You may remember Amelia Earhart as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, the first person to fly solo across the Pacific, and the first person to cross both oceans alone in an airplane before she vanished mysteriously over the Pacific in July 1937. In addition to her passion for flight, she was also a prolific author. Here is one of her poems. Think about this in the context of her accomplishmentsAmelia


 A Poem by Amelia Earhart

 Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.

 The soul that knows it not knows no release

 From little things;


Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,

Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear

 The sound of wings.


Nor can life grant us boon of living, compensate

For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate

Unless we dare


The soul’s dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay

With courage to behold the restless day,

 And count it fair.


More about the poems of Amelia Earhart



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    Leaders are Great Communicators

    Virtually every company we’ve worked with has had feedback from their employees that they need to improve communication.

    Better communication begins with leaders. It’s not about more emails, more town halls and more talking at employees. Communication is a conversation with employees.

    Every leader’s communication style is different. To be authentic, a leader must leverage their unique strengths and capabilities to maximize their communication effectiveness.

    Find your voice and use it well. But remember that you have two ears and one mouth which is a reminder to listen twice as much as you talk!

    Tips for Effective Communication

    • Context is King – you cannot assume that anyone knows where you’re coming from if you don’t tell them.
    • Consistency – create a message map. Capture the key and core ideas that need shared. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.The map ensures that everyone knows the direction and is oriented about how this message connects to everything else going on in the organization. The heart of your message must remain consistent but the method of delivery may vary. To maintain consistency, it’s also important to link messages to your organizational strategy and values.
    • Connection – don’t change your message but adjust your approach to connect with your audience. Remember that different people relate in different ways. Get to know your audience and speak in language that they understand. Start from their perspective and connect where they are back to your message.
    • Clarity – use clear and concise language. Remember K.I.S.S.? Kiss your audience with clarity!
    • Create a listening loop – leaders must have mechanisms to listen as well as talk. Whether this is skip level meetings or intentional networks (we’ve helped leaders build change champion networks to formalize the informal grapevine and get better feedback) leaders must listen at all levels in their organization.

    A great communicator begins from the perspective of the audience. They give clear, consistent messages that contain the context needed to understand the why. Through communication a leader reinforces the vision, champions change, transfers ideas, aligns expectations and inspires action. Leaders give hope and leaders give clarity. Great leaders are great communicators.

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      Leaders are Courageous

      Being courageous does not mean being without fear. Being courageous is about moving forward despite challenges, obstacles and resistance. Courage is remaining steadfast and persevering through the consequences of decisions in pursuit of your vision.


      Six Actions of Courageous Leaders

      1. Face Reality – too many changes, ideas or projects are implemented without a clear understanding of the current state. In Great by Choice, authors Collins and Hanson talk about Productive Paranoia as one component of their trifecta of 10x leadership. This involves remaining vigilantly aware of reality and being ready to respond. Courageous leaders must isolate reality from the noise around them and be prepared to take effective action. You cannot lead into the future if you do not know where you are starting from.
      2. Pay Attention – at all levels. Get feedback, have skip level meetings, meet with customers, talk with colleagues across your industry. Courageous leaders get input from many sources and pay attention across all levels of the organization.
      3. Have Difficult Conversations – this means communicating bad news as needed, holding others accountable and saying what needs to be said. Courageous leaders add and remove people who are unable or unwilling to be part of the mission. When a leader is unwilling to take action to address difficult situations they compromise the integrity of their leadership and risk significant loss of engagement from their team.
      4. Encourage Conflict – this doesn’t mean fighting or tension, this is about healthy debate and inclusion of multiple perspectives. Courageous leaders welcome different points of view and realize that the more constructive debate, the better the outcome. Courageous leaders do not need to be right, they want to get to the right answer. Constructive conflict leads to better answers.
      5. Self-discipline – be disciplined in your language, your decisions and your focus. Many organizations suffer from leaders that struggle to say no. Setting strategy or creating any kind of meaningful change is more about what you say “no” to than what you do. The discipline to remain committed to that strategy or change is the difference between mediocre and extraordinary success.
      6. Set High Standards – courageous leaders don’t settle for average. They set high standards. However, when the standards are not achieved, they acknowledge failures. When high standards are accomplished, they don’t take it for granted, they recognize and celebrate success. Through BOTH success and failure courageous leaders learn what to do more of and what to change.
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        Leaders are Growth Minded

        Why do why some people achieve their potential while equally talented others do not?

