Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Remembering Our Loved Ones

Many years ago during the last week in March, we lost my wife’s brother to cancer. Any one who has lost a loved one and continued moving forward knows this is not an easy pathway. It comes with much in-depth thinking and reflection.

His wife Julie, a gifted poet, shared about this journey in a collection of poetry called Face to Face published by Cascadia in June 2010. Recently, she shared another poem with us that I in turn would like to share with all of you. I hope it will help you on your journey as you remember your loved ones this week.


By Julie Cadwallader-Staub

Skin, like piecrust, was invented

to keep our insides in

and the outside out.

Skin, like piecrust, is surprisingly tough;

stretches beyond imagining;

and can be patched with pieces of its own self,

leaving it strong in the broken places.

Thirty years ago this month, I prepared for my wedding;

Twenty years ago, I was raising three children under the age of five;

Ten years ago, my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer

and we lost him.

Tell me, to whom do we belong if not to one another?

Doesn’t a longing for belonging

mark us as human beings?

The One who mixed flour and water

who fashioned us to be functional, resilient, beautiful-

that same Spirit pierces us

again and again

to let the inside out

and the outside in

that we might pray,

and change

and recognize our need for one another

and for the One who made us

that we might embody the same gravitational force

exerted by a pie, just out of the oven:

the way it pulls people out of every dark corner,

with its fragrant promise of communion and joy.

(Reprinted by permission. To read more of Julie’s poetry, visit her website at

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bumper Stickers and Leadership

It is traveling season now. Airports, planes, cars and cab rides fill parts of every week. Meetings, consultations and executive coaching sessions are taking place hither and yon. When I am in Iowa, this means I spend a part of every day driving along I-80. Going west in the morning and driving east in the evenings, I watch corn fields, farms, cars, and trucks go by.

One thing I do on these road trips is read bumper stickers. Given it is not 2012 yet and the Iowa Caucuses have not caused every car to have 2-3 political bumper stickers on them, nowadays there are just basic ones and occasionally some creatively unique ones. Recently, three keep showing up, namely Have No Fear, Question Authority, and Think Outside The Box. When I have 2-4 hours of road time on a regular basis, I like to reflect on these three common bumper stickers from a leadership perspective.

First, Have No Fear. From a leadership perspective, this is a comical one. When you meet as many senior executives as I do in private meetings, I can assure you that 9 out of 10 do have fears and some of them are huge. However, referencing the work of Jim Collins, these leaders are not afraid to “confront the brutal facts.” Some days the facts are rough and not forgiving.

Still, the best leaders do not loose hope even in the midst of these difficulties. By naming their fears and knowing their fears, they can manage them better. As a cancer patient said to me one day, “there is more to life than taking another deep breath; death is the least of the scary options before me.” Being afraid is normal. Being controlled by fear is not. Respecting and understanding the fear factor is what differentiates the great leaders from the good ones. From my perspective, a better bumper sticker would be “Know Your Fears.”

Second, Question Authority. This bumper sticker has been around since the late 60’s and early 70’s. On one level, it is a classic. Born of angst against “the man,” the message is that all people in positions of leadership are not to be trusted. While I understand the history, this is not my favorite bumper sticker.

To many young people enter the workforce questioning authority. I hope instead that they will engage with authority, i.e. those in positions of management and leadership. Furthermore, I hope they will learn how to listen, understand and communicate effectively with those in positions of authority.

Likewise, I hope that those in these positions will learn how to engage, listen, and dialogue with those who question authority. If I could redesign this bumper sticker I would have it say “Question Your Assumptions” or “Ask Better Questions” for this is what the best leaders do on a regular basis.

Finally, Think Outside the Box. Another classic bumper sticker focused on innovation. The box for many represents the comfort zone of the mind and one’s actions. The goal when thinking outside the box is to generate more innovation. While I like the sentiment, I think the message is weak at best.

The strategic leaders who create sustainable growth in their companies do much more than think outside the box. Most of them redesign the whole box and then redesign how it is used. They do not focus on thinking outside of the box because in the end there is still a box. For example, the movement from a PC focused work place to an iPad2 or tablet focused digital lifestyle is more than thinking outside the box. Same goes for how cell phones are being transformed into smart phones. In both circumstances, it is a complete redesign of “the box” and then a complete redesign of how it is used.

I have many more miles to go this spring and many more bumper stickers to see. I hope during the coming weeks I might see a few that state the following: Know Your Fears, Question Your Assumptions, and Redesign The Box.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, March 28, 2011

Young Workers: Tourists or Natives?

