Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Teamwork in the Digital Era

“Today’s teams are different from the teams of the past,” write Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen in their very good article called “The Secrets of Great Teamwork” in the Harvard Business Review, June 2016. As a result, these “new” teams are called 4-D teams. 4-D teams are more project based, i.e. they are organizing the work as a series of projects. And as a result, the 4-D teams are expected to rapidly adapt and make course corrections as the problem, the team, and the environment change.

However, after nearly two years of visiting with senior leaders, I have found five unique problems within the 4-D team world. First, their success is based on multidirectional feedback. For example, upward feedback from employees to leaders is essential along with downward feedback from leaders to employees. But sideways feedback from peer to peer is not working well at all. Second, people on 4-D teams often work in isolation and are not co-located with their teammates. Third, with digital communication as the primary form of communication, 4-D teams routinely encounter technological barriers to their work. Fourth, most team leaders have not established clear communication norms so many issues get blown out of proportion or completely missed. Finally, there is a clear lack of clarity about frontline decision-making rights. The outcome overall is that many 4-D teams and their leaders are struggling.

Given the above, I will dedicate the entire Fall 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable to a discussion about teamwork in the digital era. This will be the culmination of 2 years of listening to senior leaders, visiting with a  diverse collection of teams, and observing what is and is not working. I am very excited to share this information with all of you. 

Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - What is the foundation for long term, successful teamwork?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders build successful teams?
- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch & Networking 
- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders maintain successful teams?
- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders improve team performance?
- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 20, 2018

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am -What are the keys to being a successful team leader?
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application
- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

The registration price for this unique event is $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day.

 Here is the link to the registration form:


So, sign up today and be prepared for this unique opportunity to explore in-depth the subject of teamwork in the digital era. 

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, August 13, 2018

Be Curious and Keep Learning

Every once in a while, I meet a leader, who is under tons of pressure, swamped with projects, and handling endless strategic and operational challenges, and yet is not burning out in the process. Most people in situations of this nature would collapse under the strain of it all, and yet these individuals are doing just fine.

Initially, I thought they must have a very high threshold for chaos. Some would even say they thrive on it. But I don’t think this is the case anymore because having done this work for decades and having worked with these individuals over time and through multiple troughs of chaos plus a few Grand Canyons of chaos, I have discovered a small but important insight.

These unique leaders are curious. Every day they are interested in seeing what happens next. They come to work with an open mind and are very excited to see how the day will unfold.

And along with their curiosity, there is an immense desire to keep learning. At the end of a day of meetings and consultations, these unique leaders want to go out for dinner and debrief the day. It is common for them to share with me about the “lessons learned” from the day and how they will apply them in the morning. It is their curiosity in combination with this inner drive to keep learning that gives them the capacity to handle the pressures, the burdens and the many expectations of the senior position.

One other interesting fact about these leaders is that their curiosity and desire to keep learning is not limited to work. After the debriefing about the day, it is common for them to share with me about a home project that they are immersed in which gives them great joy. I have listened to people share about family genealogy, a new project in their wood working shop, or the rebuilding of an engine on an antique car. These hobbies and projects in combination with this special mindset allows them to stay balanced and focused in the midst of it all.

This week, ask yourself, what am I curious about these days? Where am I learning the most at work and at home? Then, give yourself permission to explore these new ideas, new perspectives and new projects. It is time for us to have interesting things in our life that feed us fresh insights, energy and perspectives. It will keep us young in mind, body and spirit in spite of all the challenges in the big world.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, August 6, 2018

Count Your Blessings

It was a cold, winter morning as I boarded a United flight from Chicago to the east coast. I had been up before dawn and taken the first flight out of Cedar Rapids to the windy city. I was delighted that everything was running on time and hoping it would keep staying on time. 

Bundled up in my winter coat and keeping my head down as I entered my second flight of the day, the stewardess on board greeting me by say, “Good morning sir. How are you today?”

I responded with a typical midwestern answer of “Fine. And you?”

“Blessed beyond measure” was her answer. 

I was so stunned by her comment that I stopped walking. I straightened up, smiled, met her eyes and said “Thank-you.” Her three words were a sermon, a blessing, and a gift, all at the same moment. This summer I have tried to carry this depth of awareness as I go about my daily work. 

