Category Archives: Leadership

The one word that every people leader needs to add to their vocabulary

There is a Harvard Business Review article published back in 2014 entitled “Managers Can Motivate Employees with One Word.”  In summary, the research calls attention to the fact humans are relational beings and being relational means living in relation to others in recognition of an interconnectedness with others.  As a people leader we want high employee engagement, high performance, and outstanding results.  In order to achieve this we must motivate those around us.  So as human beings, what gives us a feeling of being connected?…Working or knowing we are together.


Sharpen Your Life: 52 Strategic Moments to Create a Lifetime of Success

If you know anything about me, then you know I am motivated by the opportunity to learn new things. I just recently read a great book that provided some unique perspectives and helpful reminders. If you have time for a quick read, check out Sharpen Your Life: 52 Strategic Moments to Create a Lifetime of Success by Joe Jordan.

Here are some of my highlights from the reading…

  • “Take the time to find a corporate culture that suits you.”
    • In my opinion, this hasn’t been top-of-mind for most Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers. Millennials seem to be prioritizing this more and I think they are onto something. In order for us to be our authentic selves, it helps to be in a comfortable environment which aligns to who we are, what we believe, and how we behave.
  • Take risks and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself.
    • This seems to be harder to do with age, but it is absolutely part of living a fulfilled life.
  • “A Carnegie Mellon University study found that brain activation for listening dropped 53 percent if the person listening tried to process a visual input at the same time.”
    • As much as we would like to be or think we are, we can’t really multi-task!
  • “Your future resides where preparation intersects with opportunity.”
    • Life is a journey and we must continue to push ourselves in preparation for the opportunities that will come our way. Opportunities will come, but will we be prepared to recognize them and act on them (take a risk)?
  • “No one has your abilities, strengths, and experience in the same package as you. Your blend of accomplishments, personality, and expertise are your differentiators.”
    • Great perspective.
  • “Whatever your skill set, your greatest competitive edge is being authentically you.”
    • We need to embrace what it is that we know the most.
  • “The success of any enterprise always depends on people. Be wary of corporate leaders that use terms to describe people that could interchangeably describe a piece of equipment.”
  • “Many people die with their music still in them.”

Great Motivational Video

If you are looking for a great motivational and inspiring video to share with your teams at your next All-Hands meeting, you may want to consider this one. It’s a classic.

As One Summoning the Force

Be Bold and Reorganize Differently

Whether you are reading the summary of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report that emphasizes the advantages of the Team of Teams concept or you are reading Jeff Bezo’s latest annual shareholder letter that highlights the need for Amazon to retain its high-velocity decision making, one thing is clear, companies must rethink their existing organizational strategy.

Most businesses are not built on the successes of their business functions (e.g., marketing, IS, purchasing, legal, HR, etc…), but they are built on their successful implementation and execution of unique business processes. So why do so many companies today still organize by function? It’s the business processes (and in some cases the technology) that are likely setting you apart from other companies and providing a competitive advantage!

Embracing Shadow IT

Business decision makers will always want IT services faster and cheaper. Cloud services are becoming more attractive because of the cost accounting shift from CAPEX to OPEX (e.g., predictable spend with less governance) and the transfer of delivery risk to another organization (e.g., internal IT teams struggle to keep pace with the business by adopting methodologies like Lean IT, Agile, and DevOps to accelerate their development, change management, testing, and deployment processes).  2nd Watch found that 61 percent of business units bypass the IT function completely, and according to IDC’s quarterly cloud IT infrastructure tracker, by 2021 off-premise cloud deployments will surpass traditional datacenter deployments for the first time. With this continued adoption of cloud deployment models and offerings, we are seeing more business executives making technology decisions without engaging the IT organizational function. Since business leaders can’t afford to wait to meet their business goals and objectives, IT must find a way to embrace shadow IT going forward, even while improving their own processes, if they are going to remain relevant.

Maybe IT functions should start by acknowledging some of these facts and then look at creating a governance framework that seeks to educate business unit leaders, and provide them with a set of best practices to minimize the risk associated with these types of decisions and allow for some form of standardization.

A set of best practices could include the following:

  • a standard set of contract templates to include MSA, SOW, and SLA templates
  • an IT risk assessment questionnaire for potential vendors to populate
  • an updated IT intake process that seeks to prioritize and align IT resources that may be needed for integration efforts (often overlooked by non-IT leaders)
  • a vendor performance management scorecard outlining points to monitor throughout the ongoing relationship
  • a cloud reference architecture outlining integration methods/protocols, connectivity, access requests, etc…

The one word every leader needs to use more often…

Check this article out and read about a recent study from Stanford University who proposes the more frequent use of the word ” T _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ” ….


Rethinking Your Focus as a Leader


I just read a great blog post by Brad L. Johnson entitled A Challenge to Principals: Focus on Staff Strengths. This entry really struck a chord with me. Thinking back to my primary and secondary education it is strikingly obvious how much emphasis our U.S. school systems place on improving upon our weaknesses versus developing our strengths. I believe this has then carried over and influenced the way most of us operate in corporate America, which has ultimately impacted all of us as leaders.

If everyone knew their strengths and were given opportunities to develop and use those strengths, we would have a lot of engaged, enthusiastic, committed, high-performing students, employees, and leaders joining together to balance each other out, in an effort to achieve great things.

For other great sources of information check out “StrengthsFinder 2.0” or “The Practice of of Management (1955)”

  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • “Do what you love; you’ll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this one right away.” — LL Cool J
  • “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” — Marc Anthony
  • “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.”
  • “Trying to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
  • “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs
  • “Focus On What You Control. Let Go Of What You Don’t.”
  • “It takes far less energy to move from first-rate performance to excellence than it does to move from incompetence to mediocrity.” — Peter Drucker
  • “Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” — Marilyn vos Savant
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