8 Ways for Mr. Trump to Succeed as Chief

As the world anticipates the impact of Donald J. Trump’s ascension to the role of U.S. President and commander-in-chief, many wonder who the leader will rely on for counsel.

Potential candidates are lining up and include former federal and state officials, business leaders familiar to the president-elect, campaign staffers, and Trump family members.

Thankfully, president-elect Trump has already signaled major shifts away from several controversial positions that polarized voters and spread broad concern about the future moral authority long attributed to the world’s remaining superpower. The future has not been decided yet.

Optimistically, I’d like to suggest two sources of sage counsel for our future president. Each man is a true Chief, connecting what he does (with discipline, creativity, and support for others) to who he is (with insight and a strong commitment to values).

Separately, each has earned the respect of tens of millions of followers worldwide. Together, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have recently shared a simple eight-part plan for success in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.

Specifically, they offer “Eight Pillars of Joy,” which provide a foundation for happiness in the face of obstacles such as fear, stress, anger, grief, illness, and death. If our new commander-in-chief adopts this wise guidance, I believe he will be more successful at bringing our nation together, a goal he has expressed.

How can this eight-part plan be applied to the most demanding job in the world? Here’s my take:

  • Perspective – Listen to the problems and worries of each group.
  • Humility – Understand that you may not have all the answers.
  • Humor – Be able to laugh at yourself once in a while.
  • Acceptance – Acknowledge your limits.
  • Forgiveness – Forgive those who have treated you badly and seek forgiveness from those you have treated badly.
  • Gratitude – Be grateful for how far you have come.
  • Compassion – Have empathy for each person you encounter, each group affected by your policies, and each nation you engage.
  • Generosity – Give more than you receive. Always.

As individuals, each of us needs to make our own contribution to the future of our neighborhoods and communities, and to the world at large. It is important for each of us to be Chief as well, connecting what we do to who we are. Everyone has a role in creating a better future.

Author Frank Outlaw offers all of us additional sage counsel as we mindfully do our part:

“Watch your feelings, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch or actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character; it will become your destiny.”

So as we look to the future, let’s remain hopeful about choices others will make and hold ourselves accountable for our own.

What will you do today to contribute to a better future for us all?

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Player-Coaches and Sustainable Success

Success in business has always had a lot in common with success in sports. Both have relied on vision, effort, skill, persistence, and values of teams of people. Historically, both have also generally relied on strong hierarchical leaders who coached their teams with well-designed systems. You think of Vince Lombardi or John Wooden in the same way you think of Sam Walton or Walt Disney. To sustain success in business today, you can continue to look to sports teams for clues. The new model for sustained success includes many more players who also serve as coaches on the field. These “player-coaches” are doing the work that it takes to become great. Some teams just figured it out first.

Having grown up outside Boston, MA, I followed the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Bruins, and the Celtics. By my 11th birthday in 1969, I knew what it meant to be a New England sports fan. Along the way I also learned something about success and what it takes to sustain it.

Spring in Boston meant stories of pitchers and catchers arriving in Scottsdale, Arizona and then Winter Haven, Florida ahead of the trip to legendary Fenway Park for the start of the baseball season. Recent fans might not remember that the long-standing drought of championships (starting in 1918 and ending in 2004) defined the frustration of sports in Boston for generations. There was one trip to the World Series during that period, but the “Impossible Dream” (how’s that for optimism?) season ended in 1967 with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Starting in the fall of 1960, the Boston Patriots began playing football as part of the original group of American Football League (AFL) teams. As with the Sox, the Patriots made it to the Championship game just once in my early years. They were trounced by the San Diego Chargers by a score of 51–10.

Early winter brought the Bruins onto the ice at the venerable Boston Garden arena. During my first 11 years, the Bruins didn’t make the playoffs eight years in a row and were eliminated before reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in each of the other three years.

Salvation came shortly thereafter when the Celtics began playing basketball at the end of the sports seasons, and all was finally right with the world.

By my 11th birthday, the Boston Celtics had participated in 10 NBA Championship series. They won them all. (Actually, the Celtics won the year before I was born as well, with Bill Russell as MVP.) During the period, Bill was MVP four more times. During his last three seasons with the Celtics, he held the title of player-coach. Those who watched the Celtics closely will tell you that Bill was a player-coach long before they gave him the title.

Lesson learned: Sustained excellence requires player-coaches to be on the field, not on the sidelines.

