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The Cost of Distrust

Posted at 7:30 AM on Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm working on training materials for a Client - materials that I will deliver next week.  As I prepared some notes on trust - a topic I have facilitated learning on many times - I was thinking about the opposite of trust (distrust) and was reminded of this quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

 “Our distrust is very expensive."

Knowing that part of what I am going to teach is that trust is, in part, a verb (something that we do), it made me want to personalize Ralph's thought.

"My distrust is very expensive."

Thinking about distrust as a verb and in the first person puts the responsibility where it belongs - on us.

Which leads us to some important questions in all parts of our lives, including as a leader.  Consider these questions as your personal leadership development activity for the day:

Who do I distrust?

Why?

What is it costing me, my team, my relationships, and/or our organization?

What can I do to lessen the cost, change the distrucst into trust or otherwise imporve the situation?

These questions can be applied to all parts of our lives, and if you are like me, the answers will be illuminating.

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A Leadership Litany - Reasons for Leaders to be Thankful

Posted at 6:52 AM on Thursday, November 26, 2009


As leaders, we have many reasons to be grateful and to give thanks.  I've written alot about gratitude and giving thanks over the years, but on this Thanksgiving morning, I am thinking specifically about my role as a leader and all I have to be thankful for.

It is written in first person on purpose.  Please read it as if you wrote it, rather than casually observing it in third person.  It won't be perfect for youbut I hope it spurs you to adjust and add to the list for yourself.  So put on your leadership hat and read on.

. . . . . . .

As a leader, I am thankful for so many things . . .

 . . . for my team.  Without a team, I'm not able to learn and lead and make a difference.  They are part of the reason, source of some of the challenges and more of the joy.

 . . . for Customers.  These people pay the bills and allow us to do what we do.  You call call them whatever you want, but  without those to serve, there is no need to lead.

 . . . for opportunity.  Sometimes we make opportunities and sometimes they are given to us.  I am thankful for every leadership opportunity, even when they don't look like one at first.

 . . . for responsibility.  There is no question that leadership is a responsibility - some days there is more than I wish I had!  But with responsibility comes rewards and a chance to grow towards my potential.

 . . . for peers. They provide support, encouragement, and an example for me.  They make life easier and more fun.

 . . . for mentors.  Some I knew or know well, some are unknowing mentors.  Each has provided me examples, encouragement and more.

 . . . for thought leaders.  Carnegie, Drucker, Peters.  Kouzes, Posner, Bennis.  Roesler, Bock, Say.  This list is impossibly incomplete, but my gratitude is overwhleming.

 . . . for learning.  This goes beyond the mentors and thought leaders for in the end, I must make new ideas, techniques and approaches my own.

 . . . for goals.  They are the life blood of a leader.  If there are no goals, where are we leading? 

 . . . for ideas. For ideas give us new ways, approaches and opportunites to reach our goals.

 . . . for energy.  To produce the human capacity for growth, change and a better chance we can change the world.

 . . . for purpose.  Which gives me reason to do what  do, gives me focus to keep me on track, and reminds me what really matters.

 . . . for values.  To keep me grounded, and reminding me that from these foundational ideas come my strength, abilities and many of the other things on this list.

 . . . for family.  For without them all of the goals, effort and time wouldn't be worth it.

 . . . for God.  Who made all the rest possible and who has given me more blessings than I can even fathom.


I'm sure my short litany won't cover all of your list. It is my hope that it inspires you to stop, be thankful, and add to it as appropriate. If you feel led to add to this list in a comment, I, and everyone else that reads this, will be thankful too.

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The Myth of Lucky Leaders

Posted at 5:56 AM on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It doesn't matter what endeavor you want to consider, you will find people ascribing the success of others to luck.  I'm sure you have noticed this too.  It goes something like this. . .

People get to talking about someone who has achieved at high levels (typically in a field they care about, or in a job that is highly valued) and eventually the conversation will turn to the lucky breaks they received, the people they already knew, where/when they were born or the good fortune in their personal genetic makeup.

