Why Expert Consulting Mastery could be a good fit for you

Why Expert Consulting Mastery could be a good fit for you

If you read my last email about Expert Consulting Mastery, you might wonder if this program is right for you.  Let me share a few things that might help you decide.

Expert Consulting Mastery is for you if you are a veteran who:

  • Wants to use your experiences to help people 
  • Values autonomy over being in a structure
  • Takes prudent risks
  • Desires to control your time, talent, and energy
  • Is willing to bet on your own success

This program is not for you if you:

  • Don’t care about helping others
  • Want to be a salaried employee in a company
  • Are highly risk-averse
  • Don’t mind being told how to use your time, talent, and energy
  • Lack the confidence to invest in your own success

Many former senior military leaders make terrific solo consultants and coaches. You’ve been coaching, teaching, and mentoring leaders, providing counsel, and offering trusted advice for many years. 

Those same skills are invaluable in the private sector.

Turning those skills into a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business is a matter of combining passion, market need, and competence.

You need all three to succeed.

If you have Passion and Competence without Market Need, you have a hobby, not a business.

If you have Passion and there is Market Need, but you lack Competence, you’ll have no impact.

Finally, if you have the Competence to meet a Market Need but lack Passion, your work will feel like drudgery, and you’ll lose interest.

You have a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business when you have all three.

The good news is that the market needs your wisdom, and you have the experience to be a competent consultant or coach. 

You wouldn’t have had a career in service if you didn’t have the passion to help people.

You have all of the ingredients to be a good consultant. What you need is a simple process that helps you be good at being a good consultant. 

Being a competent solo entrepreneur has three components: business development, internal management, and execution. 

You see the three elements in the prominent circles. Around the circles are some of the critical competencies you need to be good at being a good consultant. 

The good news is that all of these are skill-based, which means you can learn to master them. 

Most former military leaders find that they pick up quickly the behaviors around Management and Execution because they are pivoting their skills from the military into business.

Business Development scares many retired military veterans because you most likely haven’t developed these skills. You fear you cannot do marketing or sales without violating your values.

Rest assured, you can excel at these skills, too, and without being a pushy self-promoter. ECM shows you exactly how to convey the value you provide to others (marketing) and how to help people make informed buying decisions (sales). 

Being a good solo consultant or coach is skill-based, which means with the right materials and support, you can learn it, practice it, and get better at it.

That’s what Expert Consulting Mastery does for you.

This 9-week program gives you the process, guidance, and support you need to accelerate your business and create durable success.

100 percent of the people who have previously participated in this program and who have implemented each step of the process have been successful. Most find the program pays for itself in the first few weeks.

Each week you will watch videos (totalling about 30 minutes) and complete an assignment. You will meet with your group and me via Zoom to discuss your progress, answer any questions, and give you action steps that get results.

By the end of the program, you will have everything you need to move your consulting business from striving to thriving. 

If some part of the process is not working for you, here’s my promise and guarantee: I’ll work with you until it does – at no additional charge.

I’m very selective about who joins the program, so admission is by application only. 

If this program resonates with you and you’d like to know more, fill out this simple application, and let’s talk.

We’ll discuss your business and see if Expert Consulting Mastery is right for you. I’ll give you action steps to move your business forward, whether or not you decide to take the next step.

The disasters in Afghanistan and Hawaii have something in common that you need to know

The disasters in Afghanistan and Hawaii have something in common that you need to know

General Douglas MacArthur explained that nearly every military disaster can be summed up in two words: Too late. 

As I write this, the Hawaiian wildfire’s confirmed death toll is 111 and may rise to over 1,000. Faulty, spark-emitting powerlines likely caused the blaze, in which strong winds fanned into an inferno that swept across the Maui town of Lahaina.

According to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Hawaiian Electric officials have known for at least four years that the power lines needed repair but invested a paltry $245,000 in preventative measures. The company waited until last year to request the State’s approval to increase fees to pay for badly needed maintenance – Hawaiian officials have yet to act on the request.

