Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

9/11 Dispels the Leaders Are Born Not Made Leadership Myth

Today here in the USA we remember that terrible day 16 years ago when nearly 3,000 lives were lost on American soil.  From the stories of the survivors, we know without question the leadership myth that leaders are born not made is just that a myth.  From the first responders to those brave Americans who attempted to take down terrorists (Todd Beamer “Let’s roll”)  on a plane (Flight #93) over Shankesville, PA, we heard and saw average people made into leaders because of the events of that horrific day.

Throughout history we have witnessed leaders being made by life’s events.  One of my favorite leaders was Audie Murphy. The reason I find him so fascinating was he had no leadership characteristics that many believe leaders must have such as:

  • Wealth
  • High intelligence
  • A family of influence
  • Average age 40 to 60
  • Highly educated
  • Good looking (handsome to beautiful)

Audie Murphy was a poor Texas dirt farmer who enlisted in the Army to provide for his siblings as his father had left the farm and his mother had died.  He didn’t even have a high school education.  His family was not affluent and he lied about his age to enlist.

Yet this poor, rather uneducated, very young, man became the most decorated U.S. solider in WWII. His background defied the leadership myth that leaders are born not made.

After leaving the service, Murphy wrote a book, To Hell and Back, which was turned into a movie.  He played himself in that movie and went on to become an actor.  He unfortunately died in an airplane crash at the age of 45.

Each of us has the ability to be an incredible leader. Of course we must have strong personal convictions (positive core values) so we do not fall into the leadership trap of “go along to get along.” We must be motivated to become a leader because of family obligations to one’s personal purpose to helping others as we saw on 9/11.

So the next time you read or hear this leadership myth that leaders are born not made, remember 9/11 or look to a family member who defied this myth.  I am sure you will see leaders are made each and every day regardless of demographics or circumstance.


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No Purpose Leads to Bad Decisions and Consequently Bad Results

A colleague of mine S. Anthony Iannarino, discussed in his weekly email about how changing one’s decision changes one’s trajectory.  I agree with him because there are a lot of bad results happening because of bad decisions.

bad-decisionsYears ago I read this book The On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy.  He rendered down purpose to being a light switch.  When the light switch is on, you are on purpose.  Conversely when the light switch is off, you are no longer on purpose.

Many bad decisions are the result of not having clarity around one’s purpose.  This is true for any professional in any role from sales to leadership and everything in between.

So what is your purpose?  Have you taken the time to answer:

“Why are you here right now in this moment in time?” 

For example the purpose of young babies is to eat, sleep and dirty their diapers.  As they grow older their purpose changes to playing and asking all those “Why” questions.  In later life for many, the purpose again changes to being loving and engaged grandparents.

When we lack clarity around our purpose, we then unintentionally make bad decisions.  These bad decisions create bad direction or trajectory as Iannarino alludes to in his posting.

Additionally the lack of purpose may help to explain why so many people reside in the Land of Indecision.  As I have said countless times “Indecision is a decision not to take action.”  Others have been quoted as saying “even a bad decision is better than no decision.”  How do you know if the decision is bad until you actually execute it?

In working through your purpose, this tip may help.  How would you answer this question?

What gifts do you bring to the table of life?

By identifying your gifts, you probably have unintentionally also identified many of your positive core values. Is not being understanding of others a gift as well as a positive core value?  How about creativity or honesty?  Many of our gifts, our talents, are rooted in our belief system and reflected as positive core values.

Investing time to commit your purpose to writing will save you time down the road because you will make better decisions and receive much better results.

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Your Social Marketing Reflects Your Leadership

Have you ever considered how your social marketing may be a reflection of your leadership?  For example,  do you add people to your email list without asking permission? By taking this action what does it truly say about your leadership as well as your  business ethics?

Each day I must unsubscribe or mark as spam dozens of emails.  Many of these come from so called “experts” on sales, marketing, leadership and even business ethics. I guess they believe it is okay to add my name to their email lists.

Permission based marketing still exists and should be the best practice for professionals engaged in social selling or social marketing.  However given the increase in social selling, it appears permission based marketing has taken a bad seat to sales pitches.

When professionals regardless of their role ignore common courtesy and respect, this is a reflection of their leadership skills. Their actions only reaffirm my belief not to purchase from them or make any recommendations.

