Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Challenging World

We live in a complex and complicated world right now. Polarization abounds. Anger, frustration, and finger pointing are becoming the new normal. People are feeling like every day is nothing but another and continuous walk through the trough of chaos.

In the midst of these endless challenges, we as leaders are suppose to on-board new ideas and new people so they stay focused and positive. We are called to solve all the current operational problems. We are suppose to make sure all the systems are standardized, if not centralized to assure quality.

The result is that operational management is trumping strategic execution. Introducing change or a new strategic plan has become an event rather than a process. Any level of team problems is compounded by internal pressures and external unknowns. 

Meanwhile. front line supervisors and mid-level managers are trying to make sure the trains run on time, i.e. shifts are filled and people are focused on the right things, too. In short, leaders are feeling defeated by all of the challenges before them and not enough time to think through what to do.

This is where the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable fits into the picture. It is a place where leaders gather to step back for a day and a half from the mad rush to get things all done and all fixed. It is a time to catch one’s breath, regain some internal perspective, strength and courage to keep moving forward.

We come because we need to find an “island of sanity,” a new Margaret Wheatley term, in a sea of ups and downs. We come because we want to listen, to share, and to regain perspective. We know we can not change everything, but at the same time, we know we can gain some insights and perspectives at the Fall Roundtable which will make the journey easier to handle to easier to effect change.

This fall the Roundtable will be held on September 20 - 21, 2017 at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa.  

Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders on-board the next generation of high-growth opportunities while managing daily operations?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders work through endings and new beginnings at the same time?
- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch and Networking 
- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders help their organization become more resilient?
- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders help others think and act strategically?
- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 21, 2017
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders recover from burnout?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break 
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application
- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

Here is the link to the registration form:


I hope you will join myself and many other leaders on September 20 - 21 for the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable.

Given all the challenges before us, it will be good to gather around the table and to explore these complex and complicated issues together. Hopefully, we will gain some new insights and perspectives as well as some strength to continue moving forward.

I look forward to seeing at the Fall Roundtable.

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Three Definitions of Strategy

After the morning strategic update by the CEO, I was sitting at a table over lunch with a mix of senior executives and middle managers when she turned to me in between bites and asked the following question: “So, how do I think strategically on a daily basis?”

It was a good question. I responded by saying: “It all depends on how you define the word “strategy.”

When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, I continually point out to all involved that the word strategy is a big word. Often used and rarely understood, most executive choose only one definition of it and instantly cause themselves and others many problems.

So, let’s dive into the first definition. Strategy is an extensively premeditated, carefully built, long term plan designed to achieve a particular goal. People like this definition because it is precise, focused and will generate an outcome. At the end of the day, we can say “we did it” and have a party.

However, the best leaders know that there is more to strategy. Every strategic commitment has a decay rate. This is the recognition that from the time it took to create the initial ideas for the plan to the moment the strategic plan is ready for sharing, all of our best thinking and analysis goes into the document. But, once the document is printed, everyone wants to “get it done.”  What they miss in their understanding of strategy is that it has to be adaptable by nature due to unforeseen variables not considered during the planning stage rather than a rigid set of instructions or tactics. Without the recognition of the strategic decay rate, strategy has the potential to create organizational vulnerability.

The third definition of strategy recognizes that to create strategy can be as simple as one to three people sitting around a table writing stuff down. “So, what do you want to get done during the next 1-3 years?” asks one person to another. “Here is my list,” says the first to the second. And the third person is madly writing it all down on a flip chart or typing it up. In the end, strategy is created, but not owned and understood by those who have to execute the plan.  What most leaders fail to recognize is that successful strategy serves an important function in promoting ongoing evolutionary success. Strategy is not a one time affair but an on-going and in-depth process of creating clarity, ownership, and focus over time.  

In short, strategy is a an extensively premeditated, carefully built, long term plan designed to achieve a particular goal. But for successful leaders, it is much more than a document created on an annual basis. It is a commitment to thinking deeply and more holistically. And this is what separates the great strategy from the good strategy.

