The Problem With Coaching

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer,N2growth

The Problem with CoachingToday’s rant has been building inside me for a while now. The text that follows is not going to sit well with a number of those in my profession, but hey, that’s never stopped me before. During a recent interview I was asked how I felt about the coaching profession – I jokingly referred to myself as a coaching heretic, and went on to say that I really don’t like the word “coach” as a descriptor for what I do. The truth is that while I absolutely love what I do for a living, I’m not overly enamored with the industry norms and status quo. With that said, I decided to devote today’s post to providing a bit of context to the soundbites noted above. In the text that follows I’m going to share my perspective on why I believe the we need to rethink the definition of coaching…

I think it’s a healthy thing for all of us to take stock of our profession from time-to-time.  Each and every one of us needs to do a gut check on whether the industry we choose to be a part of is moving in the right or wrong direction, whether our personal efforts are contributing to the advance or decline of our profession, and in the case of coaching, the advance of decline of our clients. So I have a question for you, and I want you to be brutally honest with your answer – when you hear the word “coach” used outside the world of sports, what’s your gut reaction? Probably the same as mine – not so good.

Coaching is one of the fastest growing professions on the planet. I did a quick Google search for the term business coach and received 116 million returned results – if that doesn’t scare you it should. There is literally no barrier to entry into the coaching profession and it shows. While you need no credentialing to be a coach, you will find no shortage of organizations willing to sell you their certifications. Any number of franchised coaching offerings can be purchased at affordable prices, numerous affliliations with the hot coaching brand du jour are available for the asking, or if all else fails, coaches can just go it alone as a solo practitioner – the more the merrier right?

One of my major pet peeves with coaching is all the trifling and hair-splitting that goes on with defining what a coach is or is not. There is a real elitist attitude that pervades the industry which tends to be process oriented rather than client oriented. In my opinion this is a huge mistake. A coach is a professional who better be capable of meeting client needs and expectations by using any number of different methodologies based upon the specifics of the situation at hand. Let me be as blunt as I can – coaching is not about the coach, it’s about the client. It’s not about the process, it’s about results. It’s not about definitions, it’s about people.

Coaching is about delivering what the client needs  – it is not about a cute set of questions you picked-up during a certification class.  The problem with the coaching profession is that as a general rule it is a widely held belief (at least by coaches) that a good business coach need not have specific business expertise and experience in the same field as the person receiving the coaching in order to provide quality business coaching services. Hmmm…Furthermore, it is also generally accepted that coaching rests on the professional use of a specific range of linguistic skills such as targeted restatements and the judicious use of powerful questions with the aim to help clients shift their perspectives on an issue or ambition, and thereby “discover” different solutions and options, in order to achieve their goals.

Okay, let me see if I understand this…a good coach doesn’t necessarily need any experience, but if they’re a really good listener, can restate what their client tells them, and ask a few good questions, then they can miraculously lead a client to the ah-ha moment that transforms their life and their career. I could go on, but my guess is that you’re starting to get a sense for my frustration.

Maybe I’m old school, but attempting to provide advice and counsel to a client without having the experience of walking in their shoes is a recipe for disaster. I have had more than a few engagements that have come about as a result of the need to repair the carnage and devastation that occurred from the implementation of advice put forth, or the ideas generated by a well intentioned yet unqualified “coach”.

From my perspective a coach needs to possess the experience and track record to be whatever the client needs them to be, and to play whatever role will add the most value to the client. Coaching isn’t about esoteric definitions, scripted questions or canned processes. Rather it’s about having the time tested experience to make a difference. If as a coach, you don’t have the experience to guide someone through the varied contextual nuances and situational complexities that exist in any business environment, then you have no business pretending that you do.

As I mentioned earlier, I really don’t like the terms coach and mentor as descriptors for what I do as those labels tend to give a very limited impression of what it takes to deliver results for clients. Sure, in some cases I coach and mentor, but most of my clients simply view me as their closest personal advisor. The best coaches I know are capable of delivering a blend of personal and professional advice. They are able to play the role of ambassador, emissary, influencer, coach, facilitator, expediter, lobbyist, buffer/shield, crisis manager, negotiator, publicist, strategist, tactician, mentor, consultant, counselor, collaborative thinker and in some cases partner, based upon what the client needs.

Bottom line…good advisors make things happen and get things done at the behest of their clients for the purpose of enabling the accomplishment of anything ranging from a single task to a lifelong goal. They do what the client requires of them where qualified, and if they don’t possess the needed skill sets, competencies and experience they should not take the assignment. It’s just that simple. I don’t really care whether the client is aided by mentoring, teaching, development, training, counseling, coaching, consulting or a mix of all the above – I just care that they receive real results.

Now that I’ve stated my case, it’s time for you to weigh-in…what say you?

Related Post: The Leadership Vacuum

Culture Trumps Strategy – Not

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Culture Trumps Strategy - NOTDoes culture trump strategy? I think not, and I’ll explain why. Even though I have seen this phrase quoted by some very bright people whom I respect, it just doesn’t resonate with me. I thought perhaps I was misunderstanding what was being said, so I decided to Google the phrase “Culture Trumps Strategy” and found that Stanford offered an Entrepreneurship Lecture by this title, I found several CEOs using the phrase in speeches, press releases, etc., I even found a few blogs espousing the mantra of “Culture Trumps Strategy.” Could this just be an issue of semantics? Maybe it’s just a nice politically correct soundbite that gets some good play, or is it simply flawed logic? I’ll frame the debate – you decide.

Since when are a healthy culture and sound business strategy bifurcated? Great corporate cultures are intentional – they are built by design. While I suppose that a great culture could somehow evolve by default or osmosis, I have yet to observe it. Creating a healthy culture is a matter of making it a focus point within the corporate values, vision, mission and strategy. Put simply, a corporation’s strategy that ignores, or only pays lip service to culture, will be the beneficiary of the toxic environment they deserve.

Even if a company lucks its way into a good culture, I would suggest it will not be sustainable without being part of the core business strategy. Culture formed by the moment, will also change by the moment, and ulitmately it will disappear in a moment. Back in the dot.com days I watched many a young enterprise suffer from placing culture ahead of strategy, or worse, even focusing on culture in lieu of strategy. When the marketplace began to see through the spin and the vapor, all the ping-pong tables and funky offices in the world couldn’t save a flawed business model…The fun was over and the culture ceased to exist.

