The Weekly Reid: 5 Attributes Every Great Leader Needs

While there is no single formula that makes a great leader, there are some traits most great leaders have in common. I work to develop these traits in myself and my team members. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these attributes and if you think I may be missing some.

1.  Calmness

The longer I go in my career, the more I value calmness as a leadership attribute. Things change so fast these days. Our companies are changing. Our technologies are changing. It feels, to me at least, that we are spinning faster and faster. The pace of change can be overwhelming even for the hardened veterans among us.

Calm leadership is more important now than ever. Your team needs you to be stoic when everything around them is chaotic. When a plane goes through sudden turbulence, the first thing passengers do is look at the flight attendants to see if they’re panicking. If the flight attendants are calm, it calms everyone. If the flight attendants blink, everyone panics. Panic and worry are contagious. The same is true at work.

I council the leaders on my team to make calmness an attribute they strive for. It takes practice, but you can develop it – at least outwardly. None of us are immune to a certain degree of worry and panic – I do it all the time on the inside. But I make a point of presenting a calm demeanor, especially when things are chaotic. When my team members look at me, I want them to see someone who is under control, so they in turn, will stay controlled. I want to make the contagion work for good instead of bad.

2.  Clarity

I used to think I was clear in my communication until I started doing performance reviews and terminations on a larger team. I realized in a hurry, that the messages I thought I was communicating to people, were not exactly what they were hearing.

Many of us focus too much on what we think we are saying, and not nearly enough on what our audience is actually hearing. How many times have you left a meeting believing you were crystal clear, only to learn later there was a huge disconnect? It’s happened to me more than I’d care to admit.

How many times have you given someone a negative performance review, only to discover they had no idea there was a problem in the first place? It can be quite vexing for everyone. It’s easy to blame the person on the other side for not listening, but is that really fair?

Your job as a leader, is to be clear with people. To give clear direction. To provide clear feedback. To be honest. There’s a big difference between speaking and communication. What matters most in communication, is that both parties are aligned. With that goal in mind, I have worked over the last few years to make clarity a priority. At first, that meant being a bit robotic. I could be quite clinical when giving direction and feedback. I’d document things. I’d list things clearly. I’d speak in brief, direct language. It felt a bit awkward, but it was effective. It solved the clarity problem. And, over the years, with more practice, I have learned to be clear without being so clinical. It’s become more natural for me and just as effective.   

My advice to leaders is to make clarity your top communication priority. Focus more on what is being heard and less on what you are saying. I realize that sounds a bit odd, but it has worked wonders for me.

3. Objectivity

Long time readers of The Weekly Reid may be bored of me talking about objectivity. I do it a lot, because I have found it to be extremely important in my career. Some leaders struggle to be objective because their passion clouds their judgement. They get locked into a way of thinking. They become rigid. They become blind to alternative ways of thinking. I’m sure you know managers like this. You may even see this tendency in yourself sometimes. When you lose objectivity, you miss opportunities that could be roads to greatness for you and your team.

I’ve had a few unfortunate experiences working with leaders who lacked objectivity. They became unable to see beyond their own perspectives. They became TOO passionate about a program or approach or strategy, and it eroded their performance and credibility. If you’re not careful, a dogmatic allegiance to one way of thinking can chip away at your reputation over time. You want to be viewed as a manager who can take on anything, who can adapt to change – not a one trick pony.

By contrast, the best managers I’ve worked with, were ruthlessly objective. Passionately objective, if you will. They were open to new ideas, counter arguments, input from others. They could embrace being wrong as strongly as they could embrace being right. They took advantage of changes and new perspectives. Their teams were loyal because their ideas were heard.

My recommendation to leaders is to focus on embracing a spirit of objectivity in yourself and inspiring it in your teams. If you want to read more about my views on this subject, check out this blog I wrote a while back:

4 Tips to Move from Director Level to VP Level

4.  Empathy

We hear a lot about empathy these days. To the point where it’s easy to ignore the concept when you see it. I would advise against that. If there was one attribute I would credit most for any success I have had as a leader, it would be empathy.

