Call for a New Executive Competence

I talked with my good friend, Drea Zigarmi, today (founding partner of The Ken Blanchard Company, co-author of Achieve Leadership Genius, The Leader Within, and The One Minute Manager) about what I see and believe is most needed by organization managers and senior executives and yet is persistently lacking relative to their core skills. Right here, before I even tell you what the competence is, I’ve made a bold, maybe brazen assertion…that managers and executives lack something crucial to the success of their organizations and don’t even know it. Though bold, I tread lightly. Consultants, even former executives should take care not to throw stones. Yet, my boldness is not uninformed. It is rooted in what I witness every day working with executive clients one-on-one and in larger training interventions. It…

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Inaugural Vision in Speech and Poetry

It is a special day. A short while ago President Obama took office. I found his inaugural address inspirational–lofty, even, without taking flights of fancy. Resolute and not rigid. I’ve posted the link to it here so you can read the speech. Hear it spoken in your mind, slowly, and with purpose. I spent the past  hour poring over its ideas and phrases, its invitations and invocations in a meditation to find not only what he wanted it to mean to you, me, us, but a meaning that taps on your, my, our collective shoulder, pulls you, me, us in close, and asks for your, my, and our contribution.

The second link is to the inauguration poem. This often gets far less attention and yet was equally grounded and soaring. I found…

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New Year Faith, Performance, and Persistence

Here we are again at the beginning of the annual time circle. Today starts the first full week of work of a new year. All day I’ve been thinking about what I would offer you.

You have already heard me say I don’t care about New Year’s Resolutions anymore until they are backed up by a true plan of action complete with specific and measurable, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals (the ubiquitous SMART model.) That remains true. Resolutions without plans are like the wishes a girl makes that she get a pony for her birthday or, a boy wishes his sister would turn into a bug. Nay; for adult dreams to become real they need adult plans of action.

That’s what I intended to write about. But, I would rather offer you a…

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I’m Not the Least Bit Interested in Resolutions. Show Me Your Plans!

Holiday habits have us all geared up to toast to our New Year’s resolutions in a week or so. Humbug! Balderdash! Phooey, I say!

I am not the least bit interested in resolutions. I want to see your plans and evidence of what FDR called, direct, vigorous action. Show me your calendar with your goals broken down into daily tasks. Show me your budgets with allocations by month for those tasks that require money to be spent. Show me your hour blocks that dedicate your time to working on those tasks. Show me the calendars, budgets, and time blocks of key colleagues/partners/teammates who are working with you on accomplishing your important goals. Those are the things I want to see!

Show me your education plans, complete with budget, so I can see your…

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From Boom to Kaboom! Unconventional Thinking and Your Future

Today’s local morning news programs, CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews, plus, of course, Bloomberg and CNBC are all talking about the US government bailout of Citigroup. It’s all frothy and dramatic. Last night one of my 80 year-old friends told me how much money she has lost in the market (in conservative investments), and she is scared. She said she has enough money to continue to take care of herself, thank goodness. I am almost half her age, so my fear, while palpable, is less urgent; I have more time to build up what I have lost.

But, the fear we feel is met in equal measure with bewilderment. It seems to me business(wo)men and consumers alike have been remarkably irresponsible these past few years. We have been living in a child’s…

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Oh, Give It Up Already!

I worked with a client today around a colleague and friend of his he says is a pain in the bumm (my word, not his) to deal with. I listened to the story I know well (he’s tells it frequently) before I got tired of it.

I said, “I could be wrong here. Throw away what I’m about to say if it’s totally useless to you - Aren’t you tired of being frustrated and angry?”

He said, “I’m not angry, He’s angry.”

“Really?” I said.

“You think I’m angry?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, to his surprise.

There is something real and useful in the notion that we see in others aspects of ourselves. Sometimes we project onto other people qualities that we possess (like anger) or qualities we think we do not possess (like wisdom, intelligence, beauty–and…

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You’re Not Crazy - It’s Hard.

If you have ever wondered if you’re crazy because managing people seems harder than it should be, let me assure you, you are not crazy. It is hard.

Here’s the thing, if your career followed the common path (not that you’re not extraordinary, mind you!) you began early on with some academic knowledge about your field of study, took a job that allowed you to apply that knowledge in “the real world,” had that knowledge severely tested by every day challenges and problems, and managed through hard work and good old Puritan work ethic to develop a growing expertise at it. Then you were promoted based on that expertise into a role with  more responsibility and authority. You did so well you were promoted into management. That’s when things got crazy.

The instant…

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The Power of Perception

A 42 year-old man watches Into the Wild with his father and sees a hurt and hopeful young man on an existential journey. The man’s father sees a movie about a naive kid who tried to survive in Alaska on his own without proper planning. A 2.5 year old girl looks down the hallway in broad daylight and sees the spooky forest. Her uncle looks down the hallway and sees four doors, one open to a messy bedroom. Who of the people mentioned perceives what is real and right?

Webster’s online dictionary calls perception “the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding. 2. immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation as, of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition, discernment. 4. a single…

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Leadership Insights from CCL

Enjoy this Center for Creative Leadership piece (follow the link)


You might “find” yourself in one of the data summaries.

Enjoy. If you want to discuss it, look me up on Twitter (@activ8potential), AIM (ActivatePotential), or email (ActivatePotential{at}

Bye for now.

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My Size Fits All - Not

I spent several hours today cruising the web looking for people with something to say about leadership. As a scholar-practitioner I was looking to discover some kind of pattern to what is “out there” on the subject.

Most of the people talking about leadership in the sites I visited fall into three categories: executives who claim success in “leading” an organization; people like me who claim to have had some success in some field of work and now consult to people who have organizational problems or needs they want to address; and professors in universities or PhD-holders in a related field working in some form of education in some kind of organization, either for- or not-for-profit.

Was It Really Leadership?
The most interesting thing about all of this, though, is how infrequently the…

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