The State government, meanwhile, reportedly knew about the heightened wildfire risk for years but provided no resources or plan for preventing or responding to one.

The tragedy unfolded slowly, then all at once, to borrow a phrase from Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities

The same was true for the Afghanistan disaster. U.S. and Afghan officials had well over a year to plan for the withdrawal of American forces, but both parties seemed to bury their hands in the sand that the United States would reconsider. 

The intelligence community reportedly warned that tens of thousands of Afghans would seek evacuation, but there was little planning or preparation for such a massive endeavour. The military planned to withdraw, aiming for the lowest possible risk to its forces. The State Department seemed to dither and then abruptly evacuate the U.S. Embassy one night. Panic and tragedy ensued.

Both heartbreaking episodes show that preventive action is always cheaper than corrective and remedial actions, and leaders ignore them at peril.

Most business and other failures occur slowly and then all at once.

Inadequate leadership, decision-making biases, deficient cultures, and unrealistic strategies accumulate rocks in your company’s rucksack. The weight hinders progress and innovation, drains your resources, and increases fatigue and stress. The burden seems manageable until you plunge into a crisis, and it’s too late.

The best companies invest in preventive actions, particularly in their leadership and culture. Joyful employees create cheerful workplaces and happy customers who bring in more business. The virtuous cycle keeps unnecessary weight from your rucksack and buoys you in difficult times. 

Are you ready to invest in your leaders and culture? Let’s discuss two of my programs: Becoming a WHY? Leader® and Building an Inspiring Culture®.

An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.   

Are you a veteran looking to build a career as a consultant or advisor? The next 9-week program of Expert Consulting Mastery begins on October 11, 2023. Register for my August 29, 2023 webinar to learn more.

3 questions the best leaders use to make tough decisions

3 questions the best leaders use to make tough decisions

Leaders reach out to experts and specialists when they face challenging situations. You need generalists, too, so you ask the right questions and avoid the ten words that lead to bad choices: 

Follow the Data! Obey the SCIENCE! Listen to the Experts! 

Data is not wisdom, and data-driven decision-making can leave companies worse off. Here’s how.

The best leaders listen to people who know what they are talking about and make decisions that best serve the company.

That seems simple enough, but implementation can be challenging. 

Experts provide valuable insight on specific topics, but narrow perspectives create myopic advice.   

Take COVID, for example. Medical experts provided data that projected death tolls and made recommendations like lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.

Partisans egged on leaders with the ten words. Over time their associated advice led to higher death tolls, substantial economic dislocation, greater social polarization, damaged mental health, and massive learning loss.

The problem was not the data or advice, necessarily, but the question. Asking experts “How to stop the spread” created answers different than the more holistic “How to best support my constituents during this pandemic?” The latter question required leaders to determine the best balance between reducing the virus’s threat and promoting the general welfare.

The experts, of course, could not answer the latter question because they lacked the perspective. Leaders who unquestioningly obeyed the experts had demonstrably worse outcomes that those who took the broader perspective. 

I was asked recently to provide a testimony to Congress on the Afghanistan debacle. One House Member was trying to make a point that President Biden ignored the advice of the generals and asked me what I thought of that.

Thank goodness Abraham Lincoln didn’t listen to General McClellan, I replied, and noted that FDR disregarded General Marshall’s advice on how to take the fight to the Nazis in 1942, and Truman disagreed with General MacArthur’s advice to use atomic bombs on Chinese cities. 

My view on Afghanistan was that leaving was the right thing to do, but the timing and execution were badly botched.

Leaders should avoid the other extreme of trying to do the experts’ jobs for them. Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to select bombing targets in Vietnam is a classic example of getting trapped in the weeds and ignoring the bigger picture.

Leaders should listen to trusted experts, but make decisions based on advancing the common good.

