Discover the Rare Leader.

As with most blogs, you will find our most recent posting at the top in your current view.
On your first visit, begin with "What is the Rare Leader".
Reading subsequent postings under the archive section will allow you to "catch up" on the story of the Rare Leader.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Life Is Full Of Choices…Make One.

Collaboration...Teamwork...Delegation...Job Sharing...Cooperation...Empower...Partnership...Compromise...and the list goes on.  What do these words have in common?  Potentially they mean - “nothing gets decided”.  
These terms of the day, are all the rage.  However, inclusion of your Team and your Associates is more of an art than a science.  Because, all of this talk of sharing in the decision seems to also slow down the process of actually making a decision.
I was asked to help a new leader assimilate into her role.  It sounded simple enough as she had been an important part of the success of this office.  
Cynthia was the ideal choice to be promoted to Lead the regional office.  She had been with this industry leader for 15 years.  Her resume carried all the necessary signs of success.  Double major in marketing and business, an MBA, and high grades from her Team in her 360 reviews.  The Succession Planning program had highlighted the competency gaps between her current strengths and this new position.  An accelerated development program closed the gap quite nicely over the past 15 months.  Everyone loved Cynthia.  
During the assimilation we found mostly support for her and few surprises to work through in her Coaching agenda.  Although, I did feel some level of caution in my mind with one particular topic.  It seemed that everyone loved Cynthia too much.  Think about it.  Hasn't every leader you have followed had some flaw?  Hasn't every leader done something to promote some level of distaste or second guessing?  
I spent some time with the group trying to bring out this concern.  After some difficult pushing, pulling, and dragging, it finally came to me.  The culture of this office had slowly eroded to a picture perfect example of passive aggressiveness.  Everyone was afraid or unwilling to make a decision on their own, and the success of group meetings was built on a foundation of alliances, and coffee talk, making certain no one would be offended by the resulting group decisions.  Yes, everyone loved Cynthia.  She was  gifted at being passive, able to stay out of the fray of decision making.
I decided to let the group move in their chosen direction.  But, we agreed I would visit again for a followup in a month or two.  In advance of my planned re-visit, I was called by the home office to listen to their anxiety driven story.  It seems Cynthia's office was in trouble.  Production was down, customer service inquiries were diving downward, two key producers had quit, and their exit interviews told the story of an office frozen with no direction, no leadership, no answers to key questions, and day to day issues with no purposeful resolve.
As the group came into our room, the look was indeed different.  It was amazing how quickly the aggressive side to their culture had taken control.  This was one group of unhappy people.  But  everyone still seemed to love Cynthia.
Through our group discussions, and some affinity group coaching exercises, I was able to help the group reach some important conclusions.  Cynthia was not Leading;
  • Don’t get me wrong, she was a Visionary, but what good is her Vision when the walls are crumbling around you after only 60 days on the job?
  • She had Charisma.  Everyone still loved Cynthia.  Amidst the turmoil, Cynthia was still the fun one to be with.
  • Cynthia was still Driven To Succeed.   She was the first one in the office, the last one to leave at the end of the day, and made it quite clear she logged more miles and met with more customers than anyone else in the office.  As the walls were tumbling down, Cynthia needed to make certain her own numbers were still up.  
  • Cynthia was protecting the Relationships she had created over her 15 years with the company.  Relationships are important to a Leader...but at what cost?
Yes, Cynthia still had many good competencies and behaviors of a Leader.  But something was indeed lacking?
Cynthia had established a very rigid schedule of group and team meetings.  She had opened each meeting with a quick discussion of the words which would be key to their success.
  • Collaboration...
  • Teamwork...
  • Delegation...
  • Job Sharing...
  • Cooperation...
  • Empower...
  • Partnership...
  • Compromise.  
Yes, it’s those words again.  But one key phrase was missing.  She was ignoring the focus of “Decision Making”.  
Nothing was getting done.  It may have been a small symptom of a larger problem, it may have been a customer complaint, or it may have been a blowup between key employees.  But on this day, we came to realize Cynthia was not making a decision as their leader on most topics that came her way.
