It’s Time to Stop Confusing Leadership and Management

Leadership is deciding what has to be done and getting others to want to do it. 
 
In working with clientsI have found that often leadership and management are used interchangeably. However, leaders and managers have very distinct responsibilities. Confusing the two or treating them the same can cause create very dysfunctional organizations and overwhelmed leaders. 
 
First, let me explain the practical difference between management and leadership.
 
Management is about work standards, resource allocation, and organizational design. Management historically got its start at the onset of World War I. It was around that time that Harvard University created its masters programs while other schools and universities also focused their efforts on varying fields within business management.
 
Leadership, on the other hand, is about vision, motivation, and trust. Developing people and organizations to grow and have a bigger impact. Leaders must deal with change and strongly consider time as they move their team or organization into the future. 
 
I am a lifelong Cubs fan. Seeing them win the World Series was an unforgettable experience. I believe that the key to their success was the hiring of a new manager, Joe Maddon. Management in baseball is about the use of data and use of statistics – how fast a player can run, the speed of their pitch, the angle they hit the ball ator how quickly they move in the outfield. This provides the manager with a very large amount of data. But, just collecting tons of data is not enough. The manager also has to decide what data is most important to collect in analyzing a players strength and therefore the overall strength of the team.
 
Leadership on the other hand is about heartbeat. A leader must learn about that individual, interview themand perhaps even interview their family members to find out if they are a good fit for the team. Will they be more concerned about the name on the back of their jersey than the name the front? While a player may have the right data it is also important to make sure they will fit into our team or organization. 
 
Mangement is a science. Leadership is an art. 
 
As you move up in your team or organization with increasing responsibilities you may find that you will be spending less time on management tasks of your job – those responsibilities should be delegated to those you have selected to be on your winning team. Your responsibility now lies in keeping your team focused on the vision, keeping them motivatedand continually building their trust in you and in themselves. 
 

We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments below how you think leadership and management differ.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder & CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

3 Ways to Get Better Sleep, Tonight

How did you sleep last night?
 
Did you wake up well-rested and energized? Or, are you feeling tired and groggy? Did you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
 
The American Sleep Association (ASA) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. But, we definitely have trouble getting our zzzz’s in each night. The ASA estimates that sleep problems affects up to 70 million American adults!
 
Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Study after study tells us how sleep deprivation causes us to eat more, shrinks our brains, can cause false memories, and is linked to type 2 diabetes. 
 
Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, and yet often, we willingly sleep too little or continue bad habits that stop us from getting good sleep. 
 
It really is our ethical responsibility to get plenty of sleep and rest. Our teams, colleagues, organizations, and our families need us to be at our best, to be able to think clearly, and make sound decisions. Lack of sleep can deeply compromise our decision-making ability and mood. 
 
But, despite the best of intentions there are times when getting the recommended 7-9 hours just doesn’t happen. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel possible (this pile of laundry is blocking the path to my bed and I can’t sleep until it’s done) or it’s totally out of our control (my toddler needs water….again). 
 
In today’s video I share three things you can do to get better sleep tonight, even on the nights when it’s less than you would like. 

1. Sleep in Complete Darkness

Melatonin is a hormone that rises at night and helps us go to (and stay) asleep. However, it is very light sensitive. For it to rise and be effective, your surroundings have to be completely dark. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark so that melatonin can do its job. Turn off night-lights, cover lights from electronics, and get room-darkening shades. If you need a night-light, choose one with a red bulb. Red light does not interfere with melatonin production.

2. Unplug Before Bed

Remember that little hormone melatonin we just talked about? Well, staring at a computer or your phone before bed also obstructs melatonin from rising properly. Your bedtime Facebook scrolling could be the cause for your sleepless night! Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed to get your body ready for sleep. Instead, read a book, do some stretching, or enjoy a cup of tea. Next, get a real alarm clock. You know, the kind you plug into the wall and has numbers on it? They still sell those antiques at most stores! That way you don’t have to use your phone as an alarm clock. Instead, charge it overnight in a different room so you’re not tempted to check your email and compromise your melatonin production. 

3. Create a Comfortable Bed and Bedroom

Your bed should be a place that you look forward to relaxing and sleeping in. If there is something about your bed or bedroom that is uncomfortable, then change it. Is your mattress old and uncomfortable? Are your sheets too hot or too cold? Maybe your pillows are lumpy or too flat.
 
