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  • July 01, 2022 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Gresham Harkless, Founding Member and LWCN's Subject Matter Expert on Media Creation and Podcasting

    Often, I talk a lot about building a media company and what that means for organization, consultants, business leaders and just about everyone. At the heart of the philosophy and mindset is we have media at our fingertips more than any other time in history. 

    If we look at media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn or Pinterest, we have the opportunity to build a following, connect and engage with our ideal client and customers to potentially lead to more opportunities, visibility and awareness. Add in blogs, videos and podcasts and you can become quickly overwhelmed by the amount of ways (or I like to call them ingredients) that you can show your expertise, knowledge and thought leadership. 

    While I’m a BIG proponent of starting and building your own “media company”--(e.g. Launch that blog, podcast or Youtube channel), one of the biggest opportunities is not to build your own media company, it’s to be invited or collaborate on someone elses. 

    Think about the numerous ways that you can do this…

    • Guesting on a podcast

    • Guest blogging on site

    • Joining someones Facebook or Instagram Live

    • Twitter chat

    • Guest author for a book

    There’s numerous ways but I think one of the most underutilized ways is being featured on more podcasts. Here’s some tips to help you be featured on shows: 

    First, keep in mind that as the host of a podcast, one of the biggest things that I see that guest don’t understand is that you want to make the host’s job easier (think that host is asking “What’s in it for me?”). If they have a way for you to apply or self-nominate for the show, follow that. It’s one of the quickest ways to get dismissed before you get started when you don’t pay attention to that. For example on my podcast–the I AM CEO Podcast, I have a form that I always ask that people fill out to nominate themselves or someone else on the show. Check it out here

    Have a PR/Marketing plan (and be sure to tell the host when you apply) what you will do to promote the episode. Not only does it help the host to have guests on the show but one of the beautiful things about being on someone elses media company is cross pollination. You get introduced to their audience but also they are introduced to yours. That only happens if you have a plan and execute on it. 

    Use it as a way to network. Not only do you have the opportunity to get to know the host, but think about reaching out to other guests. It’s a community that allows you to connect with more people thank you may have been connected before. I had James Carbary from Sweet Fish Media and he called it content-based networking

    Check out some of these 5 CEO Hacks that might give you more opportunities. 

    1. Podcast Guests - Get booked on great podcasts to expand your reach and audience. connects podcasters with experts, authors, and other podcasters.

    2. HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage.

    3. Search via social for #podcasthost - DM and pitch, again and again and again. 

    4. Ask a host especially if you’ve been featured on a show if he or she knows other podcasters that might be a good fit. I’ve had numerous podcasters on my show. 

    5. Hire a PR or podcast agent to help you get more opportunities. I had Tom Schaub of Interview Valet on my show and his company does this. 

    Keep in mind with any marketing strategy you deploy, the focus of what you should do is to make sure you are clear on what I think are 3 of the most integral questions to your Media Company strategy–(1) who are you targeting? (2) how will you define success? (3) what resources will you allocate or do you have at your disposal? 

    I know there are numerous ways to market and grow your organization but this is just one of the ways/ingredients I feel is underutilized. 

    Podcasting is booming and so are the opportunities that is if you leverage it correctly. Here’s a little more information if it’s helpful–

    Gresham “Gresh” W. Harkless Jr. is the founder of CBNation and Blue 16 Media. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the business success rate by providing visibility and resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners.  Blue16 Media helps change lives through media & technology including a digital marketing agency providing digital marketing services including web design & SEO to small to medium-sized businesses and organizations. He also is a graduate of the 2020 Leadership Center for Excellence Young Professionals Program ’16 and recognized by the Alexandria Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 40 Under 40 in 2020 and a 2022 Northern Virginia 40 Under 40 Honoree.

  • April 27, 2022 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By David Spitulnik, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategic Planning and Leadership

    I was thinking about how to properly reset, recharge and reflect when you’re in a position of leadership, big company or small. As I did, I invited Dan Gershenson, my client from Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing, to give his perspective as well. This is how our conversation shaped around that topic.

