Lessons from Machiavelli

Traditionally, at beset calling someone Machivillian meant that person was manipulative and at worst meant they were evil. Whether you believe Machiavelli is the devil or a prophet there is no denying that his thinking on power and influence stands the test of time. Born in Florence in the late 13th century, Niccolò Machiavelli was the epitome of a Renaissance Man, He was a diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright, poet and the number one performing fine collector of overdue books at the Florence library. He was a primary political advisor to the Midici'sduring their rule over the Republic of Florence. His book, The Prince is an examination of methods to gain, consolidate and maintain power. Every leader can learn from Machiavelli. For instance: "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." A leader that only panders to gain favor with their flock will not be respected. If you easily forgive bad behavior or lack of performance, exceptional team members will be demotivated to thrive. A great leader holds his team accountable and there are consequences for consistent non-performance. "Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what...

Competitive Strategy: Value Discipline

Imagine you were building a football team from the ground up. Would you just go about willy-nilly picking the best available players?  Do you think after you filled your roster and realized you had 10 quarterbacks, and no running backs or receivers you’d ever win a game? What is your value discipline? No, when you build a team, you build a team around the best talent available to execute a particular style of play.  You choose a style of play, build a team around that style. You build a strategy around the optimal path to exploit your resources and compete against the other teams. If there are no great throwing quarterbacks available and there are a ton of mobile quarterbacks and running backs, you build a running team. To build on that you would look for linemen that can help you support that running strategy. You declare to the team, "we are a ball control team." You better make sure everyone on the offense now understands we are a run oriented-offense. The coach declares to win we keep the ball on the ground, control the clock, and dominate the ground game. Everyone knows we are built to run. If the coach misses...

The Power of Culture

Strong Culture Rarely Exists In The Wild [caption id="attachment_78719" align="alignright" width="189"] Ghost Orchid[/caption] The ghost orchid is one of the worlds rarest flowers. Since its first sighting in 1954, it has been found in the wild less than two dozen times. Yet it can be cultivated and grown in greenhouses in large quantities. Like the ghost orchid, a powerful culture of high-performance is rarely found organically grown in the wild. The best leaders build a powerful culture by bringing together the proper conditions for their teams to thrive. Potential leaders who randomly gather groups of individuals in the hope that someday, like a rare, naturally growing ghost orchid, they will find themselves the leaders of high-performance teams are likely to be disappointed. Yet if they intentionally built a cultural greenhouse, planted the right seeds, applied the exact amounts of moisture, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sunlight to ensure a strong culture thrives, they would have a significantly greater probability of success. To lead a great team with a strong culture it is best to be a great leader and to be a great leader, one must be like horticulturists who presides over a successful greenhouse. Great leaders must be scientific, deliberate...

The Importance of Intentional Leadership

Great leaders are empathetic. They intuitively model the behaviors of leadership that attract and retain loyal, highly-motivated followers. When it comes to leadership, few of us naturally have it, most of us must be more disciplined in our approach. Sure we can read leadership books. We can bury ourselves under piles of books by Tom Peters, Sheryl Sandberg, Ken Blanchard, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Simon Sinek, Doctor Suess (Really! Oh the Places You'll Go) and many more (just please don't read any Tony Robbins). All these books speak to our human minds. They are replete with logical frameworks, high falutin language, and abstracts concepts. The problem with that is humans, as in the majority of you who are reading this are not logical. Neuroscience research tells us that the part of the human brain that decides to play follow the leader or to step out of line has no capacity for language, abstract thought or logic. It is hard-wired to avoid risk at the expense of gain. This part of the brain that is the ultimate deciderer in the brain is the same part of the brain we share with alligators...

Bio Glen Hellman – Coaching Through Chaos

Gordon Bernhardt is a local Wealth Manager and a genuinely good human being. I first met him about a decade ago when we were both members of the same Vistage Group. Last month I sat down with Gordon for an Interview to create a Glen Hellman bio for Gordon's Profiles in Courage Series of Articles. There are many clues to who is Glen Hellman all over this web, you can check out a brief Glen Hellman bio on the About Me Page Here. There's the Beth Berman interview about my Why. There's the Glen Hellman Predictive Index article. There are all the great tweets about me from my buddy Peter Corbett. But none of these reveal what took place in the 4 hour sit down interview with Gordon. I have to admit, that Mr. Cranky got a little teary-eyed during the discussion...