The sad reality is that as in the dot.com example mentioned above, culture run amok can kill companies. Many a company has put so much emphasis on culture that culture simply became their business as opposed to strengthening their business. All the perks and benefits in the world won’t cause a company to thrive if not governed by sound core values, which have been wrapped into a vision that can be strategically and tactically implemented. Business should be fun. The workplace should be comfortable and safe, and time spent on the job  should add value to a person’s life. Culture is important – it is very important. But if culture is developed outside of strategy, if it’s not driven by strategy, then said culture can become a very dangerous intoxicant.

Every vibrant, healthy, inspiring, innovative, and positive corporate culture I’ve witnessed has occurred not because culture has been placed ahead of strategy, but because it has been a key driver of the corporate strategy. Why does everything in today’s world have to be framed within an exclusionary either/or proposition? I’ve consistently found that the best scenarios are the ones that allow you to have your cake and eat it too. Why separate culture from strategy to their mutual demise, when culture is secured, enhanced, and sustained by sound strategy?

My belief is that those who toss around this nice little sound bite are really just attempting to highlight the importance of culture. If they really believe what they’re saying, then how could they possess corporate values, vision, mission, and strategy that doesn’t include culture as a main point of focus?

Bottom line: I’m not sure that the collective body of those who have uttered the mantra of “Culture Trumps Strategy” actually disagree with me on anything other than how we choose to express our views. Therein lies my caution…I’m fearful that people who don’t have the experience or intuition to read between the lines of a short quote, or a 140 character Tweet, might be misled by the simplicity of the appeal. This is why I took the time to author today’s post. In reality, Culture does not Trump Strategy, rather they work together to enhance the success of one another. It’s not really strategy vs. culture, but an aligned strategy and culture that matter. What say you?

Questions and Team Building

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Question and Team BuildingAn army of one isn’t really much of an army is it? And I can assure you that any CEO who views him/herself as an army of one will fail. Whether you like it or not, your success as a CEO will be largely tied to your team building ability. Not only do great CEOs understand how to recruit a top executive team, but they also understand how to build cohesion among team members through collaboration while addressing specific situational and contextual needs. Great CEOs realize the importance of being consistently, purposefully and intensely engaged with their CXOs. They understand how to effectively deploy these highly productive and valuable team members to create tremendous leverage and velocity across the enterprise. In today’s post I’ll share the questions that great CEOs use to align the interests and focus the efforts of their executive team…

It is not uncommon when working with new clients that I find very fractured executive teams where team members more frequently work against one another, rather than with one another (see “Managing Tough Relationships“). I often observe ego centered conflicts among senior executives, which turn into a competition for turf, budget, power, influence, control, and ultimately survival. As a CEO you can either pit your executives against one another, or have them collaboratively engage in supporting one another for the overall good of the enterprise. An executive team that actually embraces the concept of collaboration will substantially out perform a silo-centric executive team focused on empire building.

Great CEOs not only view their interactions with team members as coaching and mentoring opportunities, but also as learning opportunities for themselves. If as a leader you don’t take the time to get to know your team members on a very personal basis you simply won’t build the trust necessary to successfully weather the seasons of leadership. Because all leaders face good times and bad, it is essential that strong, caring, and loyal relationships are established so that candor and collaboration can occur irrespective of the situation at hand. 

I read a great post yesterday by Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak) in which he asked: “what’s the most powerful question of all?” My belief is that there is no perfect question, just the right question for the moment. The comment I left on Dan’s post was as follows: 

“Thought provoking post to be sure…However my belief is that the most powerful question of all is the one that works within the context of the situation at hand. The question must be appropriate to the person(s) being addressed, the timing must be spot-on, but most importantly it must unlock the door to reveal the needed input/feedback/information.

Relying on any single question to serve as the omnibus catch-all question is dangerous. I’m not sure what the most powerful question in the world is, but I know that the most powerful question of the moment changes frequently…”

Therefore in the text that follows I’ll provide you with a resource that is immediately actionable, and highly productive – a list of questions that can be used across situations, constituencies and reporting lines. I have found that one of the most effective ways for CEOs to lead their senior executives is by helping them refine and justify their reasoning through the use of intelligent questions. This serves to not only align interests and areas of focus, but also to facilitate the exchange of insights, and to acquire useful knowledge and information – it also builds stronger relationships. Contrary to the beliefs of some, dialog is a healthy thing. I strongly recommend to all CEOs that they routinely ask team members the following questions: 

  • Why? (my personal favorite and the most powerful one word question on the planet)
  • How can I help you with that? What do you need from me in order to make that happen?
  • That’s an interesting thought, what process did you go through to reach that conclusion?
  • What’s our biggest risk in this, and what’s your fallback position? 
  • What if we did nothing at all, what would happen?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What does this accomplish for us?
  • If we fail in this can we live with that?
  • How does this add value to our <<fill in the blank>>?
  • Can you give me a bit more detail on the logic used to arrive at your <<costs, timing, return estimates, etc.>>?
  • How will this impact <<individual, team, business unit, competitive advantage, brand perception, customer satisfaction, etc.>>?
  • What are the greatest challenges you face in pulling this off, and how do you plan to deal with them? 
  • Where do you see “X” account in <<insert time period>> and what can we do to (improve customer satisfaction, increase influence with key stakeholders, increase the life-cycle value,  etc.)?
  • Which markets, partners, clients, or other opportunities can add significant value to our business?
  • What specific steps can you take to increase your area’s contribution margin? 
  • Does this add value to our core business? How? Why?
  • Does this effectively and efficiently support our values, vision, and strategy? How? Why?
  • What can you offer as validation of proof of concept? 
  • What motivates <<insert person’s name>>? What’s really important to them?
  • What will be the key performance indicators for this? How will we measure them, and what hurdles do we need to hit to be successful?
  • Do you have the necessary resources (financial, technology, talent, infrastructure, etc.) to hit your objectives?
  • How can we improve the risk management, governance, control, and reporting functions for this?
  • Why should we make this investment? How does it drive revenue, profit, brand equity, competitive advantage, etc. What are the potential risks vs. possible rewards and what is the downside of not making the investment?
  • What are your biggest obstacles and barriers to success? What are your plans to deal with them and what do you need from me?
  • Are all your resources properly aligned and connected?
  • What are the weakest points in your area and how do you plan to deal with them?
  • Who are your strongest leaders and how are you developing them to handle more responsibility?
  • What are you doing to attract new talent?