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

Monday, August 7, 2017

One of My Favorite Words

If I were asked to pick my favorite leadership word, it would not be purpose or mission although I do love these two words. It would have to be the word capacity. To me, it is a word with tremendous depth and complexity. I use it often and I am around many different leaders from many different industries who use it regularly.

When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, I point out that the dictionary definition of the word capacity has two different meanings. The first states that capacity is “the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating” something. The other definition for the word is “the facility or power to produce, perform, or deploy.” And, for me, each definition holds a clue to understanding this very interesting word.

In the first definition of the word capacity, there is a recognition that leaders who have capacity can hold, store and accommodate key information as they go about their daily or strategic work. They have the ability to zoom out to see the bigger picture and zoom in to focus on elements within a system or process to make sure it is functioning properly. In essence, capacity is a mindset of working through the intricate levels of strategic and operational thinking.

The second definition of the word capacity, for me, is all about execution. It focuses on making things happen on either a strategic or operational basis. It generates the desired outcomes, results or short term wins that have been planned out in advance.

Now, as leaders, our challenge is to help people to become better in their ability to think through technical or adaptive problems. We are to assist people in the creation of a mental framework by which all involved know what can and can not be changed or improved as they move forward through their days. Then, we are to assist them in choosing the right actions so they can be successful on an on-going basis.

This week, focus on building the capacity to plan better and to execute better. Help people think more clearly and work more clearly and you will have created a powerful flywheel at the core of your business.

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

Monday, July 31, 2017

There is More to Integrity than Meets the Eye

A long time ago in a not so distant land, there was a company called Enron, a natural gas pipeline company, which had the following core values: Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence. These key words were to be the cultural DNA of the company and were to guide all employees in how they worked with each other and their customers. And as the history books point out, having these core values is not the same as understanding and living those core values.

As leaders, the concept of integrity is very important. We want to be people who adhere to a code of moral values and to work for a company where ethics and morals are more than words on a page or a section in an employee handbook. We want to be people who do things right and who do the right things.

Yet, as an executive coach, I often have to point out that while every company wants to put integrity in their core values, few spend ample time exploring and teaching what it means. Because within a successful company and with successful leaders, integrity is a mindset, i.e. a mental framework, and a core set of behaviors that is utilized daily and lived daily. It is an inside the person thing rather than an outside the person thing.

This week, sit down with your team and begin the conversation about what is the definition of integrity. Explore with them what is an ethical mindset and what are the ethical behaviors that come from this mindset. You will find it a helpful and in-depth learning process for all involved.

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Early Bird Special Reminder!

Before more of July flies by, I just wanted to post a friendly reminder that the “Early Bird Special” for the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable is set to expire on Friday, July 28.

If you sign up between now and 7/28/17, 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 7/28/17, the registration price will be $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day.

Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders on-board the next generation of high-growth opportunities while managing daily operations?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders work through endings and new beginnings at the same time?
- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch and Networking 
- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders help their organization become more resilient?
- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders help others think and act strategically?
- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 21, 2017
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders recover from burnout?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break 
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application
- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

Location: Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa.

Hope you can come!

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

At the Heart of It All

When you have done something for a long time, it is interesting to watch the evolution of how we talk and share about what is happening. For example, in the late 80’s, Tom Peter’s wrote a book called In Search of Excellence. Instantaneously, everyone began talking about excellence. It was on the lips of every leader in the country. Then in the early 90’s, Stephen Covey wrote a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people. The next day, excellence was old school, and we all started talking about effectiveness. Shortly thereafter, we had the rise of TQM, i.e. total quality management, and CQI, i.e. continuous quality improvement. After that, the list just starts to become endless. Buzz words followed by buzz words and an endless stream of something being the hot-off-the-press new solution. 

In the midst of this whirlwind of “new” and “improved” terminology, a pattern started to appear. Starting before Tom Peters wrote his book, I have observed that all of the leaders and companies who were successful all had one thing in common, clarity of mission and/or purpose. In the beginning, mission was the word that leaders used. It was not the military definition of mission, as in an action that need to get done to achieve a particular goal, as much as an overall sense of clarity of purpose and focus.