Right now many companies are looking for excellent and talented young people. They want to recruit and retain them so that they have a strong capacity to meet the ever-changing, and hopefully improving, market conditions. And these same companies are running into some unique problems as they hire them.

First, many of the young people they are hiring keep looking for their next job even while starting their new one They see this practice as normal and productive. They are constant explorers seeking an ideal career.

Second, when they are hired, they instantly expect the company to provide them with flexible working conditions so they can continue to have time for family, personal passions, and commitments.

Third, these same new hires want to bring their own computers, PDAs and cell phones to work, and to use these systems rather than the company provided IT solutions. They believe that their systems are superior to the ones at the office. And many times, they are!

Fourth, many young people bring their parents into the work environment. Being used to consulting their parents on a daily basis in regards to work and personal problems, young people continue this pattern much to the consternation of their supervisors and managers, let alone HR professionals.

Fifth, they expect to use their personal social media connections, e.g. Facebook, Skype,Twitter, etc, to solve problems, improve team work, and deliver better results. Many of them are light years ahead of their employers when it comes to this form of communication and use social media to find short cuts to common work problems.

Sixth and final, they expect their new employers to make all work exciting, passionate and significant. They detest drudgery and boredom. Routine is stupid and fixed schedules are an alien concept.

The result is that some companies believe young workers are more like tourists than natives.

Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman in their book, When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work, HarperBusiness, 2002, told us this was going to happen nearly a decade ago. Ron Alsop in his book, The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the millennial generation is shaking up the workplace, Jossey-Bass, 2008, noted these same problems in greater detail, and explained that this is the new normal for the 92 million Millennials entering the workforce.

Our choice as senior executives is simple. We can follow our limbic minds and freeze, flee or fight these changes, or we could engage with these young people and learn. These young people, who are showing the common traits of being entitled, optimistic, civic minded, impatient, multitasking and team oriented, are not the problem as much as the future. While employers are benefitting from their technology, multitasking, and teamwork skills, but bristling at their demands for flexible working conditions, their desire for frequent feedback and guidance, and their hope for rapid promotion, we as leaders need to engage with them in regular strategic level dialogues. We, young workers and senior executives alike, are all at the awareness stage and we need to move to the understand and collaboration stages in 2011.

This week and this spring, realize that there are multiple generations in the work place at this time period. Visit with the “tourists,” and get to know them. They are the employees and customers of the future.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Importance of Clear Communication

We were sitting in his office having just finished up a long day of meetings and inservices when he turned to me and said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you my good news. I found what I have been looking for. It took a while but I found the perfect bra. It is the right color, shape and the fit is perfect.”

At first, I was a tad bit confused. But I knew that I had heard exactly what he had said. The puzzled look on my face caused him to burst out laughing.

“That must have sounded pretty funny. Sorry about that,” he explained. “I am an old car buff, and have been working many years on rebuilding a great 1950’s era Chevy. The bra is the protective covering I will strap on the front when I drive it to area car shows.”

I then nodded in understanding and said “Congratulations.”

When we become a leader, it is critical that we focus on our communication. We have to be clear in what we say and how we say it, recognizing that information without context can be quite confusing to the listener.

At the same time, we need to be very mindful of our unspoken messages. Our body language communicates faster than our words. Often it is misconstrued, resulting in a loss of understanding and even trust.

Furthermore, we need to be more mindful when we listen to others. This requires a high degree of concentration and on-going attention to the overall flow of the conversation. Too many times, I have observed leaders who only listen to respond rather than truly listen to understand. The result is that their staff interprets their communication as not caring.

Some days however even the best of us just get too busy trying to multi-task that we forget the impact of our words. A dear long term friend caught me in this situation recently when she called me up on the phone. I was deep into a strategic planning project when I answered, and unfortunately I did not give her my complete attention.

As usual, the first thing she did was ask me “How are you?”

My response was “Not bad.”

She paused and said, “Having a rough day?”

“No,” I replied.

“Then, why,” she inquired, “are you ‘not bad’? In the continuum of life, there is terrible -> bad -> not bad -> OK -> pretty good -> good -> great. Not bad is way down and closer to the bottom than the top. Are you sure you are feeling so low?”

I realized that she was exactly right. My response was not accurate. I was actually just busy and not very focused. I amended my first answer. “I am really good. Thanks for helping me be more clear.”

After our conversation, I realized that leaders, myself included, do not always give our full attention to sharing and listening. The impact in the above situation was minor but it is critical that we as leaders are more thoughtful in how we communicate.