While the aforementioned list of questions is clearly not exhaustive, it offers some insight into where a CEO should focus their efforts and attention…Perhaps best of all it places you in a constant position of being an active listener, learner, and mentor. If you have a favorite question(s) you use to focus and/or refine your team’s thinking that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below…

Humility and Leadership

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Humility and LeadershipNews Flash – the phrase “humble leadership” is not an oxymoron. While many people immediately conjure-up an image of the ever so confident, bombastic extrovert without an ounce of humility as the picture of what constitutes a real leader, nothing could be further from the truth.  As my wife has always said, “Those who talk the most usually have the least to say.” While feigned humility is the height of insincerity, authentic humility is the most sincere form of confidence and strength. Leaders need to understand that being authentically humble humanizes them, allows them to build stronger trust bonds, and engenders confidence & loyalty from peers and subordinates alike. In today’ post I’ll share my thoughts on the value of learning to become a humble leader…

It’s been said that life is a long lesson in humility. As a leader, the sooner you come to grips with your humility the better leader you’ll become. Over the years I have come to believe that “having class” is synonymous with demonstrating a penchant for humility over bravado. True leaders possess a quiet confidence that attracts attention like a magnet. It is the genuine nature of their subtle & quiet charisma/presence, and not the decibel level of their rhetoric that draws you in. True self-confidence is reflected in a person’s deeds and actions, and not in their ability to boast. One of the worst things a leader can do is to let their ego write checks their talent can’t cash…

Humility is actually the trait that magnifies all other positive attributes. Without humility all of a leader’s other strengths become diminished if not invisible. It’s been said that greatness lies not in trying to be somebody, but in trying to help somebody. Humility also happens to be the surest sign of authenticity in someone who claims to be a servant leader. Is it possible to be a leader without being humble? Sure it is…but it is much, much more difficult, rarely sustainable, and leaders who lack humility are always called into question with regard to motives and agendas.

When you think of a true leader do you envision someone who displays a quiet confidence or a blatant arrogance?  While a reserved attitude of humility can often be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness, if you’ve ever negotiated with a truly confident person who is authentically humble, you’ll find that their resolve is often much greater than the feigned confidence of the arrogant. While hubris can be a needed trait to call upon at times, to rely solely upon it as the foundation of your leadership style just doesn’t work. It was C.S. Lewis who said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking about yourself less.” Simply put, humble leaders recognize and value the contributions of others in lieu of self-promotion.

The truth of the matter is that few things have inspired and motivated me over the years like the quiet confidence and humility of great leaders. I would much rather listen to the self-deprecating humor of a confident person making fun of themselves than the mean spirited attacks of an arrogant person waged at someone else’s expense. More importantly, I would much rather work for, or along side of, the understated than the overstated. Those professionals who have self respect, and demonstrate a true respect for others regardless of their station in life, are much more likely to be successful over the long-term than those who use the tactics of disrespect to humiliate and intimidate.

Contrary to popular folklore, it’s important to note that nice guys & gals don’t finish last. Leaders who display authentic humility have broader spheres of influence, attract better talent, engender more confidence, and earn more loyalty and respect than do those leaders who rely solely upon their chutzpa and their ability to brandish their bravado. If what you’re seeking is lasting relationships, long-term success, and a better quality of life (in and out of the workplace) then you’ll be well served to forgo the pompous acts of the arrogant, and substitute the humility and quiet confidence displayed by true leaders.

If you have any interesting stories about leaders who either possessed great humility, or were sorely lacking in that regard, I’d encourage you to share your experience by leaving a comment below. Thanks in advance for sharing…

What All Great Leaders Have In Common

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The secret of all great leaders: ReadingAll great leaders have one thing in common: They read voraciously. Did you know that the average American only reads one book a year? Worse than this is the fact that 60% of average Americans only get through the first chapter. Contrast this with the fact that CEOs of Fortune 500 companies read an average of four to five books a month. Even more impressive is that some of the most successful leaders throughout history were known to read one book every single day. Bottom line…If you’re a leader and not an avid reader, you’re wrong. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on the value of reading…

If the statistics in the opening paragraph didn’t convince you of the power of reading, here are a few more telling observations for your consideration – according to our surveys at N2growth, a very large common denominator shared by executives who feel that they are not achieving the level of success they feel capable of, is that many of them are “too busy to keep up with their reading.” Hmmm…. Furthermore, studies show that active readers are likely to have annual incomes more than 5 times greater than those who spend little or no time reading. Do I have your attention yet?

Up until a few years ago Rick Warren read a book every single day. Abraham Lincoln who only had one year of formal education credited his appetite for reading with his success. Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to actually read two books a day. Thomas Jefferson had one of the most exhaustive personal libraries of his time prior to donating it to the Library of Congress (which many joked Roosevelt had read). The moral of my story continues to be that in order to be a great leader, you absolutely must be a great reader. 

As an advisor to CEOs, there is little doubt that I’m passionate about personal and professional development, and there is one simple reason why – it works. Great leaders are like a sponge when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new skill sets, and the constant refinement of existing competencies. To the person, the best leaders I know are prolific readers. The most successful people I know consume written content at a pace that far exceeds that of the average person. My message today is a simple one – if you want to improve your station in life, as well as the lives around you – read more.

While there are certainly numerous ways to learn (observation, experience, classroom instruction, relational interactions, etc.), I am a huge fan of the benefits of professional development gained from good old-fashioned reading. Someone once said “you are what you read” and while I think there is far more to the equation of our individual make-up than our choice of reading material, the statistics mentioned above prove there is also an element of truth contained in the aforementioned quote.

If I told you how much time I spend reading and researching you probably wouldn’t believe me, but suffice it to say, I am a voracious reader. I will often read a book in one sitting, have more than a dozen books presently underway on my Kindle, subscribe to online clipping services, use RSS feeds to scour news groups & forums, I devour social content on blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, various iPhone apps, etc., and this is in addition to reading a variety of industry publications and periodicals.

With what I’ve noted thus far I’m always amazed at the number of executives who don’t keep up with their professional reading. To be blunt, I have little patience for those leaders who are “too busy” or “too smart” or “too important” to learn. Put simply, if you’re not learning you have no business leading. How can you possibly be expected to grow an organization if you’re not growing yourself? How can you accept the responsibility to develop a team if you’re not developing yourself?

The greatest leaders throughout history have been nothing short of relentless in their pursuit of knowledge. If you are anything less then you are not only cheating yourself, but you’re also cheating your organization.  I believe Michelangelo said it best when he uttered the words “Ancora Imparo” which when translated from the Italian means “I am still learning.” By the way, his first public use of this phrase was noted to have been on his 87th Birthday. I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning. Moreover, the day I stop reading, the day I stop learning – that’s the day I stop leading and likely the day I stop breathing. 