When you hear the word … “empathy” … most of us hear something very soft. Not me. For me, empathy at work is about taking the perspective of others so you can be effective. When I’m in a negotiation, I’m using empathy to put myself in the other party’s position. When I’m building competitive intelligence, I use empathy to understand why my competition is behaving the way they are. When I’m developing people, I use empathy to discover the best possible ways to motivate my team members.

Tactical empathy, as I call it, is one of the most valuable (and underutilized) leadership skills. If you haven’t already, I suggest checking out this blog I wrote on the subject.

The #1 Workplace Mistake I Saw in 2016

My advice is to take empathy more seriously. Develop in yourself. Spend more time placing yourself in the shoes of others, and less time focusing on your own perspective. It has been immeasurably valuable for me and I think it can help you too.

5. Decisiveness

In chaotic times, your team needs you to be decisive. It’s rare that you will ever have all the information you need to be certain about any decision, but you still need to be decisive. That’s one of the great challenges of being a leader. Indecision or waffling from a leader can kill a team faster than just about anything.

I spent many years playing poker at a reasonably high level. That experience taught me to be comfortable making tough decisions based on incomplete information and loosely calculated probabilities and expected returns. In poker, you never know exactly what hand your opponent has, but with some practice and a little math, you can narrow the possibilities down to a range of possible holdings. To be successful at poker, and at work, you need to be able to take whatever information you have, evaluate the probable outcomes of your available options, and make a confident, decisive decision. And then learn to live with the results. You won’t always be right, but if you do it often enough, in the long run, you will come out ahead.

It’s hard for leaders to make confident decisions knowing that some percentage of the time they will be wrong. But the alternative is worse. Not making firm decisions leads to chaos. Your team will lose confidence in you. Your peers will lose respect for you. And you won’t come out any further ahead in the long run anyways.

My advice is to focus on being decisive, even when you don’t have all the information you need. Embrace the concept of making logical, well-formed decisions without perfect information. As it becomes a habit, you’ll get more confident and your team will embrace it too.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of leader I want to be. And as I continue to learn and gain experience, my image of model leadership is evolving. I’d love to hear your thoughts on leadership attributes. What stands out to you? Send me an email or write in the comments to share your experiences.

The Weekly Reid: 2 Success Traps to Avoid at all Costs

There is a school of thought that you should myopically focus on your personal strengths and steer clear of your weaknesses. The idea holds that by doubling down on your strengths and wasting less time dealing with your weaknesses, your path to success accelerates. While I see merit in some of the points behind this philosophy, it has always seemed overly fatalistic to me. As though your path and destiny are inevitable. I don’t see evidence of this in my own life and career. I attribute much of my personal success to acute self-awareness and a constant cycle of reflection and improvement. I’ve played out this cycle over several decades to shore up my weaknesses and build the best possible version of myself.  

Last week I had the chance to sit down with an old friend and fellow coach – a person I admire and respect greatly. We chatted about this very topic and it got me thinking about the success traps I’ve done battle with over the years and my quest to overcome them. Today I’m going to share the two traps I’ve struggled with most. I’d love to hear about the traps that plague you, so we can start working to remedy them together.

1. The Future State Fallacy

Once my divorce is finalized I’ll start working on my business again.

Just as soon as my travel schedule lightens up I’ll get back to writing.

Once I lose 15 pounds I’ll go back to the gym (love this one … lol).

Once things die down a bit, I’ll start doing more regular 1 on 1s with my team members.

If we can just close out this quarter strongly, I’ll start focusing more on my family.

Sound familiar to you?

This mindset – what I call the future state fallacy – is a killer for me. It’s safe to say, my career, my relationships, and my health have suffered greatly because I fall victim to this demon over and over again. Just as soon as I figure out how to solve this one, I can start focusing on being successful (See what I did there?  J ).

