Leaderscapes LLC Blog

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This blog is for leaders, managers, consultants, coaches — anyone interested in doing change better, whether personal, professional, or organizational.

Most of us, when asked, embrace the opportunity to change — but meaningful change is very hard to do. It’s hard to initiate the change, even harder to stay the course, hardest of all to make the change stick. It takes extraordinary effort to stop doing something in our comfort zone in order to start something difficult that would be good for us in the long run.

Here you'll find tips and info to help you understand, navigate and do change better.

Stop Struggling

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Those two words -- stop struggling -- are in the top 10 of all the advice I've received in my lifetime. I was at a leadership retreat in California. Mid-day, day 4, in conversation with Alan, another attendee, I was relating my frustrations with work, relationships, friendships. Everything. I kept saying it, over and over: I'm struggling with this, I'm struggling with that, I'm struggling, I'm struggling. Then Alan gestured in my direction in a way that indicated he had pressed the pause button. I stopped my rant and looked at him intently.  Then he reached out and put his...
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Change Resistance and Relationships

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We have new owners at my gym, as of September 1st. The new owners have two other locations. Those locations naturally have different cultures than ours. I say "naturally" because ours was under different leadership. The past owner started the gym three years ago. She set out to build an environment where we were all in it together -- one that wasn't intimidating, but welcoming; one where you could set self-judgment aside and focus on self-love. She knew everyone in the gym, and she knew their stories. Each person's journey was part of her journey. It's been only 9 days,...
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Embrace the Storm, part 2: Challenge & Change

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Change starts with a challenge -- when someone or something challenges the status quo. The fun really starts when the challenge is accepted. In organizations, the most senior leaders are the ones who first accept the challenge. That decision is communicated to lower-level leaders (both formal and informal leaders) who lead the work at the ground level. In bigger organizations, we "cascade" the messages from leader to leader and group to group, targeting the messages to what we think is most pertinent to each audience. We show them data, explain the rationale, and try to display conviction in the decision....
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Embrace the Storm

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The forming–storming–norming–performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Tuckman said these phases are all necessary and inevitable for a team to grow, tackle problems, find solutions and deliver results. Tuckman's ideas apply beyond teams. Individuals going through change, whether they chose change or not, also experience the four stages. We started a new 10-week session at my gym last week, and we have 3-4 new members at the class I attend at 6 am. The first week is all "getting to know you" -- learning the moves, getting into the routine, and dealing with...
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The Generous Leader

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Generous is defined as: (1) liberal in giving: openhanded (2) marked by abundance or ample proportions, or (3) characterized by a noble or kindly spirit: magnanimous. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/generous. Generosity is the quality of being generous. My inner cynic says generosity in business and leadership would be considered waste because it means going beyond what is expected or required -- classified as over-processing. But my heart says different -- that generosity as a leadership quality is a value-add. What does it mean to be a generous leader?   I think it means you kindly give of yourself and your resources without expecting...
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Go Old School: Knock & Talk

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I am old enough to remember a time before we had the convenience of email and text messaging. Rather than attach documents to email, we sent copies of paperwork and formal memos in re-usable envelopes through inter-office mail. If you needed something faster than the interoffice mail system allowed, then you either made a phone call or you got up from your desk and walked over for a face to face conversation. If a matter was urgent, you checked with the area secretary who handled their calendar to see where you could find them. Those days are long gone in...
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What's Your Motivation?

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  "Managers light a fire under people; Leaders light a fire in people." -- Kathy Austin I've been lucky in my career to have had both: a manager that lit a fire under me, and a leader who lit a fire in me. Both had positive impact on my personal motivation. But over the long haul -- beyond our formal work relationship, the leader changed my life . Sounds dramatic when I say it that way. It's true -- though not exact, since no one else can change your life. Change happens from the inside out, and I made the...
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Chasing Failure

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At the gym, our instructors tell us to "chase failure" -- to go beyond fatigued to the point of muscle failure. It makes sense when it comes to working out. But what does "chasing failure" look like in other parts of life? You've heard the Thomas Edison story about the lightbulb -- how every failure led him one step closer to success. And the Wright brothers crashed a lot before they flew. A quick search on YouTube for "epic fail" and you'll find video after video of people crashing, falling and mucking things up. Are they all chasing failure? In...
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Want to improve engagement? Start Small.

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When we talk about improving employee engagement, it sounds BIG and like A LOT of work. It can be hard for leaders to see a clear path between the "engaged culture of the future" as you describe it and the "culture of the present" that they live every day. Engagement is a measure of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests. So, improving engagement means a change in the relationship between leaders...
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Why Self-Leadership?

