The Complete Leadership Development Approach That Works

The Complete Leadership Development Approach That Works

Highly effective leadership is critical to address the many challenges that face organizations today. One factor driving the demand for effective leadership is that businesses, organizations, hospitals, universities and health care institutions are all highly complex organizations, often characterized by numerous professional workforces, departmental silos, ever-changing regulations and global competition. Leaders are tasked with engaging and unifying the various communities, cultures and often unseen motivations within these institutions while maintaining great customer or clinical care and increasing profitability and enrollment.

Admittedly, many organizations are recognizing this rising complexity and are working to implement leadership development programs to meet the challenge, but they may be missing key elements that ensure a successful leadership development culture. Part of the challenge with most leadership programs is that they are often viewed in isolation as a module or add-on. 

-There is quite a difference between deploying a shiny new leadership development program, and developing a culture that consistently produces effective leaders-

Complete Leadership Development programs seek to address and develop the 3 following domains in conjunction with skills and competency development as a comprehensive and holistic approach to attracting, retaining and developing exceptional leaders.


1. Emotional Intelligence(EI)

Developing your EI is increasing your ability to manage your emotions, connect with a wider range of people and personalities, influence outcomes and decisions and inspire productive behavior. An executive coach, as part of a larger development implementation, helps accelerate development of key leadership skills, including humility, self-awareness, work–life balance, focus, collaboration, and accountability. A coach can give immediate feedback, move conversations from the broad to the specific, provide support while challenging ideas, and model active listening. With executive coaching, the probability of increasing EI is greatly increased.

Perhaps the most important differentiating feature of the effective health care leader is emotional intelligence which has been defined as the ability to understand and manage oneself and to be aware of and manage relationships.
— Stoller, James K. MD, MS 

2. Organizational Intelligence(OI)

This is about making sure the systems, strategy, processes, environment and political landscape work to drive performance and morale. Even the best plan is likely to fail or at best produce subpar results if the organization isn’t willing to look in the mirror to address stifling politics, cumbersome processes and/or ineffective strategies. A great Scott Adams cartoon captures this well:

Leadership development is usually relegated to the domain of Emotional Intelligence and skills/performance enhancement, but great organizations know it’s not enough to just invest in your people. Senior leaders must be willing to address gaps, frustrations, regulations, politics, etc., that make an otherwise great organization, a miserable place to work.

-A talented and skilled leader with high EI will eventually leave if the organization is toxic and frustrating-

It’s important to understand that leadership isn’t just about focusing on developing people, it’s about making the necessary and critical changes in the system that drive both the performance of the organization and the health of its’ people.


3. Cultural Intelligence(CI)

Culture may seem hard to define, but it’s easy to feel. In a recent retreat with the Division Chiefs at the University of Colorado, Department of Surgery, we were working to craft a vision and mission statement when during a brief silence, Dr. Schulick interjected, “Culture trumps everything!” I couldn’t agree more.The classical definition of corporate culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.

Culture’s all that invisible stuff that glues organizations together.
— David Caldwell, Emeritus Professor of Management, Santa Clara University

I like the less classical definition of culture as the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient. From this second definition, we could say that if Organizational Intelligence is the process of cultivating, and Emotional Intelligence is the living material being cultivated then Cultural Intelligence is the prepared nutrient where cultivation happens. CI is the environment and mood that arises from the shared vision and values of an organization. Great leaders invest heavily in developing a clear vision and direction that produces a profound sense of purpose and belonging for all team members.

-CI is the environment and mood that arises from the shared vision and values of an organization-


By designing a Complete Leadership Development Program that takes a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, you are creating a culture that consistently produces exceptional leaders prepared to effectively navigate complex challenges.

A great example of a Complete Leadership Development Approach is being led by Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA, FACS, Professor and Chair of University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Department of Surgery.


By Ron Miles, PCC


In my last post, Ready for Promotion, we focused on the organization and how they went about selecting an individual for a managerial position. I pointed out that in many cases the results were not good. The most consistent reason being that the organization looks at the individuals performance in their current position and not creating opportunities for the individual to demonstrate the skills needed for the managerial position. Organizations that get this right have a much higher success rate.

So for this post, let’s turn it around and focus on the individual promoted into their first or a higher level managerial position and things aren’t going so well. The obvious question is, “What can I do?” 

Do any of these things describe your situation?