Unlike some of the things I write about, where I have struggled with a problem and overcome it, this one is different. I’m still plagued by the future state fallacy. I catch myself in this line of thinking almost every day. “Once I do that, then I can start this.” It’s a trap. And if you’re not careful, it can prevent you from tackling the activities and projects and problems that will most profoundly impact on your life and career.

I have not overcome this one yet. But I can tell you, from years of experimentation and self-reflection, that it is helpful to actively look for the demon and acknowledge its existence. When I see myself heading down this path, I call it out and put a stop to it immediately. That seems to help. The other thing I do is make a weekly list of the biggest, scariest things I need to take on – and I try to act on them right away. Instead of looking for reasons why it makes more sense to wait until some future state to change my behavior, I look for reasons why I should start immediately.

I’d be lying if I told you this is a foolproof method, or that I’ve overcome the challenge. I haven’t, but this mindset does help. If you’re interested in reading more about my views on this subject, check out my recent blog:

Hard Conversations: Why You Need to Have More of Them

I’d love to hear from any of you who have also struggled with the future state fallacy. Share your thoughts and stories in the comments or send me an email so we can learn from each other.

2. Pursuit of the Clean Inbox

Early in your career, when you get one call and only ten emails a day, the pursuit of a clean inbox is possible. But when you get ten calls and two hundred emails a day, this pursuit becomes a trap. The pursuit of the clean inbox is a demon I’ve faced and mostly conquered. And I can tell you it has had an extremely positive impact on my productivity and career success.

Too many of us let our natural desire for order trick us into prioritizing a clean inbox over real productivity and progress towards our most important goals. We get lost in a quest to stay current and in control, and lose sight of our real purpose. It’s easy to do. I did it for years.

Do any of these sound like you?

Answer the phone every time it rings.

Read every email as it comes in.

Check voice mails as soon as they come in.

Never leave work with unread messages.

Constantly cleanup and file inbox items.

On the surface, these behaviors masquerade as virtues. We tell ourselves we’re responsive. We’re on top of things. We feel good because life appears to be in balance. But in my experience, these behaviors are traps. They trick you into favoring responsiveness and order over real productivity. They create the illusion of progress.

The most successful people I know are myopically focused on specific goals, game changing initiatives, big wins. They embrace a certain degree of chaos around them so they can doggedly pursue the activities that will have the biggest impact on their mission and on their success.

There was a time when I struggled mightily with the pursuit of the clean inbox and other time wasting activities. They artificially constrained my success for many years. To overcome it, I adopted a new mindset and a specific set of behaviors designed to keep me focused on high impact pursuits. For example, I start every morning by identifying the big wins I am pursuing and then close each day by writing down the big wins I have achieved. It’s become a habit with many benefits. It keeps me focused on high impact work and it creates positive momentum as I actively make note of my wins on a daily basis. I do the same thing for the team’s I manage. I have found that a focus on wins, with purposeful behaviors to support it, goes a long way to getting you off the pursuit of order and onto the pursuit of progress.

If you find yourself falling into this trap, here’s another blog on the subject you might want to check out.

Why Multi-tasking is a Trap and How to Break Out of It

I hope that was helpful for you. It was certainly therapeutic for me. It’s easy to blame external factors for your problems. We all do it. But I have found it to be much more productive to focus on the internal demons that are limiting my success. More than anything, I have found that an honest acknowledgement of weakness, some healthy self-awareness, and a constant pursuit of improvement have been the biggest contributors to success in my life. I’d love to hear about your experiences so we can move towards success together.

The Weekly Reid: The Best Strategic Planning Template

We waste so much time building slides. It hurts me to think about the countless hours my teams have spent over the years building and rebuilding the same basic slides over and over again. And here I am, Mr. Template (self proclaimed ...) doing nothing about it. Well those days are over. I spent the last two weeks under cover collecting and refining all my favorite strategic planning slides so we can all stop wasting so much time. 