Over the course of my career, I have met many people who were going through intense and difficult life experiences. From the diagnosis of a terminal illness to divorce, from the loss of a child to the loss of faith, for these people waking up and getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain. They question whether or not it is worth the effort to keep moving forward given all they experience.

When they have shared at this level with me, I am humbled. If only others knew how much personal pain people carry through the land of organizational change. And yet I have learned one thing, there are miracles and blessings in the midst of it all. The smile of a loved one or child can be up-lifting. The kindness of a stranger can be transformative. The gift of time and compassion to truly listen and be understood. We often get so busy that we forget that these little things can be life-giving, hope rebuilding.

This week, spend time each day counting some of your blessings. Put it all back into perspective and realize that we are all blessed beyond measure, even in the midst of our hardest days in the land of leadership.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, July 30, 2018

Find Your Sanctuary and Go There Often

There is a phrase from an article that has stayed with me for nearly twenty years. Back in the June 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine, William Taylor interviewed Harvard’s Ronald Heifetz in an article called “The Leader of the Future. In it, Taylor asked Heifetz the following question: 

“How do leaders maintain the stamina, the energy, and the passion that they need to keep pushing ahead?” 

Heifetz gave a brilliant answer when he shared the following: 

“Leaders … need a sanctuary, a place where they can go to get back in touch with the worth of their life and the worth of their work. I'm not necessarily talking about a physical place or an extended sabbatical. I'm talking about practical sanctuaries -- daily moments that function as sanctuaries…. I'm not peddling any particular kind of sanctuary; we all have to find our own structures. Unfortunately, though, people who get swept up in fast-moving companies often treat their partners and their sanctuaries as expendable luxuries rather than as necessities…. But countless people think that they can exercise leadership without partners or without a sanctuary. To stay alive as leaders -- to tend the wounds that we inevitably receive when we raise tough questions -- requires maintaining these structures in our lives.”

I have pondered this insight for years and it is, in part, why I ask all my students who participate in the From Vision to Action Leadership Training to read this article.

After thinking about this insight for nearly two decades, I am more convinced than ever that great leaders have “daily moments that function as sanctuaries.” For example, over the years, I have listened to people share with me about the importance and value of their daily devotional readings. Some have talked to me about their weekly family dinners on Sunday evening. Others have shared with me the joy of their daily run. Some have even talked about the importance of getting out of the house at the end of the day and walking their dog.

Over time, I have come to the understanding that it is not as much what is the sanctuary, but that we have them and utilize them on a daily or at least regular basis.

In a world where instability is chronic, uncertainty is permanent, change is accelerating, and disruptions are common, having a daily sanctuary time or place is crucial. Our challenge this day and every day is to give ourselves permission to go there for rest and rejuvenation. 

This week, find your sanctuary and then go there often.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, July 23, 2018

Celebrate Achieving Personal Goals

Being a leader is hard work. Some days you have to deal with issues that no one else wants to deal with because they are complex or complicated. Other days everything about the future seems like a series of frustrating choices. And finally, there are days where you have to keep pushing forward through the endless meetings and paperwork, hoping that something good will come from all of the details. In short, being a leader can involve long days, short nights and lots of worrying, time, and energy.

Every week, I visit in person and over the phone with people in leadership positions. They share with me about their challenges and at times about their successes. During these conversations, we often talk about the importance of planned short term wins. Dan S. Cohen in his book, The Heart of Change Field Guide: Tools and Tactics for Leading Change in Your Organization (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) notes that an effective short-term win has the following characteristics. First, they are measurable, visible, and timely. They also are relevant to all stakeholders, relevant to the objectives in the strategic plan, and relevant to the external strategic landscape. Finally, they are relevant to the people who need to deal with organizational change resistors. In essence, short term wins builds confidence and momentum to keep moving through the long days and short nights.

But, upon reflection, I have noticed something else about great leaders that I have not seen in the literature. While they are planning and working to successfully achieve a series of short term wins, they also are working on their own personal goals outside of work. The achievement of these personal goals become milestones which help them have the energy and commitment to push through the work challenges before them. When these leaders share with me about achieving a personal goal, they are reenergized and eager again to deal with the complicated and the complex problems before them at work. 