Yes, yes, yes...these are great words.  These are wonderful sets of Teamwork ideology.  But lets face it.  Someone must make a decision.  In the end, (or perhaps in the beginning, or even midstream) The Leader must be decisive.  The Rare Leader™ must be able to assess, analyze, and move toward a  solution using instincts, and be willing to take a risk where the absence of facts makes the better decision.  Life is full of choices…make one.
  1. Who is responsible to make the decision?
  2. What decisions never seem to be made?
  3. Where can you go if you need to resolve a question?
  4. When will you start making Decisions?
  5. How will you change your behavior of avoiding decision making?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peeling The Onion...

Did this title really bring you here?  I’m guessing it wasn’t because you thought I would teach you how to correctly peel an onion with out crying.  (Although I know how to do that as well.)  
You’ve no doubt heard the expression “peeling the onion” back farther to reveal a deeper underlying root cause, instead of just the surface symptoms. Or, perhaps we venture out in life being very good at “peeling the onion,” by asking why, and why, and then why again, until we have gone as deep as we can go in getting answers.  
My Grandson Mason mastered this technique.  Mason, don’t run down the stairs, I would yell.   Why not Run Grandpa?  Because you’ll fall and get hurt.  Why fall Grandpa?  Because your legs are too short for the stair height.  Why legs so short Grandpa?  Because you’re only 3 years old Mason.  Why 3 Grandpa? this time he was down the stairs safely, but I was worn out.  He won.
As adults, and as Leaders we need reminders that many situations warrant digging deeper than others typically do. In today’s high speed technology driven world of diverse people and generations, we often feel pressured to “finish” one task and quickly move on to another.
Why is Tom failing Debbie asked me?  He seemed perfect when we hired him.  He has a good undergraduate degree, and an MBA from the best business school in the Midwest.  Tom’s 10 years experience in very specifically related tasks seemed to qualify him well.  His references all checked out.  The onion skin had now been broken and peeled back, revealing a very shiny aubergine layer.
How has Tom done in his first year, I asked?  Well, you know, it is the honeymoon time being new on the job, and the markets have been really tough.  And then we lost a big client.   But I thought Tom was doing pretty well, until...Now the second layer of the onion was about to be pulled away.  A subtle symptom of a failing employee fell to the floor. 
Well, until one of our key employees began to complain.  Now I really trust Barb.  She’s a legacy employee.  She’s loyal, and smart, and has no reason to make things up, so I listened Debbie said.  Barb told me Tom had not been truthful on performance reviews.  Everyone was getting a similar above average rating.  Another layer of the onion fell away.
When Debbie subsequently asked Tom about the performance reviews, Tom was a bit uncomfortable, and seemed to have a pretty good answer to every question.  It didn’t add up to Barbs concern.  Another layer came away.
Debbie carefully peeled away yet another layer of not so subtle symptoms, and reviewed all the performance appraisals herself.  Barb was correct.  These are all vanilla.  Tom was lying to me, Debbie thought to herself.
When Tom came in Barbs office, he could see the reviews stacked on Debbie’s desk.  He knew the topic of the hour.  Debbie began her questions.  but this time she was prepared.  She had peeled enough layers of the onion away to be near the truth.  After the normal course of who, what, where, when, and how questions, Tom was as worn out as Grandpa was from Mason.
Debbie told me how pleased she was to have continued to probe, peeling the onion to discover the truth about Tom’s failing performance.  Now, she wanted advice about what to do next with Tom.  She was prepared to fire him.
I asked her to peel the onion even further.  After peeling away the final layers, and taking a closer look, and Debbie summarized she discovered Tom had supervised people before, but not such a diverse work force as this.  At his previous employer, the culture was quite easy going and laid back, while here, we are driven and accountable to metrics and goals.  And, when finally arriving at a place of personal trust with Tom, he confided, that he had an aversion to conflict.  
Debbie had now found the core of the onion.  If Tom could receive some help understanding the rules of engagement within this culture of accountability, and learn to use the available tools to manage conflict, he just might be come a better manager.  
