Leadership Interview – James Hotaling

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

There are simply no words that can do justice to the example of servant leadership epitomized by Command Chief Master Sergeant James Hotaling. A highly decorated member of the special operations community earning the Bronze Star with Valor for actions during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, Jim is a true American hero.  I have interviewed countless leaders over the years, and never has so much leadership wisdom been espoused so poignantly, eloquently, and with such authentic humility as what you’re about to read below. Jim’s answers to my questions are nothing short of a leadership manifesto. Please take the time to leave a comment below and thank Jim for his service. On with the interview…    

Mike Myatt: What is your first recollection of really knowing that you were called to be a leader?

James Hotaling: From my earliest memories I always felt I had a “calling” to serve. At the age of 13, I joined the Civil Air Patrol. The teachings of this auxiliary of the USAF, was invaluable to me and truly the building block to what I have become today. I was exposed to military discipline, traditions and core values as a teenager and along with solid family values shaped my servant leadership style.

Mike Myatt: Has your leadership style changed over the years, and if so, how?

James Hotaling: Call it maturity, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t learned from my mistakes and frustrations. I have learned to slow my rush to judgment and always understand there are other viewpoints. My biggest change is learning to truly embrace diversity of thought.

Mike Myatt: What was the single biggest “ah-ha” moment you’ve had as a leader?

James Hotaling: It was actually very recent. This February I attended a resiliency conference conducted by the DoD. The premise of the conference was presenting the answers to some of the problems we have been experiencing in the military with suicides and PTSD. The military has come up with eight key areas to concentrate on when supervising for a “Total Force Fitness” approach. These keys to resiliency has changed my leadership style and really was an “ah-ha” moment for me. You see, in order to be effective during good times and bad are to embrace and develop a resilient force. I try to “weave” the eight key points into conversation everyday with my people. In the introduction to the study, the publication states, “We are in an age of sustained conflict. Wars and threats to our security are no longer episodic, but require continuous optimal performance, resilience and recovery. Injury from these conflicts may be physical and mental, social and spiritual. It impacts the service member, their family and community and the nation. If we are to protect the freedom and security of our nation, we must move beyond simply having a sound body to a holistic view of health and fitness that includes both mind and body.”

The eight areas are; Physical, Environmental, Medical, Spiritual, Nutritional, Psychological, Behavioral and Social. We as leaders must work hard to create an atmosphere where everyone has a holistic approach to well-being.

Mike Myatt: Who had the most significant influence on shaping you as a leader?

James Hotaling: I have been blessed with great mentors. My first was a retired Air Force Colonel in his 60’s who gave his time to teach young teenagers who volunteered to be in Civil Air Patrol. He taught me about the power of giving back. I had a supervisor in my active duty days who always understood the importance of providing broadening experience to his people. True story: I was on a downhill slide of being over confident (and young), cocky, arrogant and downright turning into a bad apple. One night he took me out behind our work section and proceeded to beat the crap out of me! After I was the recipient of a good right hook and fell to the ground, he jumped on top of me and was about to hit me again when he stopped and I could see he was actually tearing up. He was so upset at me for failing him and my teammates. He wanted me to know that I had all the opportunity in the world to succeed and I was not taking advantage of it. That one event changed me forever. Never again would I let my attitude get bigger than the opportunities that other people were working hard to provide me. His emotional caring showed me what it was to be a servant leader. My last great mentor was my team leader. He showed love. Love for his country, mission and his team. A grown man many years older than me showed me how to love others.

Mike Myatt: What does the military offer young leaders in the making?

James Hotaling: Our core values sums up what you get in a young military leader. Integrity first, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do. With this simple foundation along with tried and true military discipline, how can you go wrong with future leaders!

Mike Myatt: How do you feel military leadership skills translate into civilian life?

James Hotaling: See the above answer. What corporation would not want to invest in someone who comes to them with these skill sets and leader DNA already built in? Today we have a new term for it and it is being a “warrior-diplomat”. The amount of exposure to various leadership scenarios throughout the world gives a military member a very unique perspective. Whether it’s negotiating with a tribal leader, working with the State Department, leading people in challenging and rapidly changing environments, etc; these experiences allows someone to think critically and lead successfully which would translate to a well prepared leader no matter who you work for.

Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

James Hotaling: Placing mission accomplishment over friendship. I once stood up an organization from scratch. This was a two year process and cost me many friends and tarnished a bit of my reputation. But in order to accomplish this stand-up and do it right, I had to make many hard choices that were very unpopular at the time. This taught me that it is truly lonely at the top, but as a leader you must always have the integrity to do the right thing no matter the personal cost.

Mike Myatt: What’s been most rewarding to you as a leader?

James Hotaling: Leading men into combat. To lead men who have volunteered to serve their country is unlike anything else I have experienced. To share in a tradition of Service before Self and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country is humbling. Since the days of the Spartan Warrior, men have stepped forward to defend their homeland. To serve amongst special operators has taught me many things in leadership.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

James Hotaling: A good leader should always focus on taking care of his own (through leadership, management, communication and mentorship), should always know how to analyze the strategic context of the operational environment and always as a leader be able to manage change.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the single biggest stumbling block for leaders?

James Hotaling: Over management and under leadership

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest strength as a leader?

James Hotaling: Passion. I bring intensity and focus to the job every second of every day. My love of country and passion for the mission keeps me motivated to perform at the highest levels for my people. It is extremely important to never settle, but rather always seek to continuously develop yourself to be better.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest weakness as a leader?

James Hotaling: I never try to think in terms of weakness. I think of terms of where I need to improve. The area I think I need to constantly work on is having the patience to listen to contradicting opinions. I truly value diversity of thought and work hard at making sure a majority of meetings have diverse players in them. My issue is always learning to sit back and really listening to a counter argument without first trying to jump in and defend myself.