I've assembled 40 of the strategic business slides I use most frequently. You can flip through a handful of them below to give you a sense for what's in the package, but keep in mind that is only a small sample. I've designed these templates so they're visually appealing but really easy to use and edit. Most of them use well designed PowerPoint tables instead of shapes which makes them way easier to use. Instead of spending 3 hours building a presentation for your boss next week, you can spend 15 minutes by using my slide templates. 

If I already had you at "strategic slide templates" and you just want to buy them now and get on with it, click here and use the promo code "SLIDE2018". In the package you'll get 40 strategic slide templates and a fully baked example version to show how I would use them in practice.

Buy the strategic planning template package

If you want to learn a bit more about what's inside the template, I'll outline below.

I've probably built hundreds of strategy and business presentations over the years. I have evaluated hundreds more. And during that time, I've developed a set of slides I always use because they make sense and they work. 

Mission Slides (2 slide templates)

Its good to start every strategic presentation or plan with a reminder of the highest level mission. It provides an anchor point for all plans and strategies. In the strategic planning template, I’ve given a simple template and a visual template to communicate your mission.

Situational Analysis Slides (7 slide templates)

I start every strategic presentation with a review of the current situation. This can include analysis of internal factors like your team or budget as well as external factors like competitors and markets. Situational analysis slides are critical to setting proper context. You can't build an effective plan or presentation without at least one. In the strategic planning template, I’ve provided several slides to use when analyzing the current situation. 

Goals Slides (3 slide templates)

Once you have assessed the situation, you need to communicate your goals in a way that is specific and measurable. Goals are ultimately tied to your mission but should reflect the situational analysis you’ve just done. I’ve given you a few templates for communicating your goals.

Transformation Slides (4 slide templates)

Every company is transforming in some way. Every team is transforming. I find it very useful to use transformation slides in my business presentations. I've built a few of my favorites for you to use in the strategic planning template.

Strategic Initiatives Slides (3 slide templates)

In my experiences this is the most important section of a strategic plan or presentation. Once you’ve identified your goals and desired transformation, you need initiatives to get it done. In this section I’ve given you a few templates to communicate and describe your strategic initiatives in a compelling way.

Comparative Analysis Slides (4 slide templates)

In many business and strategy presentations you will need to compare markets, competitors, features and other attributes. I do it all the time. I've designed four of my favorite slides for comparisons and included in this template.

KPIs and Dashboard Slides (2 slide templates)

You can't have a strategic plan without some sort of measurement dashboard. I use the same basic dashboards in every plan I do and I've included two versions of it for you in this package.

Budget and Resources Slides (2 slide templates)

Most strategic plans need to contemplate resources and budget requirements. I created a couple of simple slide designs that embed excel sheets into them. This makes it way easier for you to edit and adjust based on your specific needs.

Execution Plan Slides (4 slide templates)

Once you've aligned everyone to your strategic and the key initiatives, you need to present a project plan and timeline. Most people spend too much time building these or they try to copy and past something from excel that is not legible. I've included 4 slide designs I use all the time when presenting my execution plans.

Decision Framework Slides (2 slide templates)

How often do you need to decide between two options? All the time, right? I've included a couple of slides I use when I need to get executive alignment or a key decision made between two reasonable options. 

Risks and Request Slides (4 slide templates)

Most good presentations end with a statement of risks and some requests for support or help. I've included 4 of my favorite templates for doing that. They should help you save time in future plans and presentations.

I hope this package is helpful for you and saves you a ton of time. Send me an email and let me know how it goes!

Buy the strategic planning template package

Weekly Reid - How to Develop Leadership that Scales

For the past 10 years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to manage teams of all sizes. From very few to many. I’ve experienced firsthand, the unique challenges that arise at specific inflection points along the way. I’ve shared many of my mistakes and learnings with you. In my journey, the only constant I’ve discovered with certainty, is the need to be humble. Just when you think you’ve mastered the art of management, something changes and you realize how little you really know. There are levels to this thing and those levels are rarely apparent until the next one is staring you in the face.

