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:


 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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Embrace Your Challenges

Last week, I shared that great leaders accept their path in the world of leadership, and keep moving forward. In essence, they own it. They recognize that “this is mine to do.” 

Upon further reflection, I think that great leaders not only own the path and keep moving forward but they also embrace their challenges. As Marcus Aurelius wrote so very long ago, “Our actions may be impeded . . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

As leaders, we recognize that our work involves, people, structure, systems and culture. We explore mission, vision and values. We spend hours working on strategy, brand identity, and understanding the strategic landscape. 

And yet, the result of all this work is that we will continue to experience obstacles and challenges. They do not go away. They just keep coming. People, including ourselves if we are honest, feel frustrated, overwhelmed, anger and even confusion by this. But in the end, we, who sit in the leadership chair, have to make decisions and keep moving forward.

Here is where the great leaders do something unique. They understand what Andy Grove, former CEO of INTEL, meant when he wrote, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”

Ryan Holiday in his wonderful book, The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Penguin, 2014, writes “It’s a huge step forward to realize that the worst thing to happen is never the event, but the event and losing your head.” Great leaders embrace the difficult challenges before them and do not loose their head. As Holiday continues, “See things for what they are. Do what we can. Endure and bear what we must.”

As the Haitian proverb states, “Behind mountains are more mountains.” There will be more problems in the future. This is normal in the world of leadership. However, our choice to persevere through them is what separates the great leaders from the good leaders.

This week, embrace the challenges you have. Work with others to solve them. Then, learn from them. But, in the end, always keep moving forward with commitment, clarity and integrity. This is the path to being a great leader.

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

Monday, July 2, 2018

Lessons Learned From Countless Hours of Visiting With Great Leaders

During the last 30+ years, I have visited with thousands of people in executive, management and supervisory positions. Over a meal, a cup of hot coffee, in the midst of a training, or via the phone, together we have explored a diversity of subjects, problems and issues, both large and small. Upon reflection, I have gleaned some unique insights about what separates the good leaders from the great ones. These lessons learned are not about big things such as the importance of good public speaking skills or the ability to explore things strategically as much as small personal choices which create the capacity to handle large or small things.

Recently, I was concluding a very good breakfast meeting when I realized something interesting. This particular leader was walking his path and owning his journey. This sounds simplistic on one level, but it is actually rare,

So many times, I meet leaders who want everything to go smoothly and without problems. They want everything to be perfect and without a single interruption or point of contention. They expect the world of leadership and organizational change to be hassle free. And they complain vigorously when it is not.

On this particular morning, I realized that this individual was not expecting any of that to take place. He had come to the conclusion that there will be problems and challenges, and that he was at peace with this. He was not trying to be someone else in some other place, or trying to mimic something that he had read in a book or article. Instead, he was at peace to walk his path in the world of leadership and to own it.

When I got back to the office, I realized that this was what set him apart from others. It was his choice to be at peace with the complicated and the complex. He was not afraid of the difficulties or the problems. He was not going to run away from them. He was simply going to keep moving forward.

Walking one’s path and owning it is not an easy choice, but it is a powerful one. To grasp the notion, that “on my watch and while I am in this leadership position, these are my challenges; this is my path.” And then to own it, in the sense of not shying away from the difficulties, the challenges and the work. This is what separated him from the rest that I regularly meet.

This week, be a leader who understands that life can at times be difficult and challenging. And then, keep moving forward in spite of the difficulties and the challenges. Walk the path. Own the path. Be at peace with the journey.

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

How do leaders be both bold and brave during difficult times? - part #2

During the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable, those who gathered entered in to a discussion about the difference between resistance and opposition. The consensus of the leaders present was that resistance is really a form of feedback while opposition is a form of going against something in order to stop it from happening.  As I reflected on all that was shared, I realized that during the Spring 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable we needed to explore and understand the difference between discernment and judgement.