Be sure to watch the video where I share how changing our blankets has helped me and my husband sleep so much better!
 
I want to hear from you! Do you have any tricks for getting a good night’s sleep? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
 

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

3 Ways You Can Inspire Confidence During Difficult Times

Do you know how to inspire your team or organization so they follow you? What if there is a challenge or setback? Will they stay by your side, hunker down and fight with you, or head for the hills?

 
Before we dive into these big questions, let’s talk about the word leadership”.
 
If you try and Google a definition of the word “leadership” you will be inundated with over 2 billion results! With so many definitions to sift through I have come to like the one by President Dwight Eisenhower best.
 
Eisenhower said,“Leaders have to decide what must be done and get others to want to do it.” 
 
The most important part of this definition – and the hardest – is getting others to buy into your vision for the organization and WANT to take action on it. Getting buyin from those who are actually going to make it all happenis the key to success. 
 
Here is my 3-step process for inspiring confidence during difficult times. 

Step 1: Dealing with Change

As a leader you have to deal with changes in the organization and changes in the environment. No matter if changes are in or out of your control, it can still shake your teams confidence. Distrust and uncertainty can spread quickly and significantly hinder the success of a sale, a project, a team, or an organization. Change WILL happen. A successful leader will embrace that change and chart a new course for their team. This brings me to step 2.

Step 2: Setting the Vision

It is the responsibility of the leader to continually remind their subordinates of the vision for the organization to help keep everyone working towards the same goals. Setting and reminding people about the vision is of utmost importance during difficult times, problems, and setbacks.  Keeping everyone focused on the vision of the organization will serve as a positive reminder and everyone working towards a common goal. When hard times hit, keep your vision in mind, and then implement step 3.

Step 3: Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty

On June 5th, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower met with young paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. Eisenhower knew that these men would be parachuting into Nazi-controlled France, in what we now call The Normandy Invasion. Rather than give the men last-minute instructions on tactics or strategy, his mere presence assured them that this plan was going to work. Eisenhower is quote telling his staff in March of that year, “This operation is being planned as a success. There can be no thought of failure. For I assure you there is no possibility of failure.”
 
As you are leading your team through difficult times never forget that, as author and leadership expert John Gardner said,“The first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive!”
 
 

We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments below how YOU have and continue inspire confidence within your team.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder & CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

THIS Is More Important Than Leadership Development

When is the last time you did something for yourself? Say, attended a fitness class, went for a walk, got a massage, or went away for the weekend?
 
Or, if you do those things perhaps you feel a little tinge of guilt? A little voice in your head saying,“You don’t deserve to spend an hour of your day in a yoga class. You have too much to do!”
 
We have this idea that in order to be a successful and effective leader who is well-respected by colleagues and subordinates we should be working all the time. We should fill our days with meetings, phone calls, emails, and be accessible 24/7. And if by some miracle we have an open spot in our calendar or a free hour of time we immediately feel guilty for not being productive. Better fill that open time with some work!
 
Our lives are hectic by nature, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us available anytime, anywhere. Sure there are positives to this – we are no longer tied to our desks and can take the occasional conference call while driving kids to piano lessons. But, that means we let work infiltrate more and more into our personal lives. It’s a delicate AND very hard balance to keep. One that most of us are not so great at. 
 
On top of being constantly connected (a relatively new phenomena), family life is looking very different than it did just 30 years ago. Now mom AND dad are going to work. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, 46% of American households have two full-time working parents. Trying to juggle work, meetings, getting kids to school, after school activities, and get some semblance of dinner on the table can feel like a feat of epic proportions – even on a relatively “slow day.” 
 
So, how can we do it all without burning ourselves out? 
 
With all that on our plates it seems impossible to make time for ourselves. And yet, it’s the only thing that can keep us going. Self-care is what fills your tank so you can get things ($hitdone AND do it all with clarity, patience, and grace. It’s essential and vital to being a successful and effective leader and the piece that many are missing.
 
In this McCausland Monday video, I share with you three very simple ways to practice self-care without taking up too much of the limited time you have. Plus, I discuss why modeling self-care is a powerful way to lead – your organization, your community, and your family. 
 
 
I want to hear from you! Tell me in the comments below…..
 
What self-care habits do you practice regularly that help you fill your tank?
What kind of classes or services does your organization offer that help taking care of yourself easier?