Mike Myatt: Is it more difficult to be a leader today, why or why not?

James Hotaling: I recently transferred into a new organization. After the first 30 days of walking around and talking to people, evaluating their processes and seeing performance levels; I realized there was one vital ingredient missing that would propel them to the next level, and that was good old fashion leadership. I would not say it’s more difficult to lead today, I would say you need to have courage to be a leader. Not a manager, not a process improver, but a leader. It really doesn’t matter if it was 3000 years ago or in present time, people need leadership.

Mike Myatt: What’s the best and worst example of leadership you’ve observed in recent times?

James Hotaling: Best- I have witnessed a senior leader work hard at “looking into the future” and really set the condition to deliberately develop his force. He has tirelessly placed people in key schools and assignments to develop them. He cares more about the future of his organization then worrying about himself.

Worst-I witnessed a leader of an organization care more about himself (image, reputation, amount of friends he had) than he cared about his people and organization. When a person is in it for themselves, he is truly a hollow leader.

Mike Myatt: What should leaders today be focused on with regard to the future?

James Hotaling: Force Development. You must be developing the people below you to succeed. You must do this much earlier than you think. You can’t wait for someone that is only a year or two out from being a key leader to start developing that person. Work hard to provide as much development and broadening experience to as many subordinates as possible. This will create a pool of experience and the true leaders will begin to evolve and rise to the top. You must invest in future leaders now in order to grow in the future. With limited resources we have to rely on leaders to think and motivate their people to achieve success.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers one piece of advice on leadership, what would that be?

James Hotaling: A true leader should never be in his position for personal gain. It should always be about accomplishing the mission. That is why you are there. You are to LEAD the organization to better performance. It is a privilege to have the capacity to execute that responsibility every day. A good leader always looks at himself in the mirror first before looking at anyone else for excuses. Responsibility to SERVE in a leadership role has responsibility and reward, be respectful of both.

Mike Myatt: How important is “legacy,” and how do you hope to be remembered?

James Hotaling: Personal legacy is something a servant leader should never think about. It is all about the organization. I would like to be remembered as someone who gave back to his country since the age of thirteen. I am an American Airman and I have answered my nations call. It’s that simple, I look for no accolades only the ability for myself to say thank you to my country for giving me and my family all that we have.

Leadership Interview – Warren Bennis

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Widely regarded as the father of the contemporary field of Leadership, Warren Bennis paved the way for those of us who make our living as leadership advisors. Warren would never say this, so I will; he has forgotten more about leadership than most of us will ever know. Put simply, spending an hour with Warren Bennis is like drinking leadership wisdom from a fire hose. At age 19, Warren was the youngest combat infantry officer in the European Theater during World War II, and was awarded both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After the war, Warren went on to author 30 books, served as an advisor to four different U.S. Presidents, spent time on the faculties of MIT, Harvard, Boston University, INSEAD, the University of Exter (UK), and at age 86 Warren is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. My favorite piece of Bennis trivia is that Warren actually knew Albert Einstein. Watch the video, enjoy your time with a living leadership legend, and then please leave a comment and let Warren know what his work has meant to you…

Leadership Interview – Doug Conant

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Many people discuss transformational leadership, but few can point to a modern day CEO who is an example of a transformative leader. Douglas R. Conant is the President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, and he epitomizes just such a leader. When Doug took the helm at Campbell’s 10 years ago, he reversed the trend of declining earnings and employee engagement. In 2010, during a down economy, the company posted a 12% increase in earnings on $7.7 Billion in sales, and the storied brand now possesses some of the best employee engagement rankings in the industry. Doug had a similar impact in his previous role as President of Nabisco where the company posted 5 consecutive years of double-digit earnings growth under his leadership. What I most appreciate most about Doug is his passion for those whom he leads. He’s part old-school; still regularly sending hand written thank you notes to employees, and part new-school; equally as comfortable communicating on Twitter (@DougConant). Doug’s new book TouchPoints, co-authored with Mette Norgaard is a must read for leaders. If you do one thing today watch this video and then leave a comment thanking Doug for freely sharing his considerable insights and experiences.

Leadership Interview – James Quigley

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

I’ve always said that if you want to learn about leadership talk to someone who has actually led something. James (Jim) Quigley, Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is just such a leader, and the “something” he leads is a global professional services juggernaut with more than $26 Billion in revenue, and 170,000 people located in more than 150 countries worldwide. What I most appreciate about Jim is his almost evangelistic zeal in championing the Deloitte brand. Jim is a fully engaged CEO who leads by example. You’ll also find Jim to be among the most transparent CEOs you’ll encounter. If you don’t believe me just go looking for him – he’s not that hard to find. Jim has a new book out (“As One“), you can find him on Twitter @DeloitteCEO and Jim is a frequent presenter at conferences such as World Business Forum and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Enough with the background – on with the interview…

Mike Myatt: What does it take to be a CEO of a global professional services firm, and why should anyone be led by you?

Jim Quigley: CEOs today need to model and advocate mutual trust between employees and leadership. I believe that successful CEOs will be judged on long-term sustainable performance and the stewardship of their organization’s mission, rather than on short-term performance and results.

One of my main focus areas is to increase my leadership team’s ability to be effective. One way to achieve that is by respecting your people, helping them find their authentic voice and leadership style, and demonstrating a genuine advocacy of their professional development.

It is absolutely critical for leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. If I empower my leadership team and instill the organization’s values in them, they in return will do the same with their teams. That’s why I spend a lot of time talking to my partners about culture and our values, and the importance of articulating a clear vision and strategy.

