On Leadership and Leading a Legacy

Legacy Wake

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Fifty years ago, on November 18, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a stop here in Tampa, FL.  Who would have had any idea that four days later he would be assassinated in Dallas, TX?

Your Leadership Legacy

I just watched a special on the Tampa visit, and it got me thinking . . . I mean seriously thinking . . . what legacy would I leave behind?  What plans would I have, in place, that would keep going after I was suddenly gone?

When a prized leader leaves an organization, you normally hear things about how “he did this” and how “he did that.”  But that’s all in the past.  Times keep changing.  Needs keep changing.  Are the things that you DID, lasting through to the future and making an impact?

We all want to be remembered for something.  But that’s where the problem starts.  “Something” tends to be singular.  It’s a definitive.  You do it, it’s done, people remember . . . for awhile.  Think big – think bigger – - think long-term.  You’ve given a lot of time to your employees and your organization.

So why does it have to stop when you leave?

Legacy Planning

Now don’t confuse this with succession planning.  Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing your internal employees with the potential to fill your leadership position(s) in the company.  You could have the most detailed succession plan possible but still not leave a lasting legacy.

The key is to THINK of your job in terms of how you will leave it.  This provides a different way to look at your work and what you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day tasks, it helps you to focus on the bigger picture and take a more organizational view of your work. Consider your own job, your team, your department, the leadership, and how all of these pieces are connected to bring the overall organization together.

On Talking and Walking

So many people can talk the talk.  But how many people can actually, truly, walk the talk?  I love Mark Miller’s analogy in his new book, The Heart of Leadership.

He uses the example of an iceberg:

As you look at the iceberg, you only see about 10% of it.  The other 90% is below the waterline. The portion you see above the waterline represents leadership skills – reproducible by many.  Below represents leadership character – practiced by few.  The people who talk the talk represent the 10%.  The people who walk the talk represent that, along with, the other 90%.

I’m going to use my favorite example again . . . Disney.  Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer in 1966, before his vision of Disney World in Florida was realized. After much mourning and wondering where to go from there, his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, postponed his retirement to oversee construction of the resort’s first phase.

Walt had vision and plans for the company that extended for years.  And, to this day, things are still being developed from Walt’s original visualizations.  In fact, it wasn’t decided until well into the construction process to name the resort WALT Disney World, in honor of the man whose ideas and visions brought it to life . . . five years after he passed away.

On Big Shoes and Footprints

So maybe you’re not the owner or the CEO of the organization.  What does that matter?

You still have the opportunity to leave some pretty good-sized footprints.

Not trying to blow my own horn here, but at my last two jobs I developed customer service programs, from scratch, that saw great success within the first two months.  Now if I had been putting things together month by month, my legacy would have ended when I left.

But I had a whole vision, training materials, schedules, tracking procedures, customer response actions – the whole package.  My footprints weren’t in the sand.  I “lived on” through the people who took over after me.

The Nurse Bryan Rule

In his book, The Essential Drucker, management guru Peter Drucker told a story about how a hospital adopted what came to be known as “Nurse Bryan’s Rule.”

“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one participant suddenly asked, ‘would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’ At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?’ Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually, over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what became known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule.’”

– At the time this story took place, Nurse Bryan had been retired for 10 years.

Leading a Legacy

Someday, you’ll look back over your career and ask, “What did I really do?”  You’ll regret the opportunities you missed and time you wasted.  But you’ll also remember all that you did right.  And people will still come up to you and say, “Oh yeah, you’re the one that ______. We still use the guidance from your _____. Our team wouldn’t be as successful without you.”

Ask not what your organization can do for you. Ask what you can do for your organization.

What kind of future for your organization are you looking at?  What is important to you?  What parts of your work do you most value?  Is there a need in the organization you can fill? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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On Leadership and The Crisis Moment of a Decision

Decision Making
Recently I became acquainted with a leader serving an interim position. 