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

A 4-Step Process for Making Decisions and Assessing Opportunities

Do you find yourself having a hard time making decisions? Or, maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the opportunities out there and are unsure of which ones to take and which to walk away from?
 
Making decisions is a leader’s #1 priority and it’s your job to figure out which opportunities are the best for your organization. That’s a lot of pressure!
 
If you let those tough decisions get the best of you, there’s a good chance your decisions may not be in line with your organization’s mission, vision, and values. That is certainly not an effective way to lead.
 
Having a system or a strategy for making decisions, evaluating opportunities, and solving problems can be very helpful. At Diamond6, I use something called the OODA Loop”, a concept created by Korean War fighter pilot, Colonel John Boyd. 
 
The “OODA Loop” stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, and Colonel Boyd used this approach to train fighter pilots. After leaving the Air Force, he created a number of books and lectures to help organizations and companies apply the OODA Loop” for their decision-making processes. 
 
Here is what the OODA Loop” stands for: 
 
OBSERVE– What is happening in the environment? What is staying the same?  What is changing?
 
ORIENT– Focus on what is the most important thing or things that are happening in the environment and your organization.
 
DECIDE– Make decisions on those items.  Never forget that time is a resource that you must manage. Not making a decision is making a decision.
 
ACT– Take action and monitor these new efforts closely. 
 
You can use the OODA Loop” for your own personal decision-making or throw it out to your team as a strategy for brainstorming solutions or making decisions. 
 
Observe, Orient, Decide, & Act!
Happy decision-making!
 

Do you have a great story about you’ve benefitted from the “OODA Loop”? Share your stories with us!


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

Leading Your Peers

“My ego demands- for myself- the success of my team.”
–Bill Russell, Team Captain, Boston Celtics

At Diamond6 we frequently speak about four “dimensions” of leadership. They are:

  • Leading ourselves
  • Leading others
  • Leading the boss
  • Leading (or being led by….) our peers

The last of these, leading peers, is perhaps the most difficult and least examined. Leading peers is hard because it often leads to conflicts over loyalty. It raises thorny questions: Is my greatest loyalty to my peers (friends, colleagues, and co-workers) OR is my loyalty to the organization? Are the mission, vision, and values of the organization more important than my personal relationships?

Sometimes You Stand Alone

Perhaps the most celebrated example of leading one’s peers is Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. As Doris Kearns Goodman described in her book Team of Rivals, Lincoln outwitted his principal opponents (who were his peers) for the Republican nomination for President. Once elected, however, he invited them to become members of his cabinet. The fractious nature of Lincoln’s cabinet meetings is captured well in the Stephen Spielberg movie, Lincoln. For example, it is alleged at a cabinet meeting discussing a draft of Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln asked the assembled members “who opposes the document?”. Everyone raised their hand. Lincoln then said, “who is in favor?”. Lincoln raised his hand and concluded the discussion by saying, “well, I guess the AYES have it.”. During this exchange Lincoln dealt with a conflict of loyalties. What was best for the relationship with his team? What was best for the organization? As President, he preferred the clear support of his cabinet. He had established a good relationship (if not friendship) with several of them, especially Secretary of State Seward. But he firmly believed the best things for the nation was to seek an end to slavery. Consequently, he made the hard leadership decision to stand alone.

The Single Most Crucial Factor?

A new book entitled, The Captain Class by Sam Walker provides some useful insights on dealing with the challenge of peer leadership. Walker set out to determine what was the most important reason for the success of outstanding sports teams? The teams he examined were those that had sustained greatness for at least four seasons instead of a single championship. They include such celebrated franchises as the New York Yankees (1949-53), Boston Celtics (1956-69), Brazilian men’s national soccer (1958-62), Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-80), as well as lesser known teams from rugby, men’s handball, Australian football, and women’s soccer. He wanted to know was the most valuable ingredient money? Management? A unique strategy or associated infrastructure? Having the greatest of all time (GOAT) player?