Let me be clear that when I speak of acquiring knowledge, I’m not promoting intellectual elitism, rather I’m espousing the benefits that are derived by those who have a true and sincere passion for learning…there is a difference. Intellectual elitists are by-in-large braggarts that acquire knowledge (or feign possession thereof) for public acclaim and their own self-promotion. Learning serves little purpose for leaders if it is not actionable. If you acquire knowledge, yet choose not to use it for the benefit of others then you’re not a leader, you’re self indulgent. 

In concurrence with Michelangelo’s quote above, I have never been a believer in the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  In fact quite to the contrary, I believe anyone (yes I mean anyone) can change/learn/grow/develop given one prerequisite; the desire to do so. When it comes to topic of learning, it has been my experience that there are generally three types of people: those who constantly seek to acquire knowledge, those who think they already know it all, and those who just don’t care. What distinguishes members of one group from another rarely has anything to do with intellect, wealth, social pedigree, career standing, or other like pursuits…It has everything to do with desire.

Reading should not be something that is done when you’re bored, or have nothing better to do, rather it needs to be incorporated into your daily regimen. I have personally worked with literally hundreds of C-suite executives and without question the most successful professionals are those that constantly seek out learning opportunities and who are voracious readers. They realize the importance of learning and make reading a priority. Think of the business leaders that have had the biggest positive impact in your life, and I’m sure you’ll find that these individuals were in constant search of new and better information. They use the information acquired through reading in order to inspire, motivate, and lead those around them.

The question is not if you should be reading, but rather what should you be reading? With the plethora of reading material on the market today it is not a simple thing to make sure that you’re covering all the bases in a time efficient fashion. Therefore the following tips were designed to help you get the most out of your reading while maintaining efficiency in your reading efforts:

Books: My first piece of advice is that if you don’t own a Kindle or other e-reader, go get one. It’s much easier to have your reading material in one completely portable, digitally organized reader than it is to go old school and tote your books and magazines with you. 

Periodicals, Trade Publications and Industry Journals: Again, not being able to address the specific needs of each reader, you must make your own choices here as well. However being aware of industry trends, competitive positioning, who the thought leaders are, etc. are all critical to your success. Pick the top couple of publications in your industry, sector, vertical or micro-vertical and pour-over the content looking for opportunities to exploit. Most print publications now also have Internet versions, Kindle editions, or digital newsletters that can be subscribed to as well.

Digital Media: If you’re reading this post then you probably understand the value of blogs, but don’t ignore, other forms of social content like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin Groups, Forums, and News Portals. Don’t forget information that can be gleaned from services like Google Alerts and other online clipping services and aggregators. What I particularly like about this genre is that it is often “real time” information as opposed to other mediums that have a built in latency factor.  Another benefit is that much of the content produced in this medium is not from the typical industry pundits, but rather true “in the trenches” thought leaders that see things coming long before journalists report it in the news, or the so-called gurus publish it in their latest book. This medium has been my preferred reading choice for a number of years now because it is extremely productive and time effective. I subscribe to these venues because I’m able to be “pushed” content that I’ve asked for in a medium that I enjoy. If you are not a heavy consumer of online information you are truly missing the boat.

Whether young or old, experienced or inexperienced, the best way to approach personal and professional development is to always stay in the learning zone. When you think you have all the answers is when you are headed straight for the proverbial brick wall. That said, most things in life happen as a result of choices we make…It is clearly within your grasp to make the choice to gain an understanding of what it is that you don’t know, and determine how you want to deal with that situation. My recommendation is simple, if you want to increase you income, your impact or your influence, then I would suggest you increase your reading. 

If you have any additional tips, or want to recommend any great books, please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. Here’s an idea – just like the popular use of “what’s on your iPod” to share what music people are listening to, how about sharing what’s on your Kindle?

Leadership, Fear & Failure

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

“Fear” and “Failure” are NOT dirty words, but you’ll find most leaders treat them as such. They go out of their way to hide their fears and explain away their failures rather than confront them and learn from them. One of my pet peeves is the current trend of labeling fear as a weakness and failure as unacceptable. In fact, things have gone so far that the word failure is quickly being removed from our business vocabulary altogether. Failure has been hi-jacked by the politically correct and rebranded as challenge, obstacle, barrier, set-back, a miss, development opportunity, and any number of other watered-down substitutes. In today’s post I’ll examine the necessary and acceptable relationships between fear, risk, failure and success.

Fear in and of itself is not a bad thing, rather it is how a person chooses to cope with fear that will determine its effect on their life. Ask anyone who has ever been in combat and they’ll tell you that it is their innate and often heightened sense of fear that helped to keep them alive. A good soldier doesn’t give into fear, but they learn to respect and manage their fear so that it acutally becomes their ally and not their adversary.

Show me someone who fears nothing and I’ll show you someone who lacks judgment. Show me someone who has fears but refuses to admit them and I’ll show you someone who has an issue with pride and arrogance. Fear doesn’t make you weak, nor does it mean that you lack in faith or ability, it just means you’re human. I learned long ago that fear is a warning sign that needs not to be ignored or hidden, but understood and addressed. I have fears and so do you, so why not bring them out into the light of day and deal with them. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll be better of for doing so – I am.

So, what’s the greatest fear possessed by leaders? It has been my experience that the greatest fear most professionals struggle with is the fear of failure. In fact, it is often times this fear of failure that governs how much risk a business person will take, and in turn how successful (or not) they are likely to become.

The same principles discussed above with regard to dealing with your fears also applies to topic of failure. Everyone reading this post has failed, and I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to have more failures in your future. Life will become much easier to navigate when you learn to accept failure as healthy and normal. From my perspective, when my life is void of failures I’m not growing, developing, stretching, or pushing. Put simply, if I’m not failing then I’m not trying. I’ve experienced lots of failures and I’m better for them.

Most professionals don’t naturally associate the words “success” and “failure” as having anything to do with one another. However under the right circumstances, failure is absolutely the best experiential learning tool available. Furthermore, I would go so far as to say failure is an essential element of becoming successful. In fact, if you show me a professional who has never experienced failure, I’ll say that professional either hasn’t tried hard enough or is very new to the world of business.