Instead of asking narrow questions about how to optimize a particular silo or function, the best leaders keep their focus wider.

“What must be true for this option to work?” is a great way to uncover assumptions. You can then determine the indicators of validity and orient your data analysis accordingly.

“What’s the best way to advance our organization’s common good in this situation?” keeps your the focus on the blogger picture.

“What information do I need to make this decision?” helps you avoid wag-the-dog problems with siloed data.

You’ll benefit from trusted advisors who are generalists because their perspectives are broader and they’ll help you orient on the big picture. 

P.S. Do your employees have the psychological confidence to bring you bad news, identify problems, take risks, and offer new ideas? Email me if you’d like to discuss psychological confidence and ways to improve it. 

Do you have 360 awareness?

360 external awareness occurs when you know what people think and feel about you and their workplace. The key stakeholders include your bosses, peers, and the employees you lead. The latter is the trickiest, and Northwestern University football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired for neglecting this responsibility.

I remember watching Pat Fitzgerald play football at Northwestern in the mid-1990s and cheered him on as he became the head coach who turned around a lacklustre program.

The allegations of serial hazing on the team are disheartening. The stories of cruelty and mistreatment keep materializing.

Fitzgerald should be fired as the head coach, whether he knew about the hazing and condoned it or did not know such activities were happening on his watch. 

Leaders must discover what’s happening in their organizations, particularly regarding their most vulnerable employees. 

Knowing what your bosses and peers think about you and your organization is normally straightforward. 

Figuring out what your employees think and feel about your workplace is trickier. 

A camouflage net obscures your view from above. You only see what you want to see, the bits that emerge into plain sight, and what people are willing to reveal to you. The net conceals everything else.

The best leaders develop ways to get underneath the net to see things as they are, identify problems, spot talent, and gain fresh ideas.

Here are some ways I help leaders do that.

  1. Feedback loops. Use a combination of short questionnaires, focus groups, and individual interviews to get ground truth. Identify the issues you want to address, tell your employees, follow through, and follow up.
  2. Trusted Advisers challenge your assumptions and help you see what’s hidden in plain sight. Your biases do not inhibit them, so they’ll notice and report issues and opportunities as they find them. 
  3. Off-sites get people out of their comfort zones and open minds to new ideas. These adventures increase trust, strengthen relationships, and improve communication. People report problems and offer fresh ideas when they trust the people around them. Taking people to powerful places like national parks and historic venues creates experiences that last a lifetime and pay massive dividends for your organization.

It’s too bad Pat Fitzgerald did not find ways to peer underneath the camouflage net to see things as they are. 

He’s not alone, of course. Many good people have fallen from grace because they fooled themselves into thinking they could see everything from up high.  

Would an adventure off-site improve trust in your organization? View our programs and schedule a call with Chris to see if it could be a good fit. 

What Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain tells us about Buy-in

Buy-in occurs when your employees provide voluntary support. 

A significant leadership challenge is gaining buy-in for a new initiative or one people previously opposed. 

Buy-in explains the vital difference between high and low-performing organizations.

Without buy-in, leaders must focus on compliance, dispute resolution, and corrective action, which robs them of time and energy for strategy and growth. This disengagement tax is a hidden cost that drains revenue and undermines your business. 

With buy-in, people do the right things in the right ways voluntarily, which frees leaders to focus on the future. 

Joshua Chamberlain’s ability to gain buy-in saved the Union’s Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, marking the beginning of the Confederacy’s end.

Two days before the battle, Chamberlain was ordered to guard 120 prisoners accused of desertion. They hailed from the 2nd Maine regiment. The accused believed they had signed two-year enlistments like others in the regiment, instead of three years, and wanted to return home with their comrades.

Chamberlain was given the authority to shoot them if necessary. He’d never be able to return home if he did. Guarding them would reduce his fighting force.

Chamberlain thought differently about the situation: what if they agreed to fight in our ranks for this massive battle?