Mike Myatt: Your new book ‘As One’ is receiving rave reviews. What inspired you to author a book at this time?

Jim Quigley: I’ve been fascinated by leadership for a long time, and I’ve had the privilege to be in a leadership position for much of my career. Over the years, through my many conversations with C-level executives, it became clear to me that galvanizing large groups of people to work together toward a common purpose was not just a challenge for me, but it was a prevailing challenge for executive leaders.

The actual idea to write a book evolved from a conversation with Mehrdad Baghai, my co-author, where we realized that although we were thinking similarly about leadership, we were coming at it from two very different perspectives. Yet we both shared the belief that leaders from all walks of life are searching for a pragmatic and tested approach to help them realize the full potential of their people. That’s when we agreed that it was time to take a new look at collective leadership.

Mike Myatt: You say that ‘As One’ challenges conventional thinking with regard to leadership styles. Can you share your thoughts on this?

Jim Quigley: ‘As One’ is unconventional in that it has brought about a much-needed depth to the way we classify different approaches to collective leadership. Historically, management theory has tended to present a binary view of leadership—command-and-control vs. collaborative. In reality, we discovered that there are multiple styles of leadership, some or all of which may lead to more effective collaboration, depending on the situation. As One provides a leadership discourse with a rich taxonomy that captures the distinguishing features of different leader-follower models. It is also an approach that is robust in its measurement elements and both actionable and adaptable to a wide range of leadership scenarios.

Mike Myatt: You talk a lot about collective leadership – why is this important?

Jim Quigley: Collective leadership is important because in a rapidly globalizing world where technological advancements are continually redefining how we do our jobs and how we interact with each other, it is no longer possible to assume that you have the full commitment and loyalty of your people. Today, more than ever, leaders need the full commitment and engagement of their people if they are to succeed in an intensely competitive world.

Collective leadership defines how individuals, leaders, and organizations need to interact to achieve common goals. By establishing a common framework for how to work together, leaders can achieve a productive and sustainable form of engagement, creating a culture where members choose to participate in and contribute to the organization’s performance.

Mike Myatt: How has social media affected you as a CEO?

Jim Quigley: Social media has created a number of opportunities and challenges for the business community, changing the way they communicate with their customers, suppliers, and employees.

As CEO, it is incumbent on me to understand and support the new and emerging ways our teams collaborate and communicate with potential talent, each other, thought leaders, business leaders, and all of our stakeholders. It starts with awareness—for example, Deloitte has the second largest corporate presence on LinkedIn—and then moves deeper, into strategy, execution, and measuring results.

Personally, my experience with social media took a step forward this year when I started my Twitter handle (@deloitteceo) to share some thoughts on topics that are important to me and our organization.

Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

Jim Quigley: One of the most difficult decisions the leadership team had to make was the decision to keep consulting as a service line at Deloitte when I was the CEO of the U.S. firm. The Enron scandal and the ensuing passage of Sarbanes-Oxley opened a new chapter in the accounting profession. One after another, our competitors began shedding their consulting arms due to limits placed on accounting firms’ providing consulting services to audit clients. For us, too, all signs pointed to a separation. But after a lengthy consideration, we made the difficult, strategic decision to keep consulting as part of Deloitte.

Looking back, we realize that we made the right decision. Today, consulting is a critical part of our business. Having a strong consulting practice enables us to recruit and retain diverse talent with varied expertise, which ultimately benefits all our business lines and enhances the value we deliver to clients.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

Jim Quigley: Leadership is an evolving discipline. Some believe leadership is about people, and leaders must develop people’s sense of belonging to their group and cultivate a strong shared identity among members of their group. Many think leadership is connected to productivity, and leaders must effectively coordinate activity so members of a group have a common interpretation about how to work together. Others think leadership is about purpose, and leaders should inspire commitment to drive people’s dedication to achieving defined goals with directional intensity.

I believe the primary role of a leader is to bring these three components together to help unleash the full potential of their people.

Mike Myatt: How has ‘As One’ affected you personally?

Jim Quigley: I’ve become an even stronger advocate of measurable data and actionable information. As One’s diagnostic provides specific metrics that leaders and organizations can assess, and the insight from this can be extremely valuable.

For example, ‘As One’ retaught me the dangers of making assumptions. In environments that appear to have common roles and large numbers of employees in common tasks, individual needs for how to be led differ. When leading large groups of people, leaders have to see the various ways their people are experiencing the environment today and understand how, given the opportunity, they would change that environment to make it be more conducive to their choosing to collaborate. Sometimes, this will involve epiphanies that can be summed up as “I was wrong about what I thought” or “my assumptions were incorrect.”

Mike Myatt: What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a leader today?

Jim Quigley: One of the key challenges I face today is maintaining our leadership position in the market. For example, to support our growth we are looking to hire 250,000 people to join our workforce over the next five years. I believe creating a uniform culture and aligning our people across borders, functions, and disciplines will be a critical component of our long-term success. That’s why I chose to invest in ‘As One’. I think through our ‘As One’ strategy, we will be able to further strengthen the commitment of our people to our brand and, most importantly, to our clients, in every single one of the 150 countries where we have a presence.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers advice on leadership, what would that be? Any parting thoughts?

Jim Quigley: 1) Believe in your people, 2) give them ownership and empower them to realize their full potential, 3) have a genuine interest in them and respect their ideas and how they want to be led, and 4) model the accountability and values you expect of the organization.

In the long run, these are the attributes that will enable leaders to increase employee engagement and create an environment where their people are proud to be a part of the organization and are fully and wholeheartedly committed to its goals and success.