    David: When I look at companies that state that “I need you to be there all the time,” I believe they often mean that they want your attention. Your FULL attention. That’s reasonable, but what often happens as a result of that is that people never truly take a break. And when they never take a break, they’re never really refreshed. They’re never ready to do what is needed when they are needed.

    It's a downward spiral.

    Therefore, one of the things I’ve thought about is: How do you give people time off? How do you give people a break? How do you give people time to reflect and just enjoy themselves when they need to? Not merely to provide a break but to come back and provide their very best?

    In the context of a leader, every leader needs three fundamental R’s for growth and every one of them is undervalued: Reset, Recharge and Reflect. Let’s dive in deeper to those today.

    Dan: It’s a fascinating topic. Look, some of us have taken our first vacations anywhere in a year or two. And we’ve realized from being isolated from one another and only communicating by Zoom that we need more. We can’t just save it for later and say, “I’ll reset and recharge when I take off for Cancun for a week.” Hey, that sounds nice, but if you’re waiting for that moment to relax, it’s not healthy. We have to inject the ability to reset and recharge in our daily lives. Part of doing that is to reflect on who we are and where we’re going.

    David: It’s crucial to take a moment regularly and ask yourself a simple question: What am I doing? While I might be doing something that represented what I enjoyed at one time in my life, reflecting may open the door to the evolution that’s needed professionally and perhaps personally.

    Dan: The evolution of reaching a state where you’re doing what you love. What’s the gap between here and there? What did that feel like when you were in that state? What’s missing now?

    I started as a writer but today I’m a Fractional CMO. How did I evolve into that? Client feedback. Strategic partner feedback. A feeling that I could be something more. And the funny thing was, from the standpoint of responsibilities, I had already evolved. I just didn’t realize it was a significant evolution from Point A until I paused and reflected.

    David: One thing I advised you on was taking time off on Friday to work on the business instead of in the business. Easier said than done, but I think that sort of thing is what more leaders need to do for pause and reflection.

    Dan: 100%. And I don’t think it has to be a grandiose action or accomplishment that comes after you reflect. Just take a step. One hour. One thing. Keep moving on it each day. The cumulative effect will happen with consistency. But I will say the nice thing about taking a block off on Friday is that you know it’s coming and having that time block allows you to let your mind marinate on your short-term goals and long-term goals.

    David: Sounds like you’re getting into the Five Questions.

    Dan: Well, if there’s one thing that’s made for reflecting, the Five Questions is it. What is my long-term by my definition? Where do I want to go from here? What’s it going to look like when I get there?

    These questions don’t get answered in the blink of an eye if you’ve given yourself ample time to reflect on them. And if you need to come back to it to continually add to your answers, go for them.   

    David: Leaders sometimes think, “Well, I’m already planning things. Why do I need to reflect?” The reality is that, if we look at the very basics of Six Sigma, what is reflection other than analysis? So, it’s from that kind of analysis that you gain the capability to make an adjustment.

    Part of that is to stand back from the painting of your life, look at it for perspective and say, “What else does this need?” or “What in this picture needs to be painted over and left behind?”

    Dan: You did that to a degree for sure. You would refer to yourself as a leadership advisor and now you’ve added on being a leadership coach and leadership mentor.

    David: Someone might say those sound the same but they’re not. The point being, I wanted to help people in different ways – the ways they needed me, not the way I defined it to them. I paused, reflected and realized that I should evolve. Not in a way that was necessarily recognizable to those on the outside but in a very exciting way nonetheless. And after I did that, particularly as a leadership coach, it drove me to get certified by a couple of highly respected organizations. I don’t know if I would’ve recognized to do that if I was purely an advisor.

    There are still far too many people who say, “This is who I am,” plant their flag and can never be moved this way or that way.

    However, I think that’s wearing blinders. You’re allowed, even encouraged, to continue to grow. It didn’t end when you were a teenager. And that growth awaits you if you make resetting, recharging and reflecting part of your regular routine.