Additionally when SMB owners and sales professionals fail to identify identify their target audience, they may unintentionally send emails to recipients who would never, ever buy from them. I belong to several communities where we share similar solutions. Members on one community never ever add me to their email lists without permission and yet members in another community do so all the time.

When I email those members who add me without permission, I usually receive a contrite reply of “sorry for the inconvenience.”  No, they really aren’t all that sorry.

Leadership is the ability to secure the desired results using clearly articulated positive core values. This means no social marketing or social selling spamming and no sales pitches.

Yes any SMB owner or sales professional wants to increase sales and therefore hopefully profits. However, it is imperative that all behaviors reflect consistent and outstanding leadership otherwise the goal to increase sales will be much harder to achieve.

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Stop, Take a Step Back and Gain Clarity Around Your Purpose

So what’s your purpose if you are in sales, leadership or some other role?  People are so busy working IN their lives, they fail to stop and take a step back to work ON their lives.



When we understand our individual purpose, we gain clarity and this supports us as we move intentionally forward.

Isn’t it funny we use words all the time and think we know what they mean?  Take the word purpose. This word has Latin roots but is viewed as an Anglo-French word of “purpos” meaning intention, aim or goal.

This definition of intention, aim or goal makes sense when we remember the scene in the story Alice in Wonderland as she comes across the Cheshire Cat sitting in the tree. Below the tree are several paths.

She politely asks the Cat “Which path should I take?” The Cat then replies with a question: “Where are you going?”  Alice answers:  “I do not know.”  So the Cat quickly responds: “Well, then any path will take you there.

Alice lacked clarity around her intention, her aim or her goal.  This lack of clarity ended up, if you remember the story line, with her unintentionally attending the croquet game where the Queen of Hearts was yelling “Off with their heads.”

Not knowing your aim in life may have you ending up in a similar nightmarish situation.

So where does this step backward start?  Schedule some time in your calendar to reflect.  Travel back through your life and see if there is any recurring theme specific to your behaviors.

Also, this secondary question of “What gifts do I bring to the Table of Life?” may further assist you to gain greater clarity. Your gifts many times are your talents.

If your life is not where you want it to be, if your results are not where you want them to be and you are tired of encountering the Queen of Hearts, then invest some time for self-improvement by constructing your purpose.

Don’t know your talents, then this quick (under 10-12 minutes) assessment may be your second step forward.

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The Continued Problem with Most Sales Training

Today I received another email about the 7 sales skills that can be taught through sales training.  This headline only reinforced the continued problem with this area.


We train dogs; we develop people!

As I reviewed these 7 sales skills each of them is not an issue of acquiring knowledge as in training, but rather the unaddressed issue of performance, the application of knowledge.  Years ago my coach, David Herdlinger, created the KASH Box (the 4 quadrants). I then further developed it by naming it the KASH Box for Sustainable Change (the 4 quadrants plus the 4 boxes on top, the sustainable change drawer and the incorporation of the knowing doing gap).

Salespeople face ongoing training whether it is paid for by their companies or if it is self-directed. Look at all the books on sales from sales leadership to fact finding to prospecting to sales referrals. The list is endless.  My question is why so many books. seminars, even experts given most of them state the same facts?

People seek the quick fix and the most inexpensive one as well.  Buy a sales book or attend a sales seminar and you will become far more successful. You will increase sales!

Of course, how many attendees actually begin to apply what they have learned and continued that application?

Earlier this year, I attended an educational seminar for business consultants geared toward sales and marketing offered by Ari Galper.  Much of what Galper said created disequilibrium within my mental schema (made me uncomfortable because it was contrary to what I thought to be true and what I was doing). Upon further reflection, I had made some significant changes to my marketing including my content marketing as in this blog.

Now several months later, I continue to apply several of his key concepts because they made sense to me. After buying his book, Unlock the Game, via Kindle, I realized why his concepts made sense.  Note: I did write a review on Amazon and recommend buying the Kindle version not the hard copy.

These changes are now starting to bear fruit or results. Had I not begun to apply what I learned, I would not be enjoying these new results.

If you are considering any sales training, make sure the engagement incorporates a developmental foundation which usually means there is a proven application process behind the learning to ensure application is the desired end result.  To learn more about how this can be done, schedule a time to talk me me by CLICKING HERE.