For all the debates about management styles – collaborative, autocratic, coercive, facilitative, situational – there are not nearly enough about management scale. All styles optimized for managing a team of 2, fail on a team of 20. What works brilliantly managing a team of individual contributors, fails when managing a team of senior leaders with their own teams to manage. Today I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned for building scale into my own leadership style. I hope it will be helpful to you.

1.   Deleverage from You

The most important starting point for leading at scale is to embrace the goal of deleveraging from yourself. Failure to do so will inevitably transform you into a bottleneck to the success of your team. This is a hard one for new leaders. Especially those who have found success up until this point as individual stars. A mindset shift is required.

At a certain point, to be an effective leader on a large scale, you must evolve from being a star in your own right to being an agent for a team of stars. That transformation is harder than it sounds and takes real commitment to execute. There is always a temptation for a manager to dive in and solve problems. To fix things. To save things. To make sure things get done the way you know how. Don’t fall into this trap.

It takes discipline to embrace work from your team that you think is only 90 percent of what you could do yourself. But that is a profitable tradeoff in exchange for scalability. It should go without saying, though it often doesn’t, that a team of 10 people executing at even 70 or 80 percent of what you believe you could do, is more productive than 100% of your personal quality at a scale of one. Yet, so many leaders struggle with this.

If you never give your team the opportunity to operate unburdened by you, you’ll never get the chance to see the truly creative and innovative work that is possible. You will miss out on the opportunity to surpass your own potential. Don’t make this mistake.

My advice to leaders is to deleverage from yourself as early as possible. Your goal, from the outset of management, should be to architect your own irrelevance. If often talk about the best manager I ever knew and how he seemed to do almost nothing. That is the dream. You’ll know you’ve built a scalable team when you no long have anything to do. The good news is, for the career minded managers out there, this is when bigger opportunities and new challenges will be presented to you.

2.   Start by building values and operating principles

Architecting a team to scale means you need to empower people to make good decisions without you. Most teams I observe are not well set up for that. They depend too heavily on one or two leaders to be the source of all judgement and decision making. If you’re not careful, you can inadvertently build a team with no capacity of making well-reasoned decisions without you. I’ve seen entire companies that operate in a leadership vacuum because a controlling leader failed to build the necessary infrastructure for decision making at scale.

As a leader, it can be hard to let go. We all want to empower people to make decisions but we also worry about the consequences of bad ones. When the pressure gets high, we revert to controlling everything. I do this all the time. Like all managers, I am a work in progress. What I have found to be effective is to invest time in building and evangelizing core values and operating principles. Developing a set of principles your team can point to when making key execution decisions. Even though you may not be able to weigh in on each individual decision itself, your values and principles, if developed effectively, can be everything the team needs to make well-reasoned decisions and give you peace of mind in the process.

My advice to leaders is to invest more time building and communicating values and operating principles for your teams. Invest less time making decisions for them. Values can be cultural, but they can also be operational. You should be quite broad in your interpretation of this. For example, I run a marketing team, and we are constantly building campaigns and content that require many decisions and approvals. Rather than make all the decisions about what kind of language and tone our marketing campaigns are written with, I invest upfront to communicate a set of core values and principles for our brand. For example, our language is always smart and fun. We use human imagery whenever we can, and we never use a long fancy word when we could use a short simple one. A very simple set of principles like this can build scale into your model for leadership. Fewer people need to come to me to make decisions now. they have a set of values and principles to point them in the right direction.

3.  Teach models and frameworks

In a similar vein, I try to build scale onto my team my investing more time in teaching the core models and frameworks for the functions I manage. This way I can spend less time investing in day to day approvals and reviews. There are many benefits to leaders and teams in taking this approach. Teaching models is akin to the “teach a man to fish” proverb. Rather than have my team come to me to brainstorm and review messaging every time they are working on a program; I invest time upfront in developing and teaching a model for building messaging that can be applied to most scenarios.