Creating clarity in our organizations this spring begins with being more clear and being more attentive to what we are saying and how we are saying it. Otherwise, we may end up in an embarrassing situation or having communicated the wrong thing.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Work/Life Balance

I was visiting with a young leader the other day when they commented to me that they proactively scanned eight different news sources on a regular basis over the course of a day to keep up with what was going on. I paused and wondered how many I scanned to stay on top of what was happening. With a bit of reflection, I realized that I monitor seven to nine different news sources depending on what is going on at any given time period.

As some of you know, I am a lark rather than an owl. I was born at dawn and have been a morning person ever since. Yet, I have worked with people who wake up between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm and really get pumped by 10:00 pm. These are not just night nurses and third shift people. They are folks who are wired to kick in at a different level and at a different time than me. They become engaged when I am thinking of going to bed.

But what makes this world of leadership so interesting and complex right now is not the constant internet scanning or the constant working around the clock as much as how many people in leadership positions are in constant motion and constantly drained. Recently, I have had more executives take me aside in seminars or ask in private executive coaching sessions how to create more work/life balance. Many report to me that they feel like adrenaline junkies, addicted to fixing everything at work and at home, and never having the time or the energy to care for themselves.

With this issue in mind, I think we all need to pause, take a deep breath and reread the following article: “The Uncompromising Leader” by Russell A. Eisenstat, Michael Beer, Nathaniel Foote, Tobias Freberg, and Flemming Norrgren in the July-August 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review. I wrote a review of this article back on September 9, 2008, As the authors explain, their in-depth research into high-commitment, high-performance (HCHP) CEOs reveals they several shared traits: “These CEOs earn the trust of their organizations through their openness to the unvarnished truth. They are deeply engaged with their people, and their exchanges are direct and personal. They mobilize employees around a focused agenda, concentrating on only one or two initiatives. And they work to build collective leadership capabilities.” As they continue, “These leaders also forge an emotionally resonant shared purpose across their companies. That consists of a three-part promise: The company will help employees build a better world and deliver performance they can be proud of, and will provide an environment in which they can grow.”

One element within this article that I did not share in the review was a wonderful section on how HCHP CEO’s keep their work in perspective. As the above authors note, “First, while many [CEOs] reported great camaraderie with the members of their senior leadership teams, they were also careful to maintain enough personal distance to avoid favoritism.” They explained that this was very important to CEOs promoted from within an organization because as a senior leader they would need to make “tough personnel decisions for the good of the institution concerning colleagues with whom they shared decades of experience.”

Next, based on the research by the above authors, they write that “despite long hours on the job, HCHP leaders devoted considerable energy to maintaining full lives outside work. Many of the CEOs were deeply involved with their families and their communities and credited these activities with giving them perspective on their work.” I, too, have noticed this element with leaders who maintain a healthy work/life balance. I particularly notice the best executives have 1-2 things or causes that they are involved in which they are passionate about over time. I believe this gives them something to look forward to when work is not going so well.

Finally, the above authors write that “it helps to have a sense of humor. HCHP leaders tended not to take themselves or their positions too seriously.” The best I have seen are just ordinary people in extra-ordinary positions.

In short, the article explains that HCHP leaders can manage people, performance and shareholder expectations by doing something that looks simple but is not easy. As they explain, “In the end, the answer lies not just in what these leaders do but in how they go about their work.” This week and this spring, I encourage you to reflect on how you go about your work. It will help as you seek more work/life balance.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, March 14, 2011

The “New” GI Generation

My father is a WWII veteran. We did not talk about it much when I was growing up. He is part of that “Greatest Generation,” a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation of Americans who grew up in the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war’s effort. My father’s generation is sometimes also referred to as the G.I. Generation, a term coined by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe who are known for their generational theory.

With the first Gulf War and now Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we have a new GI Generation. I meet them in my community. I meet them at colleges and universities. I meet them in the work place. These young men and woman have served their country and served it well. And now they are slowly coming home.

Given my age, I remember those who came home from Vietnam. I have listened to their challenges and their difficulties over the years. Once, a long time ago, I was teaching an evening stress management seminar to emergency personnel and first responders in northwest Iowa when an older man me asked if we could visit after the class.