Over the years, I have listened to people share about running their first 5K race, a half marathon, or even a full marathon. I have listened to people talk about remodeling a kitchen, landscaping their back yard, or building a deck. I have listened to them share about exercising every day or participating in a choir. What I have figured out over time is that it is not about the size of the goal as much as how meaningful it is to the person who is achieving it. It is the pride, joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from the achievement of that goal that makes the differences and gives the individual the capacity to handle what ever surfaces at work.

This week, plan short term wins at work and work hard to achieve them. But, also this week, set some personal goals which make your life more meaningful and special. It is the combination of the two that separates the good leaders from the great ones.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, July 16, 2018

Expand Your Circle

We were sitting together over lunch, exploring why the senior team was not working well as a team, when I asked him the following question: “So, when I am not visiting from out of town, who do you turn to for perspective on these issues?”

He stopped eating and turned to me, saying “What do you mean?”

“Well,” I responded, “who are the people you turn to for assistance when you struggle?”

“Mostly myself,” he replied.

“That works to a point,” I explained, “but sometimes we do not always see things clearly. Remember the old adage, ‘the fish will never discover the ocean.’ You need a circle of people who will help you ‘discover the ocean’, for lack of a better metaphor.”

“Interesting. Do you have people who do this for you?”

“Definitely. I call them my Kitchen Table Cabinet. They are a collection of people from different backgrounds with whom I have breakfast, coffee, lunch, or dinner with on a regular basis. They help me see the bigger picture. They ask me questions that I am not asking myself. They ask me questions about things I am not even thinking about at this time period. They share insights and lessons learned. They share. I share. We explore, and as a result, I am able to do this work better. So, who should be a part of your Kitchen Table Cabinet?”

What followed was a 30 minute exploration into who are the key people in his life who he could turn to for insights and perspectives. I encouraged him to schedule time with these people on a regular basis.

Six months later, when I was back in town, to facilitate a strategic review, he gathered this small group of people around a table at the same restaurant where I had asked him the question. He shared what he needed from the group and how often he would like us to gather. Everyone listened respectfully and agreed to support him through his current challenges.

While driving me back to the hotel where I was staying overnight, he paused at a red light and said, “That was a good beginning. I am glad I gathered everyone together. Now my challenge is two fold. First, I need to stay in touch with all of you on a regular basis. Second, I need to expand that circle. They are like a corporate board where one is constantly recruiting new members given the changes in the external strategic landscape.”

As the light turned green, I smiled and said, “Yes. You got it.”

We drove in silence for about a mile and then he said, “Thanks. That was a good question six months ago.”

“My pleasure,” I responded. “It’s why I am part of your Kitchen Table Cabinet.”

This week, figure out who should be a part of your Kitchen Table Cabinet. And then, visit with each of them on a regular. Building and maintaining perspective is very important in the world of leadership given all that is happening in the big world at this time period.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fall 2018 Roundtable - Early Bird Special!

Now that the July 4th celebrations have passed and everyone is back at work, it is the time for us to turn our attention to the Fall 2018 Roundtable! 

On September 19 - 20, 2018, we will gather at the Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville, Iowa for the Fall 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable. 

Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - What is the foundation for long term, successful teamwork?

- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break

- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders build successful teams?

- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch & Networking 

- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders maintain successful teams?

- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break

- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders improve team performance?

- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 20, 2018

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am -What are the keys to being a successful team leader?

- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application

- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

Starting today through Friday, July 27, I am offering an “early bird” registration price for the Fall 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable.

If you sign up during this time period, and submit payment before 7/27/18, the price will be $ 275.00 for the two days and $ 175.00 for a single day. Here is the link to the registration form:

http://www.chartyourpath.com/pdf/2018-From-Vision-To-Action-Exec-Roundtable-Regist.pdf

 Please write “early bird special” on it when you send it to me by mail or fax (# 319 - 643 - 2185).

After 7/27/18, the registration price will be $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day.

I hope you will reserve September 19 - 20 on your calendar, and e-mail me today about whether or not you and your team are coming. Then, when the first leaves are just starting to turn, all we will need to do is meet at the Fall 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable.

Thinking ahead, and looking forward to seeing you in September!

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257