Monthly Archives: January 2012

Strive to Thrive

 |  Leadership

Today’s post is short and sweet. I had a powerful conversation that matters last Thursday. To me a conversation matters when it produces not just insight, but action. Positive action. For leaders, that positive action involves moving our business forward and developing our capacity to be successful.

The conversation last week came down to three things that I took as a call to action:

1. Strive to Maintain a Positive Outlook. Know where you want to go and have faith in your vision and your capacity to make it real. Without this, you’re done before you start.

2. Strive to Be Emotionally Real. Don’t hide from what you are experiencing as you work to lead others and accomplish your objectives. Stuff happens. You are affected by it. Allow yourself to experience it and (appropriately) express yourself with the people with whom you work.

3. Strive to Continually Build Competence. Don’t become complacent. Do what you need to do in order to keep a beginner’s mind, a learner’s attitude. As we move up in organizations we are rewarded for what we know and what we deliver. The paradox is that to continue delivering success, we cannot settle into a knower and doer mentality. Once we do, we are open to both self-sabotage and being out-played by someone who is still striving to develop and grow.

The powerful part of the conversation last week for me was the reminder that these three things are vitally interconnected. Striving in just one area leaves a gap that can hold us back and keep us from the results we desire and the experience we want and need to be successful. When we strive to do all three of these things, we can thrive personally and professionally.

As we cross from January into February and are a step closer to success or failure in 2012, let’s make a commitment to do the hard work of living and leadership and strive to thrive.



Remembering MLK

 |  Leadership

Today in the US we fittingly remember and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Time and circumstance called to a generation; and, Martin Luther King, Jr. in a courageous act of leadership, answered the call. Dr. King’s work was an ongoing struggle to shine a light on injustice and challenge us to live in a way that is consistent with a value and ideal we purport to believe as a country: that all people are create equal. His struggle and the struggle of those who stood with him resulted in a new collective awareness that changed who we are as a people and as a country. The reflection to which he called us made us more authentic; we began to walk our talk as a nation.

Today, let’s reflect on how Dr. King’s life and legacy inspire us and how we are carrying his legacy forward through our own words and deeds. What might we do to keep the dream alive and expand its promise to more and more people? We began to walk our talk with Martin Luther King all those years ago; we’ve still a long way to go.

The Influential Leader

 |  Leadership

Here’s an excerpt from a paper I’ve written on Influencing with or without Authority. If you’d like a full copy, send me an email and I’ll get you one.

All leaders face three realities; first, they cannot succeed without engaging others and convincing them to devote time, energy, and resources to the leader’s objectives. Second, leaders have no direct authority over most of the people they are attempting to engage and convince to follow. And third, even those people over whom leaders do have direct authority are less tolerant of a “command and control” way of being led.

In his book “How”, Dov Seidman writes, “The days of leading countries or companies via a one-way conversation are over. The old system of ‘command and control’- using carrots and sticks – to exert power over people is fast being replaced by ‘connect and collaborate’ – to generate power through people. Now you have to have a two-way conversation with your citizens or customers or employees.” Now leadership requires a capacity to engage others and influence how they direct their time, energy, and resources.

Influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” Influence and leadership are connected. In our conversation about leadership, we have defined it as the capacity to impact and engage others in an important work that causes forward movement with positive effect. Leaders must be able to influence the character, development, and behavior of others. People respond to and engage with what satisfies their needs. People respond to leadership. Previously, I have cited Arie de Geus, author of “The Living Company,” who says that a primary role of leadership is to create the conditions in which people will “voluntarily give their best.” Leadership gets people to voluntarily give their best. People rarely give their best in a ‘command and control’ environment. Even if this was once the case, current events suggest that that world is slipping away.

The signs of leadership are Clarity of vision, mission, purpose, plan, metrics roles, etc., a positive Atmosphere, and Talent engaged and performing at a high level. When and where these conditions exist, peoples’ needs are being met by leadership. Seidman continues, “leadership itself must shift … from coercive or motivational leadership that uses sticks or carrots to extract performance and allegiance out of people to inspirational leadership that inspires commitment and innovation and hope in people.” When we create the conditions for success (Clarity, Atmosphere, and Talent), we are inspiring commitment and innovation and hope and making it possible for people to voluntarily give their best.