All of these conversations occur because it is easier for people to ascribe the success of others to luck than to assume they themselves simply didn't work hard enough or do the things necesary to achieve similar success themselves.

This phenomenon doesn't just occur  when people speal of actors or athletes - similar arguments are used to explain the rise of certain individuals to leadership roles, including "they got promoted to supervisor over me because they were lucky."

While small advantages or opportunities do arise for many on their road to success, wise achievers (including leaders) understand the real definition of luck:

Labor
Under
Correct 
Knowledge

Astute leaders recognize this and use this definition of luck every day.  They continually take action, using the best techniques and approaches they can, knowing that when they take action they are ahead of those who don't, and knowing that when those actions are wise, based on the best information, strategies and approaches, they bring themselves the best chance for success, and yes, perhaps as others see it; luck.

The best leaders use this approach not only for themselves, but as a ongoing lesson in action for others. They teach others the value of being proactive.  They develop others to know and use the best approaches and techniques.  By this definition they manufacture luck for those they lead.

This is a lesson for all leaders - whether you are in executive leadership, or striving for your initial supervisory position.  Beyond leadership it applies to all parts of our lives.

The closest thing you will find to your own personal four-leaf clover or rabbit's foot is to:

Labor
Under
Correct
Knowledge

If you are looking for an ongoing source of correct knowledge to apply in your leadership development efforts, please consider our Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever - which will provide you with a tremendous amount of best practice information as well as offer you an opportunity to get on an ongoing path of continual improvement.

A final note.  As I laid in bed this morning, pondering a blog post, this idea of Labor Under Correct Knowledge came to me.  As I sit here writing it now, I wonder if I created it or my subconscious found it in my memory bank.  If you have read this somewhere else, please leave me a comment.  It is not my intention to steal someone else's great idea, simply to keep us all clear of our personal responsibility for any and all success we achieve as leaders.

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A Leadership Primer on Celebrations

Posted at 9:38 AM on Friday, October 02, 2009

This is the second in my series of 16 posts of things I've learned in 16 years in business. (you can read the introductory explanation here).

......

In talking with leaders over the years, I've noticed that most seem to struggle with celebrations.

Some struggle with when to celebrate. Some struggle with why they should. And some don't have a struggle because they don't celebrate at all. (Here the struggle is for those they lead!)

Unlike many other leadership topics, there doesn't seem to be much of a consensus on the topic. People range from one end of the spectrum to the other - from we don't need a reason to celebrate to we don't have time to celebrate.

This article is meant to address some of the questions and challenges, and perhaps provide some balance to the discussion.

Why We Should Celebrate

Celebrations in general (forget about the workplace for a minute) typically are organized to recognize, reward, rejuvenate, relax and/or to have some real fun. Because we are human beings at work, we need to remember that all of these reasons have validity on the job too.

You've heard the old axiom that says people spend more time at work than they do with their families? Guess what, unless you work with your family, it's true.

So, if celebration is at some level a human need, why wouldn't we incorporate that into work?

Too new-agey or humanistic for you? Let me be more bottom-line for you:

Properly done, celebrations will improve morale, improve productivity, reduce stress, reduce turnover and improve Customer Service.

If you are in the "we don't need to celebrate" camp, any one of these should be reason enough to reconsider. Taking them all together should make it an easy call.

Why We Don't Celebrate

I hear many reasons for not celebrating on the job. Here's a partial list:

  • We haven't succeeded yet.

  • We haven't reached the goal yet.

  • The project isn't finished yet.

  • Nothing happened

  • I expected we'd make that target.

  • We don't have time.

  • We don't have the resources.

  • No one wants to celebrate.

  • No one will organize it.

  • No one really cares.

  • It's no big deal.

  • We are here to work, not to celebrate.

Some are more valid than others.

