Leaderscapes LLC Blog

Welcome!

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.

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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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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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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3 'Back to Basics' Ways to Jump-Start Your 2019 Goals

Much like your car battery in the dead of winter (or during a polar vortex), your goals may need a jump-start this time of year. As the luster of the shiny new year wears off, our best laid plans often lose their spark, too. Fear not! Here are three 'back to basics' ways to jump-start your 2019 goals and get back on track. 1. Align your identity: Affirmations Whatever your goal requires of you, decide you are a person who does that. For example, I set a big health & fitness goal this year. It's not a new goal. I've...
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Thanks for Listening

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On Christmas Eve, I joined my mom for Mass at our home church. With Dad gone, I didn't want mom to be alone. Funny that I thought I was going for her, when in fact, the sermon that night seemed written for me. "You may be familiar with the television program, Inside the Actor's Studio," the priest began. He continued to share about watching the show and how his favorite part was at the end of every interview when the host, James Lipton, asks his guest 10 questions. The questions originally came from a French series hosted by Bernard Pivot,...
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Change is a Self-Leadership Challenge

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If you review the table of contents for most leadership courses, they focus on self-awareness, but not necessarily self-leadership. Leadership development tends to be about how well you lead others, not how well you lead yourself. Self-leadership is not easy or everyone would do it. You are never done; you always have room for improvement. There are people I look up to, people who are better at self-leadership than I am, who will tell you they have a long way to go. Self-leadership requires discipline, accountability and humility, plus courage and vulnerability. These are all qualities you'd expect in a...
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Generations of Change

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“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went 
before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” — George Orwell With the recent mid-term election, the generations and their differences are back in the headlines. The 'make America great again' sentiment is an invitation to those who long for simpler times of days past. Rhetoric calls for a return to an old set of values, as if those values have somehow disappeared. An underlying claim that the American Dream, as defined by the Traditionalist generation, no longer exists drives a need to place...
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Change: Resistance or Readiness?

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Change resistance is a human condition. We all experience it to some extent. Resistance is based on the level of disruption of change -- which is different for each individual. A change that creates a high disruption for one person may seem insignificant to another. Change resistance shows up in a variety of different ways. Push-back is one way. Other examples are avoidance, delay and outright sabotage. While resistance can be logical -- based on a lack of information or understanding, resistance is primarily emotional -- rooted in feelings of fear, anxiety, or loss. One manager I know did not...
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Change and a 4-Letter Word: Help!

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My friend, Mike, toured a Toyota plant a 5-6 years ago. He remembers the group came upon a group of workers addressing a problem. The workers assigned to that task had a problem and had flipped on their "andon" light -- a signal they needed help. Other workers had come to help. When the problem was resolved, the helpful workers returned to their stations, the andon was set to its original "go" position, and work continued. Watching the scene, another man on the tour blurted, "That would never happen at my plant." Startled and curious, Mike asked, "What do you...
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Leadership, Character, and the "Man in the Mirror"

I was promoted into my first supervisory role 18 years ago. I was the training supervisor for our ERP project team and had 3-4 people reporting to me. About nine months in, Alice, one of my direct reports, set a meeting with my supervisor to tell her how horrible I was as a supervisor. To her credit, my manager asked Alice if she would be willing to tell me directly how she felt. Alice and I met for 90 minutes. For 90 minutes Alice described everything I had done to undermine her success and to ruin her self-esteem. I listened,...
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Leading Change: Brownies, Boulevard Trees and an Old Office Chair

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I sat with the others, waiting for the meeting to start. Our leader was checking people in, each taking their turn on the scale after removing belts and accessories -- anything that might help that result look better. When we were all settled in, she began the meeting, asking if anyone had questions or concerns we needed to discuss right away. Someone behind me raised their hand. "I don't think I can do this," she said. "On this program I can't eat a pan of brownies anymore." We were in a weight loss group. Eating a pan of brownies in...
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Change and the Troublesome Employee, part 3

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In part 1, we met Jerry, a production employee who seemed like a troublesome employee, but with compassion, conversation and time, was able to engage, catch up, and contribute positively to the continuous improvement (CI) movement at his company. In part 2, we met Nancy, a woman who struggled to accept change because she lacked self-esteem. That brings us to Part 3. (Side note: Somehow I skipped part 3 and already published part 4... my mistake!) Meet Brian. Brian is a sales rep. He has been mildly successful as a sales person. Out of the dozen sales reps at the...
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