  1. I keep getting frustrated or angry.
  2. I know what I want to say, but I just can’t find the right way to express myself.
  3. I find myself more concerned with being accepted by my team, than in making the hard decisions.
  4. There’s just so many options and I just can’t seem to distinguish between them.

I keep putting things off.

If the answer to one or more is yes then maybe it’s your emotional intelligence?


As I work with clients, I’m amazed at their lack of understanding of their emotional intelligence. Their knowledge varies from nothing to an impressive ability to explain it. But when it comes to application, more knowledge doesn’t always equate to its effective use.

So that we are on the same page, let’s start with a definition from Multi-Health Systems Inc (MHS). Emotional Intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we:

  • Perceive and express ourselves
  • Develop and maintain social relationships 
  • Cope with challenges
  • Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful


Now with an understanding of what it is, the next logical response could be “So what! Why is it such a big deal?”

Let’s look at why it’s important and such a big deal. Let’s look in three areas.

First, “What Makes a Leader?” by Danial Goleman, … my research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non (an essential condition; a thing that is absolutely necessary) of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader … When I analyzed all this data, I found dramatic results. To be sure, intellect was a driver of outstanding performance. Cognitive skills such as big-picture thinking and long-term vision were particularly important, But then I calculated the ratio of technical skills, IQ, and emotional intelligence as ingredients of excellent performance, emotional intelligence proved to be twice as important as the others for jobs at all levels … Moreover, my analysis showed that emotional intelligence played an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. In other words, the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness. When I compared star performers with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities.

Second, in the book The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley, a survey was taken of 733 multi-millionaires throughout the United States. When asked to rate the factors most responsible for their success, the top five were:

  • Being honest with all people
  • Being well disciplined
  • Getting along with people
  • Having a supportive spouse
  • Working harder than most people

All five are reflections of emotional intelligence.

Cognitive intelligence, or IQ, was 21st on the list and only endorsed by 20 percent of millionaires. In fact, it went even lower when millionaire attorneys and physicians were taken out of the analysis. SAT scores, highly related to IQ were on average, higher than the norm, but not high enough for acceptance to a top-rated college. What about grade point averages? They came in at 2.92 on a 4.0 scale. Again, nothing to make mom and dad especially proud.

Metaphorically IQ allows you to enter the elevator, but it is EQ that fuels your elevator’s upward trajectory.

Third, in the June 21, 1999, Fortune cover article, “Why CEO’s Fail,” authors Ram Charan and Geoffrey Colvin demonstrated that unsuccessful CEO’s put strategy before people. Successful CEOs shine - not in the arena of planning or finances — in the area of emotional intelligence. They show integrity, people acumen, assertiveness, effective communication and trust-building behavior.

With a better understanding of Emotional Intelligence and why it’s important, let’s go back to the original question, “What can I do?” I have two suggestions:

  1. There’s “tons” of literature on the subject. Go get it and read it. Increase your knowledge and look for ways to apply it. Remember it’s knowledge and practice that produces the desired results. Two suggestions:
  • What Makes a Leader by Daniel Goleman
  • The EQ Edge, Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, by Steen J. Stein, PhD and Howard E. Book, M.D.

       2. Get a coach.

  • See if your company uses coaches and will provide one for you. If they don’t, then ask for one. They’ve picked you for the position. It would certainly be in their best interest to help you be successful.
  • Hire your own coach. Yes, it’s an expense, but it would seem to be in your best interest to help yourself when looking at the option of failure or success. 

Ready for Promotion

Ready for Promotion

With my experience across many industries and disciplines, I’m amazed at the commonality of specific events. One that is most prevalent deals with the selection of an individual for a managerial position. More times than not, the results are not good. Not only can it be a disaster, it is expensive to correct. While there are many contributing factors, let’s examine two that are the most prevalent.

4 Ways to Give Feedback That Rips the Blinders Off

Feedback is something that we all know is extremely important, yet often we shoot from the hip. Where there should be leadership intentionality there is leadership immaturity.  How can you provide feedback that makes a difference? What if your goal is to provide feedback with enough impact people drop their “I’ve got it all together act” and start to see themselves as others see you them.  For this to happen you must become someone who can walk into a situation and see things that others do not see, giving people penetrating insight into the situation. 

