My Biggest Leadership Struggle

Steven Snyder’s book Leadership and the Art of Struggle inspired this guest blog post by Becky Robinson. This week is the official launch of Steven’s book. You can buy it on Amazon or read a free preview and learn more at


Leadership and the Art of StruggleAs I’ve been working with Steven Snyder to launch his book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle, central to my attraction to the book is the reality that it comforts me to hear a successful leader, as Snyder is, bring to light the reality that struggle is inherent in life  — and leadership.

We struggle because we are alive. We are human.

To project anything different would be disingenuous.

If there is any success, any breakthrough, any progress, any difference to be made in the world, it is hard-won, through the daily struggle to do the work and be the people we want to be.

We all face struggles and our struggles are a common ground. They can become a place of connection  when we admit and own our struggles.

Often, our struggles are well-hidden from the world. I would prefer to err on the side of oversharing struggle, to create the possibility of helping someone else, than to build walls with an image of perfection.

My biggest struggle as a leader so far is a struggle of confidence: confidence in my place in the world, my value to others, and my ability to do the big things I am setting out to do.

It is certainly a journey, one I can trace back to childhood and that inner voice of doubt that whispered insidiously: You are not enough. You do not measure up.

Most days I successfully vanquish that voice, but it is not completely silenced, and the struggle for confidence is one I gladly bear, especially as admitting my own struggle for confidence enables me to bring confidence and encouragement to others.

Knowing the barbs whispers of self doubt, I can speak truth to others who struggle, giving encouragement:

You can do this.

Your work is excellent.

You are wonderful.

You are enough.

What struggles have you faced as a leader? How can you share your struggles to connect meaningfully with others?



Your Path to Greatness

Today’s guest author is Ben Newman, a distinguished author, sales expert, international speaker and coach from St. Louis. In 2012, The Napoleon Hill Foundation recognized him as one of the Top 51 speakers and thought leaders in the world. Ben is a four-time author, and his latest book, Own YOUR Success: The Power to Choose Greatness and Make Everyday Victorious is a #1 business best-seller; it was ranked #2 in August 2012 by 800.CEO.READ for “What Corporate America is Reading.” 

Success is defined in different ways by different people, but more and more it has become synonymous with money and status.  Real success, however, is less about results or a bottom line, and more about the process of achieving goals and dreams. 

Many business people today are overwhelmed by the need to maintain results-driven success.  Continue reading


No Room for Second Place

Steve Van Remortel, founder of SM Advisors and creator of the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream process, educates and inspires business leaders on how to differentiate their organization by applying the fundamentals of strategy and talent. In his first book, Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream: The Scoop on Increasing Profit by Differentiating Your Company Through Strategy and Talent, he provides all business leaders a simple step-by-step planning process they can implement into their organization to optimize its performance. The book launches, Tuesday, October 16 and is available on

Vince Lombardi once said, “There is no room for second place.  There is only one place in my game and that is first place.”   That is true in business as well as football.  When it comes to your competence and strategy second place is not an option.  

The first fundamental of the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream ® Strategic Planning Process is defining your competence.  Your competence is something you do better than anyone else in the markets where you compete.  It is why customers choose you first, not second.  

When helping a company define its competence, SM Advisors uses our proprietary methodology called the Competitive Competence Analysis.  The objective of this analysis is to evaluate your new or current competence against the competitors in the markets where you compete.  

7 questions to determine your organization’s competitive competence Continue reading


Sparking a leadership revolution

A new book, The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time was written by 21 members of the Lead Change Group: a virtual community of authors, business owners, thought leaders, and academics who share a passion for leadership.

Character-based leaders lead from the power of who they are, rather than from their position of authority or designated job title. People who lead with character don’t wait for others to make something right. When they see a need, they move to close the gap. The book combines current leadership thought with personal stories, providing compelling messages, tools and insights for those seeking to enrich their own leadership style.

6 thoughts on sparking a character based leadership revolution Continue reading


Leadership is a Tough Gig

Today’s guest author is Jennifer V. Miller. Jennifer, a member of the Lead Change Group, is the Founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource, an organizational development consultancy that specializes in leadership development, teambuilding and sales relationship management.

Leadership is a tough gig.

I’m not talking about being in “management”, although that is a really tough job, too.

What I mean is leading - stepping up, making the difficult calls, doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking.

Are you a leader?

Even if you don’t have an official leadership title, I bet you’ve been called to lead as a parent, a volunteer, a mentor or a project manager.

