Care, Attention, Competency

Care, Attention and Competency (CAC), these are the watchwords of the client service model for one of my Vistage member's business. This business is in the construction industry and as he explains, bottom line of what they deliver is service, not construction. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the progression (regression) from Better, Faster, Cheaper to simply faster and cheaper. So where does CAC come in? Perhaps as several of my readers responded, the bifurcation is already happening, certainly in the consumer world (think airlines premium seats/status vs. economy/discount seats), and beginning in the B2B world. If this is so, then in order to deliver better, CAC must become the standard. What exactly does this mean? For me it means, we meet the customer where they are, we provide care, in the manner they want us to show it. We give them our attention when they ask, and not wait until they demand it. And, we remind ourselves that competency, while...
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Perspective…

A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that reminded me how true it is that we see the world through our own perspective. So much so that our experience, in the exact same situation as someone else, can be entirely different. And it's not until we pause and sincerely try to see the world as the other person does that we can appreciate their perspective. Here's the story. A man I dated briefly, my first year of college, sent me a message through Facebook Messenger. At first, I wasn't sure who the sender was, after all, this was more than 40 years ago. After a while I remembered, so I responded and said hello. He wrote back telling me he was glad to be in touch because he owed me an apology. Turned out, from his perspective, when I transferred to another college we had an agreement that he was to join me. He didn't join me after all, he...
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Of Course I Embrace Diversity

How often do we hear people say that they embrace diversity, and then behave another way? As Ralph Waldo Emerson was fond of saying, "What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you say". My sense is this happens because most of the time embracing diversity is easy. It's not when folks are different from us that we are challenged, it's when folks do something different that it becomes difficult. As leaders, it is our job to create an environment that is accepting of everyone on the team so that the common organizational goals can be met. At the same time, in these polarized times, leaders are increasingly finding team members looking for those "doing differences" rather than looking for what they share simply by virtue of being human. The questions that come to mind for me are: how do we both set aside our differences, and at the same time embrace them, so that our organizations benefit from the broader thinking that diversity brings? how do we...
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Is There A Place For Vulnerability In Leadership?

  Over and over again, I have witnessed the power of vulnerability. A leader is up in front of the room and shows emotion, feels shame, and then discovers people are drawn to him or her instead. I have experienced the feeling myself, and I have been one of the people in the room, when the person in front was "real". After all, isn't authenticity what showing vulnerability is all about? Simply allowing others to see and feel how we feel? Giving them a chance to say, "me too" and empathize. Brene' Brown argues that one cannot have innovation and creativity without vulnerability. It's the willingness to take risks that is at the root of our willingness to be vulnerable. Said another way, it is the courage to be wrong, and then wrong again, that leads to discovery, that leads to innovation. And when a person who took the risks was wrong, and then wrong again, and then achieves success, shares their journey, the impact can...
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Healthy Mind, Healthy Body = Healthy Business

  I recently heard a CEO say “when I am healthy, my business is healthy”. And then over the weekend, I watched this TED talk Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid. I have been thinking about both the CEO’s statement and this TED talk in the context of CEOs I have known or observed over the years. My reflective observation is, he is right; there is a strong correlation between the health of the leader and the health of the business. In the public company arena, we see the impact on stock prices when the CEO becomes physically ill. In the private company arena, where most of the CEOs I work with reside, those that focus on their health and fitness are the ones that lead successful companies. I have watched CEOs move from poor mental and/or physical health to good health and back again and observed the company performance move in tandem. While a component of health is genetic and beyond...
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Is Coaching For Me Or For My Company?

  As a leadership coach, working with both CEOs and senior executives, I am sometimes faced with this question: Is leadership coaching for the individual or Are there specific results this individual is expected to produce for the company? For CEOs, the answer to this question is usually easy, the development a CEO gains from coaching usually has a direct correlation with results in their business. For a senior executive, the question is more complex, both for me and for their sponsoring manager. As with most things, getting clear upfront about your intentions and expectations will yield better results. Here are some questions to consider if you are either the senior executive or their sponsoring manager: Is coaching for your general professional development? Or are there specific expectations that coaching is expected to address and that you will be accountable for? What is the contract between you and your coach? What is the contract between you and your sponsoring manager? As the executive in coaching, how will I demonstrate or communicate progress to my manager? As the sponsoring manager, how do...
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Leadership Quote: Success Is All About Growing Others…

  December's leadership quote: "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." -Jack Welch While personal growth and development is lifelong, it is only through developing others that we achieve measurable results in our businesses. As a Vistage chair and leadership coach, I have the opportunity to observe every form of leadership. Here is what I see... it is those leaders that truly invest time and money in developing others that cross the dividing line from operator to leader. No coincidence that nearly 20% of Vistage members produce annual revenue >$50mm; while less than 1.5% of US companies overall produce more than $25M in annual revenue and less than .27% produce more than $100M. Elisa K. Spain...
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Thanks-Giving

  I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the "thanks" part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the "giving" part is equally so. We give thanks on Thanksgiving, go to the mall on Black Friday, and browse the web on Cyber Monday. Now, we have a day dedicated to giving back. On Giving Tuesday (this year on December 2), nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. In Illinois, Donors Forum, led by Eric Weinheimer (former member and friend of Vistage), is coordinating this initiative. They have one bold goal: #ILGIVEBIG, $12 million raised by Illinois nonprofits from 100,000 individual donors -- in one day. I also wanted to share...my matching gift opportunity. Many of you know about my passion for The CARA Program, a true social innovator (the only social purpose organization nominated for the Chicago Innovation Award). Right now, anyone who chooses to...
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The Oft Unheralded Challenge Of Change

  Leading change in an organization is full of challenges. Most of these challenges are associated with creating a vision, inspiring action, achieving buy-in, and sustaining the change. John Kotter, noted for his work on this topic, offers an 8 step process that offers an excellent roadmap. I am noticing a 1/2 step challenge of change, that while banal, can derail a change initiative when ignored. This oft unheralded challenge is simply that everyone hears through their own filter, and therefore the actions we see are not the actions we expected. Obvious perhaps, and yet when leading change, we sometimes think that things are not happening the way we want because people are resisting. Sometimes, they simply didn't hear or what they heard is different from what I thought I said or they need to hear it more than once; 7 times I have been told is the magic number or they need to do it more than once, or even twice, to "get it" or we simply...
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Can Co-Accountability Happen In Your Culture?

  In Vistage, and amongst leaders in general, we talk a lot about accountability. We use terms like "we need to hold them accountable", or "we need to hold ourselves accountable". One of our speakers, Balaji Krishnamurthy, often talks instead about co-accountability and how this practice is directly tied to producing results. The concept is simple. Members of a team, an organization, or even a Vistage group, are accountable to each other, to respect the values and agreements they have with each other. And, they call each other out for non-compliance. In short, the members of the team, take full responsibility for governance. The concept is simple, everyone nods their head in agreement and... the execution is hard. This co-accountability can happen in two ways: Balaji says the most effective way is in the moment, in the meeting. Option 2 is for members of the team to have a conversation outside the meeting, again, soon after the event. Yikes, some say, .... Is anyone really going to step...
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