On Leadership and Morning Routines

Businessman Breakfast

Hey Leader: Does Your Morning Routine Matter?

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

Successful CEOs and business leaders have different ways of starting their days. Some depend on established routines, mapped out almost minute-to-minute, in order to extract the greatest productivity out of every day.

Others take a more chaotic approach, believing that winging it actually gets more done than some preordained system.

Top 3 Things in the Morning

The sheer variety by which CEOs and others start the day begs the question — does your morning routine really matter?

Yes, says corporate wellness coach Mike Iamele, and here’s why:

Three compelling reasons for a morning routine

  1. This is ideally the time to focus on yourself (there may not be another chance to do so all day). This is when you “consistently remind yourself that you’ve got to take care of yourself first before you can possibly be effective at helping others.” Those who adhere to a regular routine generally get more done because their morning routine acts as a reminder to first of all, take care of yourself.
  1. An established morning routine doesn’t have to be perfect — you don’t have to run five miles every day, your eggs don’t have to be perfectly cooked, etc. What truly matters is your willingness to get up and get moving according to a set pattern that propels you through the day. As Iamele says, “The fear of failure can’t hold you back, because if you do it every day, you’re inevitably going to fail once in a while. But that’s OK. You’ve got a routine, so you just get up the next day and do it again.”
  1. The previous day may have been difficult, overly demanding, even a bit traumatic. A solid morning routine acts as a “reset button” — a time to pause, meditate and shake yourself free of yesterday’s distress.

Breakfast Counts

Not everyone needs a big breakfast to get moving in the morning. But health experts generally agree some type of breakfast is important for your physical health.

If preparing breakfast seems to take too much time, consider doing some prep work the night before. Slice up the fruit you intend to eat and store it in the refrigerator. Set out dishes you plan to use. Do everything you can to hit the ground running come morning.

Keeping things simple is another no-nonsense approach. For many people, a cup of coffee and an oatmeal muffin will suffice — or some other easy option like yogurt with fruit, a frozen fruit smoothie or a peanut butter breakfast bar.

Exercise Makes a Big Difference

Exercising at the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone, but even a little bit of physical movement can help clear your mind for the day ahead.

The good news is you don’t have to do the same type of workout every day.

Running, push-ups, swimming laps — whatever you choose, some strenuous activity boosts your energy level and helps you stay charged and focused throughout the day.

Start the Morning the Night Before

Some business leaders incorporate a brief evening ritual into their daily routine. At the end of the day, for example, Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, writes down the three top things he intends to accomplish the following day.

He uses that list to get started in the morning.

Tackle the Hardest Stuff First

Once you’re in the office, don’t waste valuable creative time looking over emails or listening to voicemails. “In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day,” says Kevan Lee of Buffer.

Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage.”

A growing school of thought proposes that CEOs tackle their most challenging task or project at the beginning of the day. Proponents cite the fact that for most of us, the early hours of our workday are our most creative, energetic and productive (or have the potential to be). Why waste that precious time and energy on niggling administrative matters or chitchat with others that gets nothing done?

Corporate trainer Jennifer Cohen urges business leaders to start the day by focusing on what they least want to do.

Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way,” she says. “Look at this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around.

What’s your tried-and-true morning routine? Do you have a favorite breakfast item to start the day? What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in Sales, Operations, coordinating, and Business Development
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Best Practices For Being a Leader in Business

Successful Business Leader

Truly succeeding in business takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. If you got into business as a career, chances are that you have already figured that out. There are some qualities that almost all successful business people possesses.

One of the most common attributes among successful business people is that they all know how to lead.

Becoming a Leader

If you really want to grow and have an impact on your company, being a leader is essential.

There are a few different ways that you can go about becoming a leader, though.

Some people are just born with this quality, but for those of us who weren’t, below are a couple of ways that you can become a leader in your company.

But first, what do you think?

Are Leaders Born or Made?

Three Best Practices for Business Leaders

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are essentially classes that are designed to help refresh you on a certain topic or teach you something new. In this case, you can take a class on leadership or participate in some leadership coaching. Learn how to lead a group, and develop traits that you’ll need in order to thrive and survive as a new leader.

And always know this:

You don’t need to be an executive in order to be a leader.

Just be the best or one of the best workers in your department, and people will look up to you and respect you.

Work with an Attitude

When you show up on your first day of work, show that you’re there to work and you’re ready to make a difference. Show up and prove to your coworkers and bosses that you can do the job efficiently, quickly, and to the best of your ability.

On your first day of work, you need to show people that you have the talent and capabilities to become a leader in your company.

Get to Know Your Coworkers

In order to build a stronger following and lead to the fullest of your capabilities, you need to get to know your coworkers.