His research uncovered that the single most crucial factor for a team that achieved and sustained historic greatness was the character of the person who led it – the team captain. He went on to outline the following characteristics of the great team captains:

  • Extreme doggedness and focus in competition
  • Aggressive play that tests the limits of rules/process
  • Willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows
  • A low-key, practical, and democratic communications style
  • Motivates others with passionate nonverbal displays
  • Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart
  • Ironclad emotional control

If you are placed in a position where you are leading peers, remember Abraham Lincoln. Peer leadership will be hard and place strain on loyalties to colleagues vs. the entire organization.  But there are also lessons for any leader who is seeking to build teams within their organization and, consequently, must select those for positions of increasing responsibility. The characteristics described by Walker in the Captain’s Class may be useful for any organization.  As we look for our “team captains” should we focus solely on individual performance? Or do we take time to make a more subjective analysis that looks for the factors that might not only build a world championship team but one that sustains itself into the future?

Do you have a great story about how you led your peers? Or, how you have been led? Share your stories with us!


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

Take The Risk

An interview with participant, Danielle Calero, 6th grade history teacher

At what point during your Diamond6 workshop did you have a “light bulb moment”?

On the third day of the workshop we were at the Army Heritage and Education Center and we heard Dr. Chris Maxwell
’s presentation, Lead Like a Guide. One of the things he talked about was taking risks. At the end of his presentation he asked us to write down what resonated most with us from his presentation. In my spiral notebook all I wrote down was, “take the risk.”

The day went on and we were meeting with our small groups. That is when it all really came together for me. I was in this group with so many established people in my school district. All week long I had been thinking, “I’m just a classroom teacher, I’m just a classroom teacher.” My colleagues definitely weren’t making me feel that way at all. It was more the feeling that I want to do more. There’s more that I can do to help my school site, my students, and my coworkers. But, the idea of taking the risk was something that I was always afraid to do.

Where did the letter to yourself come into play?

When Jeff asked us to write the letter to ourselves. He explained that we were to write down the one thing that we intended to do when we got back to work. We then sealed up the letter, returned it to him and he would mail them to us just around the time when school year would be starting up again.

The only thing I wrote down was “take the risk.” Nothing else. I put a period at the end and put it in the envelope.

What happened when you got home?

When I got back I had so much to share with my husband and my coworkers. The more I started talking through everything it became clear that I needed to take the risk.

I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, an end goal for me has always been to take on an administrative position. I’ve wanted to explore that avenue more.

I happened to be talking to one of my coworkers who came on the Diamond6 trip to Pennsylvania with me and she told me she applied for the Administrative Credential Program. Through this program I would get my preliminary administrative credential and it would allow me to take on positions like an assistant principal or principal job, student advisor, teacher on special assignment – it gives me a more options to leave the classroom when I’m ready but not completely leave education.

And so I thought about the program a lot. Should I do it? Should I not? My kids are still little. I don’t have enough time. All the excuses that I’ve been using for the past 5 years!

I talked it over with my husband and realized that my kids of course aren’t going anywhere, the busy schedule isn’t going anywhere. What happens if an opportunity arises and I’m not ready or I’m not prepared? So, I scrambled to get my paperwork and application together and literally got it in the day before the applications were due in August.

When did you receive the letter you wrote to yourself?

I came back to work to start the school year and got all the papers from my work mailbox. I saw the letter but I didn’t want to open it yet. I knew what was in it, but I didn’t know yet if it was worth it. I hadn’t heard back from the program so I didn’t know if I had been accepted or not.  

So I brought the letter back to my classroom. I sat down at my computer, opened my email and there was the email saying that I had been accepted into Administrative Credential Program. And then I looked at my letter and I was ready to do this, I was ready to open it!

Those two things happening on the same day made it all clear that the next year and a half might be a struggle, it might be busy, I might get stressed out but it’s worth the risk. I just can’t be afraid anymore. I can’t be afraid because opportunities will pass you by.

Like I said, I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, when the right opportunity comes along in two or three years I don’t want to be thinking, “I should have taken the risk and gotten that certification.”

Are you taking risks in other ways?

I’m very comfortable talking in front of my students but it’s hard for me to talk in front of my peers. So, over the last few years I’ve been taking on more leadership positions at my school site. The leadership seminar through my school district and the week with Diamond6 really gave me the confidence I needed to start this next journey.

What keeps you motived at work?

I see the potential in our school, in our students, and in our staff. I’ve been learning a lot in this Administrative Credential Program about the importance of school culture, relationships and trust building. That keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing, to stay positive, with that end goal in mind.

 


 

We’d love to hear about your risks! Share your leadership stories with us.

