Posts Tagged ‘effective leadership’

Why Go Along to Get Along Isn’t Effective Leadership

Regardless of organization, many in leadership roles embrace the “go along to get along” philosophy.  The problem with this belief is it demonstrates a lack of effective leadership.

Effective is doing the right thing.  In doing the right thing, leaders must first know what the right thing is. This knowing suggests the leader has strong personal ethics and is not willing to concede those basic core principles.

The Hollywood movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was all about the “go along to get along” philosophy. This fictional story though really non-fictional revealed how basic core principles take a dramatic hit when the “go along to get along” belief is embraced.

Lately I have witnessed a lot of “go along to get along” behaviors by local government leaders especially.  No one wants to rock the boat, to challenge the status quo.  So they sit like little bobble head dolls nodding their heads in agreement (go along) because they want to get along.

Some may remember one actress who won an academy award state “you really like me.”  The desire to be liked is inherent in most individuals as human beings are social creatures.

However real progress does not happen when everyone thinks the same way. Disruption is needed. Disruption will upset some people.  Leaders must have the fortitude to handle those upset people.

One impediment to effective leadership is a misplaced sense of loyalty.  Leaders sometimes are loyal to an organization or to one or two people.  They fail to understand where they should place their loyalty.

We witness this misplaced loyalty among politicians who are loyal to each other or to special interests. Then there are business leaders who are loyal to their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Another impediment is the inability by those in leadership roles to provide constructive criticism without personally attacking others.  If some leaders had greater emotional intelligence, improved negotiation and communication skills, they could effectively communicate a “disruptive idea” without others being offended.

Effective leadership always returns to doing the right thing.  So the next time you are in a position where you as a leader (and we are all leaders) are considering “Go along to get along,”  remember to ask yourself what are the “right things” you are sacrificing? 


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Your Leadership Actions Always Trump Your Words

Actions always trump words.  No matter what leadership says, it is what the leaders do, their leadership actions that matter.



Sure there may be words on the wall sharing the organization’s vision, values and mission statements. There may be words in the employee handbook or on the corporate website.  Yet these words remain silent to the leadership actions seen by everyone.

The old and familiar quote “Actions speak louder than words.” is so true.

In the book, Fail-Safe Leadership, the authors provide a checklist to help to determine if any organization has some leadership actions issues.  This checklist is based upon the observations of those within the organization.  For example, are “can’t do attitudes” or “excessive or unproductive meetings” observable?

Some in leadership roles want to be a friend to everyone.  They believe agreement, everyone getting along is the way to lead.  Their behaviors are very malleable and may create confusion to even disrespect.

Then there are the opposite types of leader who live by “do what I say and not what I do.” Their leadership actions generate confusion, inconsistency and disengaged employees. In some cases, fear drives the culture.

Until we learn how to read minds, our actions will always trump our words, our spoken thoughts. As leaders, each of us must take time to reflect as to how our behaviors are being viewed by others. Noted business expert Peter Drucker shared this words:

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” 

The results of your leadership are your actions.  If you want to be a better leader, look to the results your behaviors are generating.

Download this free Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS to learn if your organization has leadership challenges.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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Where We Are Missing the Boat in Leadership Development

Leadership development is wanted, no demanded, according to this article in Business Insider.  Two thirds of the college educated millennials surveyed by Deloitte are looking to leave their current employers in the next four years.  The main reason is a lack of leadership development.

Boats-TwoThis research confirms what employers want – employees with leadership skills and yet they are not getting college graduates with the necessary skills to be effective leaders.  Hint: If you want a great book on effective leadership, read Drucker’s The Effective Executive.

Now think about what this survey has actually revealed.  After 16 years of education young people know:

  • They lack the necessary self-leadership skills required in the workplace
  • Leadership skills are necessary for employment mobility

Very few high schools develop self-leadership skills. There are exceptions such as Culver Military Academy located in Culver, IN.

Leadership for many schools is oriented to community service projects with the hope the leadership skills or rather self-leadership skills will transfer through an osmosis process.

Self leadership is the ability to lead yourself first before you can lead others. 

Even though there are many good to great teachers, they never developed all the leadership skills demanded in a knowledge economy.  Therefore, teachers are limited in the skills they model or even teach.

The best example to demonstrate this lack of leadership development is through “goal setting.”  Years ago in giving a keynote graduation speech to high school seniors I shared this interactive story.