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The Yes Syndrome of Entrepreneurial Leadership

Entrepreneurial leadership suffers from the yes syndrome.  This is not necessarily a good thing especially when others may be better suited to handle all those yes tasks.  I explored this concept of how yes can be a barrier to small business growth in my weekly online column for the Post Tribune and Chicago Tribune.


Saying Yes Can Be a Barrier to Small Business Growth

Here are a few quotes about entrepreneurial leadership:

  • “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” by Lao Tzu
  • “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” by Adlai E. Stevenson II
  • “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” by John Quincy Adams
  • “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” by Aristotle
  • “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Note:  In May of 2016, the Saturday blog will feature the weekly online column for the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune as well as some related quotations.  Please share your comments.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Leadership Is a Developmental Process, Not a Training Program

Yesterday in speaking with an executive coaching client, he mentioned how his firm was looking into a leadership training program, I suggested to him sustainable leadership happens through a developmental process not through a training program.  Let me explain.

leadershipThe word “program” suggests a beginning, a middle and an end.  Our business, education, health and live worlds are awash in a bunch of programs.

Each year a new program is added to replace its usually failed or ineffective predecessor.  In education, this happens ever three years to coincide with new grants.  The existing program is shoved to the side and new monies make the new program far more attractive.

I did a quick search on this keyword phrase “developmental process” and came upon this definition:

“A biological process whose specific outcome is the progression of an integrated living unit: an anatomical structure (which may be a subcellular structure, cell, tissue, or organ), or organism over time from an initial condition to a later condition.” Source: “

Think about these words “specific outcome is the progression of an integrated living unit.” These words reflect leadership is an outcome of progression.  I would add the word “continued” before progression.  People are living units with an intrinsic motivation to master their worlds; be autonomous and have purpose by being connected to other human beings. (The Theory of Self-Determination)

Additionally a developmental process is based upon proven known facts and can be consistently applied throughout the organization.  Here is an example of the difference.

Diversity training is included in many leadership programs or is a stand alone training program.  This issue has been around for over 40 years from my experience.  Employees attend mandated diversity training on a regular schedule.  My question is with the majority of people being exposed to diversity training why do we still need it? Haven’t we learned to be more accepting, more tolerant after all these training programs?

The answer is because a program does not address the underlying issues within a biological unit.  How many diversity programs look to the attitudes, the beliefs that drive the behaviors?  Then how many diversity programs invest the time to explore those beliefs which according to most research are probably 80%-90% subconscious? No instead a fact is given and people are expected to embrace it.  Piaget revealed this is a false understanding of how people actually learn.

Let me further explain.  So I attend a diversity training program here in Northwest Indiana and jump into my car. At a stoplight, a used pickup truck pulls up next to me.  The driver is a white male, somewhat unkempt.  Potentially my first thought is “there is another hillbilly.”  So how well did that diversity training stick?

Or if you are older, did you ever hear your parents tell you “those kids standing on the corner are up to no good?” We all have beliefs that have been repeated through years of conditioning as well as our own experiences. They have become habits of thought and a one day annual training program will not change them.

A true leadership developmental process begins with beliefs and attitudes.  Then works with those existing beliefs and attitudes along with habits to effect continued progression toward the desired outcome. This also demands a mechanism to further impact this change to ensure its sustainability.  That mechanism is a proven goal setting and goal achievement process.  Then and only then can positive and sustainable behavioral change happen.

If you or your organization wants forward thinking leaders, then consider embracing a leadership developmental process and leave those quick fix leadership programs on the shelf where they belong.

 CLICK HERE to select a time to visit with Leanne to understand this developmental formula

(b) • [(a + s + k) + (mmwG)] = PBC = IP = IR

If you enjoyed this posting, you may find this one Words Do Matter to your liking.

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Why Off Site Leadership and Sales Training Misses the Mark

At least once or twice monthly,  I receive catalogs from organizations that deliver very expensive two to three day  off site leadership and sales training. These learning engagements are directed to much larger organizations that can afford the $2,000 plus fees for these classes and seminars.


The problem with these off site leadership and sales training events is they fail to leverage the HOW and WHY behind learning engagement. This is also the same why for employee engagement.


The HOW is 100% about application.  If the knowledge gained is never applied, then it is lost as learning research suggests. Think back to taking those college finals (when they did college finals).  You may have studied all night and by the time of the actual final, you probably remembered 50%.  Two plus weeks down the road, your cognitive retention dropped to under 10% and by some research reports to 2%.