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Last week's post, What are Leaders Made Of? , covered four elements that make up an effective leader: self-love, self-image, self-leadership, and formal leadership. Of the three, self-leadership is most over-looked and under-rated.  Self-leadership is the ability to set goals that are aligned with your purpose & vision, and to influence yourself to consistently achieve them. It's likely you already know how to be a leader in your own life. You've heard the words and have seen the tools before. But that doesn't mean you practice self-leadership with any consistency. It isn't hard, but it can feel like a lot...
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What are Leaders Made Of?

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It's less of a mystery than you might think. I remember a nursery rhyme I heard as a kid called "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" The lyrics I remember go something like this: "What are little boys made of? Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails, That's what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice, That's what little girls are made of." According to Wikipedia, "the rhyme sometimes appears as part of a larger work called What Folks Are Made Of or What All the World Is Made...
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If It Was Easy...

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... then we'd all be doing it already. Last week I wrote about a new way to think about leadership development in Time for a New Paradigm . Four fundamentals at the core of the new approach: 1 - Develop & reward self-leadership as a foundation for leading others; 2 - Embrace leadership as a practice (vs. leadership as an activity); 3 - Accept that social media has changed everything; and 4 - Know that what got us here won't get us where we are going. Which leads me to something that happened last week in a class I was...
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Time for a New Paradigm

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What is a leader? And how do you become a leader? We tend to think of a leader as someone that you follow. A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. For generations, you became a leader by working hard and waiting your turn. If you consistently demonstrated hustle, loyalty, and common sense, your effort would be recognized. You could become a leader by chance. The practice was simple and straightforward, and it worked pretty well. But the newest generations have challenged that tradition. They expect...
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Engaging Senior Leaders (Help Them Help You)

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Back in March I attended the World Lean Six Sigma Conference in San Antonio, TX. In nearly every session I attended, speakers mentioned the importance of engaging senior leaders. At lunch the second day, as we finished our salads, I asked the person seated next to me about his takeaways from the conference -- what had stuck out to him the most. He said, "After all this time, with all the case studies and success stories out there, I can't believe people are still talking about how to engage senior leaders in continuous improvement." His words stuck with me. My...
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Perkins Field

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On Saturday, April 13, 2019, the softball complex at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls was officially named "Perkins Field." Dr. Faye Perkins coached at River Falls for 22 seasons, starting in 1989. I played for Faye from 1989-1992. Back then, there was no "softball complex." There was dirt infield, an old backstop, and a couple lengths of 6 foot high fence that helped mark wout-of-bounds area started. The fence was old and curled up at the bottom. Each spring we carried wooden benches out to the field, and when the frost went out, we put up old wooden...
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Who Do You Think You Are?

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We behave with relentless consistency in alignment with our beliefs about ourselves and the world. In other words, we take action based on who we think we are .  The same old thinking brings the same old results. If you want different results, you have to start with how you think. If you've had difficult making a change stick, chances are your struggles have something to do with who you think you are. As a change leader trying to make a change stick, it's not only about you, but those you are leading. Everyone involved needs to shift their thinking....
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Results Not Typical

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When I was a kid, there were a few things that were considered "instant" -- like pudding, oatmeal, and rice. They were instant because they were the "fast" version, taking 2-3 minutes to make, unlike their 30+ minute versions. By contrast, today we expect more to be instant. Information is readily available -- either from Alex, Siri or the like, or on our handheld computers that are also used for phone calls. Whatever you need, you have an app for that. You can order online and have purchases delivered the same day. You can speak with a nurse or physician...
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The Human Side of Change Leadership

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As a change leader, you drive change in your organization. Everyone is watching, counting on measurable results. Mastery of the continuous improvement tools is important, but a change leader's job is more than tool implementation. Your success depends on your ability to engage, inspire, and influence people to learn and adapt today and every day -- to change how they think about themselves and the world. The tools are straightforward, logical and predictable. Math is math. People are more of a mystery -- both unique and the same, variable and predictable. If culture change is the ultimate goal, understanding the...
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4 Keys to Team Performance

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It's Spring Training time for Major League Baseball. First order of business -- a return to the fundamentals. No matter their tenure, first year recruits or long-term professionals, you'll find them hitting off the tee, taking ground balls, and catching pop flies (two hands!). They'll practice fielding the ball and making quick & exact throws to first base. They'll even practice running the bases. Coaches watch for ways that small changes in the basics can help them improve each player's individual performance -- and by extension, team results. But if team performance is what you want, it's not enough to...
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Six Super Bowl Wins and Tom Brady Still Has a Coach

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On February 3, 2019, Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to victory over the LA Rams in Super Bowl LIII. It's Brady's SIXTH super bowl victory, and also the sixth for the Patriots. Tom Brady is well on his way to the NFL Hall of Fame. Still, at 40 years of age, he plans to continue playing football with hopes of adding to his collection of super bowl rings. If Brady is successful by all definitions in professional football, why does he still have a coach? Coaches support achievement. Achievement is attained through a combination of talent & character....
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