  • Learn about their likes, dislikes, families, hobbies, etc. Know what they value and what is most important to them.
  • Also, let them get to know you. Come out of your shell a little bit, talk to people and try to understand each other.
  • Be genuine and sincere with them.
  • Don’t get to know them with the objective of becoming their superior one day.

Once you really care about your coworkers, you’ll be ready to lead with the best interests of your group in mind. This will not only make you a great leader, but it will make you a leader that those who are following you will give their best efforts for, respect, and enjoy.

Developing as a Leader

All of the greatest business people throughout history have had excellent leadership qualities.

If you want to be the next great business person, you’ll have to develop leadership somehow.

These are some of the things that you can do to help propel yourself up the corporate ladder and gain the respect of both your equals and your superiors. Once you gain the respect and trust of the people at your company, everything else will surely fall into place.

So, how are you developing as a leader? Do you have all the qualities it takes to lead effectively? Or are you missing some things that could help serve you, your team, and your goals better? What type of personal inventories have you taken to be a better business leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

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Managing Up by Speaking Up

Managing Up

Managing your job and career can be difficult at times. And one of the biggest difficulties for many is managing one element that is often found to be the linchpin in one’s career: the boss.

Many people disconnect from this element because of fear, perceived backlash, or they just were never told to do this.

“Managing up” is one of the best ways to ensure a happier, healthier, and more satisfying career because it puts more control in your hands.

Imagine This:

You’re attending a staff meeting and your boss is recognizing a peer for the great work their team did on a pretty routine project. Your team recently successfully completed a very difficult phase of a project but there is no mention of your team’s accomplishments.

You start that old self-talk in your brain, “My boss plays favorites. My boss doesn’t understand my area and everything that goes into completing a job successfully. They underappreciate me and my team!”

You’re busy pointing the finger at your boss, but in the majority of cases YOU are the owner of the problem.

Not Managing Up

Many managers make the mistake of not managing their boss.  They don’t think about it or are not clear how to do it. They simply take their own point of view and never give a chance to think how the boss might be thinking. They forget that the boss can also forget.

Think about this:

How is your boss supposed to know everything that went into a job to make it successful or how many barriers you had to overcome to finish that project by the deadline if you don’t tell them?

Even if the boss had your role prior to being promoted, they probably won’t remember all the details about the effort something took.  Think back to a project you did several years ago that you are really proud of. Do you remember all the pain points you overcame? Chances are the details of the effort are fuzzy but the results and feelings of accomplishment are vivid.

I Can’t Hear You

One key to managing your boss is how you use your one-on-one meetings with them. Here are some key differences in how two managers share project status:

The Underappreciated Manager and The Golden Manager

Underappreciated Manager

  • Status to due dates
  • Key activities
  • Problems and plans to address problems
Golden Manager

  • Key accomplishments by team members
  • Emphasis of areas that took extra effort by team members
  • Problems or potential barriers team identified and successfully addressed
  • Status to due dates with any plans to either accelerate plan or get project back on plan
  • Recognitions by key stakeholders of work to date
  • Problems and plans to address problems

The Underappreciated Manager might look at the Golden Manager’s approach and feel that the meeting with the boss has turned into a bragging session. It is! But the manager is bragging about how great their team members are or how some key stakeholders really helped them out – not about how great he or she is.

Certainly, there may be times when the manager brags about their own contribution, but the intent is on helping their boss understand the overall effort so they can appreciate the results better.

The Golden Manager recognizes that their performance is measured by how well their team does.

If the team does great, then the manager must be doing something right.

Tell Me a Story

The tone of these two meetings is also very different. In the Underappreciated Managers meeting with the boss, the manager ticks through projects and their status as if they were going through bullet points in a presentation.

In the Golden Manager’s meeting there may be some quick updates but key points are told as stories. You hear things being said like: “Kathy did an amazing job of getting the Senior VP of Manufacturing to support our project.  She….” and the story unfolds.

Short stories of accomplishments are powerful. They paint a picture of the difficulties and the accomplishments.

They star your team members as the heroes.

Good short stories engage your manager at an emotional level. The next staff meeting or meeting with his or her boss, your boss is much more likely to remember your story over any bullet points.

Your boss then ends up sharing those same stories with their manager and a very positive impression of you as a leader is formed.  Your accomplishments also enable your boss to look good because their success is also based on their direct reports accomplishments.

It’s a win-win.

Don’t Forget the Drive-Thru

When you have a really great accomplishment your proud of. Don’t wait till the next formal meeting with your boss. Go by your boss’s office and say, “Got a minute? I want to share some exciting news with you.”

Then tell the short story with pride in your voice.  If your boss is hard to reach – send an email titled “Great accomplishment by team” and write that short story.

Boss’s always have time for great news. Click to Tweet This

Ask for Recognition

Ask your boss for recognition. Not for you but for your team. If the team did something major, ask your boss if they’d be willing to send an e-mail congratulating the team members involved. If your boss has been bragging to their boss about your team you will even see that they copy their boss.

