Blog

Leadership is all about interaction: an interview with Dr. Jeff McCausland

Are people “born leaders” or can they be developed?

I definitely believe that leaders can and must be developed. Still there are certain personality characteristics that may help someone become an effective leader. People who are extreme introverts and find it uncomfortable around groups can become leaders, but it takes a greater effort. This is not unlike high performing athletes who may have better eyesight, height, strength, etc. as part of their physical makeup giving them an edge. Still, in both cases the individual has to devote both study and effort to continue to capitalize on those inherent advantages.

What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned?

I have learned that most people want to do well and be part of a high performing team. I do not believe people go to work each day seeking to fail. But leadership is an art and not a science. Consequently, relationships are key. Leadership is all about the interaction between human beings. A leader has many jobs, but let me discuss three.

First, define a vision for the organization and then seek to convince the members of his team to follow that vision. This often requires work.

Second, the difference between leaders and everyone else is “the leader decides and he or she decides when they are going to decide. Consequently, the leader must manage the organizations time. How much time do we have? When do I have to make a decision so that my team has enough time to explain to those working for them what their goals or objectives are? How much time do I have to seek consensus before deciding which direction we are going to take?

Third, the leader must seek to invest in his or her people and develop a high performing team. The ultimate goal of the leader is to make him/herself irrelevant. The true test of any leader is how well the organization performs once the leader departs. Did he or she develop a team so even if they were missing the organization continued to climb?

How has your leadership style evolved?

I continue to be amazed by how little I know. I have learned an effective leader must continue to develop in two ways. First, an effective leader must continue to develop his or her competence in his or her profession or occupation. Second, they must continue to think and develop themselves as a leader. Furthermore, I have learned that building organization consensus and cohesion is key. The leader cannot simply announce the vision for the organization and then expect everyone to immediately buy in and move out in the direction defined.

Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Corporation, once observed that when he took charge of Hilton he spent nearly two years traveling throughout the corporation which has 150,000 employees worldwide. He said he was convinced that everyone was “pulling hard on the oars” but they were often pulling the oars in different directions

Finally, I have found in my work with many, many organizations that most are willing to invest millions in new technology or capital investments. But they are only willing to invest pennies in their most important resource — their people.

What leadership concepts do you consider during your day-to-day?

I try to think hard on what I need to invest my time in and what is best done by others. Empowerment is key to the success of any organization. So I frequently ask myself, “Am I getting in the way of one of my employees who is anxious to take responsibility for something?”. I seek to spend time thinking about the future of my organization and not get buried in day-to-day decisions, which can be handled by others. Finally, am I learning something new today that will make me either more competent or a better leader?

What are the most important ideas a burgeoning leader ought to consider?

What makes you happy and what do you enjoy? I cannot imagine you could do well leading an organization if you are not enjoying the experience, either in terms of its intrinsic rewards or the position working for you and your family.

Next, what is the vision I have for the organization? Can I galvanize the resources and build the consensus right now to move the organization in that direction? Finally, what is my assessment of my team? Are they ready for the vision? Do I need to do more teambuilding or do I need to add new team members and perhaps remove existing team members?

What leadership skills or competencies do you look for when hiring?

You want to ensure that the person is intelligent and has passion for the organization and its aims. It will not work to hire someone who is very intelligent but cannot work effectively with others—that can be a disaster for any team. Finally, do they have a desire to learn, improve themselves, and a desire to be innovative and “make things happen”?

I often use the example of Coach Dean Smith, University of North Carolina. He was at one point the winningest coach in NCAA basketball. A sportswriter once asked Smith what he looked for in basketball prospects. Smith replied, “I look for players who are fast. I can teach someone how to shoot, rebound, read plays, pass, etc. I do not know how to teach them to be fast….” In similar form I believe I can teach anyone who wishes to learn how to be successful in the organizations I have led. I just don’t know how to make them innovative or “make it happen” when they do not receive specific directions.


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.

Get better sleep, tonight.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends how much sleep we need— from infants to the elderly. Some of the ranges for children and teens have changed over the years, but the standard seven to nine hours per night for adults (age 18-64) and seven to eight hours for adults 65+ stands firm.  (Click HERE to view recommended sleep times by age.) 