In order to get greater perspective on the difference between discernment and judgement, I turned to the small group of people who I call my “Kitchen Table Cabinet.” These are the people I go to for a big picture perspective on a variety of subjects. They are the ones who make me think and who ask really good questions.

During my first meeting with one of my older cabinet members, I asked the question “What is the difference between discernment and judgement?” 

He smiled and replied, “It is the ability to sort the wheat from the chafe, or the ability to sort the the goats from the sheep.”

I chuckled because this is a typical answer for him. However, as we dived into the subject at a deeper level, he said discernment is “the ability to organize your thoughts after participating in a series of listening post experiences.” As he explained, by listening carefully, a leader is able to discern what is the path forward.

Next, I went to another member of my Kitchen Table Cabinet who has traveled extensively in different parts of the world, and has a long term career in healthcare. He shared that “judgement is your conclusion. It is binary in nature. On the other hand, discernment is about exploring a range of questions and perspectives.” As he continued, when someone is involved in a discernment process, they have to ask the question, “What else could it be happening here?” This requires an individual to have the time and a space to reflect. “The main problem is that people jump to conclusions, judge or decide something without having all of the facts. This rush to conclusions will cause problems or result in unwarranted conclusions.”

After careful thought, I think this is the problem. There is not enough discernment in decision making. There is not enough careful thought being put into place before action. It is as if the world is addicted to going faster and faster, and to choose urgency without reflection. All of us as leaders need to define and schedule time for reflection and to defend this space like a mother with a new born child.

This week, schedule time for in-depth reflection. And then, give yourself permission to take.

As for me, I will now take my annual, late June time for reflection. I will be back in touch with all of you on Monday morning, July 2. 

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

How do leaders be both bold and brave during difficult times? - part #1

When working in these unique times, we need to be bold and brave in spite of all that is happening around us. Boldness requires us to not be afraid of the difficult situations before us. Brave requires us to have the courage to face the challenges of this time. Bold and brave leaders are transformational leaders.

When I think of transformational leaders, I think of the work of Bennis and Nanus who say that these kinds of leaders are managers of meaning, attention, trust, and self. 

But, when I reflect on the transformational leaders I have met and worked with, I have observed that they role model executive presence and compassion on a daily basis. Executive presence begins with self awareness about one’s appearance, words, physical health, and body language. However, it is greater than just self-awareness

Leading with executive presence means being confident and calm in spite of external circumstances. Having inner clarity creates confidence in others to follow. It also means leading with inner clarity rather than external ego.

Leading with executive presence starts with showing up and being clear on the inside. It requires us as leaders to give our complete attention to others and being mentally present when we do it. It also means understanding that others read our reactions and actions very carefully, not just our words. In essence, executive presence is that rare combination of being confident and calm plus being present and attentive. 

Upon further reflection, I believe there is a relationship between executive presence and compassion. Compassion from Latin means “to suffer with.” It is an emotional response of sympathy and a feeling and desire to want to help. Compassion arises from an open heart. It requires us to show up and pay attention to all that is needed.

Executive presence also requires us to understand the difference between self-help and self-knowledge. Self-help is being able to achieve something on one’s own. Self-knowledge is understanding oneself or one’s own motive or character. For us to stay humble and role model executive presence as leaders, we need to know the limits of our knowledge and to realize we can become misguided by incomplete information.

It also requires us to recognize that there are always two models at work in the world of leadership. The mechanical model sees everything as systems and replaceable parts. The gardening model focuses on the culture/environment around those serving and tries to create a more favorable environment for proactive growth. From my perspective, leadership and management based on a mechanical model has the potential to result in leadership and management without a soul. There is the potential for no presence, attention, kindness, or compassion.

When leaders embrace the gardening model, then leadership becomes a craft from German word, kraft, which means “the power that comes from knowing.” Here, leaders learn to be leaders not only by being taught, but by doing it, and by being mentored. This is where you have to get “a feel” for it.

Furthermore, this kind of leadership requires people to be a part of a community, namely a group of knowers who pass along their knowledge in a step by step way from simple to complex.