        In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, explores how both our conscious and unconscious beliefs have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. One of the most significant beliefs is how we view ourselves.

        Do you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed?

        If you believe your intelligence or talents are fixed, then you spend your time documenting your accomplishments to prove your capabilities rather than developing them. If you believe in a growth mindset then you see your intelligence or capabilities as a muscle that can grow and be developed.

        Here are tips for growth minded leaders who have a desire to improve and grow:

        • Set learning goals rather than performance goals – when you are measuring against performance, any failure threatens self-image. When you measure against learning you will take the risks needed to grow.
        • Be open to feedback – a fixed mindset believes criticism of their capabilities = criticism of them. A growth mindset sees criticism as feedback that can help them change and improve. It’s not personal, it’s about getting better and improving your capabilities.

        HERE is a link to a graphic that compares and contrasts the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. As a leader you will only achieve your full potential when you choose to live from a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. This includes viewing those around you through a growth lens.

        Leaders are responsible for growing themselves AND their people.

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          Leaders are Learners

          LearnHow are you intentionally growing, improving and learning? You don’t have to be in school to continue learning.

          Don’t succumb to the “Summer Reading List.” While you can use the list for pleasure reading, we suggest that you make time to intentionally grow and learn in strategic areas.

          Are you a sloppy reader? Are you a random reader? Do you have an intentional reading strategy? Steve Leveen of Levenger wrote “The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life.” This insightful tome suggests that no one can be well-read in all or even most things. The secret is to take control of your reading life.

          Here are some suggestions to create your custom reading strategy:

          • Start – with a list of topics. What are your interests and passions? Why read in a myopically specific area? Broaden your horizons by identifying your full range of interests and broaden your reading list. Identify the best authors and most renowned books in your areas of interest. Why settle for less than the best?
          • Collect – titles of books that you add to your candidate list; these are candidates for your attention not candidates of obligation. If someone makes a recommendation ask them why they like the book so much. Make sure it fits your areas of interest.
          • Focus – your reading time and attention on the best books from your candidate list rather than random books. Plan your reading then read according to your plan!
          • Enjoy – do not finish a book that you are not enjoying (unless it’s a class assignment!) there are too many books in this world to read. Don’t spend time slogging through a book that brings you no pleasure or benefit.

          Start today to create your custom reading list of books that suit your unique interests. Take control of your reading life and make a plan to read.

          Speaking of learning… do not miss out on learning from experts in the field of culture and leadership.

          Culture Conference 2015

          Register today so you can take advantage of the advance registration rate of only $225. Edgar Schein is a featured speaker and so are we. Hope to see you there.

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            Top Tips from Two Awesome Hours

            Josh Davis, Ph.D. has done a masterful job of creating simple, practical tips on how to apply neuroscience research to maximize the potential of our brain.

            You’ve probably heard of the brain being compared to computers. If you think of your brain as a resource to manage then it makes sense that you want to do things that make the most of its computing power.