“Interim” positions are always difficult, both for the organization as well as the person filling the temporary role.

Leading in the Moment

I have been an interim leader twice in my career, and so I fully appreciate the transient-feel of the role. By definition, the person must keep things going and serve as a leader in the moment, yet very few interim leaders I have known feel comfortable enough to make a l decision impacting long-term on the basis that the assignment is short-term.

I was the opposite:

While I was “interim,” I felt a strong responsibility to act decisively and make decisions that would impact short and long-term gains, but most “Interims” I have known do not feel this way.

A Wobbly Interim

My recent acquaintance is one such leader.  So far, 100% for 100%, when a decision has come up or just before a final deadline, I have been on the sidelines watching the Interim choke, hyperventilate, paralyze, and hold up progress while everyone looks in bewilderment for a reason for such a slow-down.

This person shares strong opinions openly, a range of criticisms (some that have improved certain areas exponentially), and strong views about nearly everything—even pop culture.  Technically he has most of what is needed for the role, and when he is focused on an area that area gets an enormous amount of valuable support.

All of this and yet I haven’t seen any real leadership-level decision come about, at least not without a painful journey by all who surround him.

We all know this type of person. And he is not the first I have encountered. So it got me thinking: “Why?”

What Drives a Decision?

I chuckle at the sound of “making a decision.”  I joke that it is really about “concluding a decision,” if that makes any sense at all.  There are so may things that go into the process of decision-making, and the study of this topic could keep anyone up for days.

Just Bing “The Anatomy of a Decision” and you will see what I mean.

Each resource always mentions the various steps to decision-making, from gathering information to assessing various outcomes, blah blah blah.

Case in Point

The one I like the most, though, is from Fordham Law Review (1984) where Judge Irving R. Kaufman takes on the decision-making topic in a most interesting fashion.

If you look at Judge Kaufman’s time as a Federal Judge for the United States, he was involved in some of the most interesting cases in the 20th century, from the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case to his rejection of the government’s attempt to deport musician John Lennon.  Most of us will never know the pressure of making a decision at that level.

Most of us will never make decisions at that level, either.

And even more of us will never think too long about how we might make a decision or how much will go into it: we either make one, stall out, or reluctantly finally get around to it.

Easier Said Than Done – For Some

Sure, some would argue that a simply Myers Briggs will help us (face it, some are more comfortable with making decisions than others), but the truth is that decision-making is far more than just a matter of innate preference for closure or commitment, as Myers Briggs or any Jung-type assessment would suggest.

Judge Kaufman’s decisions, for example, had far-reaching implications—far more than the ones we are generally up against each day: whether an inexpensive training should take place, or if a meeting of senior leaders should include financial business analysis, or what to eat for lunch, for example.

Then how do you do it?

4 Ingredients in Making Decisions 

Of all the resources I have reviewed, and years in my own decision-making (and sometimes decision-deflecting) tenure, four items remain steadfast for decisions, good or bad.

I have marginalized these common items to a fault, but you will get the gist:

1) Facts

Good or bad, the starting point of a decision is what you know and the best decisions are based on hard cold unbiased facts and data points.  Period.

2) Interpretation

This is related to what you do with the facts after you review them, and it is largely based on who prepared the facts, who is telling you the facts, how you like the facts, and whether you believe in them.  This is also when confidence builds up or shuts down.  This is the crisis point of decision-making and usually when leaders (or anyone) realizes whether he or she is up for the task.

3) Guidelines or Governance

After the facts are interpreted, we often have guidelines or governance that will help us along the way… and sometimes not so much.  If we interpret that a project will be late based on all the facts, various project rules will require us to escalate immediately.  Black and white, yet not always done for a number of reasons.  This goes to the next item:

4) Courage

Defined in The Free Dictionary as “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.”  Yes, leadership always goes back to Courage, doesn’t it?  And when all is said and done, when it comes to decisions (particularly the difficult and ethically based ones), this is really the one that will galvanize what people remember the most.