Finally, leadership also is an art, because like true art it is based on the interaction between the artist and the subject/object, i.e. the follower. It is learned by knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet, and by knowing where to look and what to avoid.

This week, reflect on executive presence, compassion and the gardening model of leadership. Find your community of fellow leaders and embrace the journey of sharing, listening and reflecting. It will make a world of difference.

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Map Is Not The Road - a new booklet!

Often, during a break in my teaching, someone will come up to me and say, “That was a great story. Very helpful. You should write it down.” Given all of these requests, I decided this past winter to write down nineteen of the most popular stories that I tell during my leadership trainings.

They are now published in a new booklet called The Map Is Not The Road: Lessons Learned and Lessons Shared While Helping Others Navigate the World of Leadership and Organizational Change.

After 30+ years of doing this work, I believe the reason why people remember a story more than research or statistics is because we are wired that way. We are built for remembering relationships and stories. Statistics, graphs, charts, and research help, but from my experience, a story is a long- term anchor in the midst of change. It becomes cellular and integrated more quickly than anything else. 

Therefore, the more I teach, consult, or coach, the more I find myself sharing a story. It builds perspective. It builds understanding. It builds a common ground where we realize that we are all travelers moving through a constantly changing and unfolding landscape. 

Included in this booklet are the stories I share with others to help them become better leaders in the midst of organizational change. Some are from my own personal journey. Others are stories shared with me. Whatever the source, the lessons learned are powerful. 

For more information about this new booklet, including the Table of Contents, the Introduction and an Order Form, please click on the following link:

And here is the first review of this new resource:

“Geery, this is the book your readers have all been waiting for, for decades!  I cannot remember ever laughing so much in my life at any book this witty and endearing, and yet with profound and meaningful lessons-of-life that will forever reverberate in my heart and thoughts. They are especially funny to all who know, love, and appreciate you as the kind, caring, remarkably creative person and authentic teacher that you are.
I do not find many things in this fragmented world "funny" anymore. But because this book had me totally in stitches, it was a life-changing book in the way that Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn must have been in their time.
My husband and I have read all of your books, several times in fact.  I was one of those people who often commented to you how memorable your wonderful life stories are.  You said that so many others had also told you the same thing.  So, Geery, this is your gift to all of us.  
Thank you, Geery Howe, Master Storyteller, perhaps one of the best -- and certainly one of the most beloved -- of all times!” 

- Melinda and Todd Erickson, Erickson & Erickson, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Happy summer reading to all of you!

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What is the importance of caring within successful organizations? - part #2

Given all that is happening in the world at this time period, we need to continually create and maintain the bonds that hold us together. After visiting so many organizations over the last two years, I have come to the conclusion that the successful ones are in part successful because they understand something very important. Successful organizations recognize that health is restored in broken systems and broken relationships by creating new connections and strengthening existing ones. As Angela Blanchard wrote, “you can not build on broken.”

As part of the process of creating and maintaining the bonds that hold us together, more people need to move from relationships based on hierarchy to relationships based on connections and a sense of community. The first step in this journey is to build new connections through shared understanding and new experiences. One way to do this is to get people together in small groups and to discuss the following four questions:

- Why did you join this organization
- Why do you stay here?
- Why does that matter?
- What do you hope to achieve during the next 6-9 months?

Furthermore, I believe in celebrating planned organizational short term wins at the group level and personal milestones at the individual level. According to Dan Cohen in his book, The Heart of Change Field Guide: Tools and Tactics for Leading change in Your Organization (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) the characteristics of an effective short-term win are the following: measurable, visible, timely, relevant to all stakeholders, relevant to objectives, relevant to the situation, and relevant to the people who need to carry the change forward. Personal milestones, on the other hand, are significant points in one’s personal development.

This week, sit down with your team and discuss what have been and will be the planned short term wins for the rest of 2018. Then, enter into a discussion about what have been and what will be your own personal milestones in this process.

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