While some still use the adage “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, the reality is that lack of sleep is linked to health condition that could get you there sooner.

Sleep is absolutely critical for our health and well-being. While you’re sleeping, your liver and brain clear toxins and your immune system is strengthened. Lack of sleep has been associated with long-term chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Plus, if you aren’t sleeping well, chances are it is having a negative effect on your stress levels, productivity, focus, and mood.

If you have trouble falling asleep, are waking up in the middle of the night, or aren’t waking up rested, you could be putting your health at risk. Try these five tips for getting better sleep, tonight:

1) Sleep in the dark

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, it has to be dark. To that end, make sure your room is completely dark. 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

For many people, the last thing they see at night is the screen of their computer or cell phone. These electronics emit strong light directly into your eyes that can also depress melatonin production. 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.

3) Stay in rhythm

Sticking to a natural sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm) keeps your body in balance. Having a regular bedtime and wake time helps your body stay in that rhythm, ensuring better sleep and more energy when awake. What is important is to stick with the same bedtime and wake time even on the weekends and during vacation. Sleeping in on the weekends and on days off can throw your body out of balance again.

4) Go to bed early

You might claim to be a night owl or be more productive after midnight. However, your body can’t clear toxins and do repairs if you’re surfing the Internet or mopping the floor at 2 a.m. Try to go to bed by 10 or 10:30 p.m. to give your body plenty of time to do its job so you can do yours—when the sun is up.

5) Create a comfortable bed

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 them. Is your mattress old and soft? Are your sheets too hot or too cold? Maybe your pillows are lumpy and uncomfortable. Invest in your bed and make it a place of peace and relaxation that you look forward to.

 


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. 

The Mileage of Failure– Why Leaders Shouldn’t Fear to Fail

There is great “mileage” in failure as it from the moments where we experience setbacks that we may learn the most.  Most people have been taught that failure is a bad thing, but in reality it can also be incredibly instructive. While it is essential to remember philosopher George Santayana’s adage, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” it is okay to make the error yourself sometimes — especially if you choose to learn from it.

I am a great baseball fan and so often use metaphors from my favorite sport.  Assume you were a major league baseball player who got a base hit every third time at bat BUT struck out the other two appearances at the plate.  What happens to you five years after you retire from the game?  You would go to the Hall of Fame even though you failed two out of three times…. Strong leaders know that they will fail at times but still acknowledge the “mileage” such setbacks offer.  Failure makes you humble, aware, and should fill you with determination for the next “time at the plate”.

With that in mind, here are three reasons why a leader should never fear failure.

It Humbles You

While failure can be bad for your ego, it can also help you reevaluate your current situation. Chances are you aren’t the greatest leader to grace the earth, so it’s good to remain modest. It will make you a better listener, a greater teammate and a more empathetic figure. Leadership is largely about communication, and those who do it best understand that — while confidence is great — an inflated ego can be the biggest roadblock to success.

It Shows You Your Weaknesses

A leader worth following is one who understands his or her own faults. That allows you to entrust people to pick you up where your own natural talents might be lacking. It’s okay to be bad at something, but you still need to be aware of those gaps. How else will you fill them in? By doing this, it also allows you to be more considerate toward others. It will make you more aware and provide new possibilities. After all, most mistakes are teachable moments and opportunities for coaching and mentorship.

It Emboldens You

Failure is a useful tool because a series of rejections or mishaps can help push you forward to the next opportunity. It’s likely that your ideas will be shot down — a lot — throughout your life, but it’s the strong leader who dusts him or herself off and pushes forward. Always carry that misstep, mistake or rejection with you because it’ll make success feel better earned. It’s understandable to feel an emotional low, but never wallow. Find the determination to fight another battle, and another battle after that.

 


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.

Do These 5 Things Tonight and Have Success in the Morning!

 

First thing in the morning I don’t want to do too much thinking to get myself and my family out the door. I want to save that brain power for work. As much as possible I’ve tried to make my mornings run on autopilot by doing a few things the night before. This way I don’t have to scream across the house to tell my husband where the baby’s socks are or scramble around grabbing paperwork and other work items from my desk.