It is possible to lead in this way with without “authority.” What gives a person “authority” to provide leadership, to create the conditions for success? In short, nothing. Leaders see what is missing and work to fill the need, be it for clarity, a positive atmosphere, or talent development. This type of leadership is not given; it is claimed. This type of leadership is highly influential and is not based on “authority” or position.

Our ability to influence is tied directly to our level of trustworthiness. When we are recognized as sincere, reliable, competent, and concerned for others and something bigger than ourselves, we can wield tremendous influence. Our leadership is recognized and assessed on our ability to create clarity, shape a positive atmosphere, and develop talent in order to achieve business objectives. When we are leading in this way, we can be very influential and through our leadership enable people to self-motivate and “voluntarily give their best.” The result of this type of leadership and influence is alignment, engagement, and unified action. This type of influence enables us to “’connect and collaborate’ – to generate power through people.”

2012 Starting Point

 |  Leadership

Hi Blogosphere! Sorry I’ve been away so long. The second half of 2011 was quite full. I’ll do my best to post more frequently and regularly in 2012. As we are just dipping our toes into a new year, I thought it would be helpful to share a practice I undertake at this time of year at the urging of my coach. I hope you find it helpful as well.

2012 Starting Point

The time is ripe to consider what you want to make real in the new year. Next New Year’s Eve, what do you want to celebrate? For what would you be extremely grateful 12 months from now? Having some awareness of what you would celebrate and be grateful for will provide you focus to “make it real.” This exercise will help create a “Manifesto” for the new year.

To begin this process, it is appropriate to take a look back to attend and reflect upon your experience and accomplishments in the year gone by. What you learn through this process will empower you to imagine your way forward and move to have the experience and achieve the results you want in the new year.

Find a quiet, distraction-free place to reflect upon each question. Give yourself ample time to consider each question carefully. It may be helpful to write your answers in a journal or on a piece of paper.

Step One (2011):
• What were the 10 most important challenges you faced in 2011?
• What were your 10 biggest accomplishments of 2011? (Things you did well, ways you’ve developed as a leader / person, goals you achieved, etc.)
• What about your attitude and behavior were instrumental in achieving your biggest accomplishment in 2011?
• What was your biggest disappointment in 2011 and what was your role in the situation?
• What were your top 10 sources of frustration / energy drains?
• What were your top 10 sources of happiness / energy producers?
• Who were the most important people in your life in 2011 and how have you let them know of the impact they had?
• Of the top three goals you were aiming for, how satisfied are you with the results you achieved?
• Of the top three goals you were aiming for, how satisfied are you with how you achieved them?
• What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2011?

Step Two (2012):
• What business results to you want to celebrate?
• What leadership experience do you want to celebrate?
• What career position or advancement do you want to celebrate?
• What personal finance accomplishment do you want to celebrate?
• What health and fitness accomplishment do you want to celebrate?
• What spiritual experience or commitment do you want to celebrate?
• What travel and leisure experience do you want to celebrate?
• What family experience do you want to celebrate?
• What personal relationship experience do you want to celebrate?
• What successes of others (family members or close friends) do you want to celebrate?

Step Three:
Generate a Manifesto that simply articulates what you want in 2012. This will be a regular reminder of what you want to make real in the new year. Here’s a sample Manifesto:
Manifesto Sample

31 December 2012

I am very grateful that:

• My team achieved our major objectives including revenue targets.
• I was recognized for my leadership, specifically my ability to collaborate and work across boundaries.
• I was promoted to CEO.
• Our retirement portfolio increased by 25%.
• We donated more time and resources to our favorite charity this year.
• I lost 20 pounds and kept them off.
• I completed a marathon.
• I devoted regular time to my spiritual practice.
• Our family had a marvelous holiday in Australia.
• Our family is happy and healthy.
• My partner and I have a strong relationship.
• My son got into his first choice university.

Have fun with the process. Be bold! The barriers to our success in our mind. The ability to overcome them begins with leadership. You are always at the starting point. Ready, set, GO!

Follow me at Twitter: (@greggiuliano)

Here’s to a 2012 filled with ease, simplicity, prosperity, and fun!