Working Without Purpose Is A Waste Of Time

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

“Sometimes you can learn best about a topic by identifying what it isn’t before you define what it is.”

This hit home with me when I was asked how you could know when an organization lacks purpose. The interviewer was Shawn Murphy, a workplace consultant and host of the popular “Work That Matters” podcast. I thought the question was brilliant because it challenged me to define purpose by first describing what it was like without purpose.

Read Full Column on Forbes

Best Talent You Have May Be Right Under Your Nose

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

While you can argue that someone content with his lot deserves stasis, too often we have seen very talented individuals get overlooked by their managers and as a result stay put. These are very often the folks that make their organizations tick over; metaphorically they make the trains run on time, but even better they put the cars in the train together so that they deliver the goods (or services) customers need.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Governor Christie: Leadership Begins With A Look In The Mirror

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.

I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Are You too Busy to Say Thanks?

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Is it me or has Thanksgiving been overrun by our national pastime–holiday shopping?  Apparently, we are too busy to spend a single day reflecting on our blessings.  It should come as no surprise; gratitude went out of fashion years ago.  But more accurately, as most of us became removed from the challenge and hard work of producing our bounty, our gratitude diminished and like most things that come easily, we began to take it for granted.

This change of attitude is not just a cultural problem; it’s a leadership problem too.

As leaders, we can become removed from the team’s challenge and hard work and in turn; our gratitude can wane.  We get too busy to acknowledge the hard work being done on our behalf.  Perhaps our leadership gratitude has gone the way of our cultural gratitude—squeezed out by other priorities.

As a Soldier, I was lucky to lead in an Army that takes gratitude seriously.  As an officer, I was empowered to express gratitude on behalf of my unit and our Nation.  I could give awards for service and achievement that expressed my gratitude as well as that of the chain of command.  As a general, I had the sad, sacred duty of expressing the gratitude of a grateful Nation to the loved ones of our fallen.

I have lots of experience saying thanks officially and I have witnessed the power of formal gratitude; still, no token of appreciation resonated like an unexpected, sincere and personal expression of gratitude.  As my responsibilities increased, I too became removed from the challenges and hard work of my Soldiers.  Yet, my rank didn’t diminish my duty to understand their sacrifice or excuse me from saying thanks. I had to make getting to the right place to say thanks in a meaningful way a standing priority.  I visited people, wrote notes, called meetings, planned events and used every power at my disposal just to say thank you and you should too.

Don’t let your professional gratitude go the way of Thanksgiving—squeezed out by other priorities.  The privilege of your position will only insulate you from the challenges and hard work of your team, if you let it.  Keep your leadership priorities straight.  Make time and take time to say thank today and every day of the year.

Thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter @brianlayer

Board Diversity

Top 10 Reasons Diversity Is Good For The Boardroom

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth 

I do quite a bit of work on matters of board composition, selection and succession, and what I can tell you is this; board diversity is simply smart business. You’ll never hear me recommend diversity solely for the sake of checking a box, but when diversity in the boardroom offers so many benefits to the CEO (and to the entire organization) it’s nothing short of irresponsible for chief executives not to place their board composition under the microscope. In today’s column I’ll share with you the top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom.

 

Real Full Column on Forbes

Presidents and Executives Need People Willing to Disagree With Them

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

It is important for a leader to include people in his inner circle whose power does not derive solely from the leader.

That is the gist of a comment that David Gergen offered as one of the reasons President Obama has stumbled managing some of the major challenges facing his administration, namely the launch of the Affordable Care Act and the intelligence-gathering activities of the National Security Agency.

Gergen, a veteran of four White House administrations, noted that the president’s inner circle of aides, while all very capable, owed their positions to him. While that ensures a degree of loyalty, it cannot make it easy for them to raise tough questions or challenge the president.

 

Read Full Column on Bloomberg

 

Diversity of a Different Persuasion

By Patricia Lenkov
Chair, Executive Search, N2growth

Diversity is a complex issue because it comes in all shapes and sizes. It has been and continues to be the subject of much debate in business communities across the globe. As an Executive Recruiter, I have been asked to identify candidates who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and even geography.  One type of diversity that has more recently begun to receive subtle yet perceptible attention is age diversity.

What? You may ask yourself! Age diversity in a country where federal and state laws prohibit questions about age?

Read More

Don’t Leave a Dead Bird on your Doorstep!

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth

Recently, I approached the entrance of familiar children’s store and saw a dead bird on their doorstep. Decay indicated the time for a proper burial had passed and while disturbed, I was not surprised the employees left it lying in state. The dead bird on the doorstep is a common symptom of a big organization problem and if you run one, you might have a few dead birds of your own.  This happens when employees fail to understand their role in the context of the competitive environment.

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Leaders: How do you say Hello?

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth

Hello is one of those words where a change in pitch changes definition.  It can be a warm invitation to a new relationship or a cold indication that you’re too busy to talk.  When you begin a leadership position, you only get one opportunity to say hello and most leaders, overwhelmed with their new responsibilities, say hello in the wrong pitch: “Nice to meet you but I’m too busy to talk.”

As a young Army leader, I frequently moved from one leadership position to another and searched for a way to forge strong bonds in a hurry.  Over time, I developed a new way to say hello that reduced the time it took to get acquainted with my team and discover what made them tick.

Read More

The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken

Leadership Models

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

When organizations’ hire, develop, and promote leaders using a competency-based model, they’re unwittingly incubating failure. Nothing fractures corporate culture faster, and eviscerates talent development efforts more rapidly, than rewarding the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Don’t reward technical competency – reward aggregate contribution.

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.

Thoughts?

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