So what are some of your thoughts of recent events around the globe?  How do leaders around the world make decisions?  What are the basis points for your decisions? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Christa Dhimo
Christa Dhimo is President & Founder, via Best Practices
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On Leadership and Making Difficult Decisions

Making Difficult Decisions

Decision making skills are one of the most important skills required from a leader. Leaders are constantly making decisions on different aspects of their job, life, and society.

For some leaders, decision-making comes naturally; and for others, it often is a daunting task.

On Making Difficult Decisions

Some leaders have a structured process for making decisions and some base it off of their intuition. It really depends on how a leader thinks and what he is comfortable with.

But keep in mind, there is no one right way to make decisions.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why decision-making can become difficult and what leaders can do when faced with such a situation.

• Too Large to Handle

If the situation is of a large magnitude and the leader has little or no experience handling such a situation, he may not be able to effectively decide how to move forward. It could be physically or emotionally daunting for the leader to single-handedly come to a conclusion.

If one is not sure of their decision, they can always consult a few trusted colleagues before taking action but they shouldn’t shy away from it.

It is therefore very important to have a network of trusted confidantes around you and have that network of people on whom you can lean.

Of course, the leader should do due-diligence before taking a decision, but he should never be afraid to take action.

• Analysis Paralysis

A leader may sometimes go into a loop of thinking “what-if” scenarios or worst-case scenarios and never decide which path to take. This kind of thinking is sometimes termed as “analysis paralysis.”

It is important for the leader to know how much analysis is enough and when it gets in the way of decision-making.

The key to moving on from this stagnation point is simply to pick the best options with the facts that are known. Just pick.

• Being Paralyzed by Fear of Failure

Another reason for a leader to not be able to take action is fear of being judged by peers or fear of taking the wrong decision. This fear can sometimes paralyze the leader from taking any action whatever.

They could be so afraid of taking the wrong decision that they will not take any decision at all.

It is the fear of public failure. It is the fear of being judged. When this happens, it would be wise to team up with another person who can nudge this leader into taking action.

An Opportunity for Personal Growth

Difficult DecisionsWhat is important in these cases is for the leader to be able to recognize these situations as an opportunity for personal growth.

It is the natural tendency of human beings to feel a certain amount of pressure from peers or supervisor when dealing with a critical decision-making task.

The pressure and visibility of the situation is also determined by the position of the leader.

Sometimes the visibility and pressure can paralyze people from taking action.

Leaders should be able to not succumb to such pressures and be able to take a sound decision.

So, what type of difficulties do you regularly face in making difficult decisions? Are you paralyzed by facts or fears? Or are you decisive in making those hard decisions when they come your way? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Wishy-Washy Leadership! How To Tell If You’re Too Inclusive

Indecisive Leadership

Today, many leaders are suffering from too inclusive of a leadership style. They look to their team to vote on direction, try to balance everyone’s needs, and do their best not to upset anyone.

This is not leadership!

Wishy-Washy Leadership

This desire to include everyone can translate into a high “affiliation motive.”  This high need to be liked results in the leader making decisions to appease each person. The result is that no one on the team is happy with the manager.

They see their leader as weak and wishy-washy because they make too many exceptions to accommodate every team member’s wish.

Consistency of direction and purpose erodes.

Effective Leadership

To be effective as a leader you need a two power motives. The first is “Personalized Power” and the second is “Socialized Power.”  Personalized power is also referred to as “ego.” Although there are many articles telling leaders that ego is something to be avoided this isn’t true.

Leaders need to have a healthy level of ego or desire for personal power to be effective.

It is this ego that makes a leader believe he or she is good enough to rise above the ordinary and to lead a group a people in a direction. That leader has to have enough confidence to believe they have chosen the right direction even though there is no guarantee of success. This takes guts and a willingness to take risks; it takes ego.

No one wants to follow a leader that doesn’t exude confidence.