Chamberlain’s regiment was down to about 250 soldiers. Adding 120 veteran fighters would strengthen his unit significantly.

Chamberlain focused on the three elements of buy-in: clarity on the mission and expectations for the upcoming battle, appeal to their self-interests of dignity, care, honor, and possibility of parole, and providing confidence in the way forward. 

117 of the 120 deserters agreed to pick up their rifles and make the intrepid stand at Little Round Top. Without them, the 20th Maine would have been overrun, opening the entire flank of the Union army.

People buy in when they are clear about the expectations, believe they will be better off by adopting them, and are confident that the initiative or game plan will work.

People might be clear about an expectation and believe it may help them be better off, but won’t buy in without confidence that it will work. Mask fatigue during COVID is a recent example. Companies might believe that a new communications platform will help them be better off, but they won’t adopt it if they lack confidence in the technology or customer service.

By contrast, people can have clarity about a new idea and confidence it will work but won’t buy in if they believe they’ll be worse off. COVID vaccine resistance is a typical example. In your company, people who believe they are on the losing end will resist change. I find this to be the most common buy-in problem. The leaders are convinced everyone’s better off, but employees often find the talking points unconvincing. CNN’s recent employee revolt shows the perils of making changes that people believe leave them worse off.

Finally, employees can believe a particular change makes them better off and have confidence it will work, but will only buy-in for the common good if they are clear about the rationale and the details. Poor clarity results in silos or fiefdoms, where people adopt something good for them but detrimental to the company overall. 

COVID protocols again offer a clear example of confusion, as medical expertise grew politicized and people believed only those who fit their pre-conceived beliefs. A client had challenges getting reports on time because employees did not understand the rationale. Once they gained clarity on that and how lateness was screwing other people, the reports arrived on time, regularly.  

What are your biggest buy-in successes and challenges? 

With so many businesses using flexible work locations, bringing people together for a substantive event that boosts cohesion and strengthens your foundation for growth is more important than ever. 

A company off-site at a historical venue or national park allows you to create an experience that pays dividends for decades. 

Let’s discuss some ideas if you want to do something special for your company.

schedule a call with chris

Cognitive Diversity: What the best leaders look for in an alter-ego

Cognitive diversity occurs when you bring people together who have complementary natural strengths, a.k.a. Superpowers. For most organizations, ideas – details are the vital complement.

The ideas people tend to be the big picture strategic thinkers, the innovators, and status quo disruptors. 

Some, like Steve Jobs, are hedgehogs: they have a big idea that will change the world. They are the Mavericks in our PROM archetypes®.

Others, like Elon Musk, are foxes: they bring existing ideas and technologies together into new combinations (Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter). These are your Pioneers.

They rarely succeed without support from the executors who can implement their ideas. These are Operators, who nail the details, and Reconcilers who build and maintain consensus.

Google is a classic example. Visionaries Larry Page (Maverick) and Sergei Brin (Pioneer) excited people with their new search engine but they could not run a sustainable business. When the funders threatened to pull out, Google hired Eric Schmidt (Reconciler) and Jon Rosenberg (Operator). The cognitive diversity propelled Google’s success.

Apple succeeded because Steve Jobs had Tim Cook (Operator), Mark Zuckerberg began succeeding at Facebook (now Meta) after Sheryl Sandberg (Operator) came on board. Tesla struggled until Musk hired Zach Kirkhorn (Reconciler).       

The visionaries get into trouble when they lose their alter-ego. Zuckerberg has not replaced Sheryl Sandberg, dividing her role among various executives, which waters-down the vision-execution interplay. Meta is struggling. 

The reverse is also true: people naturally inclined toward the details need the ideas people to push the envelope and avoid complacency. Tim Cook’s innovative subordinates keep Apple thriving. Eisenhower (Reconciler) needed Montgomery (Maverick) and Patton (Pioneer) to win the war in North Africa and Europe. Lincoln (Reconciler) needed Seward (Pionerr) and Grant (Maverick) to win the Civil War.