    David Spitulnik is the managing partner of Spitulnik Advisors, LLC, a leadership advisory practice in Chicago.  He works with organizations and individuals to develop and implement strategies that drive transformation, growth, diversification, operating efficiency, and value creation.  David is also the author of a book on leadership titled "Becoming An Insightful Leader: Charting Your Course To Purposeful Success."  He is an ACE Certified Coach, received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and on the board of the Youth Job Center.

  • March 30, 2022 9:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    By Darren Gleeman, founding member of LWCN and LWCN's Subject Matter Expert on ESOPs & M&A


    Darren Gleeman is the managing partner of MBO Ventures ( The firm provides ESOP Expertise and will invest its capital alongside company owners and/or the management team. MBO implements exit strategies, whether it's for family succession, a management buy-out, or a 100% sale to employees.

  • March 09, 2022 6:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Fred Siegman, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategic Relationship Building

    To become more successful at networking you need to break bad habits and build good ones. In habit talk, you get a cue, follow a routine, and get a reward.

    One of the most common bad habits occurs when people attend a reception with great networking intentions. The cue, they arrive and see the crowd. Most people seeing that crowd, immediately feel uncomfortable, fearful, inhibited by the thought of talking to strangers.

    After getting the cue, most people follow the same routine. They find people they already know. Their reward, they eliminate their discomfort and fear. This bad habit often leads to people believing networking doesn’t work.

    So how does one create a new routine to follow this cue? One good way, identify people likely to be at the event you plan to attend. This could be leaders of the hosting organization or perhaps an event committee. If there are speakers or honorees, you know they’ll be there and probably others from their company or organization. When you identify people attending the event you would like to meet, you have targets.    

    Since you now have specific targets, you have the luxury of planning ahead of time what you will say to them when you first meet them. Keep in mind, you have less than ten seconds to initially engage that person. Look at their LinkedIn profile. Google them. Look for common links. Try to make those initial words you say be about the person you’re talking to, as little to nothing about yourself.

    Even with strategic targets, you will still meet people randomly. Think of what you might say to those people, also before going to the event. For example, you can ask someone: Why are you attending this event? Can you tell me about any of the speakers? How are you connected to the hosting organization?

    Building new routines need repetition to become good habits. If you’ve ever had other bad habits, who hasn’t, you know the difficulty in changing them. The new rewards make the efforts worth it.

    Fred Siegman founded Siegman Consulting Services, Chicago in 1996.  A lifelong Serial Connector®, his practice focuses on helping diverse clients seek corporate board of directors positions.  Fred received an MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.S. from the University of Illinois Chicago. Learn more about Fred by clicking here.

  • March 02, 2022 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Lee Eisenstaedt, Founder of LWCN

    Consider this grid of employees as we start a series focusing on each of the quadrants, beginning with today’s, the most coveted of them all: The Ambassador.

    Ambassadors appear to be the perfect quadrant to be in because they’re the people you primarily want. They have, as they say, “drunk the Kool-Aid.” They want others to follow their example.

    However, even with Ambassadors, you have to be conscious of the moments where they are not your best assets. When could that ever happen?

    Remember, we’re talking about people who genuinely love what you’re doing, everything you say, every plan, every goal and they’ll follow you where you take them.

    There’s just one problem with that: They’ll rarely tell you “No.”

    Sometimes, Ambassadors won’t give you the most honest feedback you need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear it. They have blinders on due to their undying loyalty.

    At the extreme example of when you don’t want an overwhelming amount of Ambassadors, we can point to the more wicked, greedy, powerful leaders of history. Some people seemed to be totally in line with these terrible leaders and there was no chance of them ever speaking up or being objective. No waves. No pushback.

    It’s what happens when someone is motivated by one of three dark elements: Power, greed or self-interest. We have probably each seen one or more of these at work when we think of willing Ambassadors.

    How Can We Keep Ambassadors From Becoming Perceived as Resistors?

