Your Behaviors Build Your Brand Promise

As a leader, how much of your behavior is based on careful, thought out decisions? How much is spontaneous reaction? It’s an important question, as leaders are primarily known for how they act, especially in tough and trying situations. This goes both positively and negatively.

The leaders I know who have a strong brand promise have honed their personal skills to be reliable and trustworthy under pressure. They are calm, reasonable and poised. People put their faith in leaders who are a rock in a storm because this represents safety and security.

Leaders who demonstrate transparency and humility build a reputation for being trustworthy. Their brand stands out as a pleasant departure from a leadership norm that lacks these traits. Similarly, a brand of refinement and integrity is admirable. If you are a leader known for doing the right thing, being responsible for your actions, taking the heat and issuing credit, then your brand will rise to the top. Read More »

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Are You Looking Forward to 2021?

This has certainly been an “interesting” year. You know what that means, don’t you? Interesting is a clever euphemism for just plain terrible, troubling, turbulent, and torrential. The year of 2020 is the gift that keeps on giving. We have had a pandemic, politics in a fractious environment, riots, protests and even murder hornets. It just seems that the news is bad, and it keeps getting worse.

In my practice, I hear it over and over: “I can’t wait to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror”. Yet, when asked what was particularly bad about this year, what was happening to them personally, every person struggled to say what was individually bad about this year. Their families are all safe, they have meaningful work, their businesses are profitable, the sun shined when it was supposed to, and the rain fell, just like it always does. All of which leads me to want to share a few thoughts with you. Hopefully it will put it all in perspective.

• What anger, anxiety or bitterness are you carrying around with you? I was recently on a Zoom call with a group of people, and we were talking about our greatest fears. More than a few said that their greatest fear is about the future. We all have that in us, don’t we? We worry about things that we can do absolutely nothing about! Maybe it is my advanced age speaking, but no matter what happens, we are going to be all right! Things will work out the way they will work out. It may not be what we had imagined. We might need to change our plans—the only time God truly laughs is when we make plans! We have no idea what the future will bring, so why do we spend so much mindshare on it? It will be okay. You will be okay.

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What’s Your Story?: Your Individual Brand Promise

During the many years that I spent waiting in airport lines, I frequently found myself playing the game, “What’s Your Story?” You know the one: you try and guess a person’s profession or position based on how they look and act. Based on the reading and conversations I’ve had over the years, I know I’m not alone.

No matter how fair, unbiased or “woke” we are, we humans are wired to size others up, especially when it comes to leaders. The truth is we learn a lot about people just by glancing at their faces. We instantly spot who we prefer and who we don’t.

That’s why smart leaders create a unique, individual brand promise.

Your Trade Name

Your individual brand promise is what others can expect from you in every encounter. The more reliable you are to that promise, or expectation, the stronger your brand promise, and trade name.

A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies a product or service as distinct. If used for an organization as a whole, the preferred term is trade name. You are, with all your attributes, traits, skills—the way you think and behave—your trade name.

Leaders benefit by establishing a solid brand promise. This allows them to make the most of their skills and potential as they advance their career path. There are several key areas that formulate your brand promise and, when developed well, can take you to new heights. Read More »

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Check Your Mindset

I’m sure you’ve noticed that for some leaders, identity is defined from the outside-in, and requires external validation in one of three ways: relationship strength, intellect, or results. I think this is partly due to cultural messaging that occupation determines identity, and productivity indicates value. Technology often reinforces this mindset.

Leaders can be accessed virtually anywhere, whether they are on company property or not. As Peter Bergman rightly observes in Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018), the workplace is now everywhere. Leaders battle a boundary invasion, and their debased sense of value bleeds over into home life.

Great leaders know what they care about most.  They understand that their role at work is important, but not all-defining. It is not the basis of their self-worth. Family, friends, activities and personal growth provide satisfaction and help them to engage in all that they do with optimism and effectiveness. The key is not necessarily dividing their lives into work and non-work time, but finding a way to balance them such that they complement each other.

Look at ways to open up more non-work time with time management techniques at work. For example, establish a routine that helps you cover more bases in less time using the resources and staff available to you. Think ahead, anticipate demands and plan for multiple situations. This can reduce your stress and let you be fresher for the office and at home.