Recently, I came upon a great article by Steve Wulf of ESPN. Steve offered amazing insight on this topic over 3 years ago:

“You watch LeBron James simultaneously cajole and carry the Heat. You marvel at the way Peyton Manning conducts the Broncos’ offense like a maestro. You see Yadier Molina shepherd the Cardinals’ pitching staff while hitting .367. You can’t imagine where the Bruins would be without Patrice Bergeron setting the pace of play and the tone of teamwork.”

LeBron and Peyton both led their teams to championships just last year!

Bottom line: Groups that achieve sustained excellence don’t look to the sidelines for leadership, they look for Chiefs on the field.

Do you ever step up to play the role of player-coach on your “team”? If you have a Chief title, do your team members to step up to be Chief when the opportunity presents itself? What results could your team drive if everyone viewed themselves as player-coaches? Can you see how much more likely it would be to deliver sustained success?

Incidentally, the player who holds the record for most games played in the NBA also won three championships with the Boston Celtics. He was named one of the 50 greatest players of all time. His name is Robert Parrish. His nickname is “the Chief.”

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What Could a Gymnastics Coach Teach Business Leaders about Sustainable Growth?

One of the biggest stories in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio is the dominance of the U.S. women gymnasts. In addition to capturing gold for team performance and gold and silver for top individual awards, many believe that program members who did not qualify for the U.S. team would have medaled in Rio if the U.S. team had been given more slots.

As the national team coordinator for the U.S. women’s gymnastics program since 2001, Márta Károlyi has built a program that evolved a team from not winning a team gold until 1996 to being the envy of the world.

As coordinator, Márta has overseen all aspects of the women’s national team, ranging from, among other duties, selecting the athletes for competitions to making specific recommendations about what routines are performed. As a result, they have captured the team title at the last two Olympics, and American women have won the individual all-around at the last four Summer Games.

The sustainable growth of the U.S. women’s gymnastics program could have as much to do with how Márta runs the program as what she does as coordinator. And I believe business leaders could learn a lot from her approach.

Specifically, in my view, Márta Károlyi runs her programs with i3k—intelligence, intensity, integrity, and kindness. And according to some sources, that last element has made a big difference.

When Márta  and her husband Béla defected to the United States from Romania in 1981, they came with a reputation as successful gymnastic program builders. Aspiring athletes were drawn to their Houston gym, which turned out excellent gymnasts. Márta and Béla were named as U.S. coaches for the 1996 Olympic Games, and the team delivered the country’s first team gold medal.

Poor team performance between 1997 and 1999 led USA Gymnastics to hire Béla as national team coordinator, but rumors of his severe treatment of athletes surfaced. A poor U.S. showing in the 2000 Games prompted the replacement of Béla with Márta  as national team coordinator.

By many accounts, Márta continued previous practices of hard work, high expectations, and no tolerance for shortcuts (e.g. illegal substances), but she also smartly brought innovation to the training regimen, allowing gymnasts to train independently while convening monthly in her Houston gym. She also brought a softer and more flexible approach to dealing with the athletes and their trainers.

According to The Washington Times, “Gold medal winner Simone Biles needed support on an emotional level, and her coach, Aimee Boorman, said Márta’s ability to be both demanding and flexible was critical to Biles’ success.”

And while Márta ’s “look of fierce concentration is most familiar to fans of the sport,” according to the Times, “Away from the floor, it gives way to a friendly smile and talk about cooking, family and travel as she walks through the family’s rustic home in the Sam Houston National Forest.”

It appears that a little kindness when added to the mix has brought Márta closer to her athletes and stronger, sustainable success for the program.

The results have been nothing short of amazing. And as Márta retires at the end of the Rio Olympics, U.S. Women’s gymnastics is on solid footing atop the world.

Well done Márta.

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Power—The Choice is Ours

In his Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo offers daily lessons intended to help readers interested in “having the life you want by being present to the life you have.”

Said differently, the book’s purpose is to enable anyone to unlock their true power.

Nepo’s March 2nd entry addresses our choice when it comes to power. He offers, “Originally, the word power meant able to be. In time, it was contracted to mean to be able. We suffer the difference.”

Nepo goes on to reference the common expression “more power to you.” He posits in general that power is a goal and specifically, more often than not, the goal is worldly power defined as power over things, people, and situations—a controlling power.

Nepo contrasts worldly power to inner power described as the power that comes from being a part of something larger—a connective power.