Over time and from years of visiting with struggling and successful executives, managers and supervisors, I have come to the conclusion that clarity of mission/purpose is foundational to both short and long term success. In the language of leaders, the two words, mission and purpose, have become interchangeable. Whether it is an action in the course of execution, or a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity, knowing what we do and how we do it is critical to all involved. Because, in the end, if we are clear about what is at the heart of all we do, then we can stay focused, overcome our challenges, and deliver the outcomes that are desired.

During the coming week, whether you are using the word mission or purpose, make sure that every one involved understands the scope, the direction and the reason why being mission-driven or purposed-centered is so important. People want to work at a place where making a difference is possible. We as leaders have to continually educate and reeducate all involved about what is at the heart of all we do on a daily basis.


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

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Unorganized State Of Primordial Matter

I love a good speech that brings the crowd to their feet, energized, engaged and committed to moving forward to the next level. Over the decades, I have witnessed many a senior leader stand and deliver. Routinely, I hear leaders quote Winston Churchill and state that “every change is a challenge to become who we are.” And what many leaders forget is that one person's challenge may be another person’s total chaos.

In particular, leaders often forget that something is a challenge only when those who have to face it have clarity about why, how, what, and when. Regularly, leaders skip these details in their rush to begin. They have been thinking about this situation for quite a long time. Meanwhile, the listener has been quietly focused on doing the day to day operations of the company. The follower is focused on the now while the leader is focused on the future. 

This all reminds me of that famous quote by Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace.” The challenge that most leaders are talking about is not a someplace thing. It is a specific thing with a specific outcome or result. However, the new place, i.e. the place on the other side of the challenge, is not an every day thought for most people in non-leadership positions. They just want to do what has got to be done.

Furthermore, leaders forget that what they are calling a challenge for most non-leaders feels like total chaos. A challenge by definition is a stimulating task or problem that needs to be solved. Chaos, on the other hand, feels like utter confusion. The dictionary defines chaos as “the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms.” For the follower who is doing their daily job, a challenge means there is a high probability for things and people to be unpredictable, problematic, and difficult. And frankly, most non-leaders are not seeking out experiences where utter confusion might take place. 

Therefore, I routinely coach leaders that before they start talking about challenges, they need to get their ducks in a row and figure out the whys, the whats, the hows and the when. Starting from a firm foundation of clarity, I encourage them to sell the problem before they starting quoting Winston Churchill. Then, they and their people can avoid getting lost in the unorganized state of primordial matter, i.e. chaos. They instead can start from a common ground of clarity and commitment.

This week, do your homework as a leader before you starting speaking about challenges. It will make a world of difference for all involved.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Complexity of Change

Leaders love to talk about change. It is one of their favorite words. The minute a leader starts to use this word they become excited.

The difficulty with the word change is that most leaders assume the listener knows what they mean by it. During numerous executive coaching sessions, I have pointed out to countless leaders that saying the word change does not mean we understand what the definition is of the word change.

In the beginning, I point out that the word change really carries two different meanings. The first meaning of the word change is to start a process where by we as leaders want to improve something. For example, we could change something like a system, a process, or the structure of the company. The goal is to improve what already exists so that it is more effective or more efficient.

However, some leaders use the word change and what they are really trying to communicate is not improvement, but instead transformation. The goal is to create something new and different. In this case, they do not want to change, i.e. improve, a system, but would like to transform the current system into a new system.

So, in the lexicon of leadership, the first thing most leaders need to do is pause before they speak. They need to ask themselves the following questions: 

Am I asking this individual or group of people to do something better? 

Or am I asking them to do something different? 

Starting from this  point of clarity, leadership communication is always more effective.

When I coach people, I routinely encourage leaders and managers to not use the word change. Instead, I encourage them to use the words “improve” or “transform”. Then, the meaning of the word is clear from the beginning.

