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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking One For The Team

Have you ever heard this acclamation?  
Someone feels so self involved that they need to declare that their action is necessarily not their first choice, but is for the benefit of others.  Why not add “praise me” to the end of the statement?  After all, isn’t that what you’re asking?  
You’ve let people know you’re taking action for their benefit but not yours, and it is outside of your character to do so.  Is this also declaring that what you’re doing is the “right thing”, but not “your thing”?  
Why can’t your actions simply be the “right thing”.  Does it matter who it is benefitting?  And, if you need to declare this as an unusual act, do you really need to ask for praise?  Are you that type of leader that craves feedback at this level?  If the answer is yes, you may want to sign out of this blog.  The challenges for you to become a Rare Leader™ will become too great over the next 9 months of study in our series together.  
Or, does this make you feel uncomfortable that you may have declared “taking one for the Team” in the past, and you now realize that it may not have been a moment of your greatest declaration of leadership?  Then I would invite you to continue to work with us.  
I find many “would be leaders” I have worked with to seriously stumble at this stage of discovering their gaps of developing as a Rare Leader™.  We can continue to develop your Visionary skills.  We can learn together to find a comfort level with being Decisive.  We can study the elements of better Delegation and encourage you to share your high Drive for Achievement.  
However, if you really have no core of Character that speaks to Integrity, then we have a point of disconnect.  
You are not alone.  We have all been challenged at some point in our lives to do the right thing, because we know its the right thing.  But life is full of decisions, and you must make one.  Will it be the right decision?
I was faced with such a challenge several years ago.  I was climbing the ladder of personal success in my career.  I had risen above comments from doubters about how a “school teachers kid with a music degree” could make it in a tough competitive business organization.  But I did succeed.  
Looking back I am confident I possessed many of the behaviors of the Rare Leader™ at this young age.  At my professional crossroads a question of Integrity was put before me.  
I worked for an organization that used the quote from their founder to guide everything they did.  He stated “customers will forgive you for errors of judgment, but they won’t forgive you for errors of motive, and we must have honesty in our business dealings and integrity in everything we do.”  
I was asked to take career ending action against several members of my Team.  It was clear this demand from my Leader had questionable motives and clearly was not a shining moment of honesty.  As the deadline for my response came due, my answer was clear as I submitted my resignation.  I could have made a bold statement that I took one for the team as I carried my personal things out the door, but I didn’t.  I learned that day that doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do.
Lets agree today, to stop taking one for the Team.   Next the right thing, because it is the right thing.  You will be taking a bold step on your way to becoming a Rare Leader™.
1. Can you name a time you felt you “took one for the Team”?
    If yes, was it really just the “right thing to do”?
    2. Will you continue to follow me, and study the next 9 behaviors of the Rare Leader™?

    3. Send me your stories of Integrity of Character.  If you want to remain anonymous from the blog readers, send it to me at
      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, March 22, 2010

