayla, for inspiring this post.

Are you feeling stuck?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu.

Are you stuck in a situation that you are unable to get out of? Are you faced with a problem that you are unable to solve?

A problem, barrier or situation can sometimes seem incredibly complex. But complexity implies it consists of different elements, smaller things.

Break it down into its individual pieces.

Tiny changes lead to real and sustained transformation. Are you ready to take that first step?

The Speech

“So, what do you really do?” has become a  frequently asked question since Corporate Elements was launched less than two weeks ago. My elevator speech is still evolving, but here is the original version:

I primarily offer coaching and development services. But the essence of my job is to partner with you to make you and your organization successful!

When it comes to working with individuals, I do this through assessment, coaching and leadership development. In situations that involve more than one person I provide facilitation, investigation, conflict resolution and training. When it comes to organizations, I offer a partnership to either:

a)      set or define a direction through services such as strategic planning or defining a strategic foundation (mission, vision, values), or

b)      develop or implement systems, processes or projects to execute on the existing strategy. This can be the researching or implementing technology such as an LMS or HRIS, supporting developing and implementing leadership development programs, conducting a comparative culture analysis, supporting M&A or a staff reduction, or developing and implementing a succession plan.

I tested this approach at a Chamber event earlier this week and, as you may already have guessed, quickly realized that my elevator speech will need some refinement. There are far too many words, and I struggled to hold people’s attention after the second sentence. Words like “successful” and “partnership” are too vague and may be perceived to be somewhat pretentious, despite the earnest intent that lies behind. So I will need to put some more thought into how I present myself.

The value in my work lies in recognizing what you, the customer, are concerned about and to help you grasp, rephrase and develop your thoughts, concerns, and goals into something that can be acted on, implemented, managed or achieved.

I would much rather listen to you talk about what concerns or excites you, than give you a speech that supposedly encompasses all that I can do.

So when we meet next time and you ask me what I do, maybe I will limit my answer to “coaching and development. So what do you do?” I would love to hear more about it.

Listening and giving advice

I’m pretty good at listening, at reflecting other people’s thoughts and perspectives, and at giving advice. It’s part of my personality, as well as my training as a social researcher, consultant, coach and conflict resolution professional. So when my younger sister asked me for advice on her new business venture I of course didn’t hesitate. This was a topic I was very familiar with, both from my own personal aspirations of starting on my own, as well as from working with other new and emerging companies. The advice I gave her was both professional and sound, yet the words I used felt hollow to me, without conviction. I pondered this for quite some time.

My sister is a talented and amazing person. In fact, this description would fit any one of my four siblings. Each of them has shown time and time again how they can persevere in times of hardship, rise again and shift direction, and excel both personally, professionally and academically. Yet observing how my sister has taken her ideas, how her ideas have grown and matured, and how she has been able to transform her dreams into action while also working to secure the future of the farm that has been the home of my family for generations…it’s impressive. And it’s inspiring. She is driven by a passion and a personal conviction that this is the right thing for her, her family, the legacy of past generations, and the community she is so much a part of. So she has launched her own business, and she is off to a great start!

Who am I to give advice on my sister’s new business? For several years I’ve had a business plan for a consulting venture. But for whatever reason I’ve never taken the leap. There has been many reasons of coursse – financial, family, work, time – but the truth is most likely that I never believed in it or wanted it enough. I’ve run out of excuses. The events over the last few years have made me understand that starting on my own is the right thing to do. And I have a wonderful wife who is encouraging me to do it. So, the only person holding me back is me.

It’s time for me to listen, and it’s time for me to take my own advice. I’m starting my own consulting business. Wish me luck!