In a Harvard Business Review article by David C. McClelland and David H.  Burnham entitled “Power is the Great Motivator” the authors shared research showing that:

…an important determining factor of high team morale and outcomes was related to a leader’s need for power being higher than their need to be liked.

Getting Things Straight

This is not to say that leaders shouldn’t have some desire to be liked. An absence of this need would create a sociopath and too little in a leader would result in the personal power taking over and the leader becoming the uncaring egotist or abuser.

The affiliation motive needs to be present but the need for personalized power must be higher.

The authors also found a second power motive that was attributed to the most effective leaders –  socialized power. Socialized power is the desire to use your power to do what is best for the organization.

The most effective power profile is highest in socialized power, has a moderate level of personalized power and a lower need to be liked.  The research demonstrated that this profile results in the best revenue results, clarity of purpose and direction and teams with high morale and personal responsibility.

Front End Alignment

Here are some tips to get your power profile back in alignment by growing the power pair:

1) Use Consultative Decision Making

Instead of consensus take the team members’ opinions and views into consideration and then set a decisive course of action.

2) Question Your Motives

Are you pushing your point of view because you believe it is what is best for the organization, best for your group, best for you or you just want to be right?

3) Demonstrate Consistency

Company policies and guidelines are in place to help you maintain consistency when people ask for special favors.  It’s okay if the employee doesn’t like you for your response. You’re their manager, not their friend.

4) Think of the Bigger Picture

Your job as a leader is to keep the business profitable so it can continue to employ the great people who work for you. If you give in to each employee’s requests without considering the impact to business you hurt everyone in the long run.

Leaders and companies need to remember there is a critical balance between creating an inclusive workplace and enabling leaders to lead.

What other tips would you offer to keep leaders’ power properly balanced?


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Carlann Fergusson

Carlann Fergusson is owner at Propel Forward LLC
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Reaction or Reflection – A Leadership Question

Chili Palmer

Recently I was watching the classic movie, Get Shorty. This 1995 picture features an intriguing character, Chili Palmer (played by John Travolata). Chili is a loan shark from Miami who finds a new life as a producer in the movie industry.

What intrigued me about this character was his cool.

In every situation he faced, he never reacted to what was going on. Rather, in a deliberate manner, he looked at the truth of the situation and then found a solution that often went beyond the boundaries of his beliefs.

Emotional Rescue

It got me to thinking about the consequences of reacting from emotions when faced with challenging business situations. As leaders, we are the sum of our experiences.

Much of how we respond is unexamined and our past is guiding our present responses. ClickToTweetThis

If, in childhood, I had a traumatic experience with someone in a position of power in my life (i.e. parent, teacher), I interpreted the world though this experience. I might now believe that powerful people are going to hurt me.

When I now meet someone who I perceive as more powerful than me, I might either push back hard when they attempt to get something from me or freeze and not know what to do. Whatever my reaction, I am not making a clear choice based upon the present circumstances.

Recalibrating Your Life

Some would say the only way to change this is to go back to re-examine the old experience and make sense of it in the light of being an adult rather than a child. Many will take the route of professional counseling or therapy. This process can be lengthy and taking on one issue at a time.

As a leader, you need to find another way to increase your effectiveness in real time. What I’m about to suggest isn’t for everyone.

It works if you are wiling to be honest with yourself and know that great leadership comes from practice.

Getting Really Real

One of our endearing human qualities is that we are great rationalizers. If something is not going our way, we can explain why things are really different than they appear and things are OK – no matter what the reality. This propensity creates challenges, for it glosses over our true experiences, and we are then prone to having the same problems plague us over and over again.

Being honest with myself is the only real way to improve outcomes, stop recurrent problems and change myself.

It means that I am are willing to be uncomfortable when you look at problems and their source. Often, I find that having a trusted adviser or friend is helpful, for they can see me more clearly, at times, than I can see myself.

