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.

Leadership, Emotional Culture & the F-word (Feelings!)

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Emotions play an important role in everyday behavior. There is no thought, behavior, idea or attitude which does not have a related emotional counterpart.  In business, though, some kinds of emotions are frowned upon. Some people even say emotions do not belong in business. And while some leaders try to ignore negative emotions in the workplace, others see them as a character flaw. As long as humans are in your company, feelings will always be there. And if you are striving for continuous improvement through employee engagement, then you are counting on it. Every organization has an "emotional culture." And...
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Praise!

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Praise (n): the act of expressing approval or admiration; commendation; grateful homage. We know that praise is important in the workplace. Praise boosts performance. It provides a positive experience or uplift that can increase morale, motivation and engagement. Recognition renews an employee's commitment to their manager and to the organization. Without it, employee's question whether their efforts are worth it, if anyone cares. In continuous improvement cultures, where we are constantly asking for more, praise is even more important. Leaders can get caught in a cycle of consistently demanding more tomorrow from their people without taking the time to praise...
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Beware of 'Business as Usual'

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After hours of discussion and planning, you stood with the executive team at the company meeting and announced the strategic plans for the year. There would be big changes, you said, changes that would mean great things for the company -- and more importantly, make things easier for everyone. There will be some extra work up front, to set things in order for the changes, but afterwards it is going to be great. Life will be better. We will all benefit from a more positive, easy-going culture. You promised. That meeting was more than a year ago. Changes were implemented,...
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Is That What You Really Meant?

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We've all had times when conversations didn't go as planned. You tried to give feedback, or express a concern, but it came out more like a scolding or shaming. Or you meant to ask a question, but it came across as an assertion that the other person had failed in some way. What could have been a straightforward conversation turned ugly -- and fast. And though you said it wasn't what you meant, the damage was already done. We don't have hours to prepare for every conversation, but taking a minute -- or even a long pause before speaking --...
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An Open Letter to the 'Tin Man'

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"When a man's an empty kettle he should be on his mettle, and yet I'm torn apart. Just because I'm presumin' that I could be kind-a-human, if I only had a heart. I'd be tender - I'd be gentle and awful sentimental regarding love and art. I'd be friends with the sparrows ... and the boys who shoot the arrows if I only had a heart. Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion, and really feel the part. I could stay young and chipper and I'd lock it with a zipper, If I only had a heart." - Wizard of Oz...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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5 Ways 'Change' is Something to be Grateful For

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Winter is taking over where fall left off, and the Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner. This time of year we are compelled to give thanks, to look at life from a place of gratitude. 2018 has been a year of change for me, and I suspect I am not alone. Change can be wanted or necessary, but that doesn't make it less hard or stressful. Change is a process that requires us to evolve, to allow more of ourselves to emerge. Whatever the change you've experienced this year, here are 5 ways change is something to be grateful...
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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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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 4

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What if that troublesome employee -- the one that pushes back, or wants to slow down, or needs every detail ironed out before moving ahead -- what if that employee was doing you a favor ? What if that employee wasn't an obstacle, but instead, a blessing? We can be quick to label the people who don't come on board with our vision right away. I say "we" because I've been there. Back when I was part of my company's lean team, we had strategy meetings about how to deal with specific individuals -- whether we should force them to...
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