Final Thoughts: After reading this interview, it should come as no surprise why Deloitte is so successful. Jim is a great leader with a strong vision. He values his people and is committed to fulflling Deloitte’s brand promise. Please leave your questions/comments for Jim below – He’s a social media guy so I’m sure he’ll respond…

Disclosure: Deloitte is a client.

Guest Post – Kevin Eikenberry

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Leadership absent perspective is little more than an exercise in frivolity. Today’s guest post by Kevin Eikenberry (@kevineikenberry) really resonates with me because it’s chalk full of leadership perspective. For those of you not familiar with Kevin,  he is a two-time best selling author and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that has been helping organizations, teams and individuals reach their potential since 1993. Kevin also hosts the Best of Leadership Blogs 2010 contest of which this blog is a nominee (if you haven’t voted yet, today is the last day for voting). If you’ve yet to read any of Kevin’s material you’re in for a real treat – enjoy…

We are all on a walk.

It is the journey we take each day as a leader.

We move through our day, going from one task to the next, one meeting to the next, one problem to the next. We have conversations and interactions; some small, seemingly inconsequential others lengthy and potentially memorable. Each of these is part of your leadership walk.

You may not think of your leadership journey as a walk. Most would call it work. So to be clear, the walk is “the stuff” of our day; it’s the items on your to-do list seen in a slightly different way.

You may have never thought of it as a walk, but that is how others see it.

What do I mean?

You’ve heard the phrase: people want to see leaders who will walk their talk. The most effective leaders have the best “talk”; a great vision, values, wonderful approaches and plans, and people see talk as more than just words – they see the walk. In fact your talk matters little, in comparison to your walk. The reality is, they watch and pay much more attention to your feet, than your lips.

It is your walk that matters.

As leaders whether you realize it or not, you are on a walk that others are observing in small and large ways every step and every day.

You might think of the walk as role modeling behavior, but those are just fancy words. It is the walk that people are watching. Every day too – not just on our best days, or the days we feel good, or the days we had a good breakfast, or right after we went to a great training workshop.

Remember, you are always walking and others are always watching.

Here are just some examples for you to consider:

Do you say you care about your people, your organization and your Customers? How does your walk prove it?

Do you say mistakes are important and necessary? How does your walk prove it?

Do you say you believe that your people can develop, grow and have tremendous potential? How does your walk prove it?

Do you say that listening is important? How does your walk prove it?

Do you say you are a learner? How does your walk prove it?

In the end, we are leaders only if others choose to follow. Make sure your walk is heading to a great place; a place worthy of being followed to. And know that if you tend daily to your walk, the chance of others joining you on your leadership walk is much higher.

Ultimately it is your walk that matters.

Make sure you are watching your steps.

I hope you enjoyed these thoughts from Kevin. Please leave your comments for Kevin below as I’m sure he would appreciate hearing from you. Also, if you have any suggestions for future guest posts or interviews, please share them as well.

Leadership Interview – Michael Hyatt

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

CEOs that make great decisions are rare these days. Humble, authentic leaders who really understand their craft are equally scarce. Chief Executives who actively engage in social media also find themselves in the minority among their peers. Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyattwww.michaelhyatt.com) is that rare commodity. As Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world, and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S., Michael’s track record of leadership has stood the test of time. After reading the following interview you’ll know why…

Mike Myatt: What is your first recollection of really knowing that you were called to be a leader?

Michael Hyatt: When I was a junior in high school, I noticed that I always went first. I didn’t wait on others if I thought something needed to be done. I took initiative. When I did this, I noticed that others would jump in and follow me.

Mike Myatt: Has your leadership style changed over the years, and if so, how?

Michael Hyatt: Very much so. I had a lot of success early in my career. I became arrogant and began to think of myself as the guy who had all the answers. Fortunately, I experienced some stunning failures soon after my string of successes. They humbled me. I refer to this as receiving “the gift of ears.” I learned to listen more and talk less.

Mike Myatt: What was the single biggest “ah-ha” moment you’ve had as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: When I realized that my thinking had a direct impact on my actions which had a direct impact on my outcomes. It all starts in my head.

Mike Myatt: How has social media impacted you as a CEO?

Michael Hyatt: It has given me more direct access to my employees, my customers, and the media. It has raised the visibility of our company and given me the opportunity to shape how people perceive us. It has provided me with a personal platform and a way to teach and learn.

Mike Myatt: How has your faith impacted your leadership style?

Michael Hyatt: I hope it informs everything I do. Jesus is the ultimate leader. I have learned so much about leadership from reading the Gospels. I intentionally try to emulate Him. Kind of “HWJL”—How would Jesus lead?

Mike Myatt: Who had the most significant influence on shaping you as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: Two previous bosses, one positive and one negative. (Don’t ask for names!) Additionally, two executive coaches, who have helped provide objective feedback and input.

Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: Putting my job on the line over a principle I was unwilling to violate. This has happened several times in my career. The stakes have always been enormous, and I was so frightened each time that I was physically shaking and sick to my stomach. But I had to make a stand. Thankfully, in retrospect, those decisions were critical. I don’t regret a single one.

Mike Myatt: What’s been most rewarding to you as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: I think giving people hope that you can lead effectively without compromising your character. Young leaders today are desperate for role models. They can quickly become cynical if they don’t have positive examples. This has motivated me to live my life intentionally in every sphere. (I should also point out that I often fail. But even there, being willing to admit it is a type of modeling.)

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

Michael Hyatt: To model the five aspects of leadership: insight, initiative, influence, impact, and integrity.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the single biggest stumbling block for leaders?

Michael Hyatt: The idea that they have to have all the answers. The more humble and transparent a leader is, the more effective he or she will be.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest strength as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: My commitment to modeling the behavior I expect in others.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest weakness as a leader?