    It’s not that we don’t want Resistors at all. We expect them. And they can be good at times in the sense of speaking up on issues they disagree with. Leaders need that other voice in the room to challenge their own thinking and that of the majority. Yet too many Resistors can be chaotic. How do we keep this dynamic in balance so that when we encourage Ambassadors to be authentic and speak truth to power, they don’t fall into the Resistor quadrant?

    This is where I have to offer an important reminder: We all have elements of many of the quadrants. These are not rigid boundaries that put you in a box. You can be an Ambassador while having degrees of Resistor and Good Soldier in you. And vice versa.

    That said, we don’t want an Ambassador to shift and have the majority of qualities now as a Resistor if we can help it. And the key to that involves self-awareness. Ambassadors understand the impact they’re having and they want to own that impact, giving them an incredible level of emotional intelligence.

    Do Ambassadors Have Any Weaknesses?

    Yes. Even them!

    Ambassadors may be coveted and highlighted for their exemplary behavior. But let’s not call them perfect. They too, have blind spots. And one is particularly glaring: Believing the leader’s way is the only way.

    Sure, as long as you follow and align with that leader, everything’s great. But the minute you don’t align with them? Look out. Certain Ambassadors suddenly don’t even want to know you. We tend to see this among specific followers of motivational speakers. If you like that speaker, you’re a part of the Ambassador’s tribe forever. They want to share newsletters, events, quotes, the works.

    If you say, “Actually, I don’t know if I agree with everything he says,” then the Ambassador is up in arms and offended. Some of them see you as the dumbest person who ever lived.

    As strong as they are to have as an advocate, an Ambassador can have less of an open mind. We’ve seen extreme examples of this today in our current political climate, where followers of one party believe theirs is the only path of truth and the other party is full of morons. Or followers of vaccination advocates versus non-vaccination advocates.

    The worst outcome of this close-minded thinking is that an Ambassador will not hesitate to sever any ties with his or her followers over a difference of opinion, no matter how long that relationship has been in place because they believe in their path or vision so strongly, again driven by greed, power, or self-interest Families and friends can be ripped apart when an Ambassador is questioned.

    That’s the dark side of the Ambassador: Potentially no respect for preserving a relationship that doesn’t align with them. It’s an Us vs. Them dynamic that can explode in their face.

    The positive side is when you have a common cause that is virtuous, such as Dr. Martin Luther King rallying loyal Ambassadors to the cause of civil rights.

    Secondly, some Ambassadors can become “Yes” Men and “Yes” Women. You would like even your strongest advocates to give you constructive feedback. If they don’t, are they ignoring a blind side? Possibly. So be wary of the head nodders that never push back. Your best advocates should also hopefully be looking out for your best interests.

    When Ambassadors Turn Into Resistors (And How To Prevent That)

    Let’s say your company is experiencing an acquisition that brings together two types of cultures. Your Ambassadors and Preachers are loyally by your side and afraid that they’re going to be displaced and that their opinions won’t matter anymore. So, as the party being acquired, they dig in their heels even more. Which, in the eyes of the acquiring company, doesn’t make them Ambassadors or Preachers. It now makes them Resistors.

    Almost overnight, those who were your greatest allies have now become your worst enemy – strongly opinionated people who feel that you’ve turned your back on them.

    So how do we keep Ambassadors as Ambassadors and prevent them from drifting into Resistor territory or, worse, a Saboteur?

    The best thing a leader can do for an Ambassador while the company is in the midst of a changing landscape is to make them feel included and communicated with consistently and honestly.

    The Ambassador’s worst fear is that, after they’ve invested so much energy into being advocates for the company and its leadership, they’ll now have their voices minimized. They won’t any longer be in the room where vital plans happen. And they’ll be seen as relics of another time and place; people who aren’t open to new ideas and ways of doing things. In other words, not relevant.

    Therefore, leadership must be keenly aware of bringing Ambassadors into their planning and pre-launch stages earlier rather than later. If you have an initiative that requires their strong support, now is the time to educate them on what the initiative is, what the goal of it is, why you value their influence, how they are welcome to provide input, key milestones and how they can play a fundamental role in the initiative’s success. Most importantly, they have to understand what’s in it for them.