When we share this well-wish, our intent is either to offer controlling or connective power. When we receive it, similarly we have the choice.

Later in his June 23rd entry, Nepo once again offers us a clear choice. This time the choice is how to attain the power we seek.

“It leaves us with another choice: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.”

Again, the choice is ours.

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Dad Was My First Chief

Chiefs are powerful, but in my view not for the reasons most believe. Real Chiefs don’t owe their influence to a title or a position given to them by others. Rather they earn their influence by the internal choices they make to connect what they do to who they are. I learned about real Chiefs from a mild-mannered, kind, hard-working introvert—my Dad.

Dad taught many lessons that helped me both personally and professionally. Three stand out:

Dad also taught me how to think about power in an unconventional way. As a trained human resource professional, he knew groups that succeeded understood four truths about how to harness team power and unlock team potential:

  1. People with titles have power (authority)
  2. People with and without titles have a different type of power (influence & energy)
  3. Everyone is at their best when they feel powerful
  4. Everyone is different and makes their own choices about exercising power

As I reflect back on the celebration of Father’s Day, gratitude is the word that comes to mind. And while I have been blessed to know, and learn from, many great Chiefs, Dad was the first.

Thanks Dad.

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How to Identify Real Power

Power is a noun with four primary definitions:

1.) Ability
2.) Influence
3.) Energy
4.) Positional authority

The biggest problem in business today is that too often we ignore the first three definitions due to our preoccupation with the fourth, positional authority. We look to the top of an organization chart to learn where the power lies in any team or group. The first time this mistake became clear to me was over 30 years ago. It has stuck with me ever since.

Shortly after I was named Director of Marketing for Unisys’ State Government unit, I traveled to meet District Manager Richard Gaddy and his very successful team in Florida. Richard’s team had done a masterful job over many years working with varied departments in Florida’s State Government to earn a reputation of trusted advisor.

On the first day of my visit, Richard set up review sessions for me with each of his sales managers to talk about their sales teams, followed by individual meetings with each sales representative. With one exception, I met every sales leader in the group that first day. Richard told me, with a smile, that I would meet the last member of his team the next day when I was scheduled to visit one of the largest customers in the district.

I asked Richard if he would be attending the meeting with us. He said, “No, Mike can handle it with you.” When I asked if I could get a briefing ahead of time Richard said, “Mike is at the customer site today but left this account plan for you to review,” as he handed me a thick packet of information.

That night I read the detailed account plan and was very impressed. It provided a thorough update on everything I needed to know including people, history, applications, opportunities, threats, and current priorities. It clearly laid out who we would meet with the next day, likely issues that would be raised, and our responses. The document blew me away. I went to bed looking forward to our morning meeting.

The next day at 8:00 a.m. sharp, a car pulled up to the circular driveway outside the front door of my hotel and out jumped Mike Willenborg. A big smile on his face, Mike extended his hand and said, “Good morning Rick!” with such gusto that I am sure every bellman within 30 yards jumped. I was beaming as I headed for the passenger’s seat.

Mike immediately went on the offensive. “How did yesterday go?” he asked as we settled in for our ride to the customer site. He was questioning me to assess my priorities and reactions to a cast of characters he knew well. Though we had met only minutes before, our conversation was lively and rather meaningful thanks to the way Mike was using open-ended questions to learn more about the latest executive who would soon be introduced to his means of livelihood. He asked if I had any questions about the briefing package he had prepared. His line of questioning was meant to ensure I was ready. But it was clear he had done his homework on me too.

During the next 30 minutes, he made reference to everything from my education and prior assignments to my volunteer work. And as we went back and forth during the drive, Mike’s enthusiasm for his customer and his role in helping his customer succeed came through like a bright light.

“Did you know that we have been identified as one of the top departments in the State for consistently delivering on our plans and staying under our budget projections? And we have been asked to present again this year at the national conference to highlight our best practices for using technology? We’re on a roll!” Mike’s enthusiasm was palpable.

He loved what he was doing, that was clear. And I could feel my normally high morning energy level surge even higher to match his.

The customer meetings were successful. Perhaps from Mike’s perspective, another suit from headquarters had been successfully introduced to his client and had not made a mess of things. From my perspective I knew I had been given a gift. I had felt the power of someone who was all-in.

The day after I arrived back at the home office I called Richard to talk about the visit. He picked up the phone and we talked about how the customer visit went but the subject quickly shifted to Mike.