The practice required is to look at what’s working and what’s not each day. My recollections get foggy after each day is complete, so it’s important to gain the lessons of each day as they occur.

At the end of each day,  I look back and ask this:

  • “What worked well today?” and for each answer, I ask “Why?”

I write down my answers so I can recall them in the future.

  • I then ask, “what didn’t work well today?” and to those answers, I ask, “Why?”

Again, I write down all my answers.

Imagineering Better Outcomes

By bringing these lessons to the forefront, I set up the possibility to change my past behavior from reactiveness to considered response. I know the situations where I’m prone to react with some emotion (i.e. anger, frustration, despair, hopefulness). When I notice these situations arising, I remember my tendency to react, and taking a deep breath, I pause before I respond in any way.

I become like Chili Palmer and consider what’s happening and then decide the most appropriate response.

This simple change in how I understand myself, and the practice of pausing before I react, has impacts on me and the organization I am leading. For my actions set the parameters for all that is possible for the organization.

I owe it to myself and all that I lead to take charge of myself and lead deliberately.

So what type of leader are you? Do you tend to be more reactive, or more reflective. Have you “exploded” in the past with an emotional response that you later regretted? If so, how might you learn to recalibrate your thinking and react more reflectively so that others can watch you Be Cool? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Thomas White
Thomas White is President of the C-Suite Holdings and the CEO Network
Leadership Innovator, Successful Entrepreneur, Technology Inventor, Author
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How to Manage Conflicts the Emotionally Intelligent Way

Throwing Chairs

Conflicts are present in our lives no matter whether we are at work or home or in a volunteer position.

Managing conflicts can be a stressful experience for all parties involved.

Dealing With Conflict

Sometimes we create conflicts by our own actions and at other times, it comes our way by no doing of our own.

Irrespective of how it came about, we ought to have the skills to deal with it.

There is a spectrum of people on how they view conflicts. On one extreme is someone who avoids conflict at any cost and on the other extreme is a person who invites conflict. A lot of us are in the middle of this broad spectrum. I would say that neither of the extremes is good.

  • One should not avoid conflicts because if you throw things under the rug, there will come a point where you will trip over the rug yourself.
  • On the other extreme, you have people throwing (virtual) chairs at others by inviting conflict with people around them. And of course, this is certainly not the way to live in a social world.

Where ever we happen to be on this spectrum, we ought to know how to come out of a conflicting situation in a win-win manner.

Emotional Intelligence Steps

If you happen to have created the conflicting situation yourself, it should be easy for you to fix it. Keep your ego aside and make amends with the person with whom you have created the situation.

However, it is not that straightforward of a case when someone else creates a conflicting situation for you. In that case, you need to follow a certain process to deal with the entire situation.

  • First of all, try to get a hold on your emotions. When someone springs a conflict on you, usually, your emotions of anger will run high. They will most probably manifest in a physical way. Getting a hold on your emotions during the first few hours and not reacting is the key to handling it intelligently. I once got a great advice from my mentor – he told me to write an email to the person who had created a conflicting situation with me but save it as draft only. He told me to sit on it for twenty-four hours and then re-read my email. If you follow this advice, you will invariably find yourself changing the wordings of the email. I actually practiced this approach for first few times; after a few iterations, I got to a stage where I didn’t have to even pen down my emotions on a drafted email. I could work on it in my head but the point is to not take action until your emotions have subsided.
  • When your emotions have cooled down, you will be able to think rationally and put yourself in the shoes of the other person to understand why they acted in the way they did. Try and find out what exactly did you dislike about their behavior.
    • Is it what they said?
    • Is it the manner in which they said it?
    • Are they under some pressure to act in the way they did?
    • What really is the cause of your concern?
  • When you understand the cause of concern, have that important conversation with them in a heartfelt way. Show them that you understand where they are coming from and genuinely make them understand what you disliked about their behavior. When you speak from your heart, you will certainly succeed in reaching out to the other person and resolving the conflict.