So, after my presentation was over, we sat down and he shared how one day he was in the jungles in Vietnam and some one came up to him and told him it was his time to go home. He had completed his tour of duty. Shortly, a helicopter came and picked him up in this remote location. A couple of days later, he was home in northwest Iowa feeding pigs with his Dad. He still did not know how to process this transition and he still, some 20+ years later, could not handle stress very well. We talked about PTSD that evening and I encouraged him to seek out qualified and experienced professionals who could help him and his loved ones through what he was experiencing. Before we parted, he shared with me that “war changes people. It is not good or bad. It just changes people.”

With all those who are serving now and with all those who have served and are back home now, we as leaders need to remember that it will and it has changed them. For some, there will be no outward signs. For others, there will be many signs and significant differences.

I was lecturing at a hospital in far western Iowa when the first Gulf War ended. I remembering saying to all of the mangers and executives in the room that all of the veterans will come home. Some will be whole; some will be broken. Some will come home having paid the ultimate sacrifice. All of them, their families and their communities, will be changed by this experience.

As winter moves toward spring, we as leaders need to learn more about these changes and this new GI Generation. We must be more aware and be more understanding as they re-enter society. We must be prepared because, like the first GI Generation, this new generation will change our society in many ways.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crisis = Danger + Opportunity

Ram Charan in his extremely thoughtful book, Leadership In The Era of Economic Uncertainity: The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times, McGraw Hill 2009, writes “The immensity of the challenge confronting CEOs in this era of extraordinary uncertainty and volatility is that everyone is looking to them not only for reassurance but also for specific direction. The question on many minds is simple but scary: Are we going to make it? That is followed by an equally simple question: What do I have to do? The CEO has to provide reassurance as well as guidance to everyone in the company.”

As he continues, “When we think about the CEO’s job, it is helpful to divide it into two realms: leadership and operations. The first is about inspiring and motivating people to go beyond their fears and painting a believable future that is waiting after the storm. The second is about the daily nitty-gritty of doing business successfully in a very tough and unpredictable environment.”

In Chinese calligraphy, the word “crisis” is the combination of two words, namely “danger” and “opportunity.” Right now given what is happening at the international, Federal and state levels of our society, there is much danger and much opportunity. And if you are a CEO, a divisional President, a unit manager or a front line supervisor, the need to provide motivation and a clear picture of a believable future is growing every day. Furthermore, there is an intense day to day operational pressure to be effective and thrifty. Resource management now is as important as strategic direction given all that is happening in the world.

In a couple of hours, I will begin teaching the 2011 From Vision to Action Leadership Training, a year long course on leadership, strategic planning and execution plus organizational change. Those coming will engage with me and each other over the course of 2011 to explore new ways to lead through this current uncertainty and volatility. We will “recognize reality,” using a Charan term from the above book, and simultaneously learn new perspectives about how to move through the complexities of strategic and organizational change. We will understand the dangers and discover the opportunities of being a leader.

The aforementioned simple questions, “Are we going to make it?” and “What do I have to do?”, will not go away any time soon. Instead, the questions will come up often and they will need to be addressed in a thoughtful and effective manner. After decades of doing this work and many opportunities to interact with dynamic and bold leaders, I know this morning that we will make it through these difficult times, and, with grace, patience, and good fortune, we can transform ourselves and our companies into something better than what they are today. The first step in this journey begins when we choose to be a better leader today than we were yesterday.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Living in the World of Fast and Faster

Routinely now, executives find themselves being pushed to make decisions before they are ready. With people lined up outside their offices wanting to share their problems, thoughtful decision making may feel like a thing of the past. Working with limited information and often unrealistic time frames, many executives skip the important stages of inquiry and problem definition, and instead charge forward into making a decision and then figuring out implementation plans.

As I ponder this recurring pattern, I am reminded of two comments by Peter Drucker in his article, “What is Our Business?” in the June 2001 issue of Executive Excellence magazine. First, he noted that “The executive’s time tends to belong to everybody else.” Second, “Executives are forced to keep ‘operating’ unless they take positive action to change the reality in which they live.” Coming to an understanding that when you become an executive everybody and anybody can move in on your time and eventually does is not an easy lesson. Furthermore, it is common as an executive to experience times when the flow of events around us supersedes the priorities we hold. Our challenge then and now is to continue to define what is most important in spite of this flow, and to carve out time for in-depth thought and consideration.

Over the last month, two experiences have made me do a lot of thinking. The first went as follows. An executive I have worked with on a one to one basis for a number of years met me in his office one cloudy afternoon, and stated “I am sorry that I had to reschedule this meeting so many times over the last couple of weeks. Even today, I really do not have the time for this level of work.”

