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Sunday, June 27, 2021


 We're all in business, of one kind or another. 

Interestingly, all businesses have the same outcome as ultimate goal: to gain and hold "customers."

Also interestingly, there is ubiquitous similarity in the "secret sauce" of making that happen. To gain and hold "customers," we'd best figure out how to reliably do one very important thing: Make their lives and futures better.

Regardless of our vocation or avocation, if the service or product we deliver makes for better lives and futures for our customers, we prosper. And so do they. Most every other contextual element that surrounds that effort -- our processes, procedures, schedules, price points, inventory, workflow allocations, and organizational chart -- boil down to that very one thing. 

Imagine how much better and self-actualizing our "work" would be if we all started each day with crystal clear clarity around the WHY of what we do.

THAT is the essence of effective leadership -- keeping the attention of the organization persistently on that WHY. 

And yes, it's always much easier said than done (probably the very reason most folks don't).

Thursday, June 24, 2021


Full disclosure: Writing this post is a little painful as I look in the mirror and reflect on leadership lessons learned.

We've all know 'em. Most of us have worked for some of 'em. They're the group of folks who have been handed the leadership role in an organization and choose to operate in Control Freak mode.

Here are common outcomes that result from a Control Freak Leadership mindset:

> The stronger folks around us "stand down," waiting to be told what to do, when to do it, how to do it.

> The weaker folks around us gladly let us/others do all the work.

> Creativity, motivation, energy, synergy, and innovation grind certainly downward.

> The most talented team players quietly drift away from the organization.


Some worthy alternative energizing modalities for leaders are:

> Collaboratively paint and communicate a clear picture of the Vision of the organization.

> Encourage ALL members, regardless of role, to pursue that Vision with as much autonomy as possible.

> Invest more time/energy/resources in team growth than in team management.

> Relentlessly notice, acknowledge, praise, and incentivize those who take the "permission" given to achieve both exceptional results and learn-worthy fails.

> Continually seek feedback from all quarters, non-judgmentally, about "how things are going."

Control Freak-ness results in Performance Weak-ness. Dependably.

Sunday, June 20, 2021


 In recent years we have heard the word "makeover" used quite a lot. That word is loosely applied to the results gotten from a day at the spa, to buying and flipping a house, to restructuring one's financial portfolio, to ...........

The case for a complete makeover is often made per the perception that something "ain't working right" and the results we're getting (whether cosmetically, financially, organizationally, health wise) are no longer acceptable. 

Rarely, however, are complete makeovers and epiphany-driven changes warranted. Rarer still do they produce long-term results. Change takes place over time and is the result of incremental, intentional, and stubbornly disciplined effort. 

MakeBetters -- the purposeful approach of continuous improvement processes, made piece-by-piece, inch-by-inch, and day-by-day -- are the surest path to getting better, doing better, being better.

We are wise to pick a few, very important, elements of our life and work and purposefully move the needle in those areas. 

Betterness will surely happen, but almost never will it occur overnight.

Did I say disciplined?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

+++ >>> +++ >>>

The wisest leaders I know spend a LOT of time on the positive, and as little as possible on the negative. They are particularly purposeful in this respect when it comes to working with their teams.

These impactful leaders are astute discerners of the skills and acumen of team members, and very intentionally fashion the roles of teammates to fit their respective skills sets. Leaders of this ilk understand clearly that folks function best when they are able to leverage their "gifts" as opposed to trying to spend time compensating for their "deficits."

Thus, these results-oriented and smart leaders do several things that optimize the performance of individual team players (and, consequently, the organization):

-They relentlessly focus their attention, planning, and actions on the future.

-They lift up rather than beat down.

-They don't dig up old and buried bones of failures past.

-They constantly fashion work for others premised in Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose (see Daniel Pink's thoughts on this topic HERE).

-They regularly bite their tongues and ignore old wounds in the interest of progress for all.

-They understand that Positive and Forward are two sides of the same coin.

Leadership is not for sissies. Never has been.

Monday, June 14, 2021


 I recently read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World - - and Why Things are Better Than You Think by Rosling, et al (2018). 

In this book, Rosling and co-authors use a remarkable collection of data to identify and address numerous misperceptions that we typically hold regarding the current state of affairs in our world. To underscore these misperceptions he repeatedly compares the responses to survey items in his voluminous audiences (usually highly educated ones) to the response rates he gets on the same surveys when placed in front of chimpanzees. All too often, the chimpanzees outscored the humans. Actually, almost always. Uh oh!

My top takeaways from reading Factfulness:

·     Averages mislead us by hiding a range, often a very broad range, of numbers in a SINGLE number.

·     Beware comparisons of both averages ANDextremes.

·     Be very careful jumping to any conclusions if the data variances are less than 10%.

·     Bad news plays much better in the media than good news; that’s why we get so much of the former.

·     Trends in data almost always exist in curves; rarely ever in straight lines.

·     I/We are not normal; and other people are not idiots.

·     Categorizations are the same as generalizations, and they are usually misleading.

·     Change is almost always a very slow process, thus very difficult to see while it’s occurring.

·     Single perspectives are notorious liars; viewing problems from many different angles is the best path to a meaningful solution.

My favorite quote(s):

“I never trust data 100 percent, and you never should either.” (p. 50)

“The world cannot be understood without numbers. And it cannot be understood with numbers alone.” (p. 128)


“Factfulness is … recognizing when a scapegoat is being used and remembering that blaming an individual often steals the focus from other possible explanations and blocks our ability to prevent similar problems in the future. To control the blame instinct, resist finding a scapegoat.”  (p. 222)


“Factfulness is … recognizing when a decision feels urgent and remembering that it rarely is.” (p. 242)


This book was recommended to me by a colleague who noted that it completely changed the way he thought. It had a similar impact on me. I just love it when authors, speakers, teachers, wangateurs take my mind to new places. 


I highly recommend Factfulness

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


The wisest leaders I know are relentless focusers. Or, RE-focusers.

These leaders understand that their personal time, energy, and resources are finite. They know full well that they cannot do everything, meet with everybody, read every book, invest in every project, or attend every meeting.

Thus, these wise leaders decide with laser-like clarity the most important things in need of their attention (the late Stephen Covey described them as "the BIG rocks") and they relentlessly focus and re-focus on those elements of highest import.

The words, the calendars, the schedules, the efforts, and the expenditures of these wise leaders send an undeniably clear message about what they deem important. 

Failling to do so is what former Secretary of State Colin Powell describes as "mission creep," the inevitable dilution of our impact and effectiveness when we allow the myriad competitors for our attention to de-focus us.

Time to (re)FOCUS? 

Likely. Always.

Thursday, June 3, 2021


The late Dr. Hans Rosling did very impactful work during his lifetime - first as a physician, subsequently as a data analyst, finally as an evangelist for truth.

He told a story in his book Factfulness (2018) about serving as a young physician in a poverty-stricken country. Initially, he filled his very long days trying to treat and heal as many children as he could. Eventually, he came to the exhausted conclusion that he could heal far more children by teaching the parents some basic health habits that would interdict the antecedents of the illnesses that were killing their children.

In short, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

The wisest organizational leaders I know understand and apply this same logic. They purposefully spend the preponderance of their time teaching key players and implementing impactful systems aimed at interdicting the effectiveness killers of the organization - things like poor customer service, inventory bottle necks, bureaucratic time wasters, meaningless busy work, etc.

Upstream "health" habits dependably mitigate downstream "disease." This applies equally to both individual and organizational wellbeing.