One of my favorite lessons in the world of overcoming failures, and understanding the value of persistence, is what can be learned from looking at the life of Abraham Lincoln. Born into poverty, Mr. Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout most of his life. He twice failed in business, lost eight different elections and suffered a nervous breakdown. The following bullet points have been printed in numerous publications over the years, and represent Lincoln’s chronological path to the White House:

  • 1816: Lincoln’s family lost their home and he had to quit school to support them.
  • 1818: His mother passed away.
  • 1831: He failed in business.
  • 1832: He ran for state legislature and lost, also lost his job, and while he wanted to go to law school he couldn’t get in.
  • 1833: He borrowed money to start a new business and was bankrupt by the end of the year. He spent the next 17 years paying off the debt.
  • 1834: He ran for state legislature again and this time he won.
  • 1835: He was engaged to be married and his fiance died.
  • 1836: Mr. Lincoln suffered a total nervous breakdown and spent six months in bed.
  • 1838: He sought to become speaker of the state legislature and was again defeated.
  • 1840: He sought to become elector and was defeated.
  • 1843: Lincoln ran for Congress and lost.
  • 1846: He ran for Congress again and this time he won.
  • 1848: Lincoln lost his re-election race for Congress.
  • 1849: He sought the position of land officer in his home state and was turned down.
  • 1854: Lincoln ran for the US Senate and lost.
  • 1856: He sought the Vice-Presidential nomination and lost receiving less than 100 votes.
  • 1858: He ran yet again for the US Senate and lost.
  • 1860: Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

It was in fact Abraham Lincoln who later said: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Lincoln was obviously someone who was more focused on pursuing his goals than being guided by a fear of failure. Thomas Edison failed more than 1000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb, and he was later quoted as saying: “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

I have a strong belief that fear of failure is far more damaging than failure itself. While successful people overcome their fear of failure, fear absolutely incapacitates unsuccessful people. Over the years I have witnessed business people, who but for being guided by fear of failure, would have likely been very successful. It was Mark Twain who said: “Courage is resistance to and mastery of fear–not the absence of fear.”

Failure is really a matter of reason and perspective. I have met individuals ranging in perspective from those who believe anything short of perfection is failure, to those who don’t consider anything to be a failure. It is not where you fall on the risk spectrum that matters, rather it is how you learn to overcome your fears and manage risk that will determine how successful you will become. My nature is to be somewhat conservative, but I learned long ago that if I were to allow myself to be guided by my fears I would have very few successes. I am a classic example of someone who has learned to manage risk in order to assuage my fears, which in turn allows me to pursue activities that lead to success.

All people have the ability to gain control over their fear of failure by simply defining their tolerance for risk, and then using their new risk tolerance definition to manage their “fight or flight” tendencies. For years I have subscribed to using the following acronym to help overcome fear and manage risk:

Focus: Focus on your values, vision, mission, strategy, goals, tactics and processes. Clarity of thought and attention to detail will take you where you want to go. Don’t focus on failure; focus on success.

Explore: Search out your fears and confront them. Be willing to learn from your fears. I have learned far more from my fears and failures than I ever have from my victories. Introspective thinking is one of the most productive things you can do to advance your learning.

Assess: This is your time to innovate…Take stock of what you learn during times of self-assessment, failure analysis, introspective thinking and research. There is nothing wrong with failure assuming that you learn from it, leverage it, and not fall prey to the same mistakes in the future.

Respond: Develop a bias toward action…Use focus, exploration, and assessment to develop actionable steps to managing risk and achieving your goals. You can accomplish great things through action and few things through inaction.

Bottom line…Don’t be limited by your fears or your failures. The truth is that most fears possessed by individuals are likely self-imposed, and in fact rarely have a factual basis. There is an old axiom that states fear is an acronym for False Expectations Assumed Real. The reality is that most failures are simply stepping stones to future success. Get focused, harness your fears, leverage your fears, and take action. To your continued success…

I’d love your thoughts and comments, and if you willing share a fear or failure and how you overcame them – maybe you’ll help someone who’s presently struggling with the same issue…

Social Media Demystified

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Social Media DemystifiedI had a few conversations this week that caused me to realize that as much as social media has evolved, there still remains mass amounts of confusion around the topic of social media. Given the prolific amounts of misinformation in circulation, I thought it worthwhile to repost this piece. If you find all the noise around social media to be confusing, rest assured that you’re not alone. If you’re among the group of active users who no longer find it confusing, but still haven’t hit your stride, you’re also in good company. Blogging since 2002, being actively involved in digital marketing since the early 90’s, and being online since the days of the ARPANET I have a bit of history with most things digital.  What’s interesting to me is that with every major advancement in the web comes a mixed bag of apathy, over exuberance, confusion, chicanery and even outright skulduggery that makes life much more complicated than it needs to be. In today’s post I’ll bust a few myths, reveal an evil secret or two, and share with you what you need to know in order to be successful with social media…

Understanding the Context
Let me cut right to the chase – business is fluid. Successful businesses adapt to market innovations and thrive, while those that fail to make iterative leaps fall by the wayside. With each major advancement in technology, communications, or business practice we find ourselves yet again at this all too familiar precipice. If you adapted to desktop computers, fax machines, cell phones and the Internet, then I suggest you need to view social media as the next progression on the continuim of advancement. When markets make a major move, you either move with them or get run over by them. As a leader how can you make good decisions, set the vision and model behavior for something you don’t understand or participate in?

What the Soothsayers Want You to Believe
Have you ever noticed that profiteers seem to congregate around the complex, or at least what they can alter to appear as complex? Anytime new advances can be spun into something bewildering or beguiling there are fortunes to be won and lost. Regrettably, there seem to be legions of social media “experts” who take great delight in unnecessarily complicating something that is really not complex at all. Allow me to let you in on an evil little secret – social media is really quite simple.

While I’m not going to deny that social media brings with it new tools, platforms and communication channels, I vehemently object to the premise that you need to morph into an uber geek or communications savant to learn to use them and to reap their many benefits. Spare me the complex charts & diagrams, and the trite commentary from the latest guru. What’s needed is less smoke and mirrors and more common sense. As you’ll see below, social media is nothing more than leveraging technology and resources to communicate with meaningful constituencies in meaningful ways – How could that possibly be a bad thing?

The Evil Secret Revealed
The simple reality is that social media has way more to do with common sense than it does with rocket science. Let me make this as simple as I can…social media simply provides you with tools and channels that allow you to extend your reach and better engage those with whom you wish to communicate. What’s so complicated and confusing about tools that put you right where you’ve always wanted to be, and perhaps more importantly, right where you need to be?