There is a law firm in New York that has an interesting promotion process from being an associate to become a partner in the law firm.  Once you have been an associate for three years you can apply to become a partner. This is a panel interview process made up of current partners. If you are denied you must wait one year plus one day to re-apply. If you are denied the second time once again you must wait one year plus one day before reapplying.  If you are denied the third time you are terminated from the firm.  There was an associate who had made the three-year requirement and applied to become partner. He was denied. This was not a surprise as he anticipated this process to be challenging.  Over the next year he volunteered for additional pro bono work and was intentional with looking for cross-functional opportunities. He reapplied to become partner. He was denied the second time. Over the course of the next year he took on more international work. His heavy travel schedule cost him his marriage. His health was also deteriorating. He submitted for his third and final time to become partner. He was denied again and terminated.  As he was leaving with his belongings in hand he stopped at his friends office that was a partner on the panel interview team. He asked his friend if after the first interview they knew he wouldn’t become a partner? His friend replied, “Yes”.  He then asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that.”  The friend replied, “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” The absence of meaningful feedback cost this employee his marriage, his health and his career.

If we are honest with ourselves, we have all found ourselves wanting to give meaningful feedback but didn’t because we did not want to hurt our friends feelings.

There are 4 guiding ideas for giving feedback so meaningful that it results in ripping the blinders off without making people resent you.

1.     Discuss your commitment to the employee at the very beginning – More often than not feedback is misunderstood not because of “what” you have said but “why” they think you have said it. It is imperative that you bring the skill set of backbone and heart into this conversation. Backbone being defined as the ability to call out the hard issue. Heart being defined as your ability to stay connected with the person even when the relationship is mired in conflict.

2.     Separate intent versus impact – A natural response to meaningful feedback is to excuse or explain their intent. Be crystal clear your feedback is based on observable impact and not questioning their intent. This sets the employee up to be curious and ultimately take responsibility for their impact.

3.     Be direct and let them know: “Now I am going to be challenging!” – By announcing that you are going to be challenging, people get the message but do not take it personally or resent you for it. Great leaders deliberately make challenging statements to jar people from their every day view and invite them to see things differently.

4.     Recognize them for who they are, not just for what they do – Great leaders go beyond recognizing just the task. Meaningful feedback connects their unique qualities of excellence to what they do. To acknowledge someone, a leader might say, “I want to recognize you not only for the work you put into your presentation, but also for your attention to detail. I can tell detail is important to you.”

Giving high-quality feedback has more to do with caring enough about people to tell it like it is that it has with having a particular skill or technique.
— Robert Hargrove, Executive Coach

Meaningful feedback involves having the ability to acknowledge people for who they are and what they are capable of and being willing to have the tough conversations. 



4 Ways to See and Overcome Your Leadership Blind Spots

4 Ways to See and Overcome Your Leadership Blind Spots

For the most part, the human eye gives the brain an accurate picture of what's going on in the world around it. Many assume that what they see is all that is actually out there. That's not entirely true. Each human eye has a blind spot. The brain handles the blind spot by scanning the surrounding environment to fill in what is missing so you’re not even aware the blind spot is present.

-A leadership blind spot is something you stink at that you think you’re great at-

Much like the human eye, leaders have blind spots and are usually unaware they are present. We call them leadership blind spots. To be clear, a leadership blind spot is not the same as a weakness. A weakness is a challenge you’re aware of. In contrast, a leadership blind spot is something you stink at that you think you’re great at.

According to an article published by Allen Sockwell and Brad Westveld, the top two leadership blind spots are 1) under-communicating strategic direction and 2) poorly communicating expectations. These two made the top blind spot list not because everyone is bad at them but because most leaders and organizations think they are doing them well.

-As executive coaches, our role is to help leaders see and overcome their blind spots-

At the core of our blind spots is something called illusory superiority; a cognitive bias where individuals overestimate their own qualities and abilities, relative to others. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above average relative to their peers. In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed better than 19 out of 20 of their colleagues. You do the math.

A leadership blind spot can hurt relationships, hinder performance and derail your career. As executive coaches, our role is to help leaders see and overcome their blind spots. Here’s how:

1. Start with a vision of how you want to be perceived.

Before you go searching for your blind spots, you need a clear picture of the leader you’d like to be. Here are just a few questions to answer of yourself: How do I want my leadership characterized by others? What’s my ideal reputation? What impact would I like to make on others? How do I want to communicate and interact with colleagues?  The idea is to create a clear and compelling picture of the leader you want to become. Write down and hold on to the vision you create in this step. You’ll be more likely to listen to hard feedback in the next steps when you’re serious about becoming the leader you envision.