I responded by saying, “We have two hours set aside for this meeting. You can use as little or as much of the two hours as you would like. You are in charge of the time. So, how are things going in your world?”

One hour and fifteen minutes later, he paused in his sharing. I then offered a summary analysis of what he shared, including the implications related to their current strategic plan and a variety of next steps that could be taken. We then discussed these next steps for about thirty minutes. During the last ten minutes, I checked on his health, his family and what he was reading. Just before we scheduled our next time to visit, he paused and said, “I don’t give myself permission to do this kind of in-depth reflection and thinking too often. This was very helpful. It was good to figure some things out and to share them with someone else. I needed that.”

“It was a pleasure to listen,” I said. “I look forward to our next meeting.”

In a world of fast and faster, having a scheduled time to reflect, share and think deeply is vital to the success of an executive. It allows us to take our minds off of instant operational decision-making and return to more productive strategic level thinking. As I often remind participants in our From Vision to Action Leadership Training, successful leaders work more on the business than in the business.

The critical element to this level of sharing is having someone who understands and can truly listen. This is not having an individual sit across the table from us with ears that can receive vibrations through the air and recognize them as words. This is someone who proactively listens to understand, tracks the conversation over time, and respects what is being shared. I think of this as in-depth strategic listening.

In this unique interaction, we help people to step back from the micro issues so they can comprehend the macro or strategic issues. We offer, when appropriate, constructive feedback or experienced perspective that challenges the individual to re-examine or re-think what is happening. Finally, we focus on accelerating the learning in an organized manner. The result of this in-depth strategic listening is that an executive feels re-energized, clear, and confident of what to do next.

From experiences of this nature, I have come to recognize that the first key to being a successful executive is to build time into our schedules for this level of sharing. The second key is to give ourselves permission to use the time once it has been scheduled. The third key is to trust our gut when it comes to decision-making.

The second experience that has made me do a lot of thinking happened recently. Once we were seated around the small conference table in his office, he shared, “I did not sleep well last night. I woke up around 2:30 am and started pacing in our bedroom. My wife told me to take the dog and go down stairs.”

This is something that I hear on a regular basis from executives right now. Waking up in the night is a common problem. Given how full their lives are with back to back meetings, I believe that the mind will wake up the body in the middle of the night to do some thinking through of certain issues because in the quiet dark of night there are no new inputs and there is ample time and space to process all that has been received.

“What were you thinking about at 2:30 am?”, I asked.

“We are not making the right decision when it comes to hiring this new person,” he explained. “They can do the job as it is defined today but I don’t think they are well suited given the strategic direction we are taking. We need to think more toward the future.”

“What does your gut tell you to do?”, I inquired.

“We need to slow down and be more thoughtful. This will upset some people but it is necessary,” he said.

“The research by Jim Collins,” I explained, “notes that ‘who questions come before what decisions.’ It is a ‘rigorous discipline, consistently applied.’ So, let’s think about how to get from where you are right now to where you want to be given this situation.”

The insight for him was to trust his gut. The key for me as an executive coach was to respect this level of intuition. When we combine strategic listening with a respect for an individual’s intuition, we create a power opportunity for all involved to gain new perspectives, understanding, and clarity. And in the world of fast and faster, this is critical to short and long term success.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Key to Performance Coaching

James Kouzes and Barry Posner write in their wonderful book called A Leader’s Legacy, Jossey-Bass, 2006, that “When we choose to lead every day, we choose to serve. Leading is not about what we gain from others but what others gain from us.”

Every day people are working hard and putting in long hours to get done what needs to be done. Most employees, like their supervisors, are stretched by the pressure to meet these expectations and most want to do a good job even if factors beyond their control prevent them from achieving this on a regular basis. Furthermore, most people are struggling to balance all of their work commitments with their home commitments.

In the midst of these challenges, I am a firm believer that Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Simon & Schuster, 1999, were right when they wrote “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” I also agree with the above authors that a “manager’s role is the ‘catalyst’ role,” namely to “speed up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customer’s needs.”

Yet, when we set clear expectations, motivate people to meet them and develop them for future challenges and opportunities, we, as leaders and managers, need to remember that some people do not have the skill set or know how to achieve certain goals. And thus, every day we need to coach people on their performance.

One thing I am noticing this winter is how few executives truly spend time on relationship building as part of performance coaching. These leaders are in numerous meetings every day and there often is a line of people waiting to meet with them in between these meetings, but on most days this is nothing more than technical and adaptive problem solving. It is common and normal work for a senior executive, but it also can be difficult, burdensome and tiring. Still, this is not relationship building.