Forget all the buzzwords and acronyms, social media is about meeting your constituencies where they are – in a setting of their choosing, and communicating with them on their terms. Social Media affords you an exceptional opportunity to listen, gather intelligence, build trust, engender confidence and credibility, publish valuable content and have meaningful dialog in ways that were once thought to be impossible. Social Media doesn’t make things more complex, rather it reduces things down to the ultimate level of simplicity. It’s really this simple…if it’s not a priority for you to efficiently and effectively engage with your stakeholders, then you need to reevaluate your priorities.

The Key to Success
Success or failure in social media is nothing more than making a simple set of good choices. You must choose to get off the sideline and into the game, then you must choose to endure the learning curve, and finally you must choose to deploy the needed resources to be successful. Let me be very clear here – as the CEO or entrepreneur, YOU and not your legal counsel, marketing director, ad agency or PR firm must make this choice. Don’t allow yourself to be dissuaded by conventional thinking, flimsy logic or uninformed opinions. 

If you believe the hype, social media will immediately solve all your problems and require no time, energy or effort on your part. I’m always amazed at those who think all they have to do is launch a blog, create a LinkedIn profile, put up a Twitter page and open a Facebook account and all their business problems will be solved. If you buy into this line of thinking my guess is that it won’t be the first time you’ve fallen prey to a failed initiative around the latest trend.

I always love the excuse “I don’t have time for social media.” Really? What are you so busy doing that you don’t have time to build better relationships with precisely those individuals and groups who can help you achieve your goals and objectives? Social Media is no different than anything else in life in that you get out of it what you put into it. No effort yields no results, part-time efforts yield part-time results, and exceptional efforts lead to exceptional results.

Yes – social media will require an investment of time and resources. That said, prudent investments into social media serve as a force multiplier catalyzing both leverage and velocity simply not available via other mediums, platforms and channels. My advice is simple…stop rationalizing and justifying doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, stop whining & complaining  and get in the game  – do the right thing.

As always, I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions – please share your insights in the comments section below.

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Remembering 9/11

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Remembering 9/11On the ninth anniversary of the horrific tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001 I believe it should be incumbent upon us all to take pause and remember what happened on 9/11, to mourn those who were lost that day, and to reflect upon how the events of that day have forever changed our world. So rather than share my usual content, I want to encourage you to offer condolences to families of all those who lost their lives on 9/11, to our fallen heroes who have lost their lives since that day, and/or to send well wishes to our veterans or active duty service members. I would ask that you leave your comments below and to promote this post so that our heroes and their families will know how much we love and support them. Thanks in advance for your participation.

Leadership & Presence

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Can you be a true leader without possessing presence? In my experience, very rarely…I’m not referencing the wannabe leaders oozing bravado, false confidence, arrogance, or self-delusion spun as confidence. Nor am I referring to the weak, innocuous or timid, who while viewing themselves as leaders, are perhaps the farthest thing from a leader. Rather I’m addressing those true leaders who inspire and motivate those around them to achieve things well beyond that which they thought themselves capable of. In today’s post I’ll address the value of developing the presence of a leader.

The term “command presence” is a military phrase which describes someone whose demeanor, nothing more than their mere presence, leaves no doubt they are someone to be respected. As a leader, have you developed this type of presence? When you walk into a room does anyone notice? When you speak does anyone listen? When you give direction is it trusted, respected and followed? Do you inspire confidence and engender credibility with those whom you come into contact with? Are people not only willing to be led by you, but proud to be led by you?

Developing a presence as a leader is far more than just the attitude you bring to the game, it’s about the combination of trust, charisma, character, integrity, knowledge and experience that separates true leaders from the masses. Again, to be clear, leadership has little to do with needing to be the center of attention, but it has a lot to do with being able to attract, direct and maintain attention when needed.

I have either been in leadership positions and/or advising leaders for as long as I can remember. During the course of my career I’ve observed all kinds of leaders good and bad…however I’ve never been around a great leader who doesn’t possess strong command presence. Great leaders display an air of calm about them regardless of the situation at hand. Great leaders show co-workers that they will always maintain control, even when they don’t have an immediate solution. Great leaders don’t lose focus, they don’t cower, and they never waffle. The best leaders can inspire hope when needed, and the willingness to accept a lack thereof when necessary.

Today’s business leaders have literally hundreds of interpersonal interactions each and everyday. Any leader who fails to instill confidence amongst peers and subordinates will lose their loyalty, harm their morale, and cripple their ability to execute. The impact of command presence is not only limited to your co-workers, but to everyone with whom you come in contact with. Your command presence or lack thereof will also impact the success of your relationships with investors, lenders, partners, suppliers, vendors and other constituencies.

Leadership, good or bad, is a contagion. One of the primary benefits of strong, sound leadership is the ability to spread it. There is a lot of talk about the importance of culture, and rightly so. An intentional focus on creating culture by design produces the glue that holds communities and organizations together and allows them to thrive. Most people won’t debate the importance of culture, but they vehemently argue over how culture should be built. My premise about what the major construct of a cultural ecosystem should look like is more than hypothetical – it’s undeniable by anyone who studies successful organizations with an open mind. My advice here is simple: create a culture based upon an ethos that empowers, attracts, differentiates, and sustains. The ONLY culture that flourishes over the long haul is a culture of leadership.

Some leaders come by command presence naturally, while others have to work very hard to develop it. While there are many things that lead to developing a strong command presence, a focus on developing the following three areas will have an immediate impact enhancing your command presence:

1. Be Trustworthy and Show You Care: When you closely examine the core characteristics of what really makes for great leadership, it’s not power, title, authority or even technical competency that distinguishes truly great leaders. Rather it’s the ability to both earn and keep the loyalty and trust of those whom they lead that sets them apart. Leadership is about trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding. If you build into those you lead, if you make them better, if you add value to their lives then you will have earned their trust and loyalty. This is the type of bond that will span positional and philosophical gaps, survive mistakes, challenges, downturns and other obstacles that will inevitably occur.

2. Develop Excellent Verbal Skills: As odd as it may sound, this begins with developing excellent listening skills. You must seek to understand before you’ll be understood. When it is time to speak, say what you mean and mean what you say. What you say, when you say it, and how you say it will either instill confidence and serve to motivate and inspire, or it will take the wind right out of your sails. You don’t have to be an overly verbose person, but you must be measured and articulate. Don’t speak just to hear yourself talk and don’t ramble. If your verbal communication skills are not up to par get help and correct the problem. You cannot lead if you cannot communicate.