How many of you or your parents, caregivers have ever shopped at the local grocery store?  Please raise your hands. Now how many of you or your parents had a written grocer list in hand?  Please raise your hands.  Have any of you observed that written grocery list being left at home, forgotten?  Again, please raise your hands?  What happened? (I called on those with raised hands.) And by the way, when you forget that written grocery list, whose plan are you now on, yours or the owner of the store?

May we have agreement that from forgetting something, wasting more time, buying things not needed, spending more money, having to go back to get want was forgotten and feeling upset all have importance, significant importance. (Please raise your hands).  So if a written grocery list has significant importance because of the wasted resources of time, energy, money and emotions, where is the written plan for the rest of your life? If you don’t have that written plan, then you are somebody’s else’s plan.  Personally for me that is not an option.  Do you want someone else to be controlling your future?

Leadership development should begin in junior high and continue through out high school.  By the time young people decide on their post secondary education path, they should have a solid foundation of leadership skills including:

  • Communication (listening, speaking and writing)
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Financial
  • Goal setting and goal achievement
  • Positive attitude development
  • Social
  • Team collaboration
  • Time management (Really self-management as no one can manage a constant)

When our society recognizes that leadership development is an investment in the future of our young people and more importantly in our economic growth, then everyone wins.

The Career and College Success Boot Camp is all about leadership development. Classes are forming now for the summer of 2016. Call Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 to learn more.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.



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Corporate Culture Is the Result of Leadership

Earlier this week I saw a social media post about some so called business expert leaving the airport to teach some Fortune 500 firm “corporate culture.”  My first reaction is not printable here. However, my second reaction was “you can’t teach corporate culture because that is the result of good, bad or mediocre leadership.”  The third thought was “more wasted training dollars looking for the quick fix.”

corporate-cultureThere are a plethora of definitions regarding corporate culture. For me, I believe it is the sum total of all the behaviors demonstrated toward other members of any organization. Behaviors are the outward reflection of inner beliefs.  Since most beliefs (thoughts) are 80-90% unconscious or hidden like an iceberg, this means most behaviors are 80-90% unconscious. The predominate unconscious behavior is why corporate culture cannot be taught.

Pretty simple isn’t it?

And yes this is not rocket science.

What can be taught or better yet developed is effective leadership. For it is answerable leadership at all levels that allows good to bad behaviors to flourish.

Leadership development starts with a process where initial beliefs are identified and put on public display. There is a shared discussion about what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are unacceptable.  Then leadership is 100% responsible for ensuring acceptable behaviors are acknowledge and unacceptable behaviors are also acknowledged.

What happens for many small business to even larger ones, there is never any discussion about acceptable behaviors.  If the leaders in charge would invest the time to go through a strategic planning process, they could construct a positive core values statement of positive core beliefs and then share that positive core values statement.

In book Fail-Safe Leadership, the authors provided a quick temperature checklist or leadership audit which was a reflection of corporate culture.  Some of the warning signs of a leadership problem was “excessive meetings” to “cover your behind mentality.”

If you want to improve your corporate culture, begin with these 5 tips:

  1. Create or revisit your positive core values
  2. Communicate your positive core values
  3. Hold everyone including top leadership accountable for unacceptable behaviors
  4. Implement a leadership development process for everyone in your organization starting at the top
  5. Don’t seek the quick fix by a 1, 2 or even 3 day training on corporate culture.


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Leaders and Just Letting Go

letting-goLetting go for leaders is easier said than done.

Feelings are hurt.

Points need to be made.

Personal reputations sometimes are at stake.

After all, leaders are human beings who feel emotions just like everyone else.

And yet how does harboring all those negative feelings move you forward as a leader, as someone who is ahead of the flow?

Where does what appears and may turn into “tit for tat”  actually get you?

Have you really changed anyone’s behavior or beliefs toward you or the situation?

Sure letting go is hard and sometime it is very hard, almost impossible or so it seems.

However if the other person’s behavior is fairly consistent, then does it not make sense to move above it?

Failure in letting go so often translates into what appears to be mud wrestling or worse yet king or queen of the mountain.

Effective leaders know how to let go and to turn those situations around into positive interactions where their leadership actually shines instead of becoming diminished.

Leaders recognize some people are petty.

They realize  some fellow co-workers need to engage in corporate politics.

Then they see those who are just power hungry because their positions of authority are so limited.