      Hiring up

      They always said the key to being a successful manager, is being smart enough to hire people smarter than I am. 
      You have probably thought this through when hiring new people to work on your Team.  After all, the gaps that appear as we get older are pretty obvious.  How do we keep up with technology?   How do we absorb all of the changing data?  How do we begin to understand every product detail?  
      Yes, we become so much smarter when we are willing to leave our ego at the door and bring new people to our Team who are smarter thane we are. But what does “smarter” really mean?  How is “smarter” defined?  
      Is it all about the craft of the job?  Is it about engineering, finance, economics, design, marketing, chemistry, and technology?  What about Character?  Does it also make sense to hire people with more Integrity of their Character than we might believe we possess?  
      If the theory about surrounding ourselves with smarter people makes us as leaders collectively smarter, than could it be true; that if we surround ourselves with a Team who thinks and acts out of a core belief of morals, values and ethics, that we might grow as a Leader with Integrity of Character?
      I have been very fortunate to have worked with enormously successful Teams.  I credit my earlier successes to my Teams.  When challenged, I prided myself at saying...”I’m not sure of the answer...I’m just a school teachers kid”.  I loved the cynical answer I would offer when the brightest and the best of the senior leaders would challenge me, knowing I had much more humble beginnings than they had.  
      But, I would always have the answer.  The answer was typically better than correct, and I built a reputation of someone you could count on.  But it was no secret that my Team was the key to my success.  We’ll talk more later on assembling that great team.  
      How did I continuously assemble such great teams?  What was my secret sauce?
      Here’s the recipe to my secret sauce.  I
       hire by the “rule of three C’s”.  
      Core, Character, Craft.
      When I set out to hire a new Team member, I focus on a discovery of what the candidate feels is the vitality of their core.  The core is that essence of why they believe they are given this wonderful opportunity to live the life they have been given.  This is where values, ethics, and morals are formed and realized.  That is...the Core of the candidate.  
      Character is how the candidate can prove they “walk the talk”.  If they found values, morals, and ethics within their Core, then what choices do they make every moment, to live out this Core of who they are?  This is...the Integrity of their Character.
      Craft is the easy part.  This is the intellectual side of the career journey.  Craft is the essence of learning, and experience  achieved through school, training, work experience, and applying aptitude.  The missing portions of their Craft can probably be acquired through additional training and other experiences.  But I have no ability to change Core and Character.  They either have it, or they don’t.  And If candidates do not have Integrity of their Character, I do not want them on my Team.
      This secret sauce brings me great team members.  If the theory about surrounding myself with people better than me is true, then I have also surrounded myself with people who have a higher level of Integrity in their Character than I might have.  As a group, we’re contagious with each other, and we hold each other accountable to a new level of success. 
      As a Rare Leader™, Integrity of Character is where we begin!
      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, March 12, 2010

      The Road Less Traveled

      ...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
      I took the one less traveled by, 
      And that has made all the difference...Robert Frost (1874–1963)