So it really wasn’t about Tom failing to document performance.  It was about her own failure to assess and recognize the culture differences and conflict aversion issues Tom has had all along in his career.  She had focused on the last of the “C”’s (Craft), and missed the Core and Character “C”’s in the hiring process.  [see “Hiring Up” from March 22, 2010]
The Rare Leader™ today must accept the Ambiguity of the workplace.  Knowing when and how to peel back the onion at the same time as juggling lots of balls while maintaining focus, will help to view micro and macro details fitting into the big picture.  
And sometimes, when we peel back the onion, we need to realize we find ourselves at the core.
  1. Who is at the core of the onion in your conflict?
  2. What can you do to make certain you have peeled away every layer of the onion?
  3. Where can you discover the onion in an issue facing you?
  4. When will you begin to peeling the onion to discover core issues?
  5. How can you learn the skill of peeling the onion?

If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Connecting The Dots...

He handed me the envelope.  It was sealed, dated, and said simply Steve.  “Save this and open it when we finish our work” he said, with a slight upturned grin.
4 months earlier, Vince and I began collaborating on a strategic planning project.  Several weeks ago, he gave me this envelope.  Knowing him as well as I did, I knew this had something to do with the project.  So into my briefcase went the letter sized envelope, almost forgotten until today. 
Today, we met with the CEO to present our final report and recommendations.  We were very prepared.  Our respective Teams had done their research, compiled data, and aggressively challenged each other on options and final paths.  We were confident of the new direction the Organization needed to go, and now we needed to convince the Charismatic leader.  
As Vince offered a brief introduction of our agenda, I placed the thick deck in front of him.  The CEO placed his hands around the binder, and then slowly let it fall back on the table.  “Guys”, he said, “I want to take a brief diversion.  It may change the course of your recommendation”.  Great, I thought.  We did all of this careful work, and the CEO had been holding out some important information we should have considered.  But we did our homework.   We had open access to everything.  What else could there be?
The CEO’s eyes focused carefully on each of us in this moment of silence that seemed to last 15 minutes, and then spoke strongly and slowly...“I have decided to resign”.

Separate from our work, the CEO had realized the Organization needed to go in a direction he was not prepared or interested to lead.  His self assessment of his skills, his passions, and his own personal goals made it clear to him it was time for a change.
The meeting took an obvious turn, and the CEO was correct.  Throughout the next 45 minutes, he was able to predict almost every recommendation and path our Teams had decided upon.  The plan met his approval, but with his imminent departure, there was now an additional step required to make it succeed.
As we drove away together, I was still a bit shocked.  One of the issues Vince and I struggled with, was a concern about the CEO being able to successfully lead this new venture.  But how did he know?  Vince asked me if I still had the envelope he gave me.  I reached into my crowded briefcase and there it was, still sealed.  I carefully slid my pen under the glued seal and tore it open.  Inside was one piece of yellow legal pad paper, tri-folded.  I opened the page and there were three words printed in Vince’s handwriting.  “He will resign”.
“What?  How?  How did you know?”  I immediately thought the two of them had colluded, speaking secretly behind me.  Vince said, “I just have this ability to connect the dots.  I can’t explain how, or why, but I see things coming together very quickly and over the years, I have been correct most of the time”. 
I reminded myself that Vince was himself a retired President, CEO, and Board Chair of several very successful organizations. “But how did the CEO know” I asked?  
This CEO is a remarkable Leader.  On one hand he knows the organization, and the business very well.  All the research and data we collected and analyzed, he either knew previously or sensed.  While he sees the successes and achievements, he also lives with daily stress, roadblocks, and frustrations.  Think about the number of balls he is juggling at one time.  But most importantly, he has a wonderful ability to focus.  He takes all of these details and visionary trends both big and small, and like puzzle pieces, fits them all into the big picture.  
On the other hand, he knows himself.  He knows his strengths.  But most importantly he understands his weaknesses.  And in the end, he knows when it is time to walk away, and look for the next challenge he will passionately pursue towards success.
It’s like connecting the dots I asked?  “Yes...It’s just like connecting the dots...the correct dots.”