    In doing so, you have made the Ambassador feel as valued as they’ve ever been, which means they are more likely to help you implement your plans, set an example for others, encourage the desired behaviors and stay true to their commitments for you.

    They may or may not “drink the Kool-Aid” at all times, but that’s OK. You don’t need Ambassadors to love everything you do. You need them to maintain trust in your direction and not merely settle into going with the flow. So don’t make conversations with your Ambassadors infrequent. Make spending time with them a regular element of your relationship with Ambassadors, be genuine about soliciting their input, follow up with any results of that input and they will very likely follow your lead in good faith.

    Are you wondering how to identify more potential Ambassadors in your organization? Worried about how you can keep your existing Ambassadors focused and motivated to continue to support your agenda?

    These are questions that you can share in a safe space with other high-level leaders who have dealt with the very same challenges you are right now when you explore membership in Leading With Courage® Networking. Between LWCN’s monthly group meetings and the vast resources of designated Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), you’ll find yourself with real solutions to move forward that are both practical and powerful.

    Learn more about what we have to offer by visiting, calling 262.412.4710 or emailing

  • February 01, 2022 3:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Lee Eisenstaedt, Founder of LWCN

    One of my previous posts, which was about agreement versus alignment, was published on  (    In it, I wrote how you don’t have to have agreement all of the time, but you must have alignment all of the time.

    Even when there's alignment, we all know there can be a group of valued people who grumble quite loudly and be disruptive to the team and the environment. True, we made a decision as a team but let’s be honest: Just because we’ve reached a decision and appear to have alignment doesn’t mean all is well.

    Those in reluctant agreement aren’t going to return happily to their offices. Is there anything that can be done with them?

    The easy answer would be to tell them to get on board or leave. Easy, but perhaps not right. After all, in many cases, the people who aren’t in agreement still like the company very much and don’t want to leave and you need their skills. So do you have to keep conversing with them to ensure that they understand where you’re going as a team with your decision and “sell” them on that decision?

    The answer is: To a point.


    Drawing A Line In The Sand

    Once you reach the point of no return on an alignment conversation, you need to draw a line in the sand that can’t be crossed. Easier said than done for many leaders. How do we know? We ask participants in our leadership self-assessment to rate themselves on their skill or willingness to do this.  The average score based on over 5,000 responses is 69.7%.  So, it seems that two- thirds of all leaders and managers have some difficulty making decisions that not everyone will agree with and then sticking with those decisions.

    Of course, nobody wants to be unlikeable by the vast majority of employees. You don’t jump out of bed wondering, “What can I do to tick everyone off today? How can I slow things down?”

    Still, leaders and managers find themselves at a crossroads with very tough calls on various issues, in which case the rest of the team has to ask themselves, “Do I align or do I agree?” They don’t have to agree with what the leader decides, but they have to align. Truthfully, some employees who align do so because it’s expedient and they don’t believe any change will last.

    However, I’m a big believer that when you are in alignment, then you partially own the consequences of the actions being taken. Because you’ve aligned, you implicitly agree with them. You could say that you don’t, but in fact, you do.


    Can You Ever Align With A Disruptor?

    We’ve written about disruptors in the past and one of their traits is they almost always know that they’re being disruptive. It’s practically part of their DNA. They will not agree with you very much, if ever. But they will be in alignment – and that’s OK. Embracing disruptors for their points of view is perfectly fine, and actually quite beneficial, if they are not too disruptive to the culture.

    Effective leaders and managers need to embrace these kinds of thinkers. It will be harder to get them in agreement with you, but they’ll get there. And as long as they align, you’ll like having them around because Disruptors are the ones who will question the status quo. They’re the ones who will come up with new ideas. They’re the ones who won’t just go with the flow. They won’t be yes men or yes women. Ever.

    So you’d be well off if you welcome a bit of some good debate. That’s where the disruptors will be – powerful, good people to have in the room, as long as they leave the room without being too frustrated or ticked off.


