Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why Invest In Leadership Training in 2019? - Part #1

I routinely get asked by people in leadership positions about why they should invest in more leadership training given how busy every one is at work. When every day is a mad rush to get everything done, sending some one to a four part, in-depth leadership training like the 2019 From Vision to Action Leadership Training seems to be a recipe for getting further behind and overwhelmed.  My answer is a simple: Being prepared for the future is never a waste of time and resources.

First, having taught this class for the past 20 years, I have noticed that alumni of the From Vision to Action Leadership Training have two things that differentiate them from others, namely a common language to explain what is happening in their organization when it comes organizational change and a powerful set of tools to work through the complicated and normal problems that come with change.

So many times when I get called in to an organization that is struggling and can not meet it’s goals or reach it’s full potential strategically or operationally, I discover that there is no shared, strategic mindset and no common language. While this may be stating the obvious, the lack of these two elements means that many senior teams can not effectively solve problems or make the right decisions. Most focus on control over command and many focus on order over alignment. Both of which cause short and long term problems in the areas of strategic execution or operational improvement.

Second, current and past students of the From Vision to Action Leadership Training have the tools and the language to explain what is normal as organizations create and execute their strategy or improve their day to day operations. For example, graduates of the From Vision to Action Leadership Training understand that denial and resistance are normal responses to change. Having participated in this in-depth training, these leaders have the ability to work through these normal behaviors. They recognize that denial is often about loss of clarity, competence and control, and that resistance is a form of feedback about these same issues. In short, because they are better trained, they then can make better choices.

In a time period when we need more people to be great leaders, we have to provide them with the tools, the understanding and the support to make that a reality. Now is the time to sign people up for the 2019 From Vision to Action Leadership. For more information about the 2019 class, please click on the following link: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Training-Details.html#Train2019

I look forward to helping you and your organization be better prepared for the future.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

Seek Wholeness Over Fragmentation

In 1997, I was asked by a group of long term clients to create and deliver an in-depth leadership training program which could become the training ground for future senior leaders for their organizations. In 1998, after much work, reflection and visiting with numerous leaders around the country, I designed and taught the first From Vision to Action Leadership Training. This year long leadership development course encompassed four quarterly sessions. Through its challenging, interactive curriculum, participants gained core skills and knowledge through immersion in research, issues and solutions related to leadership, strategic planning and execution, and implementing organizational change. This fall the 24th class will graduate from this in-depth training and people are already signing up for the 2019 class.

During the first class back in 1998, I asked my students to tell me what are the characteristics of a leader worth following during organizational change. I still ask this same question twenty years later. The reason being is that leaders are involved in making things run better and changing things to make them work differently given how the customers have changed.

Over the decades, the answers have been interesting and thoughtful. There has been some change in the description of these characteristics and those reflect the changes in our society. For example, successful digital communication was not a part of our discussions back in ’98. But over all, most students share about how leaders think and how they interact with others.

I like these answers and I encourage the students to zoom out rather than just zoom in to answer the question. The reason being is because a long time ago I read a book by Kevin Cashman where he stated that “if you want to become a better leader, you first have to become a better person.” I still think about this quote on a regular basis.

If we truly want to become better leaders, especially during times of organizational change, then we must become better people. If that is the goal, then a leader is not just what they do with their mind and how they interact with others. From my experience of working with great leaders, I have learned that a leader worth following in the midst of organizational changes does think well and interact well with others but they also do a few other things exceptionally well.

First, they role model good self-care. They take care of their body through exercise, eating well and utilizing healthy stress management techniques.

Second, they have a healthy social and emotional life. This means they take care of their family, maintain relationships with a close circle of friends, and have mentors and older friends who help keep things in perspective.

Third, they have a spiritual life. They are involved in a faith community, and routinely take time for faith related activities on a daily and seasonal basis, recognizing that some questions about work and life can only be answered from a faith perspective.

This week, reflect on the question, What are the characteristics of a leader worth following during organizational change? And then write down your answers. It is time to seek wholeness over fragmentation. Becoming a better person is a fabulous life goal.

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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Play The Long Game

We were sitting together over dinner and the primary topic of discussion was how to write a three to five year strategic plan in the midst of turbulent times and the rise of complex adaptive problems over which the organization had no control. In particular, we were exploring how a leader can cope with the stress of uncertainty and the overwhelming number of operational details that keep surfacing.

After an hour and a half of exploring different scenarios and possibilities, I turned to the senior executive and shared the following:

“Remember during the 2018 Spring From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable when I talked about leaders being brave and bold in spite of all that is happening around them?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Good. At the end of my presentation on this subject, I quoted Charles Swindoll who wrote ‘Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you're misunderstood.’

When I reflect on this quote, I realize that this is a time period when we are going to have to be faithful to the mission of the organization. It is a time period when we are going to have to have courage to move forward. And when we may have to endure pain, but not be defined by it.

In my journey, I have learned that playing the long game is a powerful choice. While I may not be able to control all that is happening around me, I can stay centered and realize that everything will work out in the end. I’ve learned this by doing something that many do not consider to be a normal business practice, namely I choose to go and visit with the elders in my life.

Routinely, I like to sit down with people in their 80’s and 90’s and visit with them over a cup of coffee or a meal. I enjoy listening to their stories, reflections and insights. These are the people who were born in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They personally knew people who were born in the 1800’s and fought in World War I. Many of them also fought in World War II, the Korean War, or supported the troops from home. They lived through the Dustbowl and the Great Depression. 

What they share are not memories or stories found in a book. These are the people who actually lived through some of the most difficult and challenging times in the history of our country. And as a result, they can share wisdom and valuable lessons learned from it all.