As leaders I know you can be creative enough to overcome those that are self-imposed limitations. The next time you hear (or say) a rationale for not celebrating, take a step back and decide if it's a valid reason or simply an excuse.

Did you notice the one word that shows up in many of them - yet? "Yet" highlights a big gray area; few people will actually say they are against celebration - they just set the bar so high that none ever happen! (Keep that idea in mind as you read on.)

When We Should Celebrate

This is where many people get stuck. They realize the value, but either over do it (celebrate because it's Tuesday afternoon) or under do it (it takes something amazing before we celebrate).

The key is to find a balance between those two ends of the spectrum. Here are some questions to help you determine when to celebrate, and if you have a "good enough" reason to do so.

  • Do people realize how much they are appreciated?

  • Do people realize how much they have achieved?

  • Are people overly stressed?

  • Do people need some perspective on the progress they are making?

  • Would you like to bring people together?

  • Could a celebration help me communicate any important messages more effectively?

  • Do we just need to have a little fun?

Remember that celebrations can be for achieving a goal, but they don't have to be!

The real decisive point about when to celebrate (and how to do it) is this question:

  • Will people appreciate and enjoy the celebration?

Consider this a leadership primer on celebrations.

It's likely I haven't answered all of your questions or solved all your dilemmas about celebrations (that wasn't my goal), but I hope I have given you some tools and some things to think about.

If I achieved that, I can celebrate.

Potential Pointer: Remarkable leaders recognize the value of celebrations and make time to celebrate the achievements and successes of their team.

Remarkable leaders also look at all parts of their role and all the ways they can contribute to success. And with success comes the chance to celebrate! One of the best ways to increase success is as a member of The Remarkable Leadership Learning System - a one skill at a time, one month at a time approach to becoming a more confident and successful leader. Get two complimentary months of that unique system as part of Kevin Eikenberry's Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever.

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Being the Leader You Were Meant to Be

Posted at 7:35 AM on Monday, October 27, 2008

All of us can be leaders. You can be a (Remarkable) leader. I've said it, and written it, but I'm not the first (and I won't be the last - Seth Godin talks about this idea extensively in his new book Tribes).

It doesn't matter what I write, what Seth writes or what we believe. It only matters what you believe.

Are there people that you know that seem to have some leadership skills you don't have? Of course. We all can look at others and envy or look up to them. But what is missing in this mis-placed jealousy, is that we are blind to the natural gifts that we bring to the table.

You have, in the unique bundle of DNA that makes you who you are, the potential to become a Remarkable leader. You job is to believe in that potential, recognize it when you find it, affirm it, and grow it.

Growing it can happen with a mentor, with coaching, from reading, from taking a workshop, and many other ways. But in the end, growing your unique leadership gifts comes from practice. Practice the right things with the right guidance, and you will become a great leader.

This doesn't mean you will become like your leadership model; be that John F. Kennedy, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or your father. You cannot be them, but just as importantly, they can't be you.

If you buy my idea, do these two things right now (do them even if you don't agree with me):

1. Look in the mirror today and begin to believe that you can be a highly effective leader.
2. Go watch this quick video by Gary Vaynerchuk as he talks about being you - it is well worth the 2:37 time investment.

After all, you are worth it.

Also posted in Leadership.

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Which Presidential Candidate Is the Best Leader?

Posted at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, October 08, 2008

There are many criteria we can use to vote for a particular candidate. I'm most interested in one of those criteria - which candidate, Barack Obama or John McCain, do you feel has the strongest leadership skills?

Please share your ideas by voting on our Presidential Leadership survey. You will have the chance to compare each candidate on 12 leadership competencies from my book Remarkable Leadership. Cast your vote and request the results which we will share in a Special Report on October 16th, invite everyone else you know to vote as well!

I'll be providing updates and additional information over the next few days.

Also posted in Leadership.

