Develop Your Mental Game

Develop Your Mental Game

As a leader, how is your mental game? Consider today’s outstanding athletes, such as those who recently participated in the U.S. Open. It’s impressive to see these leaders excel in their field; they are really amazing! Not unlike today’s outstanding business leaders and managers, they overcome obstacles, deal with set-backs and persevere to the end. After watching a game or two it’s easy to take their impressive skills for granted. After all, they make it look so easy. And then they make a clear mistake. Such was the case for one such player: with a single swat, he unintentionally hit a ball at a line judge, and was disqualified. How can such a well-trained, highly-skilled and disciplined leader make such a mistake? He got caught in a momentary lapse of un-mindfulness, distracted and fueled by frustration. And it happens to the best of us. We lose our clarity and focus. Clarity and Focus Clarity is knowing exactly what you want to achieve as a leader: your vision. Focus is knowing and doing the actions required to get you there. Great leaders do the right thing, right now. How? First, they develop a clear mental picture of their intention. Then, they make a conscious choice to commit to and pursue that intention. And last, but certainly not least, they develop strategies for protecting their intention against distracting feelings or emotions, like boredom and frustration. Just like great athletes, great business leaders take purposeful action to preserve and strengthen their mental abilities. After all, leaders who work on their brain fitness are less prone to errors. They understand that clarity and...
A Shift to Self-Employment

A Shift to Self-Employment

Is self-employment right for you? Is now the best time to start your own business? Questions like these are common right now. And the answer is: definitely, maybe. Regardless of the type of business, self-employment isn’t for everyone. It requires passion, know how, and opportunity. It requires strategy and great timing. And it takes resources. To be sure, there are many pros and cons to consider: With unemployment claims at 30MM in the U.S. and unemployment dropping to 10.2% (16.5% factoring in part-time employees), there is still a lot of volatility in the market. In the months of March and April the US economy lost more than 21MM jobs, and in May, June, and July, regained 9.3MM (about half of jobs lost). While this upward trend is good news, the question remains, what happens next? A lot depends on three things: The virus: While scientists are making great progress toward a vaccine, the number of new cases continues to grow. Consumer confidence and behavior: Some experts speculate that many people used the $1200 US stimulus check to pay-down debt, rather than stimulate the economy with new purchases. The government’s response: At the time of this writing, the U.S. government has not reached a consensus on a second stimulus bill. Of course, this is really only a piece of the puzzle in response to a global pandemic. For the unemployed, with no indication of a work return date, now is a great time to explore possibilities. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when people have a greater amount of time to find the right position (with the security...
Tough Times, Wise Decisions May 2020, Content for Coaches and Consultants

Tough Times, Wise Decisions May 2020, Content for Coaches and Consultants

In a time when “flattening the curve” requires universal participation, when, how, and who to re-open requires tough decisions. Wise business leadership is needed more than ever before. There’s no shortage of talks, posts, or tweets on our need for wise, capable leaders who pursue the common good; who balance big-picture thinking with next-step management. But predicting outcomes becomes much more complex as systems and people interact in unexpected ways. We need our leaders to do the right things, in the right way, against the right time frame. The real stand outs can navigate intrinsically complex circumstances, make smart decisions, and inspire others to do the same. Two challenges commonly surface in complex circumstances: unintended consequences and difficulties in making sense of a situation. Unfortunately, many leaders tend to overestimate the amount of information they can process: humans have cognitive limits. More than ever, leaders need input from others to grasp complexities and determine how they affect other parts of the system. A leader must be able to keep the big picture in clear view, while attending to all of the small executions that will lead to the right outcomes. They need wisdom. Wise Leadership Defined Socrates believed that wisdom is a virtue, acquired by hard work: experience, error, intuition, detachment and critical thinking; and that the truly wise recognize their own limits of knowledge. Wisdom is also a paradox: based partly on knowledge, shaped by uncertainty; action and inaction; emotion and detachment. Wise leadership reconciles seeming contradictions as part of the process of wisdom, for wisdom is a process. “Wisdom is not just about maximizing one’s own or...
Great Leadership in Times of Crisis