You might be surprised at how few managers invest the time to understand their functions at a deep enough level to be able to build models to support it. If you can do it successfully, you will save yourself countless hours in reviews, you will build confidence in your team members, and the quality and consistency of the work will go up. Moreover, you won’t have to worry so much about key team members potentially leaving. The power will be in the models your team operates on – not in any one person.

The model for messaging I mentioned is just one type of example where investing in frameworks is effective. I do it for everything. As you probably know from my blog, I love building templates. I have templates for annual plans, quarterly updates, strategic plans … everything. By investing time in building templates, I free my team up to be more creative on the substantive things and expend less energy worrying about planning and operational frameworks.  

My advice to leaders is to invest time in building out the models and templates and frameworks for the most important things your team does all the time. Processes, plans, presentations … all of it. These models become a key ingredient in the scalability of your team. They deleverage you or any one individual or group on your team.

Leadership is journey that never ends. The moment you think you’ve got it figured you, you will be shown something that reminds you have far you still must go. In this latest phase of my personal leadership journey, I have been focused on building scale into the teams I lead. I hope this was helpful to you and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Weekly Reid - Your Survey Results and Some Helpful Resources

This week I’ll cover 4 data points that really jumped out at me. In the weeks to come, we'll get way deeper into this and I'll keep sharing the most fascinating results I've found. I don't know about you, but I find it super compelling to see how other people thing. There are some common themes in the data points I've covered this week and I’ve tried to include some helpful content related to them.

Question: What is your primary career goal?

chart 1 for blog.jpg

A couple data points really jumped out at me for this one. The first is that so many of you want to be recognized as an expert in your field. That is a great goal and I’ve definitely found my career trajectory has improved in direct proportion to my reputation as an expert. The second interesting one was how many of you wanted to reach the C-level. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given you’re so invested in improving your careers (and you read this blog :) ) I’ll keep focusing on these subjects and in the meantime, I highly recommend checking out this new video. 

4 Keys to Move from Director to VP Level

Question:  What have been the biggest hurdles to reaching your career goals thus far?

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  Two data points jumped out at me from the responses to this question. 32% of you felt your unwillingness or inability to self-promote was the biggest hurdle to reaching your career goals thus far. And, 26% of you felt office politics was the biggest hurdle. I can completely understand these perspectives and I’m going to keep publishing more content to help you overcome these challenges. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out these two blogs for helpful tips:

How to Work Well with Incompetent Co-workers

5 Things You Can Do Tomorrow to Get Your Career on the Fast Track

Question:  Which of the following is most responsible for your career success so far?

chart 3 for blog.jpg

Many of these responses were not surprising, but I can really see myself in the 23% of you who pointed to "perseverance through hard times" as being largely responsible for your success thus far. The further I go in my career, the more I think perserverance is the number one differentiator between those who ultimately succeed and those who don't. Check out my latest video for my advice on how to bounce back in tough times.

Video – How to Bounce Back from a Career Setback

Question:  What new skill do you think would be most helpful in your future success?

chart 4 for blog.jpg

An overwhelming number of you (43%) pointed to “improved ability to promote myself at work” as the key skill to achieving future success. That is by far the most popular question I get asked by my employees and coaching clients. It’s a critical skill we all need to focus on more. I recently filmed a video on building up your professional brand which I think will be helpful. I’ll also look to publish a blog in the next few weeks with practical tips on how to create more visibility at work.

Video: How to Build Your Professional Brand

I hope this was helpful for you. There is a ton more data to share with you and many more resources to help you navigate the opportunities and challenges in front of you. 

Weekly Reid - Setting Career Goals for 2018

This year I’m focusing on three professional goals. But before I launch into them, I think it’s important to share my methodology with you. I should warn that the goal setting purists may get offended by my approach. Unlike typical business goals, which are meant to be results oriented, I purposefully do not focus on outcomes in my annual goal setting. For me, the process is much more important than the outcome. I want to create new behaviors and habits that I think will lead me to positive outcomes, and then let the results take care of themselves.