Finally leaders probably more than any other type of individual regularly encounter  those who will use any excuse, any reason to put you down because their own self image is so shallow.

Great leaders understand human nature and learn to move above the fray by letting go. Then they turn these negative encounters into positive opportunities to showcase not only their effective leadership, but their positive core values and Business Ethics.

Yes, just letting go is not easy. Years ago my father gave me some advice that I truly did not appreciate until after he passed on.

Just let it go as water off a duck’s back.

P.S. Your business values are important for you as a leader. Did you know they also differentiate your business from your competitors? Register for this FREE webinar on February 7, 12-12:30pm CST to learn how you can Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits.


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The Veil of Effective Leadership Friday’s Editorial

In working on several articles for a joint newsletter than I publish with Laura Novakowski, the word leadership surfaced.  As someone who started an executive consulting and small business coaching practice with a leadership focus, this word is important to me.  Now with the College Success Boot Camp being planned for 2012, leadership has once again become word number two with values being word number one.

Unfortunately, the local to regional to state to national to global stages continue to demonstrate the veil of leadership. A colleague across the pond, Andy Ferguson, refers to it as a cultural of crap.  Regardless what you call it, bad leadership is far more evident than effective leadership.

My sense is this veil of effective leadership continues because of this one word – fear.  People are fearful to point the finger at bad leadership behaviors or at bad leaders. After all, when you point the finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you not to mention all the political correctness about being judgmental.

Another even larger fear is the fear of losing business.  If you say something about what is, is, then you may lose business.  Of course these folks have probably known you for at least 10 years and haven’t bought from you yet. However, there is always a chance and you do not want to cut off your nose to despite your face.

Yet the veil of effective leadership must be pulled down in a respectful way. Unfortunately, challenging the many veils of effective leadership is viewed as a threat to those behind the veil or supporting the veil. In many cases there is usually more than one person behind the leadership veil. Respectful discussion or dialogue in many instances is impossible because people take such comments as personal attacks as they are part of the problem.

Life could be much simpler if we could pull the veil down much like Toto did to the curtain hiding the Wizard of Oz. All it takes is a commitment to challenging the status quo, to separating the message from the messenger, to utilizing higher order thinking and cognitive skills and to staying in alignment with positive core values as demonstrated through specific behaviors.

We as individuals are responsible for our own destiny. We can either march like lemmings following the veil of effective leadership or decide to step away from the crowd and make the common sense and courageous announcement that the young lad did in the child tale of The Emperor’s New Suit or Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson:

“But he (Emperor) has nothing on at all.”


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Arrogance Not Ignorance in Leadership – Friday’s Editorial

In a posting by Margaret Heffernan over at BNet she shared what she thought was the #1  leadership problem. I left my comment while agreeing ignorance in leadership is a challenge I believe it is a symptom of the real problem that being arrogance. Ms. Heffernan made reference to “willful blindness” which for me is arrogance.


Now there may be some regular readers of this blog who may think I am calling the kettle black because they view me as arrogant  and how dare I write these words!  The hypocrisy of such behavior! And that is their choice to have their beliefs. No matter what I write they will disagree with it.

For those who know truly know me, I have often said “I do not know,” but let me find out. If I do not know the answer and cannot find the answer,  I am more willing to refer any individual to someone who has that specific desired knowledge as long as he or she has demonstrated positive core values or business ethics.

Arrogance in leadership from my perspective is very much like the childhood story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson. The Emperor was so blinded by his own arrogance, he allowed tailors to “sew” a “invisible clothes.” Everyone in the kingdom was so afraid of the arrogant leader even though they knew he was naked as he was parading down the street they did not share their knowledge.  Only the voice of a small child who was immune from that fear could be heard challenging the “naked Emperor.”

Arrogant leaders do not ask for clarity or help. They lead by fear and presumption because they believe themselves to be the all knowing all seeing “Oz.” Watch the conclusion of the “Wizard of Oz” to see such arrogance in action.  In many cases they will have others around them who are also arrogant so it is truly the blind leading the blind as the old expression goes.

With information increasing at the speed of light, multi-generational workforce, an economy being pushed by incredible crushing debt, contraction of businesses to more and more one person shops, this is not the time for ignorance in leadership.  Effective leaders will reach out to those who can truly help them and not other arrogant leaders who point fingers, make false accusations and offer unsustainable solutions because they believe they can.

P.S. Source Bing Images:

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