Design Thinking For CEOs

What do I mean by Design Thinking for CEOs? Let's break that down. What is Design Thinking? According to Wikipedia: Design thinking is a method for the practical, creative resolution of problems using the strategies designers use during the process of designing. Design thinking has also been developed as an approach to resolve issues outside of professional design practice, such as in business and social contexts. The reason I add the CEO qualifier as in Design Thinking for CEOs is many people who run businesses believe Design Thinking is for Software Developers or Product Managers or Interior Decorators and not for them. Design Thinking for CEOs or anyone is a way of thinking. It's constantly asking, "Why am I doing it this way?" It's constantly asking, "Is there a better way?" Everyone benefits from design thinking. Look at something as simple as a water fountain. Water fountains have changed very little in the last 100 years. Yet culture and habits have changed. Due to the emerging emphasis on health (drinking more water) and the environment protection have changed human habits so that many of us walk around with water bottles. In fact, some of us don't walk around with water bottles because 3 years ago...

Critical Leadership Traits

What can I say about Leadership Traits? I've worked for leaders, been a leader and coached leaders for over 40 years. In that time, I've recognized certain leadership traits are common to the majority of great leaders. That's my subjective observation. In my coaching practice, I use personality assessment tools to help me, coach, understand my clients, and to help them understand themselves and their teams. I compiled a list of all company leaders/ CEOs with whom I've administered a personality assessment in order to objectively determine which leadership traits are most common. The leaders in this survey all run companies ranging from $1 million in revenue to $40 million. Most Personality Assesment tools measure Dominance, Extraversion, Patience, and Formality. Good tools, like Predictive Index, and Ngenio's MPO realize that these traits fall on a spectrum. For instance, in the case of formality, which measures things like precision, attention to detail and rules following. Some people are extremely rigid and precise while others are extremely flexible, and others still may just be slightly precise. For instance, in the case of the Predictive Index the spectrum looks like this: Low -3 -2 -1 Trait +1 +2 +3 High Agreeable Agreeable Humble Unselfish A Independent Resolute Forceful Assertive Amenable Accepting Peaceable Dominance Competitive Autonomous Aggressive Acquiescent Collaborative Caring Self—starting Venturesome Controlling Compliant Pleasing Attentive Resourceful Innovative Self-reliant Accommodating Modest Supportive Inventive Directing Confrontational Obliging Willing Cooperative Determined Challenging Unyielding Reserved Private Imaginative Quiet B Sociable Simulating Expressive Outgoing Standoffish Reserved Sincere Extraversion Persuasive Enthusiastic Gregarious Separate Unpretentious Introspective Talkative Socially poised Enticing Reticent Ruminant Contemplative Open Compelling Outspoken Isolated Insightful Candid Encouraging Eloquent Influential Reclusive Pensive Reflective Eager Animated Convincing Impatient Zealous High-strung Tense C Relaxed Deliberate Extremely steady Steady Volatile Hurried Quick Patience Stable Measured Placid Edgy Intense Hasty Calm Unhurried Habitual Impulsive Fast-paced Prompt Cool Peaceful Easygoing Urgent Abrupt Ready Composed Serene Even-tempered Rushed Rapid Restless Collected Unruffled Mellow Flexibility Spontaneous Familiar Casual D Conservative Precise Dutiful Conforming Unstructured Unworried Uninhibited Formality Thorough Careful Inflexible Extemporaneous Undaunted Easy Respectful Cautious Structured Instinctive Unconcerned Facile Loyal Exacting Strict Impulsive Carefree Flexible Diligent Proper Vigilant Improvising Unfussy Pliable Serious Rigorous Correct What patterns emerge from evaluating my database. Most of the leaders I work with are...

Situational Leadership – Different Strokes for Different Folks

What is Situational Leadership? Just as every leader is different, so is every team. In fact, every member of every team is different which means that not every leadership style is suitable for every team. An effective leadership style for one team is probably not well-suited for another time with another team. Such is the theory of Situational Leadership. As anyone who has watched 4-year old’s play soccer knows, you wouldn’t coach a soccer team of pre-schoolers the same way you would coach a world cup championship team. In fact, you wouldn’t want to coach a team of kids whose parents dragged them to soccer practice the same way you’d coach a group of kids who hounded their parents to be there. Acknowledging that coaching styles differ based on the commitment level to the cause or skill is the genius of the Situational Leadership Model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, in the 1970s. Their theory posits (a word this author uses to seem more credible as does this author refers to himself in this note as this author), that there are different strokes for different folks or that there are four major leadership styles that work best with teams depending on their...