    A Line In The Sand Today Is Not A Line In The Sand Forever

    If you’re worried that a disruptor may leave, keep this in mind: Let’s say they do leave today. Does it mean that they can never come back? Stranger, less welcome things have happened over the past 2-3 years due to the massive global change brought on the Covid pandemic.  We see all kinds of people moving around from job to job and a lot of people returning to a former job because the situation has changed. Perhaps a leader or department head seeks out a Disruptor, offering them a better role than they had before.

    Who saw that one coming?

    The point is this: Always be open to the idea that agreement and alignment may not exist today, but many things can change in our world more than they ever have before. Tomorrow can bring agreement and alignment in someone based on just a couple of things, such as a different person in a managerial role saying, “Hey, come back here. We know what you did here for several years and how well you performed. We’ve got a new role here for you.”

    Now we’ve got a Disruptor in complete agreement and alignment because of one factor. And no lines in the sand can change that.

  • January 02, 2022 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Fred Siegman, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategic Relationship Building

    Many people attribute their success to networking, to the relationships they built that opened doors to opportunities. Do you have a plan, a strategy to maximize your networking results? Answering three questions, Why? Who? What? will transform your networking from a random activity, like working the room, into a strategic and effective process.

    Why? Define your goal, the outcome you want from networking. The possible goals vary widely and change at different times. The most frequent ones are career advancement and business development. Others might include finding a new job, making new friends, pursuing a personal interest. You could identify 20-30 different possible goals which will influence the answers to the next two questions.

    Who? Now that you’ve identified your goal, who do you want to meet that can help you achieve that goal? Very important, list your targets. It will give you focus. Your targets can be specific individuals or groups of individuals, for example, people in a specific industry, c-suite executives, a special interest group.

    What? Now, create the strategy for connecting with your targets, in person or through other means. This relates to starting new relationships as well as enhancing existing ones. What direct or second connections do you have to your targets? Where will you find your individual or group targets? What words will you use to connect with targets? What will be your strategy for staying connected, beyond an initial note recognizing that first interaction?

    Following the steps in this overview will make you more strategic in selecting where you choose to be. So, even the random connections you make will have a greater likelihood of being important additions to your network of relationships. As you practice strategic networking, it will become second nature. Your networking will become more successful, rewarding, and enjoyable.

    Fred Siegman founded Siegman Consulting Services, Chicago in 1996.  A lifelong Serial Connector®, his practice focuses on helping diverse clients seek corporate board of directors positions.  Fred received an MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.S. from the University of Illinois Chicago. Learn more about Fred by clicking here.

  • December 28, 2021 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Would you like to reduce your taxes?  Who among us wouldn't?  So, here's a list of of proven, practical ideas for individuals and businesses for lowering your 2021 taxes (download list).  It has been compiled by Anne Marie Craighead, CPA, a Founding Member of LWCN and its Subject Matter Expert for Accounting and Finance. 

    Anne Marie Craighead is the founder of AMC Accounting Solutions, whose offices are in Chicago and Naperville, IL.  It's a full service accounting and tax firm that works with both individuals and businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area, nationally, and internationally. AMC's staff is known for its commitment to providing accurate work and superior customer service with the goal of reducing its clients' time commitment and alleviating the stress associated with taxes and accounting.

  • December 02, 2021 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Angela Finlay, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Human Resources

    Research continues to show that companies who focus on their people strategies drive significantly higher performance than those not focused on employees and culture. We also know smaller, growing companies are often strapped for resources. There is often a push to get the operations team in order, the sales team up and running, and the finance team hired to manage the cashflow. Human Resources talent is often hired but at a more functional level – find us talent, make sure that we all get paid and, if we have the resources, make sure the benefits are in place.

    Given the research though, we know that growing companies will need to invest in a more strategic view towards their people at some point in the growth trajectory to be successful. When should leaders start to bring on more strategic HR? Below are the top five things that tend to happen that tell business leader that it is time to make an investment in more strategic HR support:

    1) You find yourself having to make tough people decisions without a sounding board, such as workforce planning, retention strategies or rightsizing the organization.