This week, pause before you start talking about change and make sure you know which definition of the word you are using. Then, be consistent as you move forward. Confusion never helps people change. 

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fall 2017 Roundtable - Early Bird Special!

With the Independence Day celebrations in the history books, now is the time for us to turn our attention to the Fall 2017 Roundtable! 

On September 20 - 21, 2017, we will gather at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa for the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable. Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders on-board the next generation of high-growth opportunities while managing daily operations?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders work through endings and new beginnings at the same time?
- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch and Networking 
- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders help their organization become more resilient?
- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders help others think and act strategically?
- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 21, 2017
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - How do leaders recover from burnout?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break 
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application
- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

Starting today through Friday, July 28, I am offering an “early bird” registration price for the Fall 2017 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable.

If you sign up during this time period, and submit payment before 7/28/17, 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 7/28/17, the registration price will be $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day.

I hope you will reserve September 20 - 21 on your calendar, and e-mail me today about whether or not you and your team are coming. Then, when the first fall leaves are just starting to show some color, all we will need to do is meet at the Fall 2017 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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Importance of Analog Leadership in The Digital Age

I was sitting around the table with a group of young leaders in their twenties and early thirties. We were talking about leadership, organizational change and planning for the future. I had just made a comment about coaching people to help them to become better leaders when a young man across from me remarked that my thoughts were so “old school.” He went on to explain the role of helping people through social media and other digital tools. While his point was interesting and I listened to learn more about his perspective, I have come to the conclusion, after a great deal of reflection, that there is still a lot of value in analog leadership during the digital age.

I was born in the 1950’s and raised in the 1960’s. I remember the movement from black and white TV to color TV. I remember my father waking me up in the middle of the night so I could see the first man land on the moon. I remember rotary phones becoming touch tone phones. 

In the world of business, I remember the arrival of the first computers, the bag phone, and the fax machine. I remember when 28K and dial up internet was fast. I remember when flying to a meeting was an exciting adventure.

Nowadays, we all have cell phones that are smarter than the computers that took the first men to the moon. Nowadays, everything is connected to the internet. Our coffee pots are talking to our refrigerators, and our washing machines are in conversation with the hot water heater or the furnace, depending on the time of day.

However, in the midst of all the amazing things that are happening in the digital age, there is still the potential for the leader and the follower to never really connect, to never really have the bond that results in both of them creating an amazing organization. Just because we can e-mail, tweet, text, Skype, FaceTime, or Instagram does not mean that we have created meaningful relationships, a viable team, or a purpose filled organization.

Today, I am reminded of the words of Napoleon Bonaparte who said, “Never talk to your troops until you can see the whites of their eyes.” While digital tools can help, in my opinion, they do not replace some fundamental old school leadership work.

First, visit people in person. Stop using e-mail. Get out of the office. Walk, drive, or fly to where the people are doing the actual work.

Next, look them in the eye, shake their hands, and respect their daily efforts. Thank them for all they are doing for the company. Make them the focus of your day. 

Third, stop talking and listen to their concerns, their hopes, their fears, and their problems. This is real time leadership. It is the old school, in person, hands on, paying attention difference that has generated significant results and created companies that were built to last rather than built to flip.

Fourth, never forget that people bond with people before they will ever commit to a plan. Role model the kind of leadership that your parents and grand parents would be proud of. Always conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity possible. Be the kind of leader that actually cares more about people than things.

Finally, don’t do these analog leadership actions just once. Do it every day. The digital work will be there. The e-mail, the internet and the social media are powerful tools. Yet don’t forget that connecting directly with people on a regular basis, connecting with their hearts, their minds, and caring about them and their family is powerful and transformative. 

When all of this happens live and in-person, it makes people want to rise up to the challenges before them. It makes them want to solve complex and complicated problems. It makes people want to aspire to being better people at work and at home.

I challenge you to embrace many analog forms of leadership during this digital age. They may be old school actions, but they still make a profound and important difference in the high tech world in which we live. 