People need to practice and apply what they have learned to make it stick in long term memory.  Also this allows for them to experience some time of “disequilibrium” between what they learned and what they already know.

The Why

As to the WHY, this returns to individual motivation.  According to the Theory of Self Determination, all human beings have three (3) internal motivational drivers:

  1. Mastery
  2. Autonomy (choice)
  3. Purpose/Relatedness (people)

If any of these three motivational drivers encounter an obstacle, then the individual is less likely to be motivated.  How many times do salespeople go to sales training and then return back to learn their sales manager wants them to sell like how he or she sold?  This sales management attitude is a barrier for mastery (what you learned is foolish), for autonomy (you now have no choice) and purpose (conflict with sales manager).

The majority of off site learning engagements whether they are leadership training, sales training or some other type of training by their structure do not allow for practice and feedback.  This explains in many instances the low return on investment as well as a disengaged sales culture.

Want sales training that hits the mark?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with Leanne


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Sometimes It Makes Sense to Cut Off One’s Nose to Spite One’s Face

Most of us have heard the old adage about “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”  This is statement is used to describe needlessly selfish behavior.

cut-off-one's-nose-to-spite-one's-faceA conversation yesterday had me realize that sometimes this behavior is not necessarily needlessly selfish and makes sense.

For example, I have very strong beliefs about the word leadership.  When local communities create “leadership institutes” or “leadership universities” they are for the most part business to business networking opportunities for local leaders (B2B owners, salespeople) to meet other local leaders.  From my perspective this is not leadership.

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership, I was exposed to Drucker’s definition of leadership “is all about results.”   Since that time, I have amended leadership to be the “ability to secure sustainable results through the demonstration of positive core values.”  

Since I have this very strong belief about leadership, I have avoided joining several local leadership groups because for me it is glorified business to business networking.  By becoming a graduate of these groups, I believe I am violating my own personal and positive core values.  Of course I probably could have earned some business and I accept that loss of business.

Personal Note:  My Values Index has being independent at the top of the scale and this might also help to explain my aversion to these groups.  I truly do not like following the crowd.

However is sacrificing one’s positive core values just to increase sales a valid reason to join these types of leadership groups?  I think not.

Maybe that is part of the problem with business today, the wink and the nod behavior respective to our ethics.  People join groups knowingly not liking the organizer or the purpose, but justify it because they will increase sales.

I do believe in creating authentic relationships and not just schmoozing or becoming another business lemming.  Some have asked me why I haven’t joined these groups? My response is “they do not fit into my strategic plan.”

Yes sometimes it makes sense “to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face” when non-negotiable business ethics or positive core values are in place.

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Retreating to the Quick Fix Leadership Challenge

Effective business leaders have a different attitude when it comes to fixing a leadership challenge. They do not retreat with the desire for the “grabbing for the quick and easy fix.”



The quick and easy fix tasks are usually more easily solved and they contribute very little to growth and innovation, to the future of the SMB. These tasks give a false sense of accomplishment, a sense of improved self-worth much like looking into a cracked and foggy mirror.

Now the truly difficult tasks are avoided because of fears from cost to time to personal accountability.  Facing those difficult tasks reflect the leadership of the business and may be also reflect the lack of executive leadership.

President Kennedy embarked on a truly difficult task of sending a man to the moon and safely returning him back to earth.  He could have focused on the more inconvenient ones faced by past presidents.  No, he decided to not let fear stop him from moving the country forward to a new frontier.

This week we experienced the first significant snow storm of the season. People are complaining on social media about things that happened such as the inconvenience of:

  • Losing electricity
  • Having school age children home because school was cancelled
  • Shoveling snow
  • Driving on slippery roads

Those who settled this land over 100 years ago in a midst of a significant snow storm would be looking at the truly difficult tasks of feeding the livestock; chopping wood; breaking the ice in the water pond, etc.  Their oil lamps would provide the light. The school age children would be doing chores.  As to transportation, if the horse was not an option there was always snowshoes.

When those in business leadership tackle the really difficult tasks, then many of the inconvenient ones sometimes disappear. Of course to tackle the really difficult tasks requires clarity of the real problems and that is another subject for another day.

 CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute leadership challenge conversation with Leanne Hoagland-Smith

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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