Finding the right alter-ego can be challenging. People tend to seek out others who think and act similarly, which is known as affinity bias. You get the comfort of surrounding yourself with people exactly like you, but you don’t grow, you develop blind spots, and you’re at high risk of making bad decisions as you inhale your own fumes.

To help you identify your natural strengths and determine your best alter egos, I developed the simple PROM archetypes® quiz.  

Cognitive diversity is vital to selecting the right alter-egos. You also need someone who wants what’s best for the organization and is willing to tell you the truth. 

Combine those three qualities and you have a powerful senior leadership team that will propel your business to new heights.

Take the PROM archetypes® quiz and then send Chris an email to discuss your results!

How the best leaders avoid being Prigozhined

How the best leaders avoid being Prigozhined

Frustrated by the Ukraine war, the Russian military’s incompetence, and reported efforts to dismantle his Wagner mercenary group, warlord Yevgeney Prigozhin took over the Rostov-on-Don military headquarters and sent columns of loyalists toward Moscow in what appeared to be a coup to overthrow Vladimir Putin or capture senior military officials. After a day of drama, Prigozhin stood down and accepted exile in Belarus, where he’ll need food tasters and to avoid tall buildings with open windows.

In business, many leaders fear being Prigozhined – having a subordinate stage a coup that takes your job and sends you packing.

To prevent being ousted, fearful leaders surround themselves with weaklings and sycophants, pit subordinates against each other to create rivalries (they can’t band against you if they are fighting each other), and eliminate anyone who might one day become a threat.

It’s the weak leader playbook. Kiss up and kick down, promote pathetic lickspittles, and transfer, fire, or throw anyone who makes a mistake or might outshine you under the bus. They hide this behavior well, so it’s hard for leaders to recognize a Putin subordinate.

There’s one tell-tale sign that helps you cut through the smokescreen. Strong, confident leaders develop their subordinates. Weak ones don’t.

Weak leaders fear strong subordinates and strong subordinates cannot stand weak leaders. Knowing this prompts weak leaders to surround themselves with weaker people and to keep them down by never developing them.

Strong, confident leaders, on the other hand, surround themselves with strong, confident people and develop them. They see their direct reports as part of their legacies and want them to grow and succeed.

Former GE boss Jack Welch gets a fair share of criticism, but one thing he did well was develop a cadre of subordinate leaders who soared to new heights in GE or elsewhere. The best NFL coaches do the same, and the talent they’ve developed uplifts the entire sport.

These strong, confident leaders provide their subordinates with three growth ingredients: development, coaching, and experience.

Leader Growth Model

Development and coaching without experience create ivory tower solutions that don’t work in the real world.

Coaching and experience without development produce a hamster wheel effect, where you aren’t stretching people’s imaginations.

Development and experience without coaching lead to poor implementation and time wasted in trial and error.

Combining all three builds people’s capacity and shortens their paths to success; they gain confidence through challenging experiences that position them for increased responsibilities. 

Do you have Putins living in fear of being Prigozhined? The quickest way to tell is by looking at their professional development programs. They won’t have them. 

They’ll complain about lack of time, insufficient resources, too much on the plate, and “I’m training them on the job,” blah, blah, blah. Frankly, you are better off without them.

Your strongest subordinate leaders, on the other hand, will have robust professional growth programs. They are the ones to promote to more senior positions because they will help your company soar to new heights.

Do you need help with leadership, culture or strategy? Schedule a Call with Chris Kolenda here or view the list of programs offered by Strategic Leadership Academy here.

Optimize your workplace

Anger, boredom, frustration – what happens when you optimize the wrong things

Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it. Optimization creates unintended consequences that can undermine your business.

Baseball may be the most data-mined sport. Ever since the championship Oakland A’s Moneyball, big data has dominated the game. 