Great Leadership in Times of Crisis

The men and women in charge of our organizations are now faced with unchartered challenges: leading their organization through a global pandemic. In this time of crisis, most leaders are doing their best to step up and inspire people to do their best. And they’re doing a great job. One of the challenges is the evolving new normal. Rapidly changing guidelines, mandates, and infrastructure require continual monitoring and adjustments. Leaders are in a constant state of discovery, decision making, designing, and implementation. This requires resilience, collaboration, and great communication. Those who are able to adapt quickly and wisely are best positioned to lead their organization, and in many cases, their entire nation, in novel ways. Great leadership in a time of crisis will see us through to the other side. Business continuity management is more important than ever. Based on the conversations I’ve had with leaders, developing, refining, and implementing contingency plans is well underway. With careful attention to employee safety and preparedness, leaders can minimize risk, and in some cases, position themselves for post-crisis growth. Below are a few leadership best practices. Are you taking these steps?   Legal Obligations First, and foremost, focus on employee safety. Review policies, and then identify actual practices. (What happens in the field may not be the actual procedures management recommends.) Ensure you have adequate communicable-illness plans and practices in place. Credible Authorities and Resources Depending on the size and reach of your organization, these may need to be local, regional, national, and global, and could include CDC, WHO, EUCDPC, Singapore and UK. Contingency Plans If you haven’t mapped out or developed...
Leadership in the Time of Disruption

Leadership in the Time of Disruption

In the past decade, we’ve seen remarkable innovations and extraordinary technological advancements change the way we live, play, and conduct business. Today, anyone with a smartphone has access to general artificial intelligence. We can easily manage everyday tasks (Google Assistant), send money (Venmo), travel about town (autonomous taxis in some U.S. cities), and answer our doors—from anywhere (Ring). In the world of sports, racing sailboats have gone from large, single wooden hulls to aerodynamic vessels of flight. Their once canvas sails are now wings that carry the team on two or three small hydro-foils faster than the speed of wind. Simulators and virtual reality are now a part of learning and training. Organizations have become data-driven cultures, led by Chief Data Officers, who work with data scientists and computers that process hundreds of hypothetical questions and answers. And incredibly, we’re just getting started. The most notable innovations are the direct result of disruptors: leaders who changed the game. They transformed existing markets (or created new ones) by focusing on convenience, simplicity, accessibility, or affordability. Disruptive leaders learned to innovate more quickly, cheaply, and with less risk. But this is no easy feat, especially in today’s accelerated environment. For many, disruption causes anxiety, fear, and leads to disruption fatigue. Ignoring the problem, or worse, feeding the fear, are not real solutions. Leadership in the time of disruption calls for a two-prong approach: improving current product performance and developing new disruptive technology. In many cases, starting, re-tooling, and scaling a business is easier than ever before. But achieving and maintaining success is another matter. While rapid innovation and new technologies allow...
Positive Progress and the Art of Negotiation

Positive Progress and the Art of Negotiation

How much time and attention do you spend negotiating every day? Think about it: just getting to your work space requires negotiating activities, meals, and space (think nutrition versus convenience, after-school activities, commuter lanes, etc.) At work we negotiate our way through business deals, customer relations, office politics, and career advancements. Such negotiations often require the agility of Captain America, the stamina of Dean Karnazes, and the wisdom of Yoda. Ask any experienced parent (or listen to the news) and you’ll hear how playing hardball with threats and bluffs simply does not yield positive progress. However, traditional wisdom that points to a win-win strategic formula of trades and compromises is not without challenges. Of course, most of us are not super-heroes or world class athletes. Positive progress requires mastery in the art of negotiation. What is the Art of Negotiation? Negotiation is the process of agreement that takes place between individuals or organizations autonomously (by algorithms or machines) or human interaction (verbal or written dialogue). Generally, the objective is to identify common interests and resolve opposing differences. But as authors Michael Wheeler and Jeff Cummings write in The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World, “agility is the mark of a master negotiator. Yes, preparation is important, but negotiation is a two-way street.” Negotiations often break down when people focus on their positions, rather than on legitimate interests. The resulting polarization squelches curiosity, creativity, and compassion. This is often seen in positional bargaining, where egos are hooked, relationships become strained, and neither party is satisfied. For example, you want your children to eat something healthy...