If you wear any of these hats, no doubt you’ve been confronted with the realization at some point in our lives, we all lead. Continue reading


Career Development Begins with Care™

This guest blog post by Julie Winkle Giulioni celebrates the September 18 launch of her book with Beverly Kaye, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.  Julie has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She consults with organizations to develop and deploy innovative instructional designs and training worldwide. You can learn more about Julie’s consulting, speaking, and blog at

Have you ever noticed that the first four letters of the expression ‘career development’ spell ‘care’? Coincidence? I think not.  Because even beyond words on a page, care is at the very core of authentic and effective development. Continue reading


10 Characteristics of High-Performing Collaborative Teams

Today’s LeadBIG guest post is from Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese. It’s an excerpt from their new book The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential.  You can connect with Ron and Carl on Facebook and Twitter as Cisco Collaboration.

Most members of high-performing teams report that it’s fun and satisfying to work on collaborative teams because they are asked to contribute at their highest potential and they learn a lot along the way.

10 characteristics of high-performing collaborative teams

  1. People have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team’s purpose — they feel free to express feelings and ideas.
  2. Everybody is working toward the same goals.
  3. Team members are clear on how to work together and how to accomplish tasks.
  4. Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected.
  5. Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
  6. The team engages in extensive discussion, and everyone gets a chance to contribute — even the introverts.
  7. Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed. Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles.
  8. The team makes decisions when there is natural agreement — in the cases where agreement is elusive, a decision is made by the team lead or executive sponsor, after which little second-guessing occurs.
  9. Each team member carries his or her own weight and respects the team processes and other members.
  10. The leadership of the team shifts from time to time, as appropriate, to drive results. No individual members are more important than the team.

A team charter paves the way for collaborative success by providing clarity that builds trust and accountability. With a team charter in place, you’ll be able to unlock the potential value of your people by empowering them to contribute.

In the long run, teams with a clear purpose and good chemistry drive business results. Job satisfaction goes up, employees stay engaged in their work and everybody wins.



5 Reasons to Read Judgment Calls

Review of Judgment Calls:  Twelve Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams that Got Them Right by Thomas H. Davenport (holds President’s Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College) and Brook Manville (consultant and author), Harvard Business Review Press, 2012.

If your organization is mired in a command-and-control hierarchy, this book isn’t for you. However, if you and/or your organization are self-aware and want to tap into the power of effective organizational decision making, there’s much to learn in this book.

The backdrop of the ongoing global economic calamity and the BP oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico prompted the authors to ask why is it “so hard for organizations to do the right thing?” Their search for answers led them to “organizational judgment—the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.”

Judgment Calls:  Twelve Stories of the Big Decisions and the Teams that Got Them Right, contains twelve stories, cutting across a multitude of organizational types and industry sectors (McKinsey & Company, WGB Homes, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NASA, Partners Healthcare Systems, The Vanguard Group, Media General, The Wallace Foundation, Tweezerman and even ancient Athens), that detail “how particular decisions were made and improved through activities designed to build organizational judgment.”

5 reasons you’ll enjoy this book

1) Focus on capability and possibility. Each of the twelve stories are success stories. There’s no rehashing of failed efforts. Learnings flow from positive efforts rather than sifting through gloomy accounts of leaders and organizations gone wrong.

2) A “work within your culture orientation” rather than proscriptive solutions. As close as the authors get to offering definitive insights is the four-part framework they believe defines “the new paradigm for organizational judgment:”

  • decision making as a participative problem-solving process
  • the opportunity of new technology and analytics
  • the power of culture, and
  • leaders doing the right thing and establishing the right context.

3) Strong emphasis on both-and thinking. Good decision making practices go far beyond either-or thinking to embrace both information and instinct, stability and change, people and process, and what you do and how you do it. The NASA STS-119 story is an insightful look into how an organization rebounded from tragedy, learning how to balance “openness to discussion and debate” with keeping an eye on finding the best outcome.

4) Thorough debunking of the “great man” approach to leadership decision making and an embrace of collaboration. The beauty and power of organizational judgment stems from tapping into collective wisdom:  employees at all levels within the organization as well as informed outsiders. The diversity of thought yields far better solutions than what most “great men” can generate on their own. Dal LaMagna’s use of “community thinking” and open book management contributed to the success at Tweezerman.

5) Sharing through storytelling. While rich with information, Judgment Calls is an enjoyable read. There’s no textbook or academic feel to the content. The stories pull the self-aware reader into possibilities. There’s no pushing to right or wrong conclusions.

We were guided by the belief that the traditional paradigm of decision making—where an all-seeing and wise CEO “makes the call” alone—is being superseded by more participative and data-intensive approaches, and therefore that this concept and capability is something every leader today can benefit from. ~Davenport and Manville