Getting to work calm, cool, and collected can help you communicate more clearly, make better decisions and complete tasks more efficiently. A successful workday can in turn have a positive effect on time at home with your family. You won’t be thinking about that report you weren’t able to complete or the 12 emails you didn’t respond to and can be more present for family time and after school activities.

How smooth, or bumpy, your morning is can set the tone for the entire day. There are many things that are out of your control that can derail your morning schedule and mood – kid refusing to wear boots in subzero temperatures or a 5-mile long traffic jam on the way to the office.

Spending just 30 minutes every evening getting ready for the next morning can help you sail smoothly through your morning – and deal with unexpected events with calm and grace.

Here are five things I do every evening to have a smooth morning and workday. Disclaimer: These tips work about 75% of the time – because, you know, life happens and I’m human too!

Set the Pot, Kettle, or Blender: One of the first things I do is fill up my coffee pot so all I have to do in the morning is push a button. If you have one with a timer, set it. Got a K-cup machine? Top it off with water and place your K-cup in the holder. I’ve even gone so far as putting my travel mug next to the coffee maker. It may sound minor but having it all right there means I make sure that mug is clean and ready to go! On occasion my husband might even pour it for me – an added bonus! Are you a tea drinker? Or maybe you make a smoothie in the morning? Whatever your beverage of choice, get all the components ready – down to the smallest detail.

Pick Your Clothes (and the kids’ too!): I like to pull my clothes out of the closet the night before and set them on my dresser. Sure, picking clothes in the morning just takes a few minutes but not having to give it ANY thought saves me about 5-10 minutes of figuring out where that one blouse is (oh, it’s in the laundry). I also try and pick out clothes for my daughter. Again, one less thing to think about and my husband is able to help without too much fuss – unless he puts her dress on backwards!

Clear the Clutter: Most evenings I systematically go through the kitchen and living room to clear any clutter that made its way onto the counter tops, table or floor. All toys are put away – the goal is not organization, I just want to be able to see the floor. In the kitchen I make sure the kitchen table is clear for breakfast and no dirty dishes are left in the sink. The biggest downer for me in the morning is seeing a dirty dish in the sink. Here is the key to clearing the clutter – I give myself 10 minutes to do it. If forces me to prioritize the clutter and be ok with what I didn’t get to. Tomorrow is another day.

Run the Dishwasher: I run the dishwasher virtually every. single. night. – no matter how full or empty it might be – 99% of the time it’s jam packed. That way my husband or I empty it first thing in the morning and we have all day to fill it up again. Plus, there’s plenty of room in the evening for all the after-dinner dishes. This makes clean up faster so we can enjoy the rest of the evening together, instead of scrubbing plates.

Pack It Up: I typically have three bags I leave the house with every morning – my computer bag, a tote bag for my lunch and other work items, and a bag for my daughter’s things she will need at her Grandmother’s house. I pack all of these bags and set them to the side – usually on the dining room table, otherwise my daughter will do a great job of unpacking them all in about 30 seconds! I will add any non-perishable snack or lunch items for her and me as well. Any perishable foods I’ll group together in one area of the fridge, so we can just grab and go.

While these tips are not extraordinary, having these simple evening to-do’s help keep my mornings somewhat smooth. And, I can roll with the punches a bit better when life throws something unexpected my way.

Do you take some time in the evening to plan for the next day? What do you do? What routines have you put in place to get yourself and your family out the door without too much craziness? Tell me your tips and strategies!

 


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. 

Three Keys to Collaboration

When we enter the workplace, many of us want to take ownership of our position and its inherent challenges. But any successful leader will tell you that working alone will get you nowhere. If you truly desire your personal success to be transformational and have a greater effect, then you need to be willing to work with others, develop a team, and share both the successes and failures.

These three concepts will help you understand how to develop collaboration within your organization. Making sure you and your colleagues “play nice with each other” and work toward a common goal is the best way to achieve a desired goal.

Trust

It does not always matter what a person’s motivations are; that’s not for you to discern. What you need to be concerned with is moving the project and the organization forward. If you can engage and excite, you’re winning half the battle.

If you have a decent team, then nobody working in it wants the organization to fail. They may have different skill sets, experiences or competencies, but everyone at their core wants to succeed and be part of a “winning” team. Entrust and build onto that foundation, which can be extremely powerful — but be strategic and identify who are the key members of your team for the task at hand.

