Why You Are not a leader

Why You’re Not A Leader

Why You Are not a leader

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Everybody thinks they’re a leader – most are far from it. The harsh reality is that we live in a world awash with wannabe leaders. As much as some don’t want to admit it, not everyone can or should become a leader (my take on the born vs. made argument). Simply desiring to be a leader doesn’t mean a person has the character, skill, and courage necessary to be a leader.

Leadership and Timing

Leadership, Timing and Opportunity

Leadership Timing and Opportunity

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

What better time to discuss opportunity than the start of a new year? The message I want to deliver is this; opportunity and timing are inexorably linked. So much so, that if you don’t think timing is everything – think again. Even a cursory review of current events shows it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a politician, investment banker, CEO, or just an average citizen – when it comes to making a simple decision, managing a crisis, or attempting to exploit an opportunity, timing is everything. In today’s post I’ll take a look at opportunity as key success metric…

I’ve often heard people quip they would rather be lucky than smart. While intelligence and good fortune are certainly both valuable traits to possess, neither of these traits holds a candle to having a great sense of timing. Luck is a hit or miss proposition, and we’ve all known many a brilliant underachiever. However it has been my observation you’ll rarely come across someone who possesses a great sense of timing who is anything other than successful.

As the verse from the old Kenny Rogers song goes “you have to know when to hold em and know when to fold em.” There are a few times in the life of every professional where staggering opportunities will present themselves. The question is not whether these opportunities exist, but rather what will you do with them when they cross your path. I believe one of the key differences between excellence and mediocrity is the ability to not only recognize opportunities, but to also possess an understanding and willingness to exploit said opportunities. Exploiting opportunities requires you not only possess vision, but also a corresponding bias to action (and a bit of courage as well).

Rarely will you come across a static opportunity in the sense that it will stand idle and wait for you to act. Significant opportunities are not only scarce, but they typically operate on the principal of diminishing returns. Put simply, opportunities are time sensitive. The longer you wait to seize the opportunity the smaller the return typically is. In fact, the more likely case is the opportunity will completely evaporate if you wait too long to seize it. Keep this thought in mind; when opportunity knocks – answer the door.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I watched people miss great opportunities due to a poor sense of timing. Not too surprisingly, people who possess a poor sense of timing usually don’t even understand timing is an issue. How many times have you witnessed someone holding-out for better talent,  a higher valuation, evolving markets, technology advances, or any number of other circumstances that either never transpire, or by the time they do, the opportunistic advantage had disappeared? I’ve observed the risk adverse take due diligence one step too far, the greedy negotiate too long, the impulsive jump the gun, and the plodders move to slow. As the saying goes “timing is everything.” The following list contains 5 suggestions for how to spot and evaluate opportunity:

  1. Alignment: The opportunity should be in alignment with the overall vision and mission of the enterprise. Any new opportunity being evaluated should preferably add value to the core, but if not, it should show a significant enough return on investment to justify the dilutive effect of not keeping the main thing the main thing. The core should be used to align, but not necessarily to exclude.
  2. Advantage: No advantage equals no opportunity. If the opportunity doesn’t provide a unique competitive advantage it should at least fill a void bringing you closer to an even playing field. Be careful however not to fall into the trap of “me too” innovation – copying isn’t innovating. Instead of leveling the field, think about tilting the field to your advantage, and where possible, the creation of a new field altogether.
  3. Assessment: Is the opportunity affordable, feasible, adoptable, and most importantly, is it actionable? An opportunity which cannot be implemented isn’t really an opportunity – it will likely be just another very costly distraction. Conduct your diligence before you pull the trigger, not afterwards. A ready – fire – aim approach to opportunity management usually fails to hit the target.
  4. Accountability:  Keep in mind great ideas are not always the same thing as great opportunities. Ideas don’t always have a corresponding vision, nor do they always contain a framework of accountability which helps to ensure a certainty of execution. For opportunities to become reality they must be viewed through the lenses of organizational awareness and personal responsibility. Any new opportunity being considered should contain accountability provisions. Every task should be assigned and managed according to a plan and in the light of day. Any opportunity being adopted must be measurable. Deliverables, benchmarks, deadlines, and success metrics must be incorporated into the plan. The opportunity must be detailed and deliverable on a schedule – it needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Any opportunity not subjected to sound principles of leadership will likely fail.
  5. Achievement: Opportunities are great, but achievements are better. If any of the four items above are missing the outcome will be unrealized opportunity, or opportunity squandered and lost. The smart game is not played for what could have been, or should have been, but for what was achieved.