Everyone ends up being golden!

Managing your boss is a major differentiator between being a great manager and being a great manager on the succession plan. Unfortunately many managers are so focused on the team and work they forget this critical skill and wonder why they were passed over.

So, how are you doing at managing your job and career by managing up with your boss? Have you tried this before? Was it more difficult, or easier than you thought? What else have you done to help your job and your team’s jobs by managing up? I would love to hear your stories!

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———————–
Carlann Fergusson

Carlann Fergusson is owner at Propel Forward LLC
She provides seminars and consulting on Strategic Leadership Challenges
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Skype: carlann.fergusson

Image Sources: pulsebydnk.com

Leadership In At The Deep End

Deep End

A great deal of my work is with so-called ‘experienced’ managers. The use of the word experience in this context is not meant to infer capability, merely the number of years in a managerial role.

There is a big difference.

Experience isn’t the same as exposure. Just because you were there, doesn’t mean you were aware.

Diminish Effort, Diminishing Return

I have found that the higher people climb the ladder of management, the less coaching and development they seem to receive. The dismissive and pejorative term ‘soft skills’ is used to consign vital management skills to optional ‘nice-to-haves’, and the presumption is that the ‘hard’ technical skills are already in place.

We shouldn’t be so surprised when so many of them slip and stumble, or appear ill-suited to the responsibilities they hold. These are the people who time forgot.

Learning & Development passed them by and now they are in role, they are expected to perform unaided.

The expectation is that once you wear the badge of office and have the name plate on the door, you are a fully-fledged manager, despite the fact that no-one has taught you how to spread your wings. It’s no wonder so many end up in a flap.

The Expectation Game

All Leaders are having a tough deal at the moment.

These difficulties are:

  • Encountering totally new business pressures
  • Struggling to match ever-increasing expectations
  • Trying to provide stability in a world that never stands still
  • Having to learn new rules of the game
  • Create new rules that allow them to stay in the game
  • Attempting to keep employees engaged, energised and effective
  • Having to navigate through turbulent and unpredictable global events
  • Constantly trying to deliver more with less

And, to make things worse, they are largely doing this alone…

Yet we are very quick to blame them when they fail to live up to our expectations, even though we almost guaranteed their failure the day we appointed them.

Sailing the Leader Ship

With so many companies struggling to stay afloat, and employees reporting that they routinely feel cast adrift, we have to ask …“Is our Leadership sea-worthy, or is it more like the Titantic?” and what are we really doing to leaders their sea legs?

It doesn’t seem to matter what level I work with; managers are struggling whether they are at the top of the tree or just starting their ascent up the trunk. If anything, some of the worst examples of incompetence are displayed at the highest level – not so much being ‘out of their depth’ as being ‘high as a kite!’

It strikes me that we haven’t really served these people well. We’ve thrown them in at the deep end without a life raft.

Cookie Cutter Leadership

Some get sent of standard Leadership or Management Development programmes, but these only produce ‘standard leaders and managers’…if they’re lucky! And it isn’t standard leaders we need. Generic leadership programmes typically fail to address the specific and unique challenges that leaders face: and the results are plain to see.

The world is awash with theory, literature, and talk about leadership.

But what really counts is this:

Do YOU have the types of leader that will help YOU deliver YOUR organisational vision?”

Creating Faux Leaders

Many people are appointed to management and senior management roles without a full appreciation of their personal strengths and qualities, or a detailed understanding of the requirements of the role.

Most are appointed because of technical brilliance which is no longer required in the elevated role. The result is that new managers and leaders are left floundering; desperately trying to protect their reputation, uphold their credibility and authority, and deliver results with their hands tied behind their back.

For many, there seems no option other than to play an elaborate game of bluff through to retirement.

Finding a Better Way

We have to find ways to serve our leaders better if we want them to serve us well. We have to persuade leaders that it is in their best interest to embrace on-going personal and professional development.

And we have to ensure that what we provide by way of development is fit for purpose, focused on helping them navigate their way skilfully through and around the unique challenges they face; and available at the point of need.

Without this sea-change in the way we support, educate, develop and coach our leaders, we’re going to find more holes appearing in our leader-ship.

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———————–
Tim Lambert
Tim Lambert
 is CEO of Kay-Lambert Associates Limited

He is a professional leadership coach working with groups and individuals
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: timlambertkla

Image Source: theoasischurch.com

Leadership is…

Leadership

The topic of leadership is more popular then ever!

According to our marketing partner, Preactive Marketing, the phrase “leadership is” has over 6 million global monthly searches.  This indicates there is a growing interest in the topic and in learning to become a better leader.