Michael Hyatt: I am too trusting. Trust is good. It builds rapport and connects people to you. However, if it is granted too early, without sufficient experience, it can be disastrous. I have made this mistake many times—and keep making it. Apparently, in this area I am a slow learner. Over the years, I have learned to surround myself with people who are less trusting and can look out for me.

Mike Myatt: Is it more difficult to be a leader today, why or why not?

Michael Hyatt: Yes, I think it is way more difficult. For starters, we are in the middle of a giant shift between generations who think very differently. As a result, they have to be led differently. Leaders have to be flexible in order to succeed. In addition, the economy makes it very difficult to succeed in business. We are having to re-think how we do business and adjust our value propositions.

Mike Myatt: What’s the best and worst example of leadership you’ve observed in recent times?

Michael Hyatt: The best example is former boss who kept his word, even when it cost him personally. He demonstrated tremendous integrity that impacted me deeply. The worst example—and I have actually witnessed several of these—is of leaders who can’t let go. They appoint successors then turn on them.

Mike Myatt: What should leaders today be focused on with regard to the future?

Michael Hyatt: I think it is more difficult than ever to have clarity about the future—in any field. Between the economy and technology, everything is changing. As a result, I think it is more important to build a culture that is flexible and nimble, so you can respond to changes quickly. This is more critical than trying to figure out where everything is going.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers one piece of advice on leadership, what would that be?

Michael Hyatt: You are not as good as you think when things are going well; you are not as bad as you feel when things are going poorly. Retain your perspective and surround yourself with people who will love you and will tell you the truth.

Mike Myatt: Do you have anything new in the works that you’d like our readers to know about?

Michael Hyatt: I am working on a couple of books, one on leadership and one on productivity, but they are still a ways off.

Mike Myatt: How important is “legacy,” and how do you hope to be remembered?

Michael Hyatt: I have given a lot of thought to this, particularly in the Life Planning process that I advocate. I want to be remembered as a man who loved God, gave himself to others, and was faithful to the very end.

If you’re a fan of Michaels or if you just want to share a thought with him, please let him know by leaving a comment below.

Leadership Interview: Pete Wilson

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth


One of my favorite things to do is to interview great leaders, and today I had just such an opportunity.  Pete Wilson (@pwilson) is considered by many to be one of today’s most visionary leaders. He is the Senior Pastor at CrossPoint Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the country, is the author of the bestselling book Plan B, and is one of the the most candid,  insightful and humble leaders you’ll ever have the opportunity to listen to – we all have a lot to learn from Pete Wilson. Bottom line – If you’re a leader then you need to watch this interview. Please let me know what you think in the comments section below…

Leadership Interview – John Maxwell

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Leadership Interview - John MaxwellFor those of you interested in the topic of leadership John Maxwell (@johncmaxwell - www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com) likely needs no introduction. John is probably one of the world’s best known and most respected authors and speakers on the subject of leadership. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, John has sold more than 18 million books. In fact, three of his books (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader) have sold more than one million copies each. John is also the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Rather than continue with his bio, I want to get on with the interview so that you can get up-close and personal with man behind the impressive credentials.

Mike Myatt: What was your first recollection of experiencing great leadership?
 
John Maxwell: Definitely in the home. My father is a great leader. He led our family well. He served our mother, which is the essence of effective leadership. And he led each of us kids differently. For my business-minded brother, he provided opportunities to connect with successful businessmen and develop his talent. With me, he knew I was going to be a pastor. So he often took me with him to hear especially gifted preachers. Many of them were kind enough to meet with me and even pray over me and my future calling.
 
Mike Myatt: Who had the most significant influence on shaping you as a leader?
 
John Maxwell: Well, aside from my father, I’d say one book really changed the way I looked at had leadership: Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. That’s where I first read that leadership is influence. That insight changed my perspective on leadership and set the course for my career as a leader and teacher of leadership.
 
Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?
 
John Maxwell: I think it would have to be leaving the pastorate. I’ve always loved the church and believed in its mission. Pastoring the local church was my first calling. But later I began to sense that I was called to train leaders outside the walls of the local church.
 
As it happened, I served as senior pastor probably two years longer than I should have. After ten years of leading a church and an organization for leaders outside the church (essentially two full-time jobs), the workload took a toll on me. Even then, I didn’t want to leave. But it was a decision I eventually had to make.

Mike Myatt: What’s been most rewarding to you in your work in the leadership field?
 
John Maxwell: Seeing other leaders emerge and reach their potential. Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing a leader rise up and serve other people.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?
 
John Maxwell: Helping others succeed. If you take a trip up a mountain by yourself, you’re not a leader; you;re an achiever. A leader takes people somewhere. And they take the people not only where they want to go but also beyond where they believe they can go.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the single-biggest stumbling block for leaders?
 
John Maxwell: Thinking that their leadership is for themselves. Leadership by nature needs to be unselfish, to add value to others. Anytime a leader starts to think that the position, the influence, or the benefits are for them, they’ve got things upside-down.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest strength as a leader?
 
John Maxwell: Probably my ability to connect with people. All good leaders understand people, care about them, and know how to connect with them. You may meet a good connector who’s not a good leader, but you don’t really ever see a good leader who’s not a good connector.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest weakness as a leader?
 
John Maxwell: I believe so much in people that I’m unrealistic. There have been many times when I’ve thought I could help somebody get to the next level when maybe they didn’t even want to. I just have a real blind spot there, so much that I eventually got to the place where I was not the one hiring leaders. Because no matter what deficiency a potential staff member had, I thought, “Oh, I can help with that. I can help them be successful.”  That’s just not always true, because people have to want to change and grow.

Mike Myatt: Is it more difficult to be a leader today, why or why not?
 