These are two Leaders who can accept and promote the ambiguity of leadership.  They can connect the dots, and put all the pieces together into the puzzle.  But most of all, as a Rare Leader™, they also instill this into their Team.
  1. Who do you follow that can “connect the dots”?
  2. What does it mean to “connect the dots”?
  3. Where can you see “connecting the dots” as a leadership behavior?
  4. When will you begin to “connect the dots”?
  5. How can “connecting the dots” help you Lead?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Annoy Me! (But I have to Lead you anyway)

I was spending the afternoon riding in the car with a good friend.  This long trip could have been more expedient with a short flight, but my host was a road warrior, and he loved the drive.  
As we cruised comfortably at 70, I realized he also had an another motive.  He was considering retirement and was now looking back on his very successful sales career.  Knowing of my work with successful leaders and business owners, he asked me a striking question.  “Steve”, he quietly said...”what do you think is missing?  I mean, I’ve had quite a great career.  I want nothing more financially, and I have more respect than I deserve.  But what do you think Steve?  Based on your experiences with business leaders, is there one more mountain I should climb?  Is there one more war to win?  Should I close one more rainmaker?”
We had an engaging discussion of what might have been, what could be, and while we laughed, and we thought deeply, we were very open and honest.  I laughed the hardest at his response to a simple question.  I asked him if why he had never considered a position in management.  Never at a loss for rapid answers, he raised his voice and said “Cause they annoy me”.   They annoy you, I probed?  Yes...Yes, those people who don’t do it right.  Those people who always have stupid questions, those people who are lazy, those people who have no drive to achieve, those people who, who...Yes I said.  I get it.  People who would work for you would annoy you?  “Actually I find them quite frustrating” he said.  “I would not be a good Leader.”
I thought this was fascinating.  Not that he was annoyed by other people, but the concept that perhaps all high flyers, or all high achievers are annoyed by others they perceive are not up to their level.  But some of these potentially annoyed high flyers  are Leaders.  And some of them are very successful leaders.
So I ventured out into the world of these high flying achievers who were also successful Leaders and asked 2 questions.
  1. Do you find some of the people you lead to be annoying?  (the universal answer was nearly 100% Yes)
  2. How do you overcome the distraction of this annoyance?  (the answers to question #2 were not so simple)
Ahhh - How to overcome the distraction of being annoyed by the people you lead?  That is the question of the day.
In no particular order, here’s what I heard.
  1. Because I have to...It’s my job. (ouch)
  2. I believe in developing others.
  3. I insulate myself from others when ever I can. (ooooh)
  4. I love being around my Team.  I look to their innocence and inexperience as a grounding for me.
  5. I have always felt the ability to be patient, and sensitive to others.
  6. Leaders must believe others have untapped potential.  It’s my responsibility to find it.
  7. If I respect and expect the best, they will learn and succeed...(and also stop annoying me)
  8. If I show them I believe in them, they will reciprocate and follow me.
  9. I listen without bias, using my eyes and feelings, and I reflect back to them what I heard them say.
  10. I remember when I was there when I was younger...(and I knew I annoyed my boss)
In the end, the real truth is, we do get annoyed by others, but if we are expected to Lead, we must overcome this distraction.  After all, showing others we have the ability to handle frustrations such as annoying people, while at the same time we juggle lots of balls, manage stress, and keep the big picture in view, is part of what makes us a Rare Leader™.
  1. Who annoys you at work?
  2. What do you do to overcome the distraction of annoying people?
  3. Where can you make a difference in someones life?
  4. When can you change your attitude about people who annoy you?
  5. How will you develop those who annoy you today?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Help me...I’m Multi-Tasking Multi Tasks!

If you are near to my age, or as Florence Dusty might say, a “baker of my generation”,  multi-tasking has a distinct meaning.  When you hear someone say they are multi-tasking, you think of a list of several “to-do’s” that you focus on today.  Or multi-tasking might also mean doing two things at once, such as Florence baking muffins and doing laundry at the same time.  The other day at my desk, I was on the phone, and with my headset on, I was able to pack my briefcase and walk to my car.  Yes, that was multi-tasking too.