Leading Up

How to lead your boss and be a boss who wants to be led.

It’s hard to believe but, bosses are people too! They are human and they can make mistakes. For the sake of this article I’m talking about good bosses. People who genuinely care about their organization and the people who work for and with them. Not bosses who are incompetent or unethical. (Check out George Reed’s book Tarnished: Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Military for those kind of bosses).

Every Boss Needs Somebody

Even good bosses will not have the right information or aren’t seeing it from someone else’s perspective. They may be tempted, for one reason or another, to make a questionable decision or miss an amazing opportunity.

This is where you have the opportunity to lead your boss! Think of yourself as your boss’s mole. You are their eyes and ears, their boots on the ground. The person who can provide them with a different perspective and insight they don’t have or simply can’t have because of their title and responsibilities.

I’m going to even take this to the next level. I believe it is your ethical obligation – to your boss, your organization, and yourself – to walk into your boss’s office, close the door and tell them when they are about to make a huge mistake or are going down a path that could lead to a major collision.

By leading your boss, you not only have a great opportunity to make an impact on your organization, you can make yourself a great asset to your boss and team. This takes courage from both sides!

Be a Boss Who Wants to Be Led

We have this cultural belief that when you have been appointed as a boss and a leader you must be the smartest person around. You are all knowing. You are always five steps ahead of everyone. That’s a lot of pressure, even for the smartest and most confident leaders!

During my career I have been part of many great organizations, and a few that could have used a little help. Those that are successful and doing great things are led by bosses who are willing to listen and be led.

How do they do it?

First, they surround themselves with smart people. You don’t want to let yourself be led by someone who could possible walk you right off a cliff!

Second, they have built a climate of strong relationships and a sense of trust with their team. The people who work for these bosses know that the boss has their back and will go to bat for them.

Lastly, these bosses welcome new ideas and ask for honest feedback from their team. This doesn’t mean they follow every idea or are pushovers. In the end they are the leader and they have the final say. But they have earned respect from their team by allowing them to be heard.

Be Brave to Lead the Boss….and Let Yourself Be Led

The idea of leading the boss and being a boss who wants to be led is not a given. It doesn’t come naturally or easily to most employees or bosses.

Employees may be afraid they are offending their boss or questioning their intelligence.

Bosses may think that creating a culture in which they seek out input makes them look weak and uninformed.

To break this stalemate both sides must be brave and find the courage to take the first step.

As an employee you must get to know your bosses comfort zone. What are his/her values? Where have they come from? Does your boss appear supported or lonely? Is he/she genuinely secure? What appears to be their failures, fears, or aspirations?

It is your goal to stay within this comfort zone and then work to expand it, slowly but surely.

Knowing HOW to present problems to your boss is critical. Don’t waltz into their office, drop a problem on their desk and walk out, wishing them good luck as you close the door. Leading your boss means you come with problems AND possible solutions. This will help you gain their trust and be in influencer in your organization. In other words, a leader!

As the boss you must create opportunities for people to share their ideas, thoughts and recommendations. Be curious about their personal and professional goals and do what you can to support them. Have a 5-minute brainstorming session at the beginning of every meeting and the only rule is that all ideas are welcome and respected. Hold post mortem meetings on activities, projects or events to discuss what went well and what could use improvement.

 

How have you led the boss during your career? Or, how have you created a culture where you allow yourself to be led? Share your stories with us!

 


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

Honoring the Seasons of Your Life

The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red, the temperatures are dropping (well, sort of), and pumpkins are appearing on porches. It’s a time for change and reinvention, to start anew or perhaps start over.

These seasonal changes are predictable, they happen with ease, and they require no effort on our part for them to take place. Fall will go into winter, whether we like it or not. Sure, they may result in sleepless nights gluing together the last-minute Halloween costume or stress-induced hives when you can’t get the Christmas lights untangled. I’ll save that for a future article!

What are life seasons?

In addition to seasonal changes we also experience life changes – often many times throughout the year. I call these “life seasons.” We have different life seasons in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes they are short, sometimes long.

Some life seasons are predictable, such as the start of a new school year or budgeting for the next quarter. At Diamond6, for example, we have learned that our busy professional season is spring through early fall. That has evolved over time and we have learned to expand how we work to accommodate that growth.

Other seasons come as a surprise, such as suddenly caring for an aging parent or getting a promotion. These unpredictable seasons can catch us off guard and require extra time and energy to feel comfortable and confident – no matter if they are positive or negative.