3. Make Excellent Decisions: Nothing is more difficult to overcome for a leader than a poor track record. Solid decision layered upon solid decision is the key to creating loyalty. Making excellent decisions not only engenders confidence, but it’s perhaps the best way to lead by example and to model leadership for those whom you lead. A track record of excellent decisioning doesn’t take long to become part of your reputation, which provides you with a heightened level of trust and respect even prior to entering a room.

Bottom line…If you develop strong command presence, leadership while never easy, will in fact become easier.

Thoughts?

Leadership & Perfectionism

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Leadership & PerfectionismThis may be difficult for some the get their heads around, but perfectionism is not a leadership trait. Leadership requires attention to detail and a commitment to quality, but rarely does it require perfection. While leadership doesn’t require being perfect, it does require doing what is needed and necessary. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws with the concept of perfection is found in who defines perfect – the definition of perfection will almost always vary radically from person to person. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on the myth of perfection.

General George S. Patton said it best: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” The pursuit of perfection is one of great adversaries of speed, performance, and execution. In fact, at the risk of being controversial I’m going to take the position that perfection does not exist. I hate to break it to you, but those of you who regard yourselves as perfectionists simply exhibit perfectionistic tendencies in an unrealistic attempt to achieve what cannot be had.

New Flash: speed trumps perfectionism. Perfectionists tend to be very busy, but rarely are they productive. Moreover, the pursuit of perfectionism rarely results in a competitive advantage, but it will result in time delays, cost overruns, missed deadlines, and unkept commitments. I would suggest that rather than seeking what cannot in most cases ever be achieved, that it makes more sense to seek the highest standard of quality that can be delivered in the shortest period of time, and that is economically balanced relative to the constraints of an ever shifting marketplace.

A huge problem for leaders who regard themselves as perfectionists is that they often set the chinning bar so high that others feel as if they cannot ever meet expectations. As a leader, if you find yourself always wondering “why others just don’t seem to get it” then you likely don’t value the contributions of others as much as you desire others to adopt your thinking. Leaders who fall prey to perfectionism tend to focus on the negatives having a hard time looking past perceived weaknesses to find strengths. The downside of this is that it stifles candor, creativity and innovation and often leads to a my way or the highway environment.

Here’s another pet peeve – the phrase “would you rather have something quick or right” makes me cringe every time I hear it. It is one of the most common copouts inept leaders use in masking their decisioning inadequacies. It’s as if using this phrase somehow justifies delaying pronouncement on the grounds that they currently possess insufficient information to make an astute decision. Almost without fail, this tactic is a trite and clichéd attempt to somehow insinuate that speed in decisioning is a weakness, and that quick decisions are somehow synonymous with reckless decisions. I would caution you against confusing speed with reckless abandon…I’m a big proponent of planning, assessment, analysis and strategy, but only if it is concluded in a timely fashion. “Analysis Paralysis” leads to missed opportunities and failed initiatives. Speed is your friend…embrace it…leverage it…win with it.

Time to face the facts: we live in a digital world where the speed of engagement, response, interaction, communication, delivery etc., was once a unique competitive value proposition – It is now a requirement for survival. As a leader you must quickly be able to assess risk and make timely decisions. Put simply, leaders cannot be successful being guided by fear and hesitation. I can tell you that without question the best leaders are able to make very complex decisions, on short time frames, and with incomplete information. If you don’t possess the experience or intellectual acuity to make quick decisions that are also good decisions, then you better surround yourself with sound counsel and advice from those who can.

While there is little debate that speed can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of speed can send a company (or a career) into a death spiral. Agility, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment and focus all lead to the creation of speed which results in a certainty of execution. There is great truth in the old saying ”the best decision is a quick decision, the next best decision is no decision, and the worst decision is a slow decision.”

My bottom line is this…if you wear perfectionism as a badge of honor it is time for a shift in thinking. Others won’t see it as a badge of honor, but as a sign of pride, ego, arrogance or ignorance.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and observations in the comments below.

Top 30 Leadership Blogs 2010

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Top Leadership Blogs 2010Today’s post contains a list of the Top 30 Leadership Blogs of 2010. I know, I know – another list? You’re undoubtedly thinking “who died and left Mike Myatt in charge of qualitatively assessing leadership blogs?” Great question. In fact, when striving to come-up with this list I quickly came to the conclusion that while I attempted to use objective logic in making my assessments, the reality is that a list like this is mostly subjective based upon personal preference. In the text that follows I’ll share my logic, or as some will likely point out, my lack of logic in deciding which blogs to place on the list. I hope you enjoy the list, and that you’ll add these Top Leadership Blogs to your leadership reading list.

You’ll note when reviewing the Top Leadership Blogs list below that I did not apply a numerical hierarchy to the rankings, but rather just disclosed my data points – I decided it would be a better list if I let you draw your own conclusions and render your own opinions. Therefore what I have put forth is an unordered list of my personal favorites. I invite you to challenge my logic, my assumptions, rank or order them, point out omissions, and vote for favorites by commenting below. On with the list… 