Similarly, more joy at home allows you to be more positive and fruitful at work. The most well-rounded leaders have found ways to enrich their relationships and activities at home, bringing more pleasure to life. Your family deserves more from you than what’s left over from what your employer takes. Many leaders have found that a richer work life is built on a foundation of a richer personal life.

Save your sanity and energy and bring a fresh approach to each day. If you check your mindset and maintain balance, you’ll have a more fulfilling identity and a richer purpose. These are the best paths to becoming all you can be as a leader.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here, or on LinkedIn.

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Mastering Leadership: Lead with Intention

Leaders are facing unprecedented levels of stress, dysfunction and disappointments, taxing their energy and productivity. Some leaders have even shared with me that keeping up with the chaos has become an acceptable achievement. But great leaders are strategic about their time and energy. They lead with intention.

You see, leaders can’t be busy just to be busy. Their time must count. In my work coaching executives, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have to guard their time, attention and fight off distractions.

What Matters Most

An intentional approach focuses on the most beneficial areas, and thinking can be one of them. You find what matters most by recognizing that the things bringing you the most joy are just as important as the things bringing the organization the most benefit. The intention is to pursue both. Read More »

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Hone Your Attention to Master Leadership

One of the problems people have in mastering leadership is the tyranny of the urgent—it’s difficult to think about the future and where you want to go when you’re focused on staying afloat. But when you hone your attention, you keep that from happening. It’s how great leaders focus on the things that matter most.

When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how preparing for the future should be a thoughtful and optimistic matter.

For example, time must be dedicated to evaluating the possibilities and potential. This means that you’ll need to split your time between current tasks and potential or future tasks. This doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split, but some kind of proportionate division, dependent on the circumstances. It comes down to deciding what to let go of in order to focus on the future. Read More »

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Create a Framework to Master Leadership

As a leader, what does it take for you to be successful, and have the career and life you really want? From what I’ve seen, I believe we need to create a framework for clarity. I introduced this in my last post.

You see, clarity of mind stands as a basic framework to hang other usable skills, and great leaders learn how to find it. Clarity is the ability to see things as they are with an accurate perception and understanding. It’s a freedom from uncertainty or confusion. It’s the skill to grasp fundamental truths and distinguish false alternatives.

In Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018), Peter Bregman writes that one of the most distinguishing character traits successful leaders possess is clarity. I agree. This encompasses not only reaching a state of clarity, but continuing to embody it. In other words, providing clarity to others is just as vital as establishing it within yourself. After all, what is the point of a leader being clear if no one else benefits from it? Read More »

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Mastering Leadership: From Effective Leader to Great Leader

Are you an effective leader, or a great leader?

Effective leaders have mastered leadership competencies like setting strategic direction, communicating a clear mission, monitoring resources and ensuring that processes, systems and people achieve results. In addition, the great leaders I have worked with assess what they do, why they do it, and how they can improve it. They periodically take a look at their beliefs, thinking, and motivations. This is not always an easy task.

With the rapidly changing competitive environment and new technologies, it’s hard to keep up. The time leaders can afford to spend on their leadership skills and personal growth seems to shrink every year. All the while, leaders are under increasing pressure to make their companies all they can be, with little time taken to making themselves all they can be. How they go about mastering leadership is key. Read More »

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Great Leaders Address Weakness

In the organizations where I consult, I remind leaders that even the strongest, most talented people have flaws and weaknesses. Since the most damaging leadership liabilities have to do with the inability to work well with their people, leaders benefit best by making effective relationships a priority.

You see, the greatest challenge in minimizing these kinds of liabilities is to find an optimal balance between a focus on tasks and relationships. Anderson and Adams point this out in Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most (Wiley, 2019). This is easier said than done.

Great leaders address weaknesses with self-awareness and an understanding of their character and liabilities. A trusted confidant can offer a different perspective and help you take a deeper look. This may be a close colleague or better yet, a qualified executive coach who has an impartial mindset. Read More »

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Emotional Deficiencies

Understanding the role of emotional deficiencies in leadership is critical in today’s corporate environment. Employees look to their leader to establish safety and trust; they expect emotionally healthy leadership. Leaders accomplish this in part with behavior that is rational, calm, logical and wise.

Leaders who portray a solid, steadfast source of guidance and direction earn the trust of their people. The opposite is true for leaders who can’t control their emotions when the pressure hits. Employees question their security when their leader doesn’t put the team first. Read More »

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