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Lexicon of Leadership

In the world of leadership and management, words matter. When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, I tell participants that the words from a leader are as powerful as individual actions. While not everyone can interact with a person in a leadership position, they can and will hear about what you say, and how you say it.

As Krista Tippett wrote in her book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Penguin Press, 2016: “I take it as an elemental truth of life that words matter. This is so plain that we can ignore it a thousand times a day. The words we use shape how we understand ourselves, how we interpret the world, how we treat others. From Genesis to the aboriginal songlines of Australia, human beings have forever perceived that naming brings the essence of things into being. The ancient rabbis understood books, texts, the very letters of certain words as living, breathing entities. Words make worlds.”

This is a profound and important truth. In the world of leadership and organizational change, words make worlds, because they have the power to shape perception, clarity and perspective.

However in the world of leadership right now, too many people are thinking out loud and not being careful about what they say and how they say it. They forget the old Chinese saying that “the fastest horse can not catch the word once spoken.”

This summer I will be writing about the power and importance of words. In particular, I will be exploring common words that leaders use every day, often with little thought. But for starts, let us remember these important statements:

- Words matter.

- Words shape understanding.

- Words create clarity.

- Words make worlds. 

This week, think carefully before you start speaking. It is one of the defining characteristics of great leaders.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

How do leaders prevent burnout? - part #2

The starting place to prevent burnout begins when one rediscovers their “Thinking Space”. As John Maxwell wrote in his book, How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, Center Street, 2009, “I’ve mastered the art of making myself unavailable when necessary and going off to my “thinking place” so that I can work without interruptions.”

I have come to the conclusion that I agree with John Maxwell. I can’t know everyone. I can’t do everything. I can’t go everywhere. I can’t be well-rounded. But, I can do a great deal of thinking and reflecting which can expand my perspective and generate new insights.

So, the first big question today is the following: Where is your thinking space? As Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW, wrote in her book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution, Spiegel & Grau, 2015, “We can’t be brave in the big world without at least one small safe space to work through our fears and falls.”

The second solution to preventing burnout is to invest in meaningful connections. People who do this can handle a lot of stress because they feel connected to those who they work with plus their own friends and families. They also can handle a lot of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty because they believe they belong to something important that is larger them themselves. Finally, they can still bring their authentic and imperfect selves to work and life do so, because they have people in their life who make it a safe and trustworthy place.

When I first started teaching back in the 80’s, I created and taught a workshop on stress management. In it, I told people the only way to cope effectively with a high degree of stress and burnout, is to have three people outside your family who you could call for support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The reason why they need to be outside your family is because your family may be the problem or your family may have heard it all already and can not offer you any fresh perspective. This network of “friends” offers perspective. They love you for your strengths and your struggles. Brene' Brown, in her book, Daring Greatly, called these people “stretch-mark friends”. As she explains, “our connection has been stretched and pulled so much that it’s become part of who we are, a second skin, and there are a few scars to prove it. We’re totally uncool with each other.”

The second big question for today is the following: Who are the three people on your list that you can call 24 hour/7day a week?

The third solution to preventing burn-out is to be more grateful for the ordinary moments. Right now, many of us are so “busy” trying to fix everything. We also are busy trying to control everything and everyone. We even get so busy trying to get it or keep it all under control that in the end, we just end up numb to it all. In short, we have lost our gratefulness for the ordinary moments 

From personal and professional experience, I have learned that on the days that our lives are spinning out of control, e.g. sickness, pain, divorce, loss, etc., we pray for miracles. We pray for it all to go back to “normal”. We pray for the ordinary, i.e. the chance to get up, eat breakfast and go to work. We want to just be without pain, without sorrow, or without fear or confusion.

Our challenge is not perfection as much as the intersection between happiness and meaning. As Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Dr. Kelly Goldsmith wrote: “In determining a personal mission, you need to make sure that you take into account both happiness and meaning. By happiness we are referring to your personal enjoyment of the process itself, not just the results. In other words, at the high end of the scale, you love what you are doing. By meaning we are referring to the value that you attribute to the results of your work. At the high end of the scale, you deeply believe that the outcome of what you are doing is important.” As they continue, “Maximize the amount of time that you are experiencing simultaneous happiness and meaning.” 