            Here are a few of Josh’s suggestions:

            1. Recognize your decision points and make a smart decision – figure out how to catch yourself when you have the opportunity to choose how you spend your time. When you jump from task to task and don’t take the time to evaluate the best next thing to do, you waste hours doing things that can’t be properly completed or things that aren’t critical. So be intentional about the right next steps AFTER an important task. (read more in Chapter 1)
            2. Limit your mental fatigue – recognize work that is most likely to deplete you in a substantial way and (as long as you have a choice) do not engage in that work before you want to be at your best.
            3. Don’t skip a workout – exercise helps you think better, stay focused, sharpen your thoughts and reduce your anxiety. Believe it or not it can be one of the best preparation tools for an important presentation or meeting! Work out for twenty to forty minutes within a couple of hours before you need to be awesomely productive. (see Chapter 4)
            4. Manage the size of your meals – how much you eat at one time really does matter (think about how you feel after a large holiday meal.) Smaller meals spaced out have a positive impact on thinking, in particular your working memory.
            5. Clutter reduces mental performance – so move the piles on your desk and hide the stuff that will distract you from what you need to get accomplished.

            Don’t miss out on the brain science behind these tips and lots more ideas on how you can create the mental and biological conditions for peak effectiveness; get a copy of Two Awesome Hours.

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              We work with Executive Leadership Teams as they focus on how to shape their culture to increase performance and maximize profitable productivity.  A recent client was challenged with a situation where they were two years post-merger and the combined organizations still felt the pain of operating in two separate cultures.

              One of the comments from an employee was, “why do they hate us” in reference to people working in a pre-merger mindset.  The friction between the various departments and geographies impacted the ability for the company to grow to its full potential.

              During the deeper discussions with the ELT it was clear that the vision for the combined organization was lacking. People unite for one of two reasons – they are either FOR or AGAINST something.  As a leader, your responsibility is to rally people for the cause, purpose or “why” of the organization.  A leaders job is creating a vision that unites people.

              In addition to an inspiring greater purpose, people need to know how to win.  Consider sports fans (being in Chicago, there are some very happy hockey fans after last night’s game! Go Hawks)  There is a passion and a connection between fans that are supporting a specific team.  They have a clear, specific and measurable focus of winning.  The team is clear on their vision and mission and it drives their performance.

              CONSIDER – Is your vision inspiring your people to their greatest potential as you grow your team, department or organization? Does your mission help your people understand when you’ve “won?”

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                The Story of Truth and a Story about Truth

                Truth walked into a village. The local inhabitants started cursing at him. Spewing epithets, they chased him out of the village.

                Truth walked along the road to the next town. They spit at him and cursed and spewed epithets, driving him out of town.

                He walked, lonely and sad, down the empty road, until he reached the next town, still hoping to find someone who was happy to see him, who would embrace Truth with open arms.

                So he walked into the third town, this time in the middle of the night, hoping that dawn would find the townsfolk, happy to see Truth with dawn’s light. But as soon as they townsfolk’s eyes lit upon him they ran to their homes and then came back throwing garbage at him.

                Truth ran off, out of town, into the woods, and after crying, and cleaning off the garbage, returned to the edge of the woods, when he heard laughter and gaiety, singing and applause. He saw the townsfolk applauding as STORY entered the town. They brought out fresh meats and soups and pies and pastries and offered them all to STORY. Who smiled and lavished in their love and appreciation.

                Come twilight, Truth was sulking and sobbing at the edge of the woods. The townsfolk disdainfully ignored him, but STORY came out to see what the story was.

                TRUTH told STORY how all the townsfolk mistreated him, how sad and lonely he was, how much he wanted to accepted and appreciated.

                STORY replied, “Of course they all reject you, “STORY looked at TRUTH, eyes a bit lowered to the side, “No-one wants to look at the naked truth.”

                So STORY gave TRUTH brilliant, beautiful clothing to wear. And they walked into the town together, TRUTH with STORY. And the townspeople greeted them with warmth and love and appreciation, for TRUTH wrapped in STORY’s clothing is a beautiful thing and easy to behold.

                And ever since then, truth travels with story, and they are always accepted and loved. And that’s the way it was and the way it is and the way it will always be.

                Editorial Note: I do not know who the original author is. I first heard this at the Berlin Change Days when Stephanie Boldt presented Storywork and recited this at the beginning of her workshop.