2. Ask for candid feedback.

Reach out to people who have observed your performance and are willing to give you candid feedback on how you are perceived. This can be done using a formal 360° assessment, an executive coaching conversation or informally over lunch with a colleague. I remember asking a co-worker to give me feedback on my leadership abilities. He told me how I steamroll him and others when I have a big idea and people perceive me as a bully because of it. The feedback shocked me and was very difficult to hear. I truly believed that I was good at building consensus but I had no idea the impact I was actually having on my team. That conversation hurt but taught the value of feedback. I only wish I’d heard it years earlier.

-It’s possible your blind spot is that you don’t receive feedback well-

Some of you may be thinking, “I ask my people all the time for feedback and they tell me I’m doing fine.” It’s possible your blind spot is that you don’t receive feedback well, therefore your team is unwilling to be honest with you. If that’s the case, you’ll need to work toward building a safe environment for feedback.

3. Receive the feedback.

How should you receive feedback? With a genuine “thank-you”. Leaders often fail to routinely get critical feedback from their teams on performance not because they don’t ask, but because the environment isn’t safe. It’s the leaders job to create safety. You may not like or agree with what you hear, but getting defensive or turning the conversation around is a sure-fire way to guarantee that person will never be honest with you again.

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.
— Andy Stanley

How you respond to feedback will determine the kind of feedback, if any, you receive in the future. A good leader asks for feedback. A great leader receives it.

4. Adjust perspectives and behaviors to align with vision.

Now it’s time to think and act differently. I can’t imagine much worse than giving your team the hope of positive change by genuinely asking them for feedback then doing nothing with that feedback. This is where having an executive coach can really accelerate your performance and help keep you on track. A coach reminds you of the vision, gives you critical feedback, helps shift your perspectives, inspires insight and co-creates a path forward to achieving your vision.

-When you make a commitment you build hope, when you keep a commitment you build trust-

We all have leadership blind spots. Seeing and overcoming them is not for the faint of heart but the effort is worth it. What will you do about your blind spots?

Bridgepoint Announces New Business Partner

My vision for Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group has always been to inspire insight and perspective that has immediate and lasting impact for our clients. I have been looking for a key partnership that would accelerate Bridgepoint's pursuit of that vision while honoring our core values. Awe. Adventure. Advocacy. 

10 Ways For New Leaders To Develop Their Leadership Skills

Pursue Feedback

Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Excellent leaders are characterized by aggressively pursuing feedback. You will never graduate with a degree in leadership from the school of “no news is good news.” After most “enlightening” experiences, circle back and ask what went well and what could’ve been better. Be relentless in your pursuit of receiving feedback.   – Dean MilesBridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

Got A Monkey On Your Back?

The Care and Feeding of Monkeys


Have you ever had a monkey on your back?  Did you invite the monkey to take the ride or did it get put there by a subordinate? 

This article was originally published in the November–December 1974 issue of HBR and has been one of the publication’s two best-selling reprints ever.  Below are the five hard-and-fast rules governing the “Care and Feeding of Monkeys.”

Rule 1.

Monkeys should be fed or shot. Otherwise, they will starve to death, and the manager will waste valuable time on postmortems or attempted resurrections.

Rule 2.

The monkey population should be kept below the maximum number the manager has time to feed. Subordinates will find time to work as many monkeys as he or she finds time to feed, but no more. It shouldn’t take more than five to 15 minutes to feed a properly maintained monkey.

Rule 3.

Monkeys should be fed by appointment only. The manager should not have to hunt down starving monkeys and feed them on a catch-as-catch-can basis.

Rule 4.

Monkeys should be fed face-to-face or by telephone, but never by mail. (Remember—with mail, the next move will be the manager’s.) Documentation may add to the feeding process, but it cannot take the place of feeding.

Rule 5.

Every monkey should have an assigned next feeding time and degree of initiative. These may be revised at any time by mutual consent but never allowed to become vague or indefinite. Otherwise, the monkey will either starve to death or wind up on the manager’s back.