The third big question for the day is the following: What are the activities in your life where happiness and meaning intersect?

During the next two weeks, I will be taking some time to reflect on these big questions and to just ponder life in general. I will be back here in touch with all of you on the morning of July 3.  Meanwhile, I encourage you to do the following:

- Be kind to one another. We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have.

- Don’t throw any one under the bus. It hurts everyone.

- Pay attention to the daily miracles in your life. Wake up and realize they are all around us.

Thanks for reading. See you all again in early July!

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

How do leaders prevent burnout? - part #1

It started during a lunch meeting when she shared with me that she was bored and starting to burn out from the endless stream of details in her job. As she explained it all to me, I realized she was suffering from decision fatigue. The result of which was that she was becoming anxious, worried and frustrated. “If this is it,” she explained, “then it sucks to be a leader.”

She then asked me, “Should I apply for a new job?”

My response was simple and direct, “Will a new job make you a better mother, daughter, sister, wife?”

She looked out the window of the restaurant and was silent for a bit.

I continued, “Once you have the “new” job, what will your whole life be like?”

Her description was scattered.

Many decades ago, I was a speaker at a large, multi-day conference. As I result, I got to attend all the other workshops for free. So, in the morning before I was to speak, I participated in a workshop about preparing for the future. Once seated, the presenter looked over those gathered and asked the following question: “What will your life be like when you turn 40? 50? 60?”

And in the blink of an eye, I realized that I couldn’t answer the question. The categories were work, family, and personal. In short, I needed a picture, an anchor in the future by which I could pull myself through years to come. 

I realized that day that I did not have a clear sense of purpose, picture, plan or clarity about my role in it all. I was just doing the doing and following the advice of Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, you can get anywhere.” The challenge was that I did not want to get anywhere; I wanted to get somewhere.

As Jim collins pointed out in his writing: “Indeed, the great paradox of change is that the organizations that best adapt to a changing world first and foremost know what should not change; they have a fixed anchor of guiding principles around which they can more easily change everything else.” 

Since that eventful workshop, I have done this level of thinking for every major ten year period in my life. I cross another decade this year and I am beginning a period of deep introspection. What kind of life do I want ten years from now? It is such a big question for me. I have learned that my intent and focus play a big part of my dealing with burnout.

This week, I challenge you to envision your life ten years in the future. What is the picture you hold in your mind’s eye, the purpose you hold in your heart, and the plan to get there? Now is a good time to figure it out.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How do leaders get coaching and employee development to become routine and systematic? - part #2

The obvious answer to the above question is to set up regular coaching sessions with all of your direct reports. During these coaching or routine check in sessions, help all involved recognize that coaching is a structured dialogue about purpose, strategy, relationships. It involves questions, analysis, action planning and follow through. In essence, coaching happens with you, not to you.

What we some times forget in the process of routine coaching and development time is that one goal of this process is to create improved role clarity, job clarity, and priorities clarity. However, there is something else I have noticed when people receive regular coaching. The more they are coached, the better the coaching becomes. In short, the experience of coaching and being coached has a cumulative impact. 

Along with routine coaching, another element to successful coaching takes place when we help people set goals and teach them how to prioritize. One element of this process is to check to make sure those who are receiving coaching can differentiate between a check list and a goal. In simple terms, a checklist is binary and focuses on done or not done. A goal on the other hand has a clearly defined WHY element to it, and generates clearly defined results or desired outcomes.

Having coached people for over thirty years, I have learned that people want to be heard, and they want to be respected. People are always doing their best with the tools they have. And when possible, they always want better tools and better understanding if it allows them to deliver better outcomes. Therefore, we as leaders need to remember that operational and financial results happen when we have the right people in the right jobs, creating and executing the right business strategy, and with the right kind of routine coaching and development. 

This week, put that combination of elements together and you will always have a winning season.

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