Communication

Invite others into your world of ideas. Tell them what you are working on, and don’t try to jealously guard it. It is within this initial communication that you can learn quite a bit about opportunities to collaborate to produce a more powerful product. It is also through communicating a concept that you are able to develop and mold an idea.

But you also have to listen. The person you have shared with might have some powerful and appropriate feedback for your project. They may even be working on something quite similar, and so it is worthwhile to sit silently and hear what another party thinks — because, again, you both are interested in the organization’s success.

Professional Empathy

Effective communication also creates something that is vital to continued effective collaboration: professional empathy. It allows you to understand what other people’s jobs and skills are, even if it isn’t in your wheelhouse. This allows you to identify key colleagues for you to work with depending on what your current project is and also makes it easier for you to understand how to work with different individuals.

Be considerate, kind, and willing to do the work and you will successfully move your project forward and be a transformational member of your organization.


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.

Leadership Lessons from the Alamo

Leadership Lessons from the AlamoAlamoBattlePaintingTexasStateLibraryNArchives

The Alamo fell after a 13-day siege March 6, 1836 — 182 years ago this month. All of the defenders were killed, though many historians believe that a few survived the fighting and were later executed on the order of General Santa Anna. These included Jim Bowie, William Travis, and Davy Crockett. The total number of Mexican casualties is unknown. Santa Anna claimed only 70 of his men were killed, but there are a number of accounts by other soldiers and inhabitants of the city that suggest over 400 were killed in the fighting. Susanna Dickinson (the wife of an Alamo defender), her infant daughter, as well as Colonel Travis’ slave Joe survived and were released by Santa Anna.

There are numerous leadership lessons/insights that can be taken from the siege and battle but let me provide five:

The importance of the leader’s vision. Every organization needs a vision that defines where the organization is going. One of the most important tasks of any leader is not only to articulate his/her vision but also to emphasize it when speaking to the members of his/her team. An effective vision must provide clarity of purpose and be communicable, comprehensive, and transformational.

Stephen Austin is in many ways the father of Texas. He arrived in 1822 and accepted a land grant from the Mexican government. He fulfilled the requirements to become a Mexican citizen and guaranteed the same for the other immigrants that accompanied him. Over the next decade he would encourage other Americans to settle in Texas and would become a leader of independence. Later in his life Austin would say:

“The greatest consolation I ever expect to derive from my labors in the wilderness of this province will arise from the conviction that I have benefitted many of my fellow beings, and laid the foundation for the settlement of one of the finest countries in the world.”

How do you identify future leaders? This is a real challenge for any leader. The leaders at the Alamo and for the entire Texas revolution were somewhat surprising. Jim Bowie had been accused of being a land swindler and being involved in the slave trade. It is alleged that he was a friend of Jean Lafitte’s — the pirate! William Travis had abandoned his wife in Alabama and fled to Texas. She would later follow to divorce him. Davy Crockett was a famous frontiersman and Congressman, but prior to coming to Texas in 1836 Crockett would lose a reelection campaign. Prior to leaving Tennessee, he allegedly told some of his constituents, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas!” Sam Houston was not at the Alamo but would lead the Texas revolutionary army to success at the Battle of San Jacinto. Houston had been governor of Tennessee but resigned after his wife deserted him. He became an alcoholic and returned to live with the Cherokees where he had spent time as a boy. He had come to Texas to make a new start in 1832 and after the success of the revolution became the first President of the Republic of Texas.

The selection and development of the next generation of leaders in any organization may be the most important task of any leader. Most organizations depend on resumes and interviews that are largely focused on what an individual has accomplished in their career to that point. But the Alamo suggests that Peter Drucker, the internationally renowned management consultant, was correct when he said, “experience only matters if you believe the future will look like the past.” The hiring and promotion process must include some consideration of individual competence, but it also must include an examination of potential, interest, drive, ethics, etc.

Critical thinking. Effective leaders should always challenge the implicit and explicit assumptions of their organizations. He/she must constantly be reminded that critical thinking is important to the success or failure of the organization. This is the leader’s ability to receive information, evaluate the information, recall prior relevant information, assimilate the information by comparing differences and determining cause/effect, and evaluating the information in order to make timely decisions and solve problems.