Multi tasking takes on several skills applied simultaneously. but admittedly drains the ability to focus.  If I am really listening to my caller, am I remembering everything I needed to put into my briefcase?  Or if my briefcase gets organized well, am I actually listening to my caller?
This older generation of mine grew up in a pretty focused, single dimension world.  Today’s leaders developed their craft in a world of singular focus, working face to face with customers and employees, creating quiet time to read thick documents, while staffers helped with administrative tasks such as dictation, meeting set up, filing, answering phones, and guarding the door.  It made my doing more than one task at the same time a bit easier.  As I left a meeting, my secretary would hand me the file for my next appointment, and brief me on a phone call she fielded, while reminding me of my lunch appointment downstairs.  As she recited these 6-7 updates, I was glancing at the file summary note and walking at the same time.  Yessss, That was multi tasking refined.  I was like a well oiled machine, until Becky took a day off.  Then I was lost and multi tasking came to a halt.  Actually, single tasking became difficult too.
I was visiting a client a few months ago and touring their beautiful new headquarters.  As I left his office and walked away from the executive suite, his secretary reminded him of his lunch appointment and told him of an important message in his voice mail box.  He bristled a bit and when the elevator doors closed, he grumbled something about “so much to do”.
When the doors opened, we were on the second floor.  He chuckled and said “welcome to the experiment”.  This “experiment” was a floor designed completely by the employees.  There were no private offices.  The only private rooms were in the center core.  They were labeled with names of people, places, and things, and organized either traditionally, or quite eclectically for small private discussions, or larger group gatherings.  There were a few very small workstations scattered through out the floor.  But the remainder of the floor was furnished with couches, bag chairs, benches, and heavy wooden tables. And yes, there was a pool table and a ping pong table too.  Some areas were lit brightly and lively with a large screen tv, and others were tucked away with warmer colors and quiet music.  Instead of the old bun coffee maker next to the refrigerator, there was a professional quality espresso press, and a mini juice bar.  
But I was more taken back by the employees themselves.  Working alone, or working in small groups, the floor was really alive.  I first watched a younger woman sitting in a comfortable lounge chair, with her ear buds tucked in, watching the large screen television, and chatting away with a friend while clicking away on her laptop.  At a nearby table, three people were engaged in a conversation while focused on their laptop screens, sipping good latte’s.  In one of the quiet areas it looked as if one person was actually napping.  In an inner core room, two young children were working on what appeared to be home work from their grade school.  Employees were coming and going.  But it was alive.  My friend explained this floor was designed by employees who pledged that if they could design a workspace fitting their culture, they would be more effective, happier, and engaged.  He said the early results were very exciting.  
I don’t know how they do it he said, but that first younger woman is one of our accounts payable employees.  While listening to itunes, and watching TMZ, she was auditing a payables ledger with her partner from compliance.  The three Latte sippers, were also video linked to a few branch offices, conducting a training session.  Yes, one person was napping, because he had come into work after a good evening out with friends, and it made better sense to get some work done rather than drive home and back again a few hours later.  Now he was catching up prior to a presentation.  The grade schoolers were studying until mom an dad could leave work.  It was easier than going to day care, and mom and dad were right there on the same floor, working but able to check in on their kids.  
“Somehow”, he said, “this whole thing works.  I can’t seem to do two things at once without my privacy and a secretary, but they are able to thrive while multi-tasking multi tasks.  These are among our most successful and highest potential employees”.
Managing this type of workforce, and world of work requires a new set of skills for today’s Rare Leader™.  The fact is, younger workers who will carry the success you have envisioned work differently than you do.  They have been developed, and have found the ability to adapt with technology and relationships to do more things at the same time.  Juggling several things at once actually drives them to more productivity.  While this new machine can work effectively under new updated conditions, it still requires leadership.  
The Rare Leader™ of this workforce of today’s generation must accept and promote a Tolerance for Ambiguity.  The Rare Leader™ shows others the ability to handle stress, disappointment, roadblocks, and frustrations at the same time as juggling lots of balls while maintaining focus.  She can view micro and macro and how these details fit into the big picture.  But most of all, this Rare Leader™ can instill this into their Team.