10 Ways CEOs Can Avoid Alienating Their Management Teams

Clockwise from top left: Emily Kapit, Julie Kantor, Doug Thorpe, Lisa Downs, Mary Schaefer, Lianne Lyne, Michelle Braden, Greg DeSimone, Dean Miles, Michelle Tillis Lederman. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

Clockwise from top left: Emily Kapit, Julie Kantor, Doug Thorpe, Lisa Downs, Mary Schaefer, Lianne Lyne, Michelle Braden, Greg DeSimone, Dean Miles, Michelle Tillis Lederman. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

Gone are the days of the “untouchable” CEO. Today, in order to be most effective, CEOs must make communication a top priority. Keeping management in the loop, whether you’re involved in an acquisition, a restructure or a crisis of sorts, is the key to getting through any challenge.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for leaders to default to poor communication, especially when there’s a problem. Below, 10 coaches from Forbes Coaches Council share their insights into how a CEO might unintentionally alienate his or her management team, and a few best practices for improving communication going forward.


1. Understand Every Individual’s Unique Communication Style

To be an effective leader, it is incumbent upon an executive to not just communicate openly with management teams but identify how individuals best communicate overall. One team member responds better to weekly 1:1 meetings; another thrives with “as needed” conversations. Great! Find each person’s ideal way to communicate and, when possible, go with that. Everyone will benefit from the support.   – Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRWReFresh Your Step, LLC

2. Be Clear About What You Want, And Then Get Out Of The Way

CEOs foster disengagement when they hire a talented team and then either micromanage them or fail to empower them. A CEO will create an engaged and productive team if they clearly define the roles and responsibilities for each team member, discuss and define goals and deliverables, and then empower the team to lead their own team and meet the agreed upon goals.   – Julie Kantor, PhDJP Kantor Consulting

3. Avoid Taking Superstars For Granted

You must avoid assuming the rockstars will stay rockstars. Taking top notch talent for granted can be a huge mistake. Hard workers desire recognition for their effort from their superiors. Yet when the big bosses take all the hard work without so much as a heartfelt “thank you,” you start asking why.   – Doug ThorpeHeadway Exec

4. Avoid “I Want” Or “I Need” Statements

When a C-Level (or any) leader consistently starts sentences with phrases like “I want you to,” or ”I need you to,” etc., it gives the impression that everything is about the leader and not the team, causing greater alienation. Instead, phrase things in a way that invites input through the use of “us,” we” and “our.” Asking “What are your thoughts about how we can improve?” goes a long way.   – Lisa DownsDevelopmentWise Consulting

5. Stop Talking So Much

We know you were promoted because you are knowledgeable and know how to make things happen. What I hear from C-suite level execs is that they wish the CEO would ask them what they think. And then stop talking. It happens to managers at all levels. Part of it is the pace business is moving. Deliberately creating space to listen lets your staff know you want to hear what they have to say.   – Mary SchaeferArtemis Path, Inc.

6. Check Your Bias

It is easy to alienate a team by rapidly assuming poor performance is due to a lack of ability or effort rather than situational factors. Being aware of this tendency aids effective communication. Next time you find yourself coming to a negative conclusion about someone’s character or ability, ask yourself: What situational factors could be affecting this individual’s performance or behavior?   – Lianne LynePLP Coaching, LLC

7. Practice The Golden Rule

Leading everyone in the same manner is a sure way to unintentionally alienate and have communication breakdowns. CEOs who want to stay connected and communicate effectively should practice the Golden Rule which says, “Do unto others as they would have done unto you.” This requires a CEO to go beyond their personal preferences and learn how their people prefer to engage, communicate and be communicated with.   – Michelle BradenMSBCoach, LLC

8. Link Directives Back To Purpose

An easy way for a CEO to alienate his/her team is to give orders and directives without context. An easy way to fix this is to link each decision you communicate back to the company’s core purpose, values, mission or vision. This gives context and support for why decisions are being made and why they are important. Of course, the company needs to have those items defined first.   – Greg DeSimoneCatapult Advisory Group

9. Clarify, Communicate, Confirm, Connect

These four C’s are required for communication. Often CEOs clarify and communicate, and that’s where the conversation ends and the communication wheels come off the bus. Make sure you spend at least half your conversation time confirming and connecting with yourmanagement team. A challenge: Ask your team what three areas are most important right now. You will be shocked by their answers.   – Dean MilesBridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

10. Be Transparent And Keep People In The Loop

Withholding information can shut down creativity and communication and decrease morale. Keeping your team in the loop is one of the top three contributors to job satisfaction. Don’t create a team of yes men. If you want to keep the ideas flowing, let your people know how their ideas impact your decisions. Transparency is key, but it’s not about simply saying what you are doing but why you are doing it.   – Michelle Tillis LedermanExecutive Essentials

The 3 Questions Every Manager Should Be Answering

By Ron Miles, PCC


What’s a Manager?