John Maxwell: No. Leadership is leadership. It involves the same principles, no matter the time frame. Now, individual challenges can make things more or less difficult. But I think every era has opportunities for great leaders to emerge, and the great ones do. Pick any time in history, and you’ll find a challenge and a leader who rose up to take it on.

Mike Myatt: What’s the best and worst example of leadership you’ve observed in recent times?
 
John Maxwell: Let me give you two examples with the same person. Early in Barack Obama’s administration, he ran into problems with some Cabinet nominees who had failed to pay all of their taxes. After revelations about the third, Tom Daschle, Obama was quoted in interviews saying, “I screwed up. I’ve got to own up to my mistake.” It was very refreshing for me to see a leader – particularly a President in office – to say, “I own this.”
 
Now, look more recently to the same president, same administration. With this spring’s Gulf oil spill, I think Obama was too laissez faireat first. I don’t think he understood the magnitude of the problem and didn’t take a proactive enough approach. And so it soon grew to crisis proportions. This illustration just shows that no leader is immune. Every good leader makes some bad decisions. Likewise, every bad leader makes some good decisions.

Mike Myatt: What should leaders today be focused on with regard to the future?
 
John Maxwell: I think leaders always have to be looking forward at the vision. So that’s really a question for each individual leader. You can’t give one answer that works for all leaders because every leader has a unique vision and circumstances.
 
Whatever your leadership world is, you need to keep an eye on the vision. If you don’t see before other people do, and better than other people do, then perhaps you’re not really even the leader. Leaders are always connected to the vision. And then they connect the people to the vision.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers one piece of advice on leadership, what would that be?
 
John Maxwell: You never arrive. Leaders are learners. If you want to be a good leader, whether you’re just starting out or the CEO of an organization, do not have an arrival mindset. Always operate from the belief that you can always grow and get better as a leader and as a person. 

Mike Myatt: What’s next for John?
 
John Maxwell: More and more, I find myself speaking internationally. A little over 10 yrs ago, I started a nonprofit org called EQUIP, to focus on training leaders outside the United States. Because of EQUIP’s efforts, I’ve made more international connections. Last year, I taught in China twice, and I’m going back again this summer. I like to say that I’ve taught leadership on every continent except Antarctica. And I believe I’ll continue doing that. It’s a joy to train leaders here at home, but I find it especially rewarding in countries like China, where the people are so talented and so hungry to learn.

Conclusion: The thing that I’ve always admired about John’s work is that he has been able to authentically integrate his faith with his work in the field of leadership – this is a regrettably a rarity in today’s world. After reading this interview the real take away is that John is the antithesis of an aloof celebrity. He is warm, caring, engaging and truly passionate about the practice of leadership. If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment so that John has the opportunity to hear from you below…

Leadership Interview – Marshall Goldsmith

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

leadership Interview - Marshall GoldsmithI recently had the pleasure of spending about 40 minutes on the phone with Marshall Goldsmith (@coachgoldsmith) whom I consider to be one of the best executive coaches in the business. In fact, I hold Marshall in such high professional regard that he is one of only three other coaches that I’ll refer people to if I’m unable to meet their needs. Marshall has authored 30 books (most recently: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and MOJO) as well as a plethora of other published material, and his services are in such high demand that his waiting list for new coaching clients has more than an 8 month backlog. Perhaps the best thing I can share with you about Marshall is that his candor, competency and experience are only equaled by his thoughtfulness and sincerity. On with the inteview… 

Mike Myatt: How would you describe your business and what do you do?

Marshall Goldsmith: I don’t specifically work in the area of strategy or leadership, but my work often affects those areas as what I do is help people change behavior. My business has 3 primary aspects: I write, speak and coach. I have spent my life studying people and have conducted exhaustive amounts of research which supports my belief that anyone is capable of changing if they have the intrinsic motivation to do so. I help people understand this and act upon it.

Mike Myatt: What if anything have you found to be a common misperception about the coaching industry?

Marshall Goldsmith: I have found that both clients and coaches can put too much faith in the coach. The role of a coach is very overrated and the role of the client very underrated. When either clients or coaches view the coach as the key to anything, it is an unhealthy relationship. Coaching is not about the coach – it’s about the client.

Mike Myatt: What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

Marshall Goldsmith: Not to be a leader. In all seriousness, I’ve made the conscious decision not to be a leader of people. I’m often regarded as a thought leader, but I don’t run an organization, and don’t have any desire to. They only job I ever had that I hated was being a Dean. I was thought of as a good Dean, but I didn’t like the job. Not everyone should be a leader.

Mike Myatt. How has social media changed your business, if at all?

Marshall Goldsmith: I could not possibly personally coach or speak to everybody who has an interest in my work. Social media expands my reach and influence and allows me help people I would not otherwise interact with in a meaningful fashion.

Mike Myatt: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your work in the leadership field?

Marshall Goldsmith: It has nothing little to do with awards, recognitions, books, etc., but everything to do with helping people. The most rewarding thing for me is always when I receive a message from a person that tells me that I’ve made a positive difference in their life.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the biggest stumbling block for leaders:

Marshall Goldsmith: One word – ego. A leader whose ego has begun to run astray suffers from what I refer to as the “halo effect,” meaning that they tend to overestimate the impact of their personal contributions. When you’re the boss your suggestions become orders, all your jokes are funny, and the higher you climb in an organization the more your ego gets stroked. This is a dangerous position for anyone who loses perspective.

Mike Myatt: We’ve both had the honor of being placed on a number of lists with regard to achievements in the leadership and coaching fields – What value do you place on these lists?

Marshall Goldsmith: It depends on the lists…some I’m particularly proud of, and others, while I appreciate the recognition I don’t take too seriously. It’s not the lists that matter, but the accomplishments that directly or indirectly result in your placement on such lists that count.