  • N2growth Blog: Let’s get the self-promotion out of the way, and hey, if you don’t think my blog belongs on the list, let me know in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter @mikemyatt - Alexa Rank: 27,509 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: 6 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 20 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • John Maxwell on Leadership: The name says it all…in fact, I almost view John and the topic of leadership as being synonymous. You won’t find more solid thinking on the topic of leadership anywhere (can you tell I’m a big fan?). You can follow John on Twitter @johncmaxwell. Alexa Rank: 341,182 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 4 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Extreme Leadership: Steve Farber consistently lays out useful and lucid thoughts on what it takes to be an extreme leader. Steve is a a great guy and you can follow him on Twitter @stevefarber – Alexa Rank: 1,240,575 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 5 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Tom Peters Blog: Tom is the classic big thinker and is prone to the frequent politically incorrect rant, which is why I like him. Regardless of whether you agree of disagree with his opinions, you cannot challenge his candor or his passion. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_peters. Alexa Rank: 115,618 Google Page Rank: 6 PostRank Leadership Score: 26 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 16 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Leading With Purpose: Michael Hyatt’s leadership blog is an exceptional read by a great CEO. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelHyattAlexa Rank: 63,303 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: 2 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 13 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Lead By Example: John Baldoni is a seasoned leadership pro and one of only a few leadership coaches that I endorse. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnBaldoni.  Alexa Rank: 2,947575 Google Page Rank: 2 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 9 TwitterGrader Score: 98.5
  • Daniel Pink: Thought Leader, TED Speaker and recovering lawyer, Daniel is one of a kind. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielPink. Alexa Rank: 129,999 Google Page Rank: 6 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 7 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Weekly Leader Blog: Peter Mello’s blog has a variety of contributors and is always a great read. You can follow Peter on Twitter @PeterMello. Alexa Rank: 2,799,154 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: 3 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 16 TwitterGrader Score: 99.3
  • Next Level Blog: Scott Eblin’s authors some of the smartest leadership insights on the web. You can follow Scott on Twitter @ScottEblin.  Alexa Rank: 1,123,13 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 11 TwitterGrader Score: 96.3
  • Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog: Wally Bock’s blog is practical, insightful, and always personal. Wally is a pure straight-shooter who pulls no punches while also happening to be one of the best writers I know. You can follow Wally on Twitter @WallyBock. Alexa Rank: 251,748 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: 18 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 30 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • All Things Workplace: This blog offers opinions and general information on leadership and leadership development by Steve Roesler. Steve’s insights are thoughtful and always spot-on. You can follow Steve on Twitter @steveroesler. Alexa Rank: 523,731 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 0 TwitterGrader Score: 99.3
  • Marshall Goldsmith Blog: Marshall Goldsmith is a class act, a competitor of mine (one of only two or three CEO coaches that I would recommend), and a deep thinker on the topic of leadership. You can follow Marshall on Twitter @coachgoldsmith. Alexa Rank: 5,678 (HBR) Google Page Rank: 6 (HBR) PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 0 TwitterGrader Score: 99.3
  • Seth Godin’s Blog: The best-selling author, entrepreneur and “agent of change” gives you personal insights on the leadership landscape. I find myself only agreeing with Seth about 50% of the time, but he makes me think 100% of the time. You can follow Seth on Twitter @ThisIsSethsBlog Alexa Rank: 4,876 Google Page Rank: 7 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 35 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • The Management Experts:If you’re looking for a positive spin on leadership then look no further than Phil Gerbyshak. TME is Phil’s latest blogging adventure and is a multi-author take on leadership and management that is simple, to the point and always positive. You can follow Phil on Twitter @philgerb. Alexa Rank: 2,731,651 Google Page Rank: 0 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 13 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Leading Blog:  Michael McKinney authors the Leading Blog which takes a comprehensive look at all things leadership. I tend to agree with most of Michael’s positions (except when he left my book off his list) and find his business logic to be solidly grounded. You can follow Michael on Twitter @LeadershipNow. Alexa Rank: 115,581 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: 18 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 13 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Great Leadership: Dan McCarthy’s blog is a great source of leadership information and a consistently good read. You can follow Dan on Twitter @GreatLeadership Alexa Rank: 333,659 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: 9 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 10 TwitterGrader Score: 99.3
  • Robin Sharma’s Leadership Blog: Robin’s take on leadership is always both interesting and informative. You can follow Robin on Twitter @_robin_sharma. Alexa Rank: 138,904 Google Page Rank: 5 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 2 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Lead Change Group. The Lead Change Group was founded by Mike Henry Sr., who is one of the true nice guys in the business. You can follow Mike on Twitter @mikehenrysr.  Alexa Rank: 200,949 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: 16 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 28 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Ramblings From a Glass Half Full: Terry Starbucker’s blog represents some of the more contemporary thinking on leadership. You can follow Terry on Twitter @starbucker.  Alexa Rank: 259,822 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 9 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Management Excellence: Art Petty’s blog provides consistently solid leadership wisdom. You can follow  art on Twitter @artpetty.  Alexa Rank: 746494 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 15 TwitterGrader Score: 99.3
  • Daniel Decker: Dan’s blog is always reliable and grounded. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DanielDecker. Alexa Rank: 1,623,187 Google Page Rank: 2 PostRank Leadership Score: 24 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 13 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Leader Talk: Mountain State University’s leadership blog is hosted by Becky Robinson. You can follow Becky on Twitter @LeaderTalk. Alexa Rank: 297,226 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 14 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Orrin Woodward: Orrin is smart, creative and insightful – I only wish he’d publish more frequently updated content. You can follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_woodward. Alexa Rank: 47,694 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: 50 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 1 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Tanveer Naseer: Tanveer is bright and a deep thinker. You can follow Tanveer on Twitter @tanveernaseer. Alexa Rank: 1,163,245 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: 18 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 15 TwitterGrader Score: 98
  • Big Is the New Small: Scott Williams is a breath of fresh air in the leadership space and well worth reading. You can follow Scott on Twitter @scottwilliamsAlexa Rank: 293,337 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 22 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Scott Gould: Scott is one of my favorite young leadership bloggers. Scott goes deep with every post and is a must follow on Twitter @scottgould. Alexa Rank: 446,936 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: 7 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 27 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Leadership Solutions: The Leadership Solutions blog is written by Mary Jo Asmus. You can follow Mary Jo on Twitter @mjasmus. Alexa Rank: 1,814,538 Google Page Rank: 4 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 14 TwitterGrader Score: 98.0
  • Ron Edmondson: Ron is smart, authentic, approachable and he posts as frequently if not more than most in the leadership space. You can follow Ron on Twitter @ronedmondson. Alexa Rank: 644,746 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: 5 Number of Posts in last 30 days: 40 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Leadership Freak: Dan Rockwell’s blog is a must read. While we don’t always see eye-to-eye on things, I hold Dan’s work in high regard. You can follow Dan on Twitter @LeadershipFreak. Alexa Rank: 1,051,958 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 27 TwitterGrader Score: 100
  • Serve to Lead: If you’re into servant leadership then you should be reading James Strock. You can follow James on Twitter @jamesstrockAlexa Rank: 7,050773 Google Page Rank: 1 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 13 TwitterGrader Score: 96.3
  • Random Acts of Leadership: Random Acts of Leadership is Susan Mazza’s contemplative and thoughtful leadership Blog. You can follow Susan on Twitter @SusanMazzaAlexa Rank: 2,096,995 Google Page Rank: 3 PostRank Leadership Score: N/A Number of Posts in last 30 days: 3 TwitterGrader Score: 100

So, who should be included on this list that I missed? Do any of the blogs listed above represent a particular favorite? Did I get your numbers wrong? Want to take a stab at ranking the top 5 or 10? Or if you’d just like to share your thoughts in general, please leave a comment below.