The challenge with outcome-based goals, in my experience, is that they tend to be quite binary. You either lost 15 pounds or you didn’t.  So what if you worked out every day and ate well but only lost 13 pounds? Is that a failure? What was actually the most important thing, the outcome or the new lifestyle you adopted? Outcome-based goals can lead you to discount the amazing value that can come from adopting the right behaviors even if you fall a bit short of the desired outcome. To be honest, the older I get the less I care about outcomes and the more I care about habits. This applies to my professional life too.

Back to my professional goals. I have three categories for these: Learning goals, Leadership goals, and Coaching goals. For my career, this makes sense. First and foremost, I am a manager, so these categories are a good fit for me. If you’re an individual contributor or a hybrid contributor-manager, you might select slightly different categories.

Within each category I typically have one goal with a few behavioral commitments tied to it. This way I have something to shoot for AND a set of behaviors to ensure I stay on the right path.

Here are my professional goals for 2018:

Learning Goal:

Operational Mastery

Someday I would like to be a CEO. I have wanted that for a while now and most of my learning goals tend to be centered on the areas I think I’m missing to be successful at that level. When I look at the best CEOs I’ve ever worked for, they all had an amazing command over the financial and operational engineering of a company. I don’t have this yet. Most of my career has been spent working in the Sales, Marketing and Product areas of companies so I’ve got a gap to fill on the operational side if I want to reach my full potential as a leader. This year, my learning plan is going to focus primarily on the pursuit of mastery in financial and operational disciplines. I’m excited to dive in and improve in these areas.

My Commitments:

Read one book per quarter on corporate finance and operations.

Take one online course per quarter on corporate finance and operations.

Find a coach or mentor and commit to one session per month to develop my skills.

Find one opportunity or project this year at my company to expand my operational experience.

Leadership Goal:

Quiet Leadership

As I wrote about in a recent blog, I am very focused on speaking less and listening more. I have noticed, in myself and in leaders around me, a bad habit of leading by directing vs. leading by inspiring collaboration. I want to change this in myself.

I think you can get by for a while as a leader just by giving clear and precise direction and holding people accountable to execution. But at a certain point, you reach a limit. The best leaders in the world facilitate greatness in others. That is leadership at scale.

This year, I’m going to focus on leading by inspiring others to collaborate and to be creative. To do that, I’m going to talk way less. I’m going to wait longer before sharing my opinions. I’m going to find new ways to make people feel more comfortable to be creative. This hasn’t always been my strong suit. When I’m rushed or impatient I have a tendency of dominate and direct. I’ll just jump to my answer instead of facilitating real collaboration. I’m excited to develop in this way.


Start all project discussions and brainstorming by polling the room for ideas before sharing my own.

Start all new project meetings with a basic statement of the objective but no direction on tactics.

Make my team more comfortable by lowering the consequences of having a “bad idea”.

Host a coaching session with leaders on my team to create similar behaviors in them.

Coaching Goal:

Unleash the Introverts

I am an introvert. I always have been. There are unique challenges to being an introverted leader but it’s not impossible by any means. Many great leaders are introverts. Over the years I have developed a mindset and a collection of tools that help me succeed as a leader even though I struggle in some areas extroverts find easy. When I look around me, I see a lot of introverts who struggle with the same things I have had to overcome. My goal in 2018 is to share those methods and models with this group to help inspire a new generation of leaders.


Write one blog per quarter focused on leadership tools for introverts.

Hold one coaching session per quarter with the future introvert leaders I see on my team.

Create specific opportunities for the introverts around me to push their boundaries.

I love goal setting. I always feel great right after I do it. I realize the goals as I’ve presented them today aren’t as measurable as you might normally see, but it’s the behavioral change I’m after. I’m excited to pursue these new habits and committments with all of my energy and enthusiasm this year. I hope you’ve found my perspective to be valuable and I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on goal setting and what you’re shooting for in 2018.