Through years of consulting to many organizations, I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful, accomplished leaders — individuals who are deeply in touch with themselves and are focused on bringing the best of their skills, talents and passions to leading others. They view leading as both a privilege and a responsibility, one that surpasses any other role they may have in their organization.

At the same time, these gifted leaders are strongly committed to the business of growing the business, as they should be. They recognize that being an effective leader while holding a position of excellence in the market are not mutually exclusive objectives.

Conversely, I’ve also met individuals with leadership titles who failed to embrace the most profound aspect of their role — courage to lead well in the face of adversity and ambiguity. I call them “faux leaders.” In nearly every case I’ve witnessed, the behaviors of these leaders had a profoundly negative impact on their teams and their organizations. (read more…)

How do you motivate yourself?

That’s a question I sometimes get and when I do I like to give a three-word answer: Accentuate the positive! It’s the title of a Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer tune from the 1940s.

Also consider the maxim that legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to preach: “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

That simple statement offers such clarity. So often we sabotage ourselves by thinking negatively. We may posit a lofty intention and then we de-loft it when we weigh the obstacles in our path.

Indeed the biggest obstacle may not be a boss or a circumstance — it is ourselves. And so we kill our motivational motor just as it begins to turn over.

Instead, learn to “accentuate the positive.”

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)

The most effective leaders know how to teach their employees the value of one powerful quality, one that most likely helped them rise to the top themselves: Discipline.

The great sports coaches are transparent examples of this. Teaching and emphasizing discipline to prepare for the contests to come is what best guarantees that under the pressure of competition each player will feel free to make the right decisions and execute to the best of their abilities.

None did this better than Vince Lombardi, considered along with John Wooden as one of the two greatest coaches of all time. Lombardi’s faith in “Freedom Through Discipline,” a motto etched on an archway at his alma mater, Fordham University, was absolute. Lombardi trained his players to discipline themselves to identify and cultivate their talents, and then prepared them as a team ahead of each season and before each game.

He believed deeply in identifying and cultivating talent. (read more…)

shawn murphy bookThe term management has baggage. It’s associated with conclusions that no longer benefit a business or its people. Management is linked to controlling people, monitoring their progress, dominating them. The truth is management has become soulless. It’s rote. It’s impersonal.

Let’s look at some data that points the way towards the impersonal nature of management. In a Towers Watson study, fewer than half of the participants agreed that their senior management was genuinely interested in their well-being. Strategy and learning consultancy Root found that 68% of employees believed their manager was more interested in their own development rather than spending time inspiring employees to do their best work.

Hold these two findings up against dismal engagement levels and low trust in senior leaders and corporations, an unsatisfying picture of management emerges.

Management is one of the greatest inventions. It’s time for it to evolve, however. To what, though? Management needs to evolve to stewardship. (read more…)

Authority is the last resort of the inept — and frustrated. Parents who have found themselves relying on the phrase “because I said so” to direct a reluctant child know the truth of this adage. When rank becomes the means of ensuring compliance, one has long ago lost the battle to effectively influence, especially in today’s brain-based economy.

The art of influencing has challenged leaders for centuries. In autocratic settings, influencing involves the simple act of giving an order. Obedient followers comply with little resistance, at least until they revolt, use sickouts, or go on strike! And should enthusiasm be required, orders only serve to deflate commitment.

In democratic settings, leaders resort to humanistic means. Some influence by selling — outlining the benefits of a goal. However, were charismatic communication a prerequisite for effective leadership, organizations would hire talented thespians. Role modeling is another approach. Yet, placing leaders on pedestals does little to bolster the self-reliance of employees. (read more…)