Big data told you where and how to pitch the ball to a given batter, and how to shift players to take advantage of a batter’s tendencies. The strike zone narrowed to give the batters a better chance against 95+ mph fastballs.

Pitchers and batters tried to tilt the odds with mind games – the between-pitch rituals, preening, adjusting, pointing, and glaring.

The result: total boredom. A nine-inning game dragged on for longer than three hours on average. Exciting balls-in-play became fewer; many at-bats ended up in strikeouts, home runs, or outs.  

Baseball analytics optimized the chances of getting the batter out and winning individual games, while losing fans and the soul of the sport.

Changes this year include a pitch clock, a batter clock, and no major shifts. The games are back to 2.5 hour average, with more balls in play, and more fans in the seats. [I saw the Brewers beat the Pirates 5-0 in two hours and fifteen minutes!]

Businesses that seek to optimize the ease and speed of communication offer tools ranging from chat and IM to email, workflow programs, and task organizers, to video and voice calls.

Communication speed and volume are higher than ever, while communication quality could be worse than ever. According to a 2022 Harris poll, managers believe their teams lose an average of 7.47 hours per employee per week due to poor communication. 

Nearly a full workday each week evaporates.

In a 2000-hour work year, you lose 400 hours; the equivalent of 10 weeks per employee. Ouch!

Imagine what you could achieve if your employees got half that time back.

Here are some ways to reduce communication fratricide.

  1. Establish protocols for channel usage. HINT: don’t use chat or IM for anything complex.
  2. If the matter is not resolved in three back-and-forths, get in person, on video, or on the phone to talk it over. In these cases, written cues are not communicating sufficiently, so you need to add verbal and non-verbal cues.
  3. Let people set their messaging engagement times and deep work times. Don’t let perpetual distraction rule the workday.
  4. Set boundaries. Topics like religion, sex, and politics should be off-limits in most workplaces. Ditto goes for disrespect.
  5. Reduce the volume of information emails. Set up a common info-sharing portal where people can make routine updates. This step will reduce the length of meetings, too.

More broadly, consider the tradeoffs before you bandwagon onto a new tool. 

Are you looking to improve the optimization of your business? Consider joining one of our programs or schedule a call with Chris Kolenda. 

Special D-Day edition: D-Day shows how the best leaders shape and adapt to events

D-Day shows how the best leaders respond. 

General Dwight Eisenhower could not control the Nazi High Command, but he reinforced their biases that General Patton would lead the main attack at the Pas de Calais. The deception enabled the Allies to secure the Normandy beaches and move inland. 

The Germans assumed for six more weeks that Patton would make a more significant landing at Calais. Eisenhower’s deception plan (Operation Fortitude) worked better than he imagined.

Eisenhower could not control the weather nor how well the German military units reacted to the invasion. He postponed the invasion for a day due to bad weather and made a risky call that the seas would be calm enough for the June 6 landings. 

In the quiet hours before the assault, he wrote a letter taking responsibility if the invasion failed.

Eisenhower recognized that he could influence events to a certain extent and that he could determine how he responded to unfolding circumstances.

Brigadier General Norm Cota landed at Omaha Beach with the second wave. The German fire was so intense that the first wave’s survivors crouched behind a retaining wall. German artillery began to take its toll.

Omaha Beach, looking up to the high ground where the Germans dug in.

Cota knew that the troops needed to get moving immediately or get ground down. Individually, each was safer staying put; collectively, they were safer moving forward and attacking the German positions. 

Cota adapted to circumstances and said, “Follow me,” taking the fight to the enemy. Soon thereafter, the Americans broke the German defenses. Cota influenced events by adapting to circumstances.

D-Day, which happened on June 6 79 years ago, holds myriad examples of the interplay between influencing and adapting.

The best leaders recognize their limited control of external factors and exclusive control over how they respond. They are response-able, to use Stephen Covey’s term. 