So, how would you finish the phrase leadership is

I would finish it something like this:

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thanks for the words of wisdom Ike. Leaders can’t lead without followers – or as I like to call them – implementers and doers.

Creating a Leadership Model

So, how does a leader get someone to do something because he/she wants it done?

Transparency – Be transparent.

People can usually tell when “something is up.” So before the rumors begin flying and productivity is impacted, communicate with your employees.

When making strategic decisions, determining organizational changes, or facing issues that impact employees, successful leaders need to be transparent with their workforce about how these matters arose, their thought process for dealing with them, and how their solutions may directly impact those they lead.

Trust – Create a safe and trusting environment. 

Trust is a fundamental behavior for any relationship, both personal and professional. According to a study by the Hay Group, a global management consultancy, there are 75 key components of employee satisfaction (Lamb & McKee, 2009).

They found that:

Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization.

Trust must be earned. Leaders can earn employee trust by helping employees understand the company’s overall business strategy, informing them how they contribute to achieving key business goals, and sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee’s own performance is relative to organizational objectives.

It is much easier for employees to trust a leader that shows an interest in them.

Self-Awareness – Be self-aware.

Successful leaders have a heightened level of self-awareness, they have an understanding of themselves, their behaviors and actions, and how those behaviors and actions are interpreted by, and directly impact, employees.

A good example of leadership self-awareness is exhibited in the U.S. Army’s leadership philosophy of “be, know, do.”

  • Be proficient and competent
  • Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses
  • Do take responsibility and lead by example

Always be open to further growth and learning. Professional coaching is also a great well to help further develop leader self-awareness.

You see…leadership is a facet of business that is imperative to succeeding.

“The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.” ~Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers

So be a quality leader – one who people trust, respect, and want to follow!

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——————
Scott Span
, MSOD
 is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
Email | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook

Image Sources: donnacicotte.com

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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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Kristi Royse

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

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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Leadership Transitions: How Not to Fail

Leadership Transitions

In the October 2009 edition of Chief Learning Officer, Michael D. Watkins’ article “The Eight Toughest Transitions for Leaders outlined the top transitions that most business leaders have to navigate during their career.  

The transitions are:

  • Promotion
  • Leading former peers
  • Diplomacy (authority versus influence)
  • New organization
  • International move
  • Organizational turnaround
  • Corporate strategy realignment
  • Business portfolio change

Watkins suggests that in order for a leader to transition successfully, a leader must not only be capable of adapting his personal style and competencies, but also be able to focus on the organization’s need to build a plan for organizational growth.

Identifying Needed Changes

Last Year

This past year has brought change to many leaders. Now that it is early February and the time of year that our New Year’s Resolutions can begin to fade or unravel, ask yourself some questions about last year:

  • What personal leadership changes did you make in 2011?
  • How would you rate your ability to adapt both personally and organizationally?

This Year

Looking forward into 2012, here are some questions to ponder to help you with your leadership success:

  1. Given your experience and leadership strengths, what do you need to do more of and less of?
  1. What new skills do you need to learn? What is your plan to obtain these new skills?
  1. What adjustments do you need to make in the areas of communications, delegation, decision-making, team-building, and also with your trusted network of advisors?

Identifying Needed Answers

The quality of the answers to these self-reflective questions is contingent on your level of self-awareness.  Since some of us are more self-aware of our strengths and weaknesses than others, I always recommend that in addition to answering these questions you use at least one other leadership assessment technique, such as the Hogan Leadership Survey or LeaderGrade tool.

Assessments can add insight into needed changes, but can also provide an unbiased view of your behavior.

Another option to increase your leadership success is observational feedback which can provide you with information on how individuals view your key leadership competencies as compared to your organization’s leadership competency model.

Planning to Implement Change 

Planning to implement change is often the time when an executive coach is asked for assistance. Co-developing a personal development plan with the leader and coaching them through the necessary behavioral changes are effective to creating sustainable change.

Using an internal coach is also an effective way to create a permanent change.

The advantage to using an internal coach is their organizational knowledge, while the disadvantage is the potential concern regarding confidentiality of the executive being coached.

Whether you choose an internal or external coach, coaching will provide you with a systematic and proven method to create long-term change.

Adapting to Change

You and your organization have had to adapt to the economic changes that have occurred over the last several years.  Adapting requires both personal as well as organizational changes.

Personal changes first need to be identified by you, others around you, and via an unbiased assessment tool.  Then a development plan is created, and a coach identified to work with you for sustainable change.

So, how are you doing in identifying, understanding, and adapting to change? As a leader, can you look back and see where you fell flat and failed in a transitional time? How could have you done it differently? Have you had success in this arena? What did you do right? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC is President of Executive Velocity Inc.
She is a change leadership advisor and executive development coach
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Web | 678-579-9191

Image Sources:  ventureneer.com

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