Mike Myatt: Can you cite any specific examples of individuals whom you believe constitute great examples of leadership?

Marshall Goldsmith: While I could offer many examples, three individuals come to mind: General (Ret.) Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff, Alan Mulally, CEO of the Ford Motor Company, and Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the Girl Scouts. All three of these individuals have had a profound and positive impact on those individuals and organizations which they have led.

Mike Myatt: If you could offer any of our readers’ specific advice about leadership what would that be?

Marshall Goldsmith: Leadership is a contact sport and it’s often messy. The best thing a leader can do is to focus on making themselves a better human being. By learning to have balance, discipline and to become happy with the choices they make in life, they will become better leaders.

Mike Myatt: Do you think leadership is more difficult today than in times past?

Marshall Goldsmith: The principles of leadership haven’t changed much, but the world in which we apply them certainly has. Among the many things that make leadership more challenging today is the global market in which leaders must compete. The best example I can give you of how competitive things have become globally is that my daughter recently completed her PhD from an Ivy League school – out of 22 students she was the only one from the United States. This is an indication that things are only going to get tougher as we move forward.

More information on Marshall can be found by visiting his website. If you have any questions for Marshall, or if his work has helped you please let him know by leaving a comment below…

Leadership Interview – John Baldoni

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Leadership Interview - John BaldoniThere’s a lot of noise in the leadership space – in fact, there are so many coaches, experts, consultants, gurus, etc., professing leadership acumen and expertise that it can be tough to distinguish between the posers and the players. Over the next few days I’m going to sprinkle in three interviews with leadership professionals whom I hold in high esteem and regard: John Baldoni (@johnbaldoni), Marshall Goldsmith (@coachgoldsmith), and John C. Maxwell (@johncmaxwell). All three of these individuals are published authors, speakers, and advisors on the topic of leadership that have stood the test of time. In fact, while these three individuals wouldn’t necessarily refer to themselves as such, I believe it’s vey fair to call them thought leaders on the subject of leadership. First-up in this series is my interview with John Baldoni…Aside from John’s gifts for communicating and teaching principles of actionable leadership, what I hope you take away from this interview is how passionate he is about the topic of leadership, and the humble manner in which he expresses himself.

For those of you not familiar with John’s work, he has authored several books, the most recent of which is “Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managng Up.” John is internationally recognized for his work in the field of leadership and is listed as one of the world’s top 25 leadership experts. You can follow John on Twitter (@johnbaldoni) or visit his website for more information, to read his blog or watch his videos.

Some might wonder why I’d interview John as the general perception is likely that we are competitors. The truth of the matter is that while we conduct business in the same sector, share recognition on some of the same lists, and even write for some of the same publications, I view John as a peer and not a competitor. Put simply, this blog is about providing value to readers, and my job is to  expose readers interested in leadership to great leadership thinking. On with the interview…

Mike Myatt:  What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

John Baldoni: Since I am by choice a solo entrepreneur, leadership decisions for me are personal. Deciding to remain independent, rather than join a firm or company was a difficult choice. It has been tempting and it’s flattering to be considered by other firms, but I have decided that what’s best for me is to pursue my career as an independent consultant.

Mike Myatt: What’s been most rewarding to you in your work in the leadership field?

John Baldoni: Helping men and women achieve positive results! I do this through my work as an executive coach, teaching as a leadership educator, and writing my columns and books. What keeps me going is when someone who’s read an article, heard a lecture, or allowed me to coach them tells me that they have learned something that has helped them become a more effective leader.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

John Baldoni: Leaders do what the organization needs them to do. In good times, it’s a pleasure to grow and groom the organization. In tough times, it’s a hardship, often choosing between not good and bad choices, but two right choices. The role of leaders is to create followership and leaders do it by creating conditions for followers to succeed.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the single biggest stumbling block for leaders?

John Baldoni: Leaders are not perfect; they are living breathing human beings with clear faults. Leaders make mistakes, but leaders who succeed are right more often than wrong. But to me the greatest stumbling block is dealing with what you don’t know. It’s not what you know that keeps you awake; it’s what you don’t know that does.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest strength?

John Baldoni: At a recent speaking engagement I was introduced as a leadership expert who cares, really cares, about helping  people do their jobs better. That statement made me feel great and I’m quite certain I cannot top that.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as your greatest weakness?

John Baldoni: You asked us to keep our answers short so I don’t have time to delineate all my faults, but let me say one thing I work on is patience. Our leadership models are built upon action, getting things done. But sometimes you need to let things happen that requires patience, and so I am still learning.

Mike Myatt: Is it more difficult to be a leader today, why or why not?

John Baldoni: Every age presents its own challenges, but there are clearly some factors that are making it tough to lead organizations. One, our economic conditions are very tough. The economy is recovering, but jobs remain scarce so everyone needs to do more with less. Two, working globally stretches human abilities to adapt to different cultures and different situations. Three, time is compressed as never before due to 24/7 mindset. Get it done and get it done now is a real challenge that may not set up organizations for long term success.

Mike Myatt: What’s the best and worst example of leadership you’ve observed in recent times?

John Baldoni: I think we are seeing an epidemic of failure of accountability. Whether this absence of responsibility occurred in our financial meltdown, or is occurring now in the Gulf of Mexico, people in senior positions – and I would not call them leaders – are seeking to buck-pass responsibility. Senior executives whom we used to regard as sane and sober leaders are acting more like whining children as they seek to outdo each other by saying, “Not my fault!”

And the best example, that’s hard to say, but let me suffice to say that I see it – we all see it – everyday in the people around us. It’s school teachers who work extra hours to ensure their students succeed. It’s bosses who pass up a pay raise or a promotion so that someone on their team can stay on the payroll. It’s our community volunteers who help out in the neighborhood or go across the land to help another in his neighborhood. 