The Texans assumed Santa Anna would not lead an army into Texas until late spring. But the Mexican president surprised them by leading his army across 300 miles of difficult terrain during a bitter winter. Colonel Travis, commander of the Alamo, ignored reports from his Texcano scouts that the Mexican Army approached. Santa Anna might have totally surprised the Texans had a rainstorm not bogged down his advance a scant eight miles from San Antonio. All leaders must keep in mind that despite their best plans and efforts their competition or opponent also “gets a vote.” As you make decision and adjust your plans, they can do so as well.

Diversity on the team can be a strength. We often think or talk about the defenders of the Alamo as “Texans.” This is inaccurate. Half of the 180 defenders came from the southern portion of the United States and twenty from the North. 29 were from Tennessee. Many were not Americans including a number of Texcanos (Mexicans who had chosen to fight for independence). Forty came from Great Britain (eleven of them were Irish). There were a few Germans and one Dane.

Successful leaders realize that there is strength in diversity. But diversity is often times not just ethnicity or race. It also includes the number of men and women as well as sexual orientation. Diversity can also be considered for the various generations that are on the team from the Baby Boomer to the Millennial. Diversity allows an organization to draw on differing perspectives and insights. Furthermore, diverse organizations frequently have an advantage in terms of innovation and new ideas. But this requires leadership that, beyond underscoring the importance of diversity, emphasizes the requirement to help members of the team learn both the importance of diversity as well as the need for team harmony in order to be effective.

The power of communications. Communications is fundamental to leadership and is a skill that leaders can develop. Modern leaders must deal with multiple forms of communication — written, oral, telephone, email, social media, etc. The effective leader must decide which is appropriate for each situation. At a minimum, the leader must frequently communicate the organization’s mission, vision, and values to all of the members of his/her team.

By February 24, 1836 Colonel William Travis realized that the situation at the Alamo was becoming increasingly desperate. He sent a famous letter to the convention of Texas patriots that were meeting at Washington-on-the-Brazos. In the letter Travis describes the mounting threat the overwhelming Mexican force poised to the defenders and requested reinforcements. He concludes the letter with the famous line “Victory or Death!” A rider departed the Alamo under the cover of darkness that evening and delivered it to the convention. By March 16 the letter and Travis’ final words had spread across Texas to New Orleans and from there across the United States. It would become a rallying cry for Texas independence.

On March 6, 2018 I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on this famous battle that occurred nearly two centuries ago, the men who died, and the lessons we can learn. Some historians argue this was one of the most important battles in the 19th century. The Battle of the Alamo allowed time for the Texas Army to prepare and eventually defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto roughly a month later. This resulted in the creation of the Republic of Texas that would join the United States in 1845. The subsequent war with Mexico ended not only with an American victory, but the United States expanded its territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This relatively small battle and the efforts of the 180 defenders of the Alamo set the stage for the establishment of the continental United States.


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.

A Personal 25-Cent Bastion of Immortality

There are approximately 31.5 billion quarters circulating throughout our nation’s economy at last count, give or take several million. That is a lot of exposure for the person whose face appears on the “heads side.” Wouldn’t it be nice, even gratifying if our picture was on a quarter: A personal 25-cent bastion of immortality?

George Washington has held the place of honor since 1932. Today, among Americans, that name is almost cliché. Nationally, we are0_zps62325776 so accustomed to his generic description, “Father of Our Country” that we eclipse what the man, the icon, did to get on the quarter. Here’s a hint: You must be good before you become an icon. You must be extremely good, perhaps even sublime, to get on a quarter.

There is a recipe for making it on money, which requires three ingredients. First, live during a crisis period for America. Second, be a leader who can tame the crisis and bring the country through the period better than it was before. Finally, possess fortitude, which surmounts complacency, when complacency is the easiest most risk-free answer to the crisis.

Time we cannot control. If we are lucky enough, or unlucky enough, to live through a desperate crisis, we check off this ingredient of the formula. But, that is the easy part. It’s nothing more than fate and a birthday.

Strong, visionary leadership is the key precious quality, the rare second ingredient. What makes Washington human is he did not possess these leadership qualities when he became the commander of the Continental Army. But he developed as a leader, learning from his mistakes and from others.