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Communicate Powerfully By Talking Straight

Posted at 8:27 AM on Tuesday, October 07, 2008

As our election grows ever closer, I continue to watch the candidates, watching for lessons that we can apply as leaders everyday. In conversations recently with friends and colleagues I have mentioned that I believe both candidates would be better served by talking straight, even if it means acknowledging the similarities between their positions.

While we as leaders don't find ourselves under the intense scrutiny of millions, I believe the same is true for us.

Talk to people. Tell them what you are thinking. Tell them if you aren't sure on something. Tell them the future is complex. Let them know that you care. Acknowledge other opinions. Create opportunities for understanding.

I believe that if one of the candidates would really do this, they would gain many votes. Much more importantly for all of us as leaders is that we can and must do this.

Talking straight builds trust, confidence and understanding. We do not need to talk only in sound bites - we can explain things clearly. Talking straight - honestly and authentically is one way to communicate more powerfully.

And communicating powerfully is a hallmark skill of Remarkable Leaders.

Also posted in Leadership.

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Work Matters and Leadership Matters

Posted at 3:15 PM on Monday, September 15, 2008

I was fortunate to be a guest on Nan Russell's Work Matters radio show recently. That show is now available online to listen or download as a podcast.

My interview begins about half way through the show, and I believe, is one of the best I have given to date on leadership, learning what it means to be a Remarkable Leader.

I hope you will listen, and share it with others.

Also posted in Leadership, Learning, and Training

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How Not to Spread Your Ideas

Posted at 8:05 AM on

"A poem is no place for an idea."

- Edgar Watson Howe

This quotation isn't a slam on poems. But the audience of poem readers is (relatively) small.

If you have an idea that you want to spread, it must be shared in places where people will see it, hear it, read it and talk about it.

What is your idea?

How are you sharing it?

Don't hide it, expose it. Don't whisper it, shout it. Make it real, make it accessible, and make it happen!

Also posted in Leadership.

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7-7-07

Posted at 4:53 PM on Saturday, July 07, 2007


Along with being a date that many weddings are taking place, that I'm sure every casino is at capacity, and being the 30th birthday of my cousin Amy (she was born on 7/7/77), today I have a small celebration too.

At the beginning of the year we created a special report called: 7-7-7 to Start Your 2007: 7 articles, 7 blog posts and 7 resource recommendations to help Unleash Your Leadership Potential in 2007. In honor of today, it seemed fitting to make that available for free again (it was offered for free to subscribers of Unleash Your Potential at the start of the year).

Here's your chance to enjoy this special report at the "lucky" price of . . . free!

Enjoy it!

Also posted in Leadership, Learning and Training.

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Freedom!

Posted at 7:39 AM on Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Today we in the United States celebrate the 231st anniversary of our Declaration of Independence. In essence, we celebrate our freedom. While declaring independence, the 56 signers of that document were, at the same time, declaring their interdependence to each other.

This paradox is not unlike the one we face in our organizations today. People want to be independent - able to make decisions and chart their career course, and yet there is more interdependence than ever - to team members, job sharing partners, collaborators, global partners and much more.

I believe the great message for us in this day, outside of pride and patriotism is not about independence, but about freedom. The freedom to choose.

The greatest freedoms afforded to citizens of the United States are the freedoms to choose, including choices like where and how to worship, where to live, what to say and what to think. It is from these freedoms that much of our national power and influence have arisen.

We can take this lesson to our organizations. Offer greater freedom. Give people more choices, offer more options. If as a leader you feel this will create chaos, you are correct at one level - some times things in the United States are a bit chaotic! But just as with my country - when the goals and objectives are clear - whether it is healing an area torn by disaster, helping friends in need, or consolidating our hearts and minds behind any cause - that freedom of choice creates creative solutions, greater engagement and fantastic results.

In our organizations we must have a clear mission - a purpose for existing that motivates and inspires those within. With this clear purpose, offering great freedom of choice won't create greater chaos - it will create create greater results.

