Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year

As we come to the final days of 2013,  I am reminded of the following two quotes:

“Never let the things that matter most be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” - Goethe

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” - Mahatma Gandhi

My hope and wish for you in the New Year is that you take care of the things that matter most to you, and that you continue to remake yourself.

New adventures and new challenges await. Let us all celebrate 2013’s accomplishments, and then welcome 2014 with open arms and great anticipation.  

The best is yet to come!

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

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

This week, homes have been decorated. Special foods are being prepared.  Families are gathering. The miracles of this season can be seen all around us.

Today, I am deeply grateful for all the times we have visited together, learned together, and explored together during this interesting and complex year. I am humbled by all of you who have chosen to share with me your hopes, your fears, your joys, and your challenges.

My holiday wish is for everyone to recognize that they are dearly loved and cherished by many people, and that their life and their work does make a difference in this world.  If each of us can embrace this perspective, then we will realize that we do not have anything to fear about the future.

Much joy and many blessings to you and yours this holiday season. May it be one of your finest!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Preparing Personally For The New Year

Are you personally ready for the new year?

Routinely, I witness organizations prepare for the future. Through meetings, project teams and multiple spread sheets, a master plan is built. Then, people focus on the right things as they execute the plan.

However, I rarely see a leader who pauses and checks to see if they are personally ready for this level of work. We all know that planning the work and working the plan requires disciplined thought and action. But few of us reflect on whether or not we have the personal resources to rise to the challenge. We assume we do, but we seldom check to see if we actually do.

This week, I encourage you to do four things to personally get ready for the new year.  First, call up your primary care physician or nurse practitioner and get an annual physical. You would be amazed by how many people skip this simple step. Then, when they do finally get around to it, they are stunned by what they discover. Our physical health is a very important part of being ready for the new year.

Second, please sit down and evaluate whether or not your personal relationships are ready for the new year. Often, executives share with me that they are winning at work and loosing at home. With all the time they spend at the office, few have invested an equal amount of time in building and maintaining their relationships with their children and partners. It is always a sad day when I learn that another leader has sacrificed his or her family life and relationships to meet a Wall Street number. While some can be repaired, many suffer from the long term damage.

Third, plan your own personal life like you do your work. Start by setting your own personal goals for 2014. Determine how you are going to measure progress and then develop a system where you will check every 90 days about whether or not you are making progress. Setting goals and holding yourself accountable to personal goals is a master skill and a significant part of being a fine leader.

Finally, make time to have a spiritual life, not just a job. Attend regularly the church of your choice. Study spiritual material and reflect on what they mean to you and your family.  Seek out mentors who can help you have a greater perspective. By investing time in your local spiritual community, you will tap into a wellspring of insights and new thinking.

The new year will come and it will include it’s own challenges and celebrations. Being prepared personally will make a major difference in how much you enjoy it.

P.S. For those of you who are interested in creating a high-performance culture in your organization in the coming year, I encourage you to read the following article “The Keys to Building a High-Performance Culture” posted on-line on 12/12/13 at the Gallup Business Journal website.  Here is the link:

While the article focuses on research done with 3,477 business managers and 30,000 employees in businesses in the Gulf area, the six crucial components of a high-performance company are easily transferable to other business in other parts of the country.  The six keys are as follows:

1. Implement an effective performance management process.

2. Create empowerment and authority.

3. Increase leadership capability at all levels of the company.

4. Develop a customer-centric strategy.

5. Increase communication and collaboration.

6. Enhance training and development.

There are more details about each of the above keys in the article so I encourage all of you to read and discuss it with your leadership team.  Now is a good time for this depth of thinking and exploration.

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

Preparing For The New Year

As we come to the end of the calendar year, I have one question for you.

What do you want to be known for in 2014? 

It seems like a simple question on one hand. Yet, with further reflection, it is actually quite important and can be complex, too.

First, the answer to this question and your current strategic plan should be in alignment, i.e. the outcomes of your strategic plan and the answer to the above question should both line up.

Second, your quarterly expectations, goals and priorities as a leader should be moving in the direction of your answer to this important question.

Third, every strategic review should be focused on helping your organization to move more efficiently and effectively toward this answer.

So, this week, step back from the day to day work, and answer the above question. Then check on alignment between your answer and your current strategic plan. This is another great way to prepare for the new year.

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Quick Reminder

Friday, December 6, is the registration deadline for the 2014 From Vision to Action Leadership Training.

We will meet for this unique learning opportunity at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, Coralville, Iowa on the following dates:
- March 4 - 5 - 6, 2014
- May 6 - 7 - 8, 2014
- September 9 - 10 - 11, 2014
- November 13 - 14, 2014 

If you and/or members of your team are interested in the 2014 training, then please click on the following link for more information: 

Or you can click on the this link for the registration form:

I look forward to your participation in the 2014 From Vision to Action Leadership Training.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

An Odd Time Period

After many years of doing this work, I have come to the conclusion that the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is just an odd time period. Some organizations go into massive planning mode hoping that they can catch up and get prepared for the new year. Others just coast between the holidays, hoping that every one will show up at work and that all of the shifts will be filled. Whether you and your organization go hyper-vigilant or become hyper-mellow, the key as a leader is to make sure you are well prepared for the new year. Therefore, I recommend three specific actions to happen during this unique time period.

First, take all of your direct reports out for lunch or coffee. Do your regular coaching work but also do some more in-depth visiting. Focus on learning as much as you can about this person even if you know them well.  As Marcus  Buckingham noted in his book, The One Thing You Need to Know ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, Free Press, 2005, “To excel as a manager you must never forget that each of your direct reports is unique and that your chief responsibility is not to eradicate this uniqueness, but rather to arrange roles, responsibilities, and expectations so that you can capitalize upon it. The more you perfect this skill, the more effectively you will turn talents into performance.” More in-depth coaching and visiting time between the Thanksgiving and Christmas can help.

Second, get out from behind the desk, and visit the front line where the actual goods and service are delivered. This is not a walk-through, smile, and shake hands time period. It is instead a time period for in-depth exploration. In particular, look to see if the mission is alive and well or only a document on the wall or in a notebook. Check out whether or not the core values are expressed authentically or whether people are choosing to to do the standard “fake smile” delivery of customer service. Finally, dig into how well key teams are functioning. This holistic perspective will help you as a leader plan better for the future, and correct misalignments in the present.

Third, push back from the phone, internet and e-mail. With a sheet of paper before you, pause and think big.  Write out an answer to the following question: “If we had the kind of culture we aspire to, in pursuit of the strategy we have chosen, what kinds of new behaviors would be common? And what ingrained behaviors would be gone?” If need be, reread the following article where the aforementioned question came from: Katzenbach, by Jon R. and, Ilona Steffen and Caroline Kronley,“Cultural Change That Sticks”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2012.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is an odd time period, but as a leader you can still use it to your advantage. Coach more, visit more, and reflect more. This will be a good way to start planning for the new year.

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