  1. Who do you know that can multi-task multi tasks?
  2. What do you do to help you understand today’s multi taskers?
  3. Where can you observe and learn this style of ambiguity?
  4. When can you begin to add more “balls in the air”?
  5. How will you begin to move from Florence Dusty’s generation to the more ambiguous generation of “multi tasking multi tasks”?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So...You’re Allowed To Be A Jerk?

My Boss is a jerk.  I really don’t like my Boss.  What gives him the right to treat me this way?  She has a bad day and I suffer.   Ok, enough already.    Do you know that’s what they really say?  Do you know they are talking about you?   So... you’re allowed to be a jerk, just because you’re the boss? 
I get concerned when I hear these pronouncements.  After I follow up on the statements I hear the same excuses from these bosses.  They say; I have so much stress.  They have no clue what it’s really like in this office.  With this economy and business challenges it’s not easy being the boss.  I should just fire them all.
You know, they might be right.  As Will Ferrell said in his portrayal of an American President, “This presidenting is really hard”.  But that is not an excuse.  When the going gets really tough, it is not time to crawl into a hole and make autocratic decisions, ignoring your employees and your leadership team.  When you leave those collaborative times of Peace, and find yourself in the decisive times of War, it still calls for you to be a good leader of others, in addition to yourself.  
If you change your style because the conditions demand it, let people know the rules of engagement have changed.  If being decisive requires you to make immediate decisions, you still have the responsibility to communicate the state of business, and the impact on your organization.  
Emotional Stability in a Rare Leader™ is exemplified by the “boss” who can alter their leadership style as conditions dictate.  Emotional Stability in a Rare Leader™ is bookmarked by increased targeted communications indicating the style and rules of leadership have changed.  Emotional Stability in a Rare Leader™ is noticed by others when the Integrity of Character never falters when times are tough.  Emotional Stability in a Rare Leader™ shines through, and creates a Charisma which in turn develops an even stronger following when employees need direction.
One of my clients found himself faced with pretty dire conditions as the market conditions hit his company even harder than expected.  Even though they planned for a downturn, and applied their tactical plan, revenues tumbled, and the news was bad.  But my client realized the bad news was not a secret.  Employees throughout the company now feared the worst.  It wasn’t merely about jobs anymore, everyone knew it was about company survival.  
Rather than sit in his office and dictate office closings, job eliminations, and deeper expense cuts, this president went on the offensive.  Rather than put on a happy face and try to tell his close supporters that they would weather the storm, he told the truth.  He told the truth to everyone.  He visited every office and held town meetings.  He listened.   He spoke openly about the challenges facing everyone.  But he also spoke bravely about the tough decisions he was making every day.  He laid out a very specific plan of the limited options to create survival.  
The groundswell of support grew as word spread about the Character,  Charisma, Decisiveness, and Emotional Stability of their leader.  We may need to wait another 12 -18 months as the economic recovery slowly continues to see if they survive.  But what we know immediately, is that these employees want to believe in their Leader.  These employees want to follow their Leader.  Even though times of Peace have been left far behind, the new style of leadership in this time of War has been clearly communicated, and employees have accepted the challenge to follow.
Don’t be a Jerk...Become a Rare Leader™.
  1. Who do you turn to when times get tough?
  2. What do you do when you find plans are not working?
  3. Where is your comfort zone during times of War?
  4. When will you begin to communicate realities of the future?
  5. How will you lead your employees when the going gets tough?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Monday, October 11, 2010

War and Peace...or is it Peace and War

If you are looking for the latest discussion of Napoleon, Nicholas Rostov, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre Bezukhov, Natasha Rostov, or Princess Helene, you’ve googled the wrong War and Peace.  Tolstoy needed four volumes to tell the of the disastrous 1812 Russian invasion as the backdrop for the tangled personal lives of two aristocratic families.  
We’ll identify the qualities and behaviors of a Rare Leader™ during Times Of Peace, and also during Times Of War, in a more abbreviated fashion.  So, why not read on.