Also posted in Leadership and Teamwork.

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Best Leadership Blog Update

Posted at 5:25 PM on Monday, July 02, 2007

With just a couple of days to go (the poll closes at Midnight ET July 6th) on our search to determine the best leadership blog as of June/July 2007, the race is close.
The Top Three as of this moment are:

Leading Blog - Building Community Leaders by Michael McKinney Leadership Turn by Jonathan Farrington
Slow Leadership by Carmine Coyote
...and the top two are neck and neck.

There has been some great conversation amongst some very smart bloggers, like Ken Flowers, Troy Worman and Phil Gerbyshak. I'd encourage you to check out their posts (and the sites they've suggested could be added to the list) and the comments that have been generated.

Then either add your two cents to their posts, or come back here and share your thoughts.
Thanks to them and everyone who has voted so far.

If you haven't, what are you waiting for?

Also posted in Leadership, Learning and Training

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What is the Best Leadership Blog?

Posted at 6:30 AM on Friday, June 15, 2007

I've asked myself that question in the past, and wondered what other people thought. So I took note of my personal list and had a member of my team (Thanks Erica!) scour the web for more to consider. After review and discussion, we landed on the following ten as our contenders, as of June 2007, for the Best Leadership Blog (in the galaxy?).
Leadership Turn by Jonathan Farrington
Management Craft by Lisa Haneberg
Mick's Leadership Blog by Mick Yates
Slow Leadership by Carmine Coyote
Talking Story by Rosa Say
Three Star Leadership Blog by Wally Bock

If you are a reader of one ore more of these blogs, you might already know which one you want to vote for. If you aren't familiar with these ten sites, what a better reason to visit them than to help determine the Best Leadership Blog of 2007 winner?

If you investigate and vote, you will not only gain invaluable insights and ideas from reading these blogs, you will also be entered to win the Remarkable Leadership Volume 1 - CD Set! This set is valued at over $550 and includes a total of 6 tele-seminars with me, 6 interviews with other leadership experts and much more.
The winning blog will have bragging rights, an award logo to place on their blog, be granted the championship trophy (ok, there isn't a trophy) and receive a package of gifts from us at The Kevin Eikenberry Group.

I hope you will vote and I hope you will check back here for updates on progress. The polls close on July 6th so vote today!


Also posted in Leadership, Learning, Teamwork and Training

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Leadership Development, Delivered to You

Posted at 8:19 AM on Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I am happy to formally announce our Remarkable Leadership Learning System! This is a virtually delivered ongoing leadership development product unlike anything else in existence! We have been delivering it for several months with a select group of customers and are now opening it up to the world.

Rather than telling you all about it here in the blog(though I'm sure I will be saying more about it in future posts), I encourage you to check out the information and great goodies here.

Also posted in Leadership, Learning and Training.

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Championship Leadership

Posted at 7:27 AM on Friday, February 09, 2007

I've been home most all of this week and have had the chance to enjoy the local media coverage of "our" Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts. From a leadership perspective it has been interesting to watch and listen to the coverage of a coach who does things in a different way than many other football coaches.

While much of what has been written about the calm demeanor and overall approach of Tony Dungy is interesting and valuable to consider, perhaps the most telling thing I heard was from Peyton Manning, the MVP Quarterback who thanked his coach at the victory rally on Monday night, calling him "our best friend."

Many talk about the need for a split between personal relationships and supervision or leadership. This talk typically revolves around people becoming close friends and then having a hard time being objective about performance or meeting job expectations.

Perhaps there are risks in that closeness, but the rewards of emotional closeness in terms of communication effectiveness, trust building and productivity improvement seem to far outweigh those risks. (And besides, I doubt that Tony Dungy has any problem giving feedback on performance!)

Peyton and his teammates may not invite coach Dungy over for dinner like you might with other best friends, but to be considered a friend as a leader seems like a championship quality to me.

Also posted in Leadership, Learning, and Teamwork

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