In so doing they:

  • Refrain from blaming subordinates for outcomes outside their control
  • Resist the temptation to promote people based on good luck
  • Innovate to seize emerging opportunities and mitigate risks
  • Maintain perspective
  • Challenge practices and beliefs that are no longer fit-for-purpose
  • Avoid self-delusion.

The chart below shows the importance.

People who believe they have so much influence over external events that they never have to adapt have spent too much time watching “motivational speakers” and believe everyone else must join their comfort zone. Examples include Twitter mobs, Stanford Law students, bigots, Luddites, and Sears and Blockbuster executives. Such people refuse to adapt; they approach every issue with an open mouth and closed mind. 

By contrast, a person who believes that they cannot influence or adapt are victims adrift in the world.

Someone who believes they cannot influence anything but can only adapt to the forces buffeting them about are like old-school Calvinists who believed in predestination. In business and life, they are the people trapped on the hamster wheel, feeling they can only govern how fast or slow they go and not whether they can get on or off. 

You find people at work who blindly follow orders and fixate on “that’s how we’ve always done it.” They don’t innovate, they stay in the ruts others have made for them because they don’t believe they can make any difference.

Leaders who believe they can influence, not control, events but can control how they respond are response-able. Like Eisenhower and Cota, they innovate, seize opportunities, and avoid blame games. 

Amazon could not control information technology, but they adapted to the new realities and drove Sears out of business. Netflix did the same to Blockbuster.

Understanding what you can and cannot control leads to sound judgment.

What is your top takeaway from this article? Write a comment, DM me on LinkedIn, or email me at chris@strategicleadersacademy.com.

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Wisconsin Red Cross Brave Hearts award gala.

What are you doing to recognize your Heroes?

I recently attended the Wisconsin Red Cross Brave Hearts award gala, grateful to receive the military award for last fall’s 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride.

The stories of the award recipients were extraordinary. I met a 9-year-old girl who saved a friend’s life at school using the Heimlich and a sixteen-year-old who engineered a blood drive after last year’s Waukesha tragedy. 

One recipient, noting that many clients weren’t getting regular health check-ups, added a doctor’s office to his barbershop to ease comfort and access. Inspiring was the 911 operator who kept a person calm after her car went into the water of a freezing lake until first responders rescued her, and so was the woman who stopped her car after seeing an elderly lady collapse on a busy street, keeping her safe until the ambulance arrived.

A Milwaukee police detective was off-duty getting a bite to eat when a gunman robbed someone and then tried to get into a car with children in the back. The detective distracted the robber from the kids and was shot twice in the abdomen. As he lay wounded in the street after protecting children, he had the presence of mind to call in the vehicle license plate as the attacker tried to escape in another car. 

An image of Chris Kolenda accepting the military award for last fall’s 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride at the the Wisconsin Red Cross Brave Hearts award gala.
Above: Chris Kolenda accepting the military award for last fall’s 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride at the Wisconsin Red Cross Brave Hearts award gala.

These are extraordinary examples, and I bet you have people in your company going above and beyond, doing something special for another person, and making people feel appreciated. These people are zappers – they give you energy and help you soar to new heights.

What steps do you take to recognize and appreciate them?

Our minds are so tuned to threats and risks (the amygdala) that we can pass over the everyday good people do. 

When that happens, you miss an opportunity to highlight examples of your values in action. People tune in to what you praise as well as what you criticize. Your employees want to receive appreciation, so they will adopt the positive behaviors you bring to their attention. 

Sadly, many leaders ignore the awesome and treat uncovering a problem as discovering buried treasure. 

You have to nip problems in the bud, or they grow. 

You will have fewer problems and more success when you treat discovering awesomeness as joyful eureka moments and dispassionately dispatch awful behavior.

Who’s been a hero in your company today? I would love to hear about them! Send me an email and tell me more about your hero!

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