The proverbial window closes on every opportunity at some point in time. As you approach each day I would challenge you to consistently evaluate the landscape and seize the opportunities that come your way. Better to be the one who catches the fish than the one who tells the story of the big one who got away…


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#Leadership Tip: When tempted to create the map, provide the compass instead – lead don’t rescue.

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Attitude and Leadership

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

My question for you today is a simple one: ”How’s Your Attitude?” Show me a CEO with a bad attitude and I’ll show you a poor leader. While this sounds simple enough at face value, I have consistently found one of the most often overlooked leadership attributes is having a consistently positive attitude. As a CEO, how can you expect to inspire, motivate, engender confidence, and to lead with a lousy attitude? The simple answer is that you can’t – it just won’t work. In today’s post I’ll examine the importance of CEOs having a positive attitude…

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to watch one of my clients deliver a keynote at a national conference, and while I expected nothing less than an outstanding presentation, what I ended-up witnessing was a true masterclass in the contagious, inspirational power that comes from positive leadership. What made this presentation so powerful was it was more than just an act put on for the benefit of the attendees, it was completely authentic and the audience knew it. This is a relatively new client, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, his positivity sets the tone for the entire organization and has produced incredible results. Let me be clear – don’t underestimate the power of a positive attitude.

Clearly the topic of “attitude” has been addressed ad-nauseum in many a self-help piece, but this doesn’t mean that it is not worthy of topical consideration for chief executives. Leaders are not perfect, and as CEO, trust me when I tell you you’re going to have your fair share of bad days. The difference between you the CEO, and everyone else on the planet is you don’t have the luxury of displaying a bad attitude.

Why then do so many CEOs appear to have a bad attitude? While there are certainly a variety of reasons (ego, arrogance, pride, etc.) for why a CEO can display a bad attitude, I believe in many instances it’s because they have fallen prey to a bad habit. Yes, attitudes are formed, and a bad attitude is nothing more than an ingrained habit. The good news is that habits can be broken. So, this begs the question how does a CEO know when they have a bad attitude? If you answer yes to any one of the following five questions, then you are likely in need of an attitude adjustment:

  1. Are your likeability and respect ratings low? While being a great CEO is not a popularity contest, the fact is most great CEOs are both well liked and respected. They have the full faith and trust of their stakeholders, and possess strong positive relationships across constituencies. What do you reflect, and what do people see in you? If you are not well liked and respected then you will have consistent, self-imposed obstacles placed in your path that inhibit your ability to be an effective leader. Ask yourself this question – If an election for CEO was held today, would your stakeholders re-elect you in a landslide victory? If not, why not?
  2. Do you tend to have a pessimistic outlook on things? If you aren’t excited about the start of each day, display a “same crap…different day” attitude, or have a “glass is half empty” perspective on things, then you likely have a bad attitude.
  3. Do people seek your input, advice, and counsel? If people see you coming and quickly run the other way, you have an attitude problem. Great CEOs are magnets who attract the attention of others. If people shy away from you versus clamor for your attention, you likely have an attitude problem.
  4. Are you often frustrated wondering why others don’t see things your way? Everyone can have a bad day, and while it’s okay to have a pity-party every once in a while, it is not the kind of party you want to throw very often, and never publicly. If the majority of your conversations and interactions are negative or confrontational you likely have an attitude problem.
  5. Do you have difficulty attracting and retaining tier-one executive talent? The simple truth is people strongly desire to work with and for great leaders. Great CEOs are talent magnets – people want to be led by those who have much to offer. If you struggle with recruiting, team building, and leadership development you likely have a bad attitude.

If you still don’t know whether or not your attitude is affecting your performance, I would strongly suggest participation in a 360 review process where your strengths and weakness are objectively assessed by those whom you interface with on a frequent basis. Lastly, following are few statistics that might convince you to change your outlook on life if you tend to be a pessimist:

  1. People with bad attitudes have an 800% higher incident rate of being diagnosed with clinical depression.
  2. People who possess a negative outlook on life are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer.
  3. People who have bad attitudes have more career turnover.
  4. People with bad attitudes have a 50% higher divorce rate.
  5. People with bad attitudes are ten times more likely to have poor relationships with their children.

If your attitude is impeding your relationships, your talent, or your health, it might be time to consider making some changes. If you have any great stories about how attitudes impact leadership and morale please share them in the comments section below.


Leading the Hard to Lead

8 Tips For Leading Those Who Don’t Want to Follow

Leading the Hard to Lead

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Want to test your leadership mettle? See how well you do when leading those not inclined to follow. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people may be comforting, it might even seem like a good idea, but it’s not the stuff of great leadership. The best leaders are not only capable of effectively leading those who hold differing opinions and perspectives – they thrive on it. In today’s column I’ll share 8 Tips for transforming tough relationships into productive relationships.