       Why is it that the most prosperous road is the less traveled?
      Why is it that we so often choose the easy road?
      Why is it we miss opportunities to make a difference?
      Why is it?
      I encountered some people recently who must have thought about these questions.  They were faced with decisions.  Decisions that were both simple and difficult.  Decisions that were both minor and major in their impact upon others.  Decisions they had faced before.
      Kristen works as a manager of a retail store.  Kristen really wants to be liked by her employees.  It seems Kristen has “respected” and “liked” confused, thinking they are the same.  As Leaders, we know that many times our tough decisions mean our Team members may not like us, but if we make good decisions, and if we are consistent in our actions, then perhaps we have moved towards becoming respected.  
      Wanting to be liked is a dangerous temptation that leads to the road most often traveled.  
      In this instance, Kristen overheard some of her employees talking of an after work party.  It sounded like it would be fun.  Kristen hoped she would be invited.  As she listened in closer, she heard the dark side of their plans.  The party was to be held in the large storage room of the store.  Guests would be escorted in the back door, and no one would know.  And as hosts, the storage contents would certainly serve the guests well.  After all, who wouldn’t want an open bar with unlimited snacks.  
      Kristen knew she wouldn’t be invited.  But now she was faced with a dilemma.  Does she ruin the party plans by telling the owner?  This would certainly lead to discipline and termination of some of her Team.  And that would only add to Kristen’s heavy work load.  Or, another idea might be to approach her Team.  Why not tell them she overheard their plans?  Why not tell them this was not to be allowed?  Of course, if Kristen took this action, her Team would never like her.  They would see her as an outsider.  
      Why should she even get involved?  If they got caught, Kristen would be far away, at home with her family and away from the trouble.  
      Kristen was faced with a question.  One road would prevent the party.  It would prevent trouble.  It would lessen her chance of being “liked”.  The other road was a simple denial of any knowledge of the party.  Kristen would have nothing to lose, and her chances of being “liked” by her Team would be intact.
      Which is the road less taken?  Which road will make all the difference?
      Tim was a client of mine for many years.  Tim, like Kristen enjoyed being “liked” by his employees, but he also commanded respect.  Tim had earned his promotions through the company to his current role as a business unit leader.  Tim knew how to mix both business and social relationships and situations.  He made his appearances at company parties, bought a round or two, and quietly exited, leaving his employees to their good times away from the boss.  At work, Tim was fair and consistent when assigning work and made certain everyone received their praise when their results were achieved.  Everyone liked Tim.  He had good Charisma.  
      Tim’s boss approached him on Monday morning.    Julia said...“Tim, I need you to help me on a new acquisition.  This will be an enormous undertaking, but the rewards will be tremendous.  If it succeeds, I have been told I will be named as President of the company as George retires.  When I am President, you will become my COO”.  
      This all seemed too good to be true.  Tim was finally being recognized for his years of loyalty.  His dedication and hard work paid off.  Julia added, “Tim, this will not come without cost.  As part of the acquisition, we will be offering your business unit as part of the deal.  A trade so to speak.  In the long run, we can not allow your current business unit to succeed under the new owner.  We will be launching a competitor of our own after the acquisition is realized.  I need you to make some plans prior to your transition out of this group.  I have some ideas, but please see me tomorrow with your ideas of some “poison pills” we can place in this group which will destroy its ability to compete with us in two years.”  
      I asked what would happen to the rest of my Team.  These were good people who had worked hard to make me successful.  “Don’t worry Tim.  When we make the deal, they’ll be happy, because they will have a job guarantee with the new owner”.  But I asked, isn’t that guarantee worthless since we will have set up their new company to fail?  “Tim, you are focused on the wrong road.  Our new road is filled with wonderful opportunities for both of us.  We’ll make great financial bonus awards from the success of the acquisition, and then you and I will be running the entire company.  Remember, this was our dream when we both joined as trainees so many years ago.”  
      Two roads.  Both filled with opportunities.  One road will be less traveled.  One Road will make the difference.
      The Rare Leader™ lives through a combination of morality, values and ethics to create a strength of Character consistent of being true to values, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing.  This inner strength enables Teams and organizations to trust their leader, whose Character embodies this knowledge, comfort, and trust of their own personal Core.  We call this Integrity of Character.
      1. If you are Kristen...Which is the road less traveled?
      2. If you are Tim...Which is the road less taken?
      3. Why do these roads make the difference?
      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, March 1, 2010

      Integrity of Character

      Character of The Rare Leader™ represents the sum of his or her  very core. Values, experience, knowledge and wisdom complete the dimension of “who I am”.  The combination of morality, values and ethics create a strength your Character consistent of being true to values, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing.  This inner strength enables Teams and organizations to trust their leader, whose Character embodies this knowledge, comfort, and trust of their own personal Core.  
      In the Rare Leader™, we call this Integrity of Character.
      Integrity of Character embodies the Golden Rule, because it represents every gift of morality, value, and ethics we would hope to receive from others.  Kurt Senske in his book Executive Values stresses a roadmap exists for incorporating faith and values into organizational and business life.  Kurt professes “vision acts” where companies and leaders indicate and show a reality behind their words of acclamation of doing what is morally and ethically right.  When we as leaders make claim to Integrity, we better be ready and willing to walk the talk.
      Jim Collins talks about the Integrity of Character in his bestseller Good To Great.  “In a good to great transformation, people are not your most important asset.  The right people are.” Good to Great companies place a greater weight on character attributes than on specific education, practical skills, knowledge, or experience.  
      We found in the teachings of Marcus Buckingham that these skill based traits are teachable.  Character traits are ingrained.  Integrity of Character is the true measure of how you bring the core of your life to the surface for you, and those who choose to follow you.
      This month our study of Integrity of Character will be exciting.  I  know it will make some people uncomfortable.  But maybe that’s how we discover and claim new opportunities for ourselves.  Integrity of Character is truly one of the remarkable behaviors of the Rare Leader™.  Join in on the blog.  E-mail us, and make certain your following us on Twitter.
      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.