So what is it Washington did that a hundred other leaders who lived through the American Revolution did not do equally well? Let’s convert his situation into one that makes sense to us now. Imagine George Washington is alive today and owns a franchise fast food restaurant: McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King—whatever. He has 20 employees. One morning when he opens up, only three employees show up for work. The same day, he learns a major competitor is building a restaurant directly across the street. Making things worse, George finds out his manager is going to work for this new competitor.

A month later, three of his missing employees come back to work. He must accept them back because good help is scarce. Now he has six people for all shifts. George’s staff is a far cry from his normal 20 employees and can barely keep his doors open for business. He promotes a new manager, but this person does not like work and spends the day reading newspapers in the break area.

Compounding Washington’s troubles, the franchise home office wants to pull his franchise rights and give them to one of his ex-employees. Finally, the black coup de grace: The bank will not extend credit so he can replace his worn out kitchen equipment.

Pretend for a moment we are George Washington, sitting in his office late one night, reviewing the present crisis. What would we think? What would we do? The natural inclination is, “This is hopeless!” Perhaps a “For Sale” might appear in front of the restaurant?

This is exactly the kind of situation George Washington faced entering the winter of 1776. Yet George took the crisis and converted it into a fifty-store powerhouse: the United States. Washington’s Army around New York numbered roughly 20,000 during the summer of 1776. By Christmas, his force was just over 3,000. He had limited supplies, few supporters within Congress and no financial backing. Others were machinating behind his back to replace him. His British foe outnumbered him more than 3-to-1. The situation was desperate. Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River is more than a quaint painting. It is the defining moment in American history.

By strength of will alone, this one man saved the American Revolution. This is not a gross simplification or exaggeration. It is fact. Without a leader of Washington’s mettle, we might still sing “Rule Britannia” before sporting events instead of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Best case, America would still be sending teams to the Commonwealth Games. Washington was the embodiment of the Stocksdale Paradox: “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end while confronting the most brutal facts.” This kind of unique, intense commitment gets your face on a quarter. It also results in two terms as president, and the title “Father of Our Country.”

Most would quit when faced by seemingly insurmountable odds. Not George. He possessed a vision for America, a dream he held more dearly than money or his life. He was not about to mortgage that dream cheaply.

The final ingredient for our recipe is willingness to lead when others defer. Washington was a wealthy man, a self-made businessman. He could easily have sat out the American Revolution and kept his portfolio safe. But his vision allowed no room for complacency. He gambled his property, his career and his life by leading the American army. Had the Revolution failed, Washington and dozens of patriots would surely have paid with their lives. Complacency was the easy answer, viewing the risk/reward equation. For George Washington, there was never a question. He placed country above self-interest and partisan posturing…imagine that. Others that aspired to usurp Washington ultimately showed their mettle was far inferior to his. We are indeed fortunate for his perseverance. It made Washington the indispensible man in American history.

Rarefied people like Washington exist today, poised and waiting for the next generation quarter. God forbid, a national crisis should provide the forum needed for greatness. Unfortunately for most, crisis usually means suffering and sacrifice. When it ends, all earn a share of glory once the country emerges on the “other side,” made of stronger tempered steel. But, in the end, the person who leads us to the other side through the crisis, gets their picture on a quarter.


J. Mark Jackson is the Territory Manager for the state of Florida, a writer, leadership consultant and trainer, and a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, where he provided training and mentorship to 350 Afghan soldiers.

Daily Dose of Wellness

Diamond6 Wellness Calendar: January 2018

[Click the image above to access a high-res, downloadable image.]

 


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. 

Nimble Organizations Embrace and Adapt to Change

The National Football League recently held its annual rookie draft in Philadelphia. It was a life-changing opportunity for many young men. Only a handful of those selected in the draft will go on to have lengthy and successful NFL careers. Before the draft, teams looked at all the measurable factors of the potential draft picks, including height, weight, and speed. However, they also looked for intangibles, such as attitude, ability to respond to stressful situations, and work ethic.

When we think about successful leaders and organizations, there are key success factors that are identifiable and can help us predict business performance. There are also intangible factors that contribute to success and aren’t easily measured or apparent at a surface level. Responding to change falls into that second category. How we deal with and manage change is a key success factor in organizational performance. Nimble organizations and leaders that can pivot and adapt to change will have a positive impact and position themselves for success.

Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations face significant changes related to the economy, technology, customer/stakeholder expectations, and an evolving workforce. The ability to fulfill the missions of our organizations and to be financially sustainable is becoming more complicated. As organizations confront these challenges, it is important to remain nimble and responsive.

The following set of best practices are focused on how organizations and their leaders can adapt to change and remain nimble in a changing environment:

  • Practice continuous improvement
    • Teach, learn, and model key behaviors
    • Create positive individual and organizational habits
  • Manage your response to change
    • Understand your paradigms and blind spots
    • Recognize that to be nimble you must have engaged leaders and staff
  • Stay true to your vision and values
    • Do not sacrifice who you are to become someone or something else
    • Strive for positive growth

The following questions can help leaders focus on continuous improvement:

  • What are your key success factors and metrics?

  • What organizational and personal habits do you need to add or eliminate?

  • With whom should you connect or build stronger relationships?

We all recognize that change is inevitable. But you can be a game changer by focusing on positive improvements, acknowledging and addressing barriers and challenges, facilitating continuous learning and growth throughout the organization, and paying attention to coworkers, family, friends, and your community.

Paying attention to your customers, community, and staff through the development of open and systematic communications channels will help you to adapt and grow during times of change. The ability to respond to change in a systematic and timely manner is characteristic of successful and sustainable organizations and their leaders.

Reprinted with permission from the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


John Park, Ph.D., Baker Tilly

John, a director with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, focuses on leadership development, emotional intelligence, and strategic planning.

 

Quick Feet, Clear Minds

QUICK FEET, CLEAR MINDS

Three Ways Walking Meetings Can Make You Happier at Work

As you may have heard, at Diamond6 we are calling October “Walking Meeting Month.”

You have surely heard about the health benefits of walking meetings. I wrote about them briefly in my last article: Killer Chairs: The Sitting Prognosis. Getting up from our desks regularly throughout the day can have benefits for our weight, heart, blood pressure, and even blood sugar levels.

I am incredibly impatient and I like to see results….like yesterday. So, while all the studies on how walking will help prevent heart disease in 20+ years, those facts are not always effective motivation for me to step away from my email. Can you relate?

What I do know is that how we feel is something we can gauge immediately. That can be much more motivating for an instant gratification person like myself. And who doesn’t want to feel better?

Instead of droning on about the obvious PHYSICAL benefits, I want to share with you how walking meetings can help you and your employees’ MENTAL health. Specifically, how incorporating walking meetings can make you happier at work.

So, in brief, are three ways walking meetings can lift spirits in the office: 

1. Moving Makes You Happy: The exact physiological reason why exercise improves mood is still being studied. However, research has shown that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression and possibly even prevent it in the first place. We have all felt the happy high after getting a good workout in at the gym, going for a run, or riding a bike – we’ve done our own research! But, it doesn’t take a 1-hour Zumba class to turn a frown upside down. A 10-minute brief, brisk walk around the office can do the same. 

2. Sunshine Smiles: Vitamin D has long been known to play a vital role in bone health. Now, researchers have found that many part of the brain have vitamin D receptors. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and other mental health problems. Sure, you can take vitamin D supplements but they aren’t as effective for mood as getting it straight from the source – the sun. So, if you can, hit the pavement or the track and soak up a little sunshine and give you brain a little happy vitamin boost. Check out the Vitamin D Council for more information on this important vitamin and how to get enough of it.

3. Connection, Purpose, Value: A workforce that feels a social connection to one another has a united purpose and feels valued. And obviously, those people would feel pretty darn happy at work! Getting out from behind your desk to walk and meet with employees and colleagues removes the physical barrier of your desk, creating a more open and connected conversation. Aside from having a more relaxed work meeting you also have the opportunity to get to know someone on a more personal level. This can require some vulnerability on the part of the leader. However, when you have the courage to be yourself and show you deeply care about those who work for you, you will create a safe, productive, and happier workplace. This story about the founder of a tech startup is a perfect illustration of how creating connection can be the key to making an organization succeed.


Tanya McCausland, Chief Operating Officer

Tanya is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Bauman College in Berkeley, CA and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.