Beginning in the later 1980’s, I realize I had switched my learning emphasis from technical topics such as labor negotiation strategies, self funded underwriting of medical benefit plans, or regulations relative to the financial securities industry.  My study interests shifted towards a discovery of why people are successful, and more specifically, who leads people to success...and how? 
We were coming off an explosion of interest in China.  Venture capitalism, technology, and restructuring the corporation were the rage.  But there was not really a focus on the competencies of leadership.  Historically, Leadership had grown out of the top producer being awarded from great achievements in sales, engineering, or finance with a promotion to the coveted corner office.  
Leadership was ill defined, and success in the roaring 90’s came a bit easier when the economy and business was good.  These Leaders were leading in Times Of Peace.  
I have read many books on Leadership.  Perhaps too many.  Early on, theories of Collaborative Leadership emerged, encouraging skills and attributes for cross boundary success.    Interpersonal connections were replacing formal systems of process. After all, who would argue against the common theory of “two heads are better than one”?  
When  the economy was strong, business was going well, and growth came as a natural progression, collaborative Leadership became a hallmark of success.  Transparency, open door policies, long term strategic planning, delegation, team building and even more theories expounded upon in the leading business books, encouraged this style of collaborative open decision making while in Times Of Peace.
Hello Recession...The times are a changing.  More, and more I see successful organizations able to react tactically, as they continue to find new avenues of success.  But with the problem solving process shortened, and economic challenges demanding fast decisive decisions, Leaders find themselves altering their behaviors of leading others.  
Sometimes, Leaders simply have to make decisions on their own.  This does not encourage a fall back to closed door meetings with secret agendas.  But it does encourage more strategic preparedness and interaction between key employees helping to prepare their Leader to be more decisive on behalf of the Team in these Times Of War.  Preparation, open discussions, careful research, communication, and support of individual decisions have become the bugle of a new call to arms.
A new competency of leadership has emerged.  The Rare Leader™ who has balance, poise, and ability to maintain composure through ups and downs, and  knows when to apply intellectual intelligence and maturity can Lead in times of both War and Peace.  The Rare Leader™ can not only differentiate between the two, but has the ability to draw upon both skill sets when needed, to Lead others.
Do you have this level of Emotional Stability as a Leader?
  1. Who do you know that can lead effectively in times of both War and Peace?
  2. What can you do to build your competencies to lead to during both Peace and in these times of War?
  3. Where do you see success from Leadership in times of War?
  4. When will you switch your style of leadership for these times of War?
  5. How do you switch from the attributes of leadership during peace, to the skills needed to lead in these times of War?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Calm Before The Storm

Have you ever experienced the calm before the storm?  As I gaze out the window on the train, I can see the purple and black billowing clouds far away in the west.  But here, with my world re-sized by headphones and my laptop, there is a peaceful calm, punctuated by the occasional glance to my left, noticing the clouds becoming more ominous and near, as I reach my destination North.  I realize I need to make a contingency plan for my arrival, to make it to my car with my bags intact, and dry.  But then I turn my head back to my writing, and I am again  - calm.  
This Calm Before The Storm is a wonderful quality of the Rare Leader™, an important descriptive behavior of emotional stability.  Sometimes the employees, the customers, or stakeholders do not sense the storm ahead.  Perhaps they do not have the insights of the Rare Leader™ to see the storm clouds in the distance.  But if they did...would they...would able to be the calm before the storm for others?  Would you have made contingency plans for the rainy day?  
During my executive days at Baird, when Fred was President, he would enclose a personal note with each bonus check, thanking every employee for their contributions to the company success, delighting in the opportunity to share the rewards.  However, no matter how rich the rewards, he ended every note the same words of caution.  He would carefully advise us to “save some of this reward for a rainy day ahead, because some day it will rain”.  And indeed he was right.  And those who heeded his simple words of leadership again benefitted from his “calm before the inevitable storm”.
Sometimes the Rare Leader™ is not always the one to predict the storm, but is perhaps the one to sense it, or to accept the wise words of predictive knowledge from those he or she has chosen to trust.  
But, the Rare Leader™ is the one you chose to follow who maintains this unique sense of calm and Emotional Stability.  The Rare Leader™ has balance, poise, an ability to maintain a level course of direction through ups and downs, and knows when and how to apply their intellectual intelligence and maturity.