So what type of person are you when it comes to handling conflicts at work? Are you more likely to throw it under a rug, or are you more likely to throw a chair? What steps can you take to moderate your tendencies to better handle conflict with emotional intelligence? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Leaders: How to Be a Successful CEO

Facebook and Apple

The Social Network movie gave a behind-the-scenes story on Mark Zuckerberg telling how he dropped out of Harvard while developing Facebook and has become one of the most famous, powerful, and youngest CEOs in the world.

How has he done this?

Leadership Lessons of Mark Zuckerberg and Steven Jobs

Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steven Jobs has generated many “spirited conversations” around “good leadership/bad leadership” and people have tried to pull leadership lessons and success stories from it.  I have shared many with my clients and colleagues.

What can we learn from these two very successful CEO’s?

Taken from ChiefExecuutive.net newsletter, Fast Company Magazine, Harvard Business Review, and a few of my own, here are lessons from two of the most famous and powerful CEO’s in the world.

1. Make your own evolution and development as a leader a top priority

Zuckerberg is one of the few CEOs in history to come to significant power without his personality fully formed. He was smart enough to take himself on as a project and proactively continues to grow and mold himself into the leader he aspires to be.

He began by studying and evaluating the successful people and companies around him; tapping them for insider lessons in leadership.

Jobs is all about employees engaging face to face. He had the Pixar and Apple buildings designed to promote unplanned encounters and collaborations.

If a building does not encourage that, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity

2. Be Open and allow for “true” communication

Facebook keeps their employees in the loop on where the company is going; especially in a fast-growing start up. This enhances confidence and unity.

3. Create a real office culture

Facebook’s is the Hacker Way and so it “questions assumptions, moves fast, takes risks, shares information, and learns from other smart people,” says FC.

4. Tolerate only “A” Players

Jobs passion for perfection and his desire to work with only the best is his way of preventing what he called “the bozo explosion”. This is when managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around.

I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.

5. Bend reality

They both pushed people to do the impossible because they didn’t realize it was possible. They helped their people to not be afraid if they got their mind around it; using the “yes you can” my magic motto.

As a leader, your best move might be to step out of the way and let someone else take charge.

Put people and products before profit.

6. Involve everyone in hiring practices

When Facebook was growing, everyone helped to bring in new talent and all had interviewing duties, even engineers. After all your current employees will be the ones working with the new hires.

Jobs shares:

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that allowed you to make great products. But the products not the profits were the motivation.”

Zuckerberg’s  team approaches every hire with an eye on the future.

“The people we hired were capable of solving the problems we knew were coming.”

7. Practice Leadership

“Making decisions on the basis of incomplete, inconclusive, or contradictory information is a skill that managers at every level must master. The learning comes from making thousands of small choices and mistakes on the way there.” ~Marc Randolph; Co-Founder Netflix

  • Focus: Trust data and your gut.

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That is true for companies and it is true for products.” ~steve Jobs

  • Simplify: Cut clutter and make it easy to use.

Jobs insisted on being able to get whatever he wanted in three clicks. He even got rid of the on/off button

  • When behind, Leapfrog.

The mark of a good leader is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but it also knows who to leapfrog when he finds himself behind.

  • Don’t be a slave to focus groups. 
  1. “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them. As Henry Ford shared many years ago, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.’”

Caring deeply about what customers want is much different from consistently asking them what they want, it requires intuition and instinct about desires that have not yet formed.

  • Push for perfection. 

Hit the pause button and go back to the drawing board if it is not perfect. Then take responsibility end to end for the employee and the customer interface.

8. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Zuckerberg says:

“So many businesses get worried about looking like they might make a mistake, they become afraid to take any risk. Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure.”

  • Stay hungry; stay foolish.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” ~Apple’s Think Different commercial

Both of these men changed themselves and will continue to change the world. How will you? What can you do to become truly successful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

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