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What to Do When Your Plan Falls Apart

Last week was a perfect example. Everything was lined up. The equipment we needed was in hand and things were moving along nicely. The schedule was pretty tight, but the finish line was in view.


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Then it happened.

The rug was pulled out from under me. A critical resource I was depending on to complete an important phase of the project was unexpectedly taken away from me. I was crushed. We were so close.

My natural inclination in situations like that is to turn inward and spiral downward in disappointment and frustration over the fact that my plan has been ruined. It’s so easy to get fixated on what seems like an unnecessary detour in the road. Especially when it’s someone else’s fault. And even more especially when it looks like we’ll never make it to the finish line.

It’s just not fair, right? The temptation to give up is a strong one. But, let’s face it. If you’re the leader, or are trying to become one, that’s not really an option. At least it shouldn’t be except in extremely rare cases.

Have you ever had a plan that fell apart? Maybe I should ask if you’ve had a plan that fell apart in the last week. That would probably be a better question.

Here are four, simple steps you can take to get the train back on the rails.

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Are You Willing for Extreme Ownership?

I was talking with a friend the other night whom I had not seen in a few months. He asked how things were going and, as usual, I had a hard time not being pretty transparent. One of the things I shared with him was my disappointment over the recent failure my team and I experienced with our product launch.


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Three Ways to Turn Failure into Feedback

Houston, we have a problem…


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Those weren’t his exact words, but it was definitely something along those lines. A little over two weeks ago one of my teammates, who shall remain nameless for the sake of his reputation and ongoing career, let me know that we had a “little” problem.

Many of you know that my team and I have been working hard on producing a new video training course called, “7 Days to Becoming a Great Manager.” It’s been an enormous amount of work; way more than any of us expected.

There have been countless hours put in by a number of us and we were very close to having everything we needed to start putting the finishing touches on things so we could start our marketing efforts. It was very exciting.

And then…failure. Without going into any of the excruciatingly painful details, suffice it to say that we have been forced to go back to much-closer-to-square-one than any of us would have ever wanted. It’s hard to describe the letdown we all experienced.

Have you ever experienced failure? For those of you whose hands are not in the air, you can stop reading now because the rest of this will only bore you. For the rest of us who make up the human race, there is hope in the lines that remain in this post.

Let’s take a look at three simple questions that can transform failure into the kind of feedback that will move you forward.

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Six Keys to Delivering Tough Performance Feedback

There are some things that you, as a leader, look forward to with great anticipation. Closing a big deal. Hiring a rock star for a critical role. Rolling out that new, breakthrough product.


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And then there’s delivering tough performance feedback. Ugh. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who actually enjoys that.

I have met many who openly and decidedly don’t enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I know leaders who will avoid it at all cost. Unfortunately, I have seen it end up costing some of them quite a bit, and needlessly so.

I certainly don’t enjoy delivering this kind of message either. Call it what you want: constructive criticism, corrective feedback, or feedback for improvement. It’s no fun to have this kind of a conversation.

But, I ran across a quote from a Forbes article that said it well, “Bad news delayed is bad news compounded.” Let me encourage you to lean into this. Learning to do it well will serve you and your team in ways that go far beyond the short-term pain you’ll have to endure.

Here are six keys to delivering tough performance feedback in a way that will create a positive outcome.

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With This One Thing You Could Dominate Any Industry

Have you ever felt like everyone in the company was working against you? Have you ever felt like everyone was doing their own thing and not what was really needed? If so, have you ever wondered why?


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It can be pretty aggravating being the leader. But what if…

What if leadership guru Patrick Lencioni’s assertion is true? He said, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”  (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni).

When reading a quote like the one above there are a number of reactions that can follow. Some of you thought, “What? Are you kidding? That’s impossible.” Others have concluded, “Yes! We could do that.”

Whatever your reaction was on that spectrum of pessimism to optimism the question remains. What would happen if you began moving your organization or team in that direction…even if it was only slowly moving toward that place of a uniform stroke? Think about the tangible and intangible benefits to your employees, customers, suppliers and community.

As I reflected on the last few months of working with my clients I realized that I find myself in the midst of strategic planning with quite a number of them. This hasn’t been an intentional push by me, but something has emerged that has been striking.

I have come to a firmer and firmer belief in Mr. Lencioni’s statement and am more and more convinced that creating organizational clarity is absolutely paramount. The reason? Because of the cost of organizational confusion. It is staggering to think about and painful to watch.

And, you are the one responsible for creating clarity. Here are four questions you should ask yourself, as the leader, to create the kind of organizational clarity that will lead your company forward in a more unified rhythm.

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