Relationships are built on shared experiences and extremely good listening. They begin with someone investing the time and energy to learn another person’s stories and to understand their history. It is not fast and yet it is very important because if the purpose of leadership is “to mobilize others to serve a purpose,” a concept that Kouzes and Posner suggest in the aforementioned book, then we must realize that this depth of motivation comes from having an authentic and respectful relationship with another. It does not come from a contract or being present at a weekly meeting. It comes when we know another and understand another to the degree that we are willing to serve another.

As I move through these first months of 2011, I also note that more and more people want to discuss their whole life, not just their work life. They seek a depth of relationship where they can be seen as whole people rather than as fragmented individuals moving paper from one side of the desk to another while simultaneously filling in small cells on spread sheets in a computer. They seek to be inspired rather than overwhelmed.

In a fast paced, 3G moving to 4G broadband world, we are discovering that we have lost touch with our mentors and sometimes even ourselves. This winter and this spring, I strongly encourage you to spend more time building relationships with your key people and to learn their history and stories. Then, when possible and appropriate, share your own. It is time to coach the young and the old, to build and maintain community, and to recognize that fast is not always effective.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two Questions

Day in and day out, the world keeps changing.

Currents events in the Middle East are causing more people to worry about fuel prices and the stability of certain governments. The introduction of the new iPad2 yesterday is causing more people to think that we are entering a post-PC time period. The US Senate approved another short term spending measure and is causing more people to wonder how anything is actually going to get done at the Federal level between now and the 2012 election. In short, every day there is a new crisis, concern, problem, or opportunity, depending on how you view it. Every day something changes which has strategic implications.

One could feel overwhelmed by all that is happening. There is risk on so many levels. Yet in the midst of analyzing all these strategic variables, we need to pause and ask ourselves two very simple questions, namely “What do I do?” and “What do I do that really matters the most?” The former needs to connect to the strategic plan. The later needs to connect to the mission of the organization.

In a world of constant inputs and potential strategic scenarios, it is important for us to reconnect with the core of what we do. Change may be the constant but stewardship of what should not change is just as important. Before this week wraps up, pause and answer the above two questions. It will help you to refocus on the right things. Being a vision-led and mission-driven organization is the only foundation for handling change successfully.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring 2011From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable

In the January-February 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, there is an interesting article by Anne Morriss, Robin Ely and Francis Frei called “Stop Holding Yourself Back.” After working with hundreds of leaders in a wide variety of organizations and in countries all over the globe, these authors found one very clear pattern: “When it comes to meeting their leadership potential, many people unintentionally get in their own way.” As they note, “Five barriers in particular tend to keep promising managers from becoming exceptional leaders: people overemphasize personal goals, protect their public image, turn competitors into two-dimensional enemies, go it alone instead of soliciting support and advice, and wait for permission to lead.” The authors’ research shows that “being a leader means an active decision to lead. Only then will the workforce - and society - benefit from the enormous amount of talent currently sitting on the bench.”

When I review this list of barriers today, the one that jumps out at me is the following: “go it alone instead of soliciting support and advice.” Day after day, I listen to leaders explain how lonely it is at the top of their organization. Routinely, they explain that there are few people in their lives who understand the pressures and complexities of their position. They long for a time to meet with others who “get it” and are moving forward in a progressive manner.

Yet, from experience, I know there is a solution. Twice a year, a highly committed group of executives gather at the From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable to learn, network and explore better questions, new ideas and unique perspectives at a deeper and more holistic level. With uninterrupted time and space, they have found this one event to be valuable, yielding new insights to their current and emerging challenges.

Therefore, I invite you to come and join this group on April 14 - 15 for the Spring 2011 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable which will be held at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa.

Here is the agenda for your review

Thursday: April 14, 2011

- 8:30 am - Registration

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - The Four Leadership Mistakes We Keep Making

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

- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Positioning For the Future Growth

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

- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - Breaking Down Silos & Building Bridges

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

- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - Consensus and Decision-making

- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Friday: April 15, 2011

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - The Problem With Corporate Success

- 10:15 am - 10:45 am - Break and Hotel Check-out

- 10:45 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application

- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

The registration price is $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day. For more details and a registration form, please click on the following link:

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If you want to be at the Spring 2011 Roundtable, there is still time and space for you to participate. All you need to do is e-mail me today and I can get the ball rolling on this end. Then, all we have to do is meet at the Spring Roundtable in Coralville.

Have a good week, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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