Change is a constant

Just as with the start of a new season, the one constant in life seasons is change. Now, that’s not to say that change is a negative thing. Change is what helps us grow and evolve, embrace new experiences, and live fully. Change can also make us feel unsteady, unsure, and afraid.

A promotion is a great example of this. Being promoted is exciting! Others have recognized your hard work and you are considered a valuable asset to the organization. But, it can also be stressful taking on extra responsibilities and learning new things. This change is an opportunity for growth AND be a time of some uncertainty.

The ripple effect of change

One of the hardest things to accept during a new life season is that things will not remain the same. In short, something’s gotta give.

And, while your new life season may be one you’re welcoming, such as a promotion or a new job, chances are other parts of your life will be affected. Late nights at work mean more frozen pizzas or skipping the gym a few times.

This is where we struggle the most. Where we feel guilt, shame, and maybe even have the occasional internal temper tantrum. We might want one thing to change but not all the others that come with it.

However, if we give ourselves permission to let other areas of our lives change too, chances are it will all go more smoothly.

Seasons change

During the dead of winter, when it feels like it’s been cold, snowy, and miserable for an eternity I try and remind myself – spring WILL come! Thanks goodness for that!

Guess what? Life seasons change too! They can be bumpy at first but eventually the road smooths out. We get accustomed to our new routine. We get back to the gym and maybe even start cooking dinner again. We get comfortable with our new role and confident in our abilities.

We’re cruising and all is well.

Just in time for the next life season to drive up and surprise us.

What life season are you in right now? What else has changed in this season? Did you welcome the change or did you struggle?


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

McCausland’s Laws: Leadership and Critical Thinking

In my talks on leadership I frequently point out that the one thing that makes leaders different from everyone else is that THEY DECIDE! Though the effective leader wants to be open to input from as many perspectives as possible, the leader is the ultimate decision maker and must also decide when he/she is going to decide! As a result critical thinking is essential if a leader is going to make the best possible decisions in today’s complex and ever changing world.

Obviously, that begs a very important question – how do we define critical thinking? While there are various definitions, the one I like is as follows:

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively receive information, recall prior information, assimilate information by comparing differences and determining cause and effect, and evaluating the information to make decisions and solve problems.

This has to be done in a timely fashion to insure sound execution by the team. Leaders must seek to develop their critical thinking skills, and there are numerous historical examples where it was not done well. Here are some illustrations:

The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty…a fad.
— President of Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Company in 1903.     

I dont like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out….
— Decca Record Executive on turning down the Beatles

Video wont be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
— Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox Studios, on television in 1946.

How then does a leader develop critical thinking skills and what pitfalls are there? In reality, the best approach is to consider the scientific method. First, identify the question and associated problem. This may sound easy, but in reality it is both fundamental and hard. It is fundamental because failure to do so may move all of the organization’s analysis in the wrong direction. Taking the time at the outset to really ascertain what is the real problem and associated question is key. Second, formulate a hypothesis. Why are things occurring in this fashion that presents our team with a problem? Third, seek relevant data. This can also be difficult because we now have so many means to extract data. Consequently, it is essential to question whether or not the data is valid. How was it gathered? Is it a representative sample? What definitions were used? What are implicit and explicit assumptions associated with the data. Fourth, test the hypothesis and evaluate the results. Finally, from the analysis, draw reliable conclusions that are appropriate to your organization while carefully considering your mission, vision, and values.

Based on my experience in the military, government, academia, and business I have formulated the following list of McCausland’s Laws that may be helpful as you develop these critical thinking skills:

  • Never assume logic plays a role, particularly when dealing with bureaucracies.

  • For every problem, there is a short-term seemingly easy solution that is often the worst thing you can do in the long term.

  • When explaining how something happened, do not neglect the possibility that your opponent/competition just screwed up.

  • Long range planning may only be tomorrow afternoon for your organization, BUT it is still really important and somebody needs to do it.

  • If two people agree on everything, one of them is not thinking at all.

  • Facts are important but placing them in the correct context is REALLY important.

  • Don’t forget that your opponent/competition can influence your strategy and decision.

Leaders in the 21st century would be wise to consider the words of Alvin Toffler, a futurist and author of the book Future Shock. Toffler observed, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.