    2) You find yourself too involved in the minutia of how HR is running because you worry that they are not looking at the bigger business needs when they create programs and make decisions.

    3) Your turnover is too high, is disrupting your business, and you are having trouble recruiting new talent.

    4) Your employees seem to be disengaged and not meeting performance targets.

    5) The return to office has been difficult after the pandemic and you can’t figure out what the future of work will look like for your organization.

    The good news for leaders who find themselves in this situation is that more strategic HR support doesn’t always mean additional headcount. While a dedicated head of HR is always the best option, many companies can bridge the gap with fractional or consultative Chief Human Resources services. Just having access to five hours a month of strategic HR support can drive the right people strategies and performance to lead a business to significantly higher performance.

    Angela Finlay is Chief Human Capital Strategist at Windward Human Capital Management LLC.  Windward HCM builds sustainable, value drive human capital functions that are aligned directly with driving business performance and company strategic initiatives.  We believe that your people programs should be realistic, simplified, data-driven and targeted to your organization. We build transformative programs to meet your people needs for today and in the future, including both fractional and interim HR leader support.   Angela Finlay was a former CHRO/Head of HR at organizations ranging from Global Fortune 150 to start-up.

  • November 26, 2021 6:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By David Spitulnik, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategy and Leadership Advisory

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas J. Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Allstate:

    “As you advance in an organization, your question-to-statement ratio should also go up.”

    In other words, part of becoming an insightful leader is knowing that just because you’ve done something a certain way many times before doesn’t mean it’s the best way to accomplish the task today and going forward.

    That’s what makes it vital to say one of the most important phrases possible to your team members: “What do you think about this?”

    Let’s consider this for a moment and why you want to open the floor to input on a great many things. Go back just one year ago. What do you see?

    Your age was different than it is today. The businesses you dealt with may have been different than the ones you deal with today. Your direct reports may be different. Your level of pay may have been different too.

    Therefore, is it not unreasonable to think that a question asked one year ago…might have a very different answer this year? Particularly due to the pandemic and realities from it that now exist a year later?

    You may not know everything (who does?), but you may very well have some relevant experience. And as a result of that relevant experience, you may ask a question of the team that seems insanely off point judging by the first initial response.

    I’ve been there. A few times, I walked into the room as a general business adviser and asked a question that, on the surface, was not even from left field. It was almost from another planet. Yet, a couple of days later, those leaders said, “You know, that question, even though it seemed like it was from another planet, has helped us think totally different about what we're doing and taken us to a place where we would have never gone before had you not asked the question.”


    Don’t Give Them The Answers

    A leader can come in with the answer and it’s often their habit to do so. However, there are two problems with that:

    1) It may not be the only or best answer.

    2) People in the organization will have been deprived of an opportunity to use their critical thinking and judgement.

    If someone comes to you with a recurring problem, giving them the answer or doing it for them will function as a crutch. They need to work the problem, identify potential solutions and be energized by the outcome they’ve arrived at, largely on their own. Does that mean as a leader you have to get out of the way completely? No. If you see a team member with a problem, don’t give them the answer that comes to you first. Instead, say something like, “If I were you, I’d go think about A, B and C more. Explore that and what things you can do when you pursue some of those paths further.”

    See what we’ve just done? We’ve installed you as a guide who can unlock clues and insights but not as the all-knowing keeper of the answers. This pushes your people to work more independently with confidence, knowing that they can grow from their experiences – even if some of those experiences don’t go their way.

    David Spitulnik is the managing partner of Spitulnik Advisors, LLC, a leadership advisory practice in Chicago.  He works with organizations and individuals to develop and implement strategies that drive transformation, growth, diversification, operating efficiency, and value creation.  David is also the author of a book on leadership titled "Becoming An Insightful Leader: Charting Your Course To Purposeful Success."  He is an ACE Certified Coach, received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and on the board of the Youth Job Center.

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