Richard laughed when I described the impact my encounter with Mike had on me. He said, “Welcome to the club.” He told me many others had the same reaction to Mike. “He lifts everyone in the office,” Richard said.

“About a month ago I asked each sales manager to nominate a member of their team for a District Sales Council,” Richard told me. “I wanted us to do a better job sharing best practices across teams. Mike’s manager sent Mike and we are still talking about what happened. It was like Mike lit a fuse under his peers. Not only did they share best practices between each other, but they decided to reach out to other districts as well. And I credit Mike. He started a chain reaction. It was great.”

The truth was it didn’t matter that the organization chart showed that Mike sat three levels down from where I sat. In this case, Mike had the power. His ability, energy, and influence showed it.

Since that memorable event, I’ve seen many other extroverts like Mike—and just as many introverts—demonstrate enthusiasm and confidence from connecting what they do to who they are, each in their own unique way. I refer to these powerful leaders as Chiefs.

What could happen if your organization recognized where true power comes from?

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10 Reasons to Be All-In at Work

Surveys indicate that more than 70% of workers are not fully engaged at work. You may be one of them. This pervasive problem costs business billions and often costs employees their health. The culprit most often cited? The boss. Survey after survey places the blame for poor engagement on supervisors who don’t know how to effectively lead employees.

But how can this be? Particularly when there is a nearly endless supply of readily available leadership podcasts, blogs, courses, and other training material? One source cites the 1.5 trillion books and articles written on the subject in just the last 10 years. The problem stems from a lack of effective material that does more than supply information. Leaders at ALL levels need information that helps them apply concepts to drive engagement.

If you are one of the millions of workers who don’t have a boss who gets it, what do you do? Consider following the All-In Roadmap to increase not only your engagement but also the engagement of everyone around you.

Here’s why. The All-In Roadmap is:

  • Simple – five key focus areas make it easy to apply the Roadmap.
  • Flexible – the Roadmap changes as you and your needs change.
  • Practical – case studies help you apply the five key focus areas to your own situations.
  • Applicable to companies of all sizes – from startups to multinationals, the Roadmap works.
  • Trans-industrial – the Roadmap works for product or service businesses, non-profits, or government.
  • Research-based – road tested and backed by research, the Roadmap is well supported.
  • A professional and personal tool – the Roadmap works in every area of your life.
  • Resilient during tough times – the Roadmap is proven even in market crashes and war zones.
  • Result-driven – the Roadmap has been used to triple the growth rate of million and billion dollar organizations.
  • FREE – you can sign up for the All-In Roadmap here.

Using the All-In Roadmap will help you and those around you engage, and drive sustainable growth.

What do you have to lose, other than the excuse that your boss is keeping you from being your very best?

It’s time to be All-In!

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The Future of Business

The future of business, simply put, is making the future its business. And where better to look toward the future than to the business schools currently training our future leaders? Those of us looking for confidence in the future can take comfort in the great work being done by the worldwide network of PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) colleges and universities established in 2007 by the United Nations.

The idea to create PRME was officially introduced by the UN’s Global Compact Office at the Global Forum “Business as an Agent of World Benefit” at Case Western Reserve University, where I serve as a Strategic Advisor, in October 2006.

PRME’s mission is to “inspire and champion responsible management education, research, and thought leadership globally.” The Six Principles of PRME, inspired by internationally accepted values, are:

  • Purpose – working toward an inclusive and sustainable global economy
  • Values – global social responsibility
  • Method – creation of educational frameworks, materials, processes, and environments
  • Research – researching the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental, and economic value.
  • Partnership – exploring jointly effective approaches to challenges faced by corporations in meeting social and environmental responsibilities
  • Dialogue – facilitating dialogue between all interested parties and stakeholders

Sustainable growth is the only way forward for business today. Being Chief means making choices that move business in this direction. PRME is on the cutting edge of integrating sustainable business standards from the ground up—beginning with tomorrow’s leaders. More than 600 leading business schools and management-related academic institutions from over 80 countries comprise the PRME, many of which are also a part of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the “longest serving global association dedicated to advancing management education worldwide.”

In addition to Case Western, U.S. PRME members include leading business schools ranging from Bentley, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M to University of California Berkeley as well as strong international representation ranging from Auckland University in New Zealand, Bangalore University in India, Cheung Kong University in China, and INSEAD in France.

Organizations such as PRME and AACSB are directing the future of business toward sustainable growth, and not a moment too soon.

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