The Leadership Dance

Not everyone will respond to your leadership.  No matter how good you are, there will be skeptics.  Leadership is a human endeavor and humans have choices.  Still, it’s your duty to find a way to lead them. It's the leadership dance. No matter how big your organization, your message, direction, and motivations flow through a handful of people and leadership is like dancing; it is accomplished one…

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Why Your CEO Just Doesn’t Get It

Quality leadership or a lack thereof is easy to spot if you know what to look for. The problem is most people don’t know what to look for in a leader, and according to a recent study by Chief Executive magazine many CEOs don’t seem to know what to look for either. While I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I will admit to being absolutely stunned as I reviewed the results of a survey…

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Reinventing Vermeer

Tim’s Vermeer is a riveting documentary about inventor Tim Jenison’s quest to understand the genius of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.  The film chronicles Jenison’s discovery of a technique Vermeer may have used to create his photo-realistic paintings prior to the invention of photography. History offers few clues to Vermeer’s life.  Most art experts have cited a genius of vision—the ability to…

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The Leadership Lesson They Don’t Teach In Business School

I’ve always believed leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity, but I’m afraid in recent times many leaders are losing that battle. Somewhere along the way, they threw in the towel and settled for a weak-kneed, watered-down version of leadership – they have rationalized and justified themselves into an acceptance of mediocrity. The sad reality is that in many cases, the education, training and…

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Top 10 Reasons Diversity is Good for the Boardroom

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…

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What the NFL Can Learn from a Civil War Soldier

"Beware how you take away hope from another human being." — Oliver Wendell Holmes This week, the Miami Dolphins stole headlines from their NFL competitors.  Unfortunately for the league, the Dolphins, and the rest of us, the way their players talk and not the way they play invited the scrutiny. Words are unique to the human condition and the thread that connects us to this quilt of humanity.…

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The #1 Problem Every Leader Has But Isn’t Aware Of

  * This column was originally published on Forbes.com Let’s cut right to the chase – the biggest problem all leaders face is problem solving itself. The job of every leader is to avoid, minimize or altogether eliminate problems. When the inevitable problems do arise, it’s a leader’s job to turn said problems into opportunity. The issue is this; most leaders are woefully inept when it comes…

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Clear Counsel – How Sweet the Sound

By Brian Layer Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth When you want to know how your leadership is working--ask.  Years ago, I learned this lesson when I received some unsolicited advice that challenged my professionalism, served as a wakeup call, and changed the arc of my career.  The counsel came from a subordinate as I was leaving an important leadership position but it would have come earlier if…

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8 Ways To Spot Great Leadership

If you ever wonder why we’re in a crisis of leadership all you have to do is to watch and listen to those in positions of leadership. While there are clearly many aspects of leadership that must work together in harmony in order for leaders to be effective, everything breaks down when leaders don’t understand how to engage effectively. The saying "success leaves clues" couldn't be more true for…

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The Silent CEO Addiction Killing Productivity and Talent Development

Corporate America’s dependency on consulting firms is nothing short of substance abuse in the purest form. The fact is most CEOs suffer from this very dangerous addiction and they don’t even know it – they are clearly in need of an intervention. Addicts don’t often admit they have a problem. They tend to rationalize and justify their behavior as normal. Here’s the thing – normal doesn’t always…

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A Simple Lesson from the Declaration of Independence

Fifty-six Continental Congressmen signed the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.  With each quill stroke, the men committed treason and placed at risk their lives, fortune, and sacred honor. The act was more than symbolic; it added weight to the cause and tied their personal fate to the Revolution.  There was no denying they had skin in the game. While the Continental Army had been at war…

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When in Doubt, Rehearse!

By Brian Layer Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth Lately I’ve seen several leaders trip over the unexpected outcome of a grand plan. They failed to anticipate the mistakes and mishaps that happen in all organizations.  When I see an outcome surprise a leader, I’m reminded of a lesson I learned years ago from my Dad.

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A Leadership Trait that Saved America

Today the U.S. Army celebrates its 238th birthday.  Looking back, its growth into comfortable old age seems inevitable but in its youth that outcome was far from certain. In 1783 on the Ides of March, the inseparable fates of our Army and Republic were very much in doubt; disgruntled officers of the fledgling Army were gathered in a secret meeting in Newburgh, New York to discuss insurrection.…

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Leadership and Memorial Day

Is Memorial Day weekend just another holiday or does it mean something more to you? While this weekend simply signifies a long awaited prelude to summer for some, it is much more than that for others. As a veteran and lifelong student of leadership I have always found Memorial Day weekend to be one of the most meaningful and significant of all holidays. In the text below I’ll share  why I believe…

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Leadership and Simplicity

One of the most effective ways to order your world is to simplify everything you encounter. However the problem for many is keeping it simple often becomes very difficult when our basic human nature is to over-complicate everything we touch. In thinking about the people I respect the most, to the one, they possess the uncanny ability to take the most complicated of issues and simplify them. You…

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It’s Not Impossible – It Just Hasn’t Been Done Yet

How many times in your career have you witnessed someone say, “that’s impossible – it simply can’t be done.” Perhaps you’ve even been guilty of uttering such a phrase yourself. Here’s the thing – leaders don’t accept impossibility as a valid thesis. If you think I’ve lost my mind, or that my optimistic nature has crossed over into a state of irrational exuberance or delusion, I’d encourage you…

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