  1. When have you sensed a storm ahead in your organization?
  2. What contingencies have you set aside for the rainy day to maintain a level course?
  3. Who have you identified you will trust for predictive knowledge?
  4. Where have you proven to your Team you have poise and balance through ups and downs?
  5. How will you be perceived by your Team during the Storm?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Boss Is Relentless

When I asked Tim what was on his mind, he really opened up.  
“I love my job.  I really do.  But there are some things that make it really unbearable.  I mean, I’m really good at what I do.  Well, that’s what my friends tell me.  The company is great, and I believe in our products.  From what I see, we are in a great position to grow, and I could have seen myself happy here for a long time...could have. You see, it’s her fault.  You’ve met her.  Yeah, my Boss.  Wait, I’m not saying she’s a bad person.  I’ve met her husband and kids, and they all seem really happy when they’re together.  Her brother works here too.  He’s also an owner, and he’s not like her.  You see, she’s quite bright.   No, actually she’s brilliant.  She’s patented several of our formulas and is respected industry wide.  But my issue is that she’s relentless.  She is all over me.  I just can’t seem to be doing enough to please her.  I don’t know how the others do it. I cant take it.  Yes, that’s why I’m leaving.  You need to help me”
I first met Tim at one of my networking events - “1,2,3@5”.  This is an open networking event I host 4 times each year, attended by a few hundred people.  It’s fabulous networking, and has been labeled as the “premiere networking event” in the business community.  But, it is not the place for confidential coaching.  So when Tim was introduced to me he said, “Steve, I have been wanting to meet you.  Based upon your success Coaching other executives, I know you are the right person to help me.”  I thanked Tim for the gracious compliment in front of the few gathered in our circle near the entrance, and suggested we meet soon to chat in private.  When we met a week later, Tim told me his story, and diagnosed what he felt was his issue.
When I am engaged with a career coaching client, so many times  the client will tell me they love their job, but they can’t work for their Boss.  It’s always the Boss’s fault.  Yeah, that’s right.  Typically this is the Boss who built up a nice $100m business, is admired by the community, and is followed by a growing number of successful “C” level leaders.  We have all met this Leader.  To be this successful, many times they embody most of the behaviors of the Rare Leader™.  
So why then, does Tim, and perhaps many of you have this identical issue?  First, let’s be honest and cut to the truth.  Many times people who self diagnose their issues are the worst doctors.  They locate all sorts of cuts and bruises and apply nice looking band-aids, and take ibuprofen, and all seems well...for a day or two.  These self diagnosers never find the core issues beneath these symptoms of pain and discomfort.  It is far too difficult to look inside yourself with any deep effective level of an unbiased assessment.
Tim, while thinking this was all about his Boss, had self diagnosed himself to be distant from the problem.  After all, this Millennial has what it takes.  A nice degree, a quality internship, a good family legacy in business, and after 18 months on the job, Tim is ready for the world.  He does not have the patience to be treated like a kid by his Boss.  Tim  sees himself ready to be anointed for greatness.
One of the behaviors that made Tim’s boss successful was her Achievement Drive.  As one of the 12 behaviors of the Rare Leader™, she knew she needed to achieve, and realized she needed to lead others to achieve.  She had Goal Clarity from her collaborative work with her Team.  Tim knew she was persistent.  But Tim only saw her persistence as pushing and prodding and “bugging him”, rather than her actually trying to motivate him to also be decisive and take action.  Tim was so self involved, that he did not see that Kate’s pushing and prodding made those around her successful too.  In reality, Tim was too selfish to see his Boss cared so much for him that she was making every effort to help him succeed.  
Now, after several Coaching sessions, Tim was hoping it was not too late to revive his chances with Kate.  Had Kate given up on Tim?
  1. Can YOU save your career?
  2. Are your job frustrations someone else’s fault...or your own?
  3. Are you too self involved to see others are trying to help you? 
  4. Do you self diagnosed your problems at work?
  5. Does your Team understand why you push and prod them to achieve?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.