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                  Talk Is Cheap

                  Last week’s tip talked about a process for sharing change news. This week we’re tackling what happens after the news is shared. This is the “make it or break it” opportunity for leaders.

                  One of the most successful ways of encouraging others to change is to be an avatar or example of the change. You can create all the training, messages or showy presentations to explain a change. However, talk is cheap, action speaks.

                  During times of change, it’s easy to overlook the definition and practice of the key behaviors that will lead to change. It’s like telling everyone that they are going to work more collaboratively because of a newly designed workspace….and then hiding out in your office.

                  For the record we worked with an enlightened CIO who modeled the behavior he wanted others to emulate in an open working environment. He gave up his office, held meetings in the open space and was regularly seen interacting with teams. It created a huge shift in the organizational culture and behavior since he modeled the change.

                  Three things to consider when leading others through change:

                  1. Are the change behaviors defined as part of the change outcome? It’s easy to define the results, it’s a lot more challenging to get clear on the behaviors required to get to the outcomes. Make the time to be clear on what it’s going to take to achieve the outcome you truly want.
                  2. Have you identified, celebrated and rewarded people who exemplify the change? You get more of what you pay attention to! That’s why it helpful to correct things that aren’t going well but even more beneficial to celebrate success. People don’t change because they are nagged.
                  3. What behaviors do you need to change yourself so that you are congruent with the change? This is the principle of monkey see, monkey do. More elegantly put, people believe and behave according to what they see not what they hear. If your actions are in conflict with the change you are telling others to make, you lose credibility and persuade no one to change!

                  From the boardroom to the bedroom, talk is cheap. You cannot lead anyone to change if you are unwilling to change yourself and be an example of the change you wish to see in others.

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                    Breaking Bad (News)

                    While news of change isn’t always bad, it’s critically important to consider your approach to sharing the details of change. Unfortunately, too many leaders approach change communication with a “just the facts” mentality. Facts are subject to massive misinterpretation and will detrimentally decrease productivity when shared without effective change communication.

                    The elements of effective change communication parallel the six step protocol for doctors breaking bad news to patients. Whether you are sharing news of a difficult medical diagnosis or explaining a change to an employee, this is a complex communication task.

                    In Breaking Bad News: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, bad news is defined as, “Any information which adversely and seriously affects the individuals view of his or her future.”

                    Here are the six steps (or SPIKES) and how they relate to effective change communication:

                    • Setting – consider the environment or context where you are sharing the news. Make sure that you are prepared for the initial response to the change and are in a place where you can make a connection with your audience. Whether it’s an audience of one or many, you owe it to them to take the time to personally prepare.
                    • Perspective – Get the person or group impacted by the change to share their perspective. Find out what they understand about the change and how they are experiencing it. This gives you the ability to meet them where they are in their understanding and adjust your message accordingly.
                    • Information – Be sensitive to how much information you share. Many leaders “show up and throw up,” all the nuances of a change. Some people need to know what’s going on and will want the details later. Full information is not useful to most people. Change is a process and people need time. During subsequent communications more information will be needed as people begin to digest the change.
                    • Knowledge – As you are sharing an appropriate level of information, be sure to use language that they understand not technical jargon or corporate speak. Share the change a little bit at a time and if possible, check for comprehension.In a one to one situation, pause to let the other person talk.
                    • Empathize – this is a skill that goes beyond sympathy. When you sympathize, you acknowledge the other person’s difficulty and offer comfort or reassurance. Empathy is about taking the time to put yourself in the other person’s position and experience the change impact from their point of view.
                    • Strategize – change is difficult because of the uncertainty it creates. When you can share a clear plan for the future and help people see their place in that plan, it helps them feel less anxious and uncertain. It also can minimize the stress and the massive loss of productivity that accompanies change news.

                    Leaders have a responsibility to carefully and effectively explain changes (break bad news.) Effective change communication means the difference between comprehension, understanding and perseverance versus confusion, conjecture and loss of focus.

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