Yearly Archives: 2014

Forget Everything You Know about Leadership.

 |  Leadership


70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” (Gallup, 2013). That figure represents a failure of leadership. Leadership is the ability to impact and engage people in important work that causes positive disruption. That clearly isn’t happening. Whether you tell someone to follow you or ask them, there are only three possible responses that person can give you: Yes, No, or Maybe. So at the end of the day leadership is about getting someone to engage and (voluntarily and repeatedly) say “yes.”

How do we get people to respond, “yes?” read more

Leadership Happens in The Field

 |  Leadership

In Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, Peter Senge and his co-authors write:

“We’ve come to believe that the core capacity needed for accessing the field of the future is presence. We first thought of presence as being fully conscious and aware in the present moment. Then we began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control and, as Salk said, making choices to serve the evolution of life. Ultimately, we came to see all these aspects of presence as leading to a state of “letting come,” of consciously participating in a larger field for change. When this happens, the field shifts, and the forces shaping a situation can shift from re-creating the past to manifesting or realizing an emerging future.” (2004) read more

Move Your Own D@%# Needle

 |  Change Leadership, Leadership

Change - Barometer

There’s a phrase that many in business have been using for some time now. Typically it’s a manager in a leadership role telling someone else that they need to “move the needle.” That is, they need to cause some change, they need to increase revenue and/or reduce the cost associated with increasing said revenue. There is a call to action, “Let’s get something done.”

I understand the manager’s motivation. We get evaluated on whether or not we move the needle. But that’s not all there is to it. read more

The Three Cs of Authentic Leadership

 |  Leadership



Larry Spears, CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership identifies ten characteristics of servant-leaders: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of people, and Building community. Of these, I believe that awareness is the keystone of being an authentic leader.

Robert Greenleaf observed, “Awareness is not a giver of solace – it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers of solace. They have their own inner security.”  Able leaders are engaged in honest self-reflection and self-affirmation. Self-reflection brings about self-awareness or consciousness. Consciousness is the first C of authentic leadership. read more

One Leader + Four Words = Great Legacy

 |  Leadership


This past weekend I was in Tempe, Arizona to attend the dedication of Neil G. Giuliano Park, named in honor of my brother Neil who served ten years as mayor of Tempe. Neil was first elected mayor 20 years ago this week. During his tenure as mayor, Tempe underwent a revitalization of its downtown, a tremendous amount of development commenced and the city experienced an influx of investment. The dedication is a testament to what he’s done. read more

Leadership is for Grown Ups

 |  Leadership

Change of Scenery

I was talking with someone the other day and he said something that stopped me in my tracks. The person is a pretty senior leader. We were talking about an initiative that he is heading up that is very important to his company’s overall strategy.  There is one aspect of the work that he seemed to be hesitant about. I asked what was up and he said that while he knew this particular element was vital to their work, it was getting push back from one quarter. He said he was considering dropping because he didn’t want to “get in trouble.”

WHAT?! read more

Self-Awareness is Good for Business.

 |  Leadership


Remember the old western movies when the stagecoach driver gets shot and he drops the reins and the horses are galloping wildly toward the edge of the cliff? Someone has to grab the reins to regain control of the horses, slow the stagecoach, and avert catastrophe! Who’s driving your stagecoach? How fast are you going? Are you heading toward a cliff? As we rush headlong into our days we may miss the reality that many of us are doing more at the cost of being less.

In the hustle and bustle we can forget that we are all leaving a legacy. What legacy are you creating? read more

Self-Awareness Drives Corporate Performance

 |  Change Leadership, Leadership


How self-aware are you? Do you know what your blind spots are? What skills do you excel at? What traits make up your personality and drive your behavior?  These are important questions for anyone wanting to practice authentic leadership.  And, it’s not just important for the individual leader. It’s critical to organizational performance.

A recent study conducted by The Korn/Ferry Institute demonstrates companies with the greater percentage of self-aware employees consistently outperformed those with a lower percentage (Zes and Landis, 2013). The study found that “poorly performing companies’ employees had 20 percent more blind spots than those working at financially strong companies” and “Poor performing companies’ employees were 79 percent more likely to have low overall self-awareness than those at firms with robust ROR (rate of return).

I’ve advocated for leaders to work to become more self-aware for a long time. Self-awareness enables us to live and lead with greater authenticity and intention. It also is foundational for strong emotional intelligence and resilience. The study by Zes and Landis illustrates the benefits to the organization as well as an individual leader. When we encourage leaders to grow their self-awareness, we create a development culture and learning organization and in turn improve an organization’s performance.

In my new book, The Hero’s Journey: Toward a More Authentic Leadership I invite leaders to undertake a journey to greater self-awareness. When we become more self-aware, we grow our capacity for greater self-management and self-determination. In the end, we become more authentic and impactful leaders. Now the data show benefits at the macro level of an organization. Organizations that encourage leaders to grow in self-awareness and foster a culture of ongoing learning and development (not just training) are building competitive advantage.

The questions I posed at the start are worthy of reflection. To begin to explore them and answer them is to take a step on the hero’s journey. It’s a step that will change your life if you let it. It can also change the lives of the people around you, and in time, it will change your organization.  What are you waiting for? As Kabir said, “Wherever you are is the entry point.”

photo (c)