And do you know what I have learned from my times with these elders? One simple but powerful insight: Don’t worry so much. It will all work out in the end. Some day someone is going to look back on this time period and call it the ‘good old times.’ It all comes down to perspective, patience and faith.”

This week, play the long game and visit with the elders in your life. They always have some pearls of wisdom to share.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Listen With Your Heart Not Just Your Head

During executive coaching sessions over the course of this summer, the subject of listening has been a source of much discussion. Often an older executive will want to discuss how to help younger leaders listen better, and not interrupt so much. Some of these senior executives struggle with the lack of analog based dialogue.

Other leaders want to discuss how to get teams of people to listen better to each other. They recognize that if the team is not doing this very well with other team members then more likely they are not listening to their customers or internal partners very well either.

While we have explored the technical aspects of listening and speaking as a leader during these coaching sessions, many have responded by asking, “But, what do I need to do as a leader to help others to listen better?” The question is a good one and my response has caused quite a few of them to stop, sit quietly, think deeply, and then share at a different level.

“You need to listen holistically, not just with your head, if you want others to listen better,” I tell them. “This will require you to slow down and listen to the tone of their voice, their body language and the rhythm of their language. We, as leaders, forget in our rush to get things solved and done that oral communications is the second form of communication. The primary form of communication is what we do before, during and after we communicate. We must remember that our message is often communicated before we even speak, and the person we are communicating with is often working on their response before we even have time to finish our thoughts.

Therefore, we need to listen holistically, not just with our head, recognizing that every one is doing the best they can with the time and limited information they have received. In short, be more compassionate in your approach to listening, and along the way, trust your gut.

In essence, your compassion, your kindness and your ability to being total present when an individual or group that is sharing something with you is the foundation of your listening. When everyone sees, feels and hears this depth of executive presence, then speaking and listening will be transformed.

So, speak less, listen holistically, and be 100% present when you are with others. Over time, this will be a new beginning for all involved.”

After a time of reflection, many senior executives will share that this is what their favorite boss did with them as they moved up through the leadership ranks. I smile, nod my head, and say “yes.”

This week, focus on your listening. It is important and mission critical to your success as a leader.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

Show Kindness to Everyone

I like meeting people new to the world of leadership. They bring a special level of energy and interest to the position. And because I am getting older, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet more and more of them in executive coaching sessions and in the classes that I teach.

One of the special things that happens during these sessions is that I get delightfully bombarded with great and thoughtful questions. Recently, I was asked, “What is one thing the best leaders do that we may not recognize from our vantage point?” I like a good question and this was one of the better ones in that group that day.

“Well,” I responded, “my late brother-in-law was one of the best leaders I know in this category. Whether we talking about work or traveling together to a family reunion in Colorado, he never met a stranger. When we traveled together, we would routinely pull over to a rest stop and all of the families would pour out to use the bathrooms. Once the children were all back in the cars, we would find him standing next to a trucker talking about where he was coming from, where he was going and what he was carrying. And just before we got back in the cars, he would shake the person’s hand, thank them for what they were doing, and hope that the rest of their day went well. In essence, my late brother never met a stranger and always role modeled kindness and respect. He was a very good leader.”

And on that day, all the heads nodded around the table. Everyone could relate to this kind of person whether they were a colleague or their boss. What followed was a delightful discussion about role modeling and integrity.

This week, show kindness and respect to everyone you met. It will be a powerful act of good leadership, and the foundation for healthy, long term working relationships.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Never Lose Sight Of Your Personal Mission

When you work with as many leaders as I have over the course of my career, certain unique characteristics start to surface. As I have written about over the course of this summer, some leaders are curious and others are addicted to learning. Some have found a place of “sanctuary” and go there often. Others routinely count their blessings and keep expanding their circle of support. But there is one unique thread that ties many of these elements all together. These leaders never lose sight of their personal mission.

In the 1980’s, very few, if any one, ever talked about a personal mission. People went on mission trips, but there was not much happening in the world of leadership and organizational change around the power and importance of mission clarity.

Then, in the early 1990’s, Stephen R. Covey wrote the book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and all of a sudden everyone was thinking about mission statements. This book by Covey was followed by another book by him called Principal Centered Leadership. Between the two, the subject of mission clarity rose to the top of the pile and everyone was talking about them and writing them. Many leaders created them for their organization and for themselves. It was an exciting and engaging process. Everyone was pumped.

However, by the late nineties and through the turn of the century, this subject started to fall by the wayside. It was not hip, trendy or a best-seller subject matter. Some organizations still worked on upgrading their statements and focused on making people sure all involved understood the mission of the organization. It was just something they did. 

And through the tumultuous challenges of 2008, this steady and focused ground work paid off. People stayed focused on what was most important and maintained perspective. Their mission clarity became a strategic advantage. It continues to be as we all move toward 2020.

But, in the midst of it, the best leaders did something else. They became more purpose driven at work and at home. They did not do the exercise of creating a personal mission statement just to say they did it. Instead, they put the time and energy into creating a mission statement that then has guided them through all the ups and downs at work, their career and their own inner journey. It became their compass in making decisions and the foundation upon which they have built their life.

This week, step away from the piles of work, voice mail messages, text messages, e-mail messages, and endless projects. Sit down in a quiet space, and ask yourself an important set of questions: 

- What is my personal mission in life? 

- What is the purpose that drives me to make the choices I make? 

- What is the foundation upon which I have built my life? 

And once you have achieved a degree of clarity about all of this, do not loose sight of it. Then, you will be walking the pathway to a purpose driven life at work and at home.  Happy reflection and writing time this week!

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

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