For an individual of note, I would have to select Father Greg Boyle of Home Boy Industries in Los Angeles. For more than two decades, Father Greg, a Jesuit priest, has been offering gang youths an opportunity to work and in the process discover an alternative to gang life. A truly extraordinary story of extraordinary leadership that provides common sense opportunities.

Mike Myatt: What should leaders today be focused on with regard to the future?

John Baldoni: Leaders need to encourage critical thinking. Ambiguity is the defining factor of our times. Scarcity of resources as well as need for renewable ones is challenging us to make new and different decisions. Global economics can determine survivability of neighborhood businesses.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers one piece of advice on leadership, what would that be?

John Baldoni: Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. At the same time, realize what you don’t know and trust the people closest to you. And finally never be afraid to admit you are human, that is, capable of making a mistake.

Mike Myatt: What’s next for John?

John Baldoni: More coaching, more teaching, more writing!

Conclusion: Please leave a comment below for John if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share. Knowing John, he’ll be happy to respond to your questions so fire away…If you’re interested in reading other interviews please jump over to the interviews section of the blog.

Interview: Chris Brogan

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Interview - Chris BroganI recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Brogan. Chris is the President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency. With the market being awash of so called social media “experts,” Chris, who would never refer to himself as such, is absolutely the real deal. In addition to running a successful agency, Chris has reached celebrity status as a blogger (www.chrisbrogan.com), social media advisor, and most recently as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Trust Agents.” If you want to see Chris at work, just follow him on Twitter @chrisbrogan where his followers (now numbering more than 100,000) represent one of the most fiercely loyal and engaged communities on the web. However what I admire most about Chris is that with all his success he has remained one of the true nice guys in the business. On with the interview…   

Mike Myatt: The world of social media has not only become big business, but it’s also become one of the most crowded niches in today’s business world. What has been the thing that differentiates you from the legions of other social media advisors?

Chris Brogan: I don’t try to compete with other social media types. Instead, I try to work with companies on ideas that improve their business communications efforts. My background in social media is 11 years long and growing. My background in online community participation and then leadership starts in the mid-80s. So, instead of being a marketing professional who figured out social media, I’m a social media native who learned some things to help people do vibrant things with their marketing and internal communications.

Mike Myatt: What inspired you to write “Trust Agents”?

Trust AgentsChris Brogan: I’m working on building out information that others can use to empower their own efforts. Blogs are great, but the idea of a book was that people could share it with their colleagues, their bosses, their clients, whoever needs to know. It’s a chance to share the bigger ideas of what I think works underneath the movement of using social media, and to give people much more than the “which tool is cool” type stuff I’m reading mostly these days.

Mike Myatt: While I have written often on the importance of social media in developing influence and relationships, I’d love to get your perspective on the following question: How is “social media” impacting your clients?

Chris Brogan: My clients realize that these tools allow people to be human again, that we can have a face on the brand. There are plenty of opportunities for people to build relationships. For example, one of my clients, Citrix Online (who do GoToMyPC, GoToWebinar, etc) were looking to reach more people interested in the mobile and distributed workforce. We created workshifting.com, which is a group blog that engages people without being any kind of an ad for their product. In fact, nearly none of the posts have anything to do with their products directly. Instead, we write about the kinds of challenges facing people who workshift for some parts of a week. My other clients, Cisco, Microsoft, Sony Electronics USA, etc, are all enjoying the chance to connect with people in a much more personable level.

Mike Myatt: Up to this point, can you point to any single defining moment in your career?

Chris Brogan: I’m not sure I’ve had my most defining moment. Personally, hitting both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller’s list for my ideas was great, but as my clients go, or in my overall business, I haven’t really hit my biggest success just yet. My clients are happy and have all kinds of appreciative things to say, but I don’t feel like I’ve really taken things high enough or deep enough or successful enough.

Mike Myatt: How do you gauge your success on a day-to-day basis?

Chris Brogan: On a day to day basis, my sense of success comes from trying to be as responsive as possible, to the most people possible, and from working on delivering actionable ideas to people for their efforts (be those clients, or readers of my blog). Any day I can help someone move the needle forward is a good day for me. Working with big clients gives me the chance to try big ideas, and when we can see some signs of success, that’s what matters the most to me.

Mike Myatt: What is the toughest part of your day?

Chris Brogan: Great question. Not being able to respond fast enough to everything is my cross right now. I’ve over 129 unprocessed emails right now collected over the last few days. I’m traveling so much and working some very long hours, and very few of them are in front of a computer to answer email, so I’m frustrated but trying to accomplish more every day. I’m re-reading Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less to try and improve that all the more.

Mike Myatt: If you could give any advice to our readers what would it be?

Chris Brogan: Be helpful, be consistent, be everywhere. I’m doing everything I can to equip people to do new things with their business goals, but I feel this advice is timeless and yet timely. We’ve somehow become selfish, as businesses and as people, and my goal is to help empower people to think about others as much as they can, and to derive sustainable business value from doing it.

Mike Myatt: What’s next for Chris Brogan?

Chris Brogan: I’m working on editing my second book, which will be a much more typical “about social media” book, and working on the proposal for the third book (my second with Julien Smith) which will be a shift from where Trust Agents left off. We’re writing about how human business works, and what we believe will be the DNA of disruption. It should be quite different from Trust Agents, and yet, in compatibility with what we’ve written there.

Conclusion
As you can tell from the interview, Chris is focused, smart, and totally engaged with his market. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who models the definition of customer-centric like Chris does. Thanks for sharing Chris…

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