Throughout my career in industry and as a coach, I’ve watched people struggle making the transition to a management position or even an experienced manager being “just good enough”.  In either profession, when I assisted someone, I start by defining, “what is a manager”. Once again this is a subject that volumes have been written about. Over the years, I’ve condensed it down to a very simple definition. I’m not sure if it’s my words or I adopted them from someone else? In either case the definition is:


Manager = Getting things done with and through other people.


It’s simple, easy to remember, and clearly states the role. The success of a manager is determined by the success of each direct report.


The Three Questions

Once the manager understands their role, then the question becomes, “How do I turn this group into a highly effective team?” To achieve this, I ask them to focus on three questions, with each member of the team on an individual basis:

1.     What’s my job?

2.     How am I going?

3.     Does anybody care?



What’s My Job?

In a Harris Interactive Poll of 23,000 employees from manufacturing, military, government, healthcare and telecommunications:

·       Only 37% said they could clearly understand what their company is trying to achieve and why.

·       Only 1 in 5 said they had a clear line of sight between their company goals and their task.


To this point, when I ask a manager if their direct reports clearly understand what they are expected to do, I consistently get an emphatic “yes”.  To test this I use the following simple exercise:

I ask the manager “What are the three most important things the direct report is to complete this month?” The manager, generally with great assurance, will tell me. I then go to the direct report and ask, “What are the three most important things your manager expects you to complete this month?” Very seldom do I get the same answer!


As a manager, if you want your team to be effective, make sure they know what they are expected to do. If your life depended on it, how confident are you that your direct reports know what is expected of them, individually and as a whole? Don’t assume; after all the discussion and commitments have been made, have each individual repeat back to you what they have committed to do and by when.



How Am I Doing?

So once the direct reports know what they are supposed to do and set out to get it done, it seems obvious that they would want to know how they are doing. It’s called feedback. It lets them know that they are on the right track or if they need to change direction. This is not an annual, semi-annual, quarterly, or monthly performance review. Also, this should not be confused with dealing with poor performance that could result in disciplinary action. Those are entirely different topics. This is specifically a timely conversation between the manager and their direct report as to how the task/project is proceeding. This doesn’t require a formal meeting in the manager’s office. It can be done at the job site, on the shop floor, or standing in the hall. Based on observation and the conversation, “Is it on track or is there a need to change direction?” Then act accordingly.


If it’s that simple, why isn’t it consistently being done? Managers have three ways to communicate feedback; positive, negative, or none. Unfortunately, the option used most is none. (And they wonder why things aren’t going right!) The most prevalent explanation as to why feedback isn’t consistently given is that the manager is too busy dealing with critical issues, doesn’t understand the importance of positive feedback, and doesn’t have the courage or “know-how” to effectively deliver negative feedback.


So doing nothing is absolutely the worst thing to do! Giving positive feedback is one of the most critical things they should do. We’ll explain more in the third question. Finally, if a change in direction is needed, then negative feedback must be given. Again, we are not taking about an issue of poor performance, but for the need of a change of direction. It can be given in a constructive way that clarifies the change required and offers an opportunity for the direct report to learn and grow.

Does Anyone Care?
Whether you call it recognition or reward, study after study has concluded that the number one thing an employee wants to know is that their boss knows what they are doing and appreciates what they do. Appreciation is consistently the number one need that people have. So if you want something repeated, then recognize it. Let your direct report know, that you know and that their work is appreciated. To emphasize the importance even more, the same studies show that if the manager fails to let the direct report know that they care, the employee will assume the opposite. So, once again, doing nothing is the worst thing to do and in this case, over time, it actually makes performance.


So what should the manager do? Consistently communicate with their direct reports that they are aware of what they are doing and recognize good performance and that it’s appreciated. It doesn’t require a physical or monetary reward, just a simple verbal recognition:

Be Specific – State exactly what they did.

Be Sincere – Show that you mean it.

Be Timely – As soon as possible.



Obviously, with so much written on this subject, there’s no limit to the depth or complexity I could have gone, but that wasn’t my purpose.  Over all, if you will start with these three questions you’ll be on the right track. The meaning and the depth of your understanding and application will grow as you put them into practice. Remember, Learning is knowledge plus practice.


Your questions and comments are both welcome and appreciated.

What is your CLE (Collective Leadership Effectiveness)?

In 2010, IBM interviewed over 1,500 CEOs worldwide to learn what their challenges are and their strategies for addressing them (Capitalizing complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study). Two challenges emerged at the top of the list: 1) escalating complexity, and 2) building the creative capacity and leadership to deal with it. These findings were consistent in the 2012 and 2014 CEO studies as well.

First let's look at escalating complexity.

The Boston Consulting Group explains it this way:

Managing complexity and it's related cost is a growing challenge for companies. The increasingly global nature of business gives rise to diverse customers and markets, convoluted supply chains, and vast supplier networks.  The trend toward product customization allows customers to have it their way but wreaks havoc on production schedules and inventory management.  Parts and components proliferate on warehouse shelves, sophisticated technologies and formulas underlie even the most basic products, and our gadgets have more features and functionality than ever before. The cost of this increasing complexity is often hidden, but they are almost always a significant drain on profitability.

The growth of complexity is reflected in businesses’ goals. Today companies, on average, set themselves six times as many performance requirements as they did in 1955, the year the Fortune 500 list was created. Back then, CEOs committed to four to seven performance imperatives; today they commit to 25 to 40. And many of those requirements appear to be in conflict: Companies want to satisfy their customers, who demand low prices and high quality. They seek to customize their offerings for specific markets and standardize them for the greatest operating return. They want to innovate and be efficient.

At the Boston Consulting Group, they’ve created an “index of complicatedness,” based on surveys of more than 100 U.S. and European listed companies, which measures just how big the problem is. The survey results show that over the past 15 years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed in each of those firms has increased by anywhere from 50% to 350%. According to their analysis over a longer time horizon, complicatedness increased by 6.7% a year, on average, over the past five decades.

The second challenge as identified in the CEO study, is building the creative capacity and the leadership to deal with the escalating complexity. 

Bob Anderson in his book, Mastering Leadership, describes what he calls the Leadership Imperative. The Leadership Imperative is simply this: 

“The development of leadership effectiveness must, at a minimum, keep pace with the rate of change and the rate of escalating complexity. Not to keep pace with the rate of escalating complexity is to become less relevant and effective. If the challenges we face are more complex than we are, our leadership is inadequate and a competitive disadvantage.”

Bob Anderson goes on to say, “In business, collective leadership effectiveness is underutilized and rarely capitalize upon. Most development focuses on individual leaders, ignoring collective effectiveness and the leadership system.”

Take a moment and think about your direct reports. If I were to ask you about the collective leadership effectiveness of your team what would you say? More than likely you thought about the majority of your team that is effective and convinced your self they covered for the team member(s) that is ineffective. Unfortunately, research does not support your conclusion. Management expert, Peter Senge, notes that the collective intelligence and performance of most groups is well below the average intelligence and performance of the members. We usually dumb down when we come together. We act at the lowest common denominator. 

Let me bottom line this for you. Your least effective team member IS your collective leadership effectiveness. Does this concern you? If this is true, do you still have a leadership advantage?

As business continues to escalate in complexity it is imperative that you increase the individual and group collective leadership effectiveness. Your ability to develop leaders capable of navigating in an increasingly complex world is a strategic priority and a competitive advantage.

Collective effectiveness carries the day.

Here are some questions to consider: 

  • Is your leadership developing at the pace to stay relevant? How do you know?
  • Are you tracking the effectiveness of leadership over time to gauge improvement?
  • Is your leadership a competitive advantage or disadvantage?
  • How effective is your personal and collective leadership? How do you know?

Leadership development programs of today are not up to this challenge. Most approaches to developing leaders focus primarily on developing competency and capability. These approaches are insufficient in a world of escalating complexity. We need to develop capability, to be sure, but we need to do much more. We need to develop the complexity of mind of the leader because, if the complexities of the challenges we face are more complex than we are, we are outmatched. But if we can evolve the complexity of the mind of the leader, to be equal to the complexity of the challenge, we can lead. 

The executive coaches at Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group are certified in a new leadership system that is designed to uncover your personal and your team’s collective leadership effectiveness.  When you are ready to know your CLE contact us at

A C.H.E.A.P. Approach To Impact


By Johnny Karls, CPCC


For me, it started at 27. I was a student in a “Realize Your Gifts” class. As would seem appropriate, during the 6-week engagement we were to participate in a peer assessment. The assignment was to give this questionnaire to five people--individuals who knew me well and would care for me enough to give honest feedback.


I chose my cohorts carefully, truly seeking both confirmation of what I already knew and perhaps an insignificant blind spot or two. My trusted feedback-providers filled out a multiple-choice questionnaire along with a single page of written answers.


The time came when the aggregated feedback was given to me. I remember as if it were yesterday. As I read the first assessment it was obvious that there was a distribution mistake: this was clearly about someone else. I went to the second assessment - the answers were very similar to the first, but again, it couldn’t have been my assessment. The third document the same, and so forth. And then it hit me: these were about me! What?


"It's not what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."                                                                                                                                  Mark Twain


I was shocked twofold, first at how I was perceived and second that I had been so unaware. Some of the feedback was disappointing, although much of it was surprisingly positive and encouraging. Here’s the point: That day changed my life because it was then that I deeply realized the value of receiving feedback. I learned that without others’ perspectives, I’m just living a fictitious reality.


Since then, I have participated in several similar assessments. Because of awareness and a commitment to continued improvement, the feedback has gotten better (and less surprising) over the years. I’ve come a long way, baby…and I’ve got a long way to go. The truth really can set you free.


Recently I was leading a workshop with a similar theme. I asked the group of sales people, “If there were an obvious trait that you didn’t realize about yourself, but that your colleagues could clearly see, would you want to know?” After giving a moment for reflection I randomly chose a person and rhetorically asked, “Frank, would you want to know?” A wise-guy in the group quickly blurted, “There are plenty of things that Frank needs to know.” Laughter. The opportunity was perfect. I said to the unsuspecting patsy, “Steve, did you realize you’ve been clicking your pen non-stop for the past 20 minutes and everybody in the room wants to put your hand in a paper shredder?” The group response: pure joy that somebody outed the annoying pen guy! Awareness is the beginning of change. With awareness we then have choices.


Let me suggest 5 ways constructive feedback could be a huge advantage to your life. We’ll call these benefits C.H.E.A.P. Here’s what you’ll get:


1) Clarity – If you don’t know the truth, how can you improve?

2) Humility – You should be prepared for some hard, uncomfortable truth; but remember, having weaknesses does not make you weak. We’ve all got them so get over it!

3) Encouragement – You will also learn more about strengths you didn’t know you had, which can be extremely encouraging.  

4) Approachability – Influence begins with relationship. People that are open to feedback tend to be safe and trustworthy.

5) Power – All of this leads to power. The power to influence is in direct correlation with one’s willingness to receive feedback.


Receiving honest feedback-and utilizing it appropriately-may be the easiest, most powerful thing you can do to maximize your impact. Be that person who seeks and receives feedback well.  

The Power Seat Way - A Lesson In Leadership

Our friend Christina Nepstad just published this blog.  I wanted to share it with you.  Also check out her new book, The Power Seat.

Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.
— Harold S. Geneen

My goal to compete in the Miss California USA pageant was exciting, but without a sponsor it would be next to impossible. I spent months approaching various companies, both big and small, with the hopes that someone would be interested in the opportunity. After many failed attempts, I started to get discouraged.

Feeling defeated, I hid in my bed with a gallon of ice cream (some things never change). As I aimlessly perused television channels, a particular commercial caught my eye. The hotel chain Marriott was running an ad which illuminated their mission of helping to build dreams with their guests. 

I remember stopping mid-bite and thinking, “Hey, I have stayed at the Marriott many times!  What could it hurt to ask?”

The next day, I put a call into Marriott Corporate. I must admit, things didn’t go exactly how I had imagined, but after calling every other day for the next eight weeks, I was informed Bill Marriott would be happy to meet with me.

As an unsophisticated and inexperienced young woman, I thought I knew a lot about, well, everything. However, Bill Marriott was about to share a life lesson I would never forget and hope to always emulate.

With portfolio in hand, I took a dozen deep breaths to hopefully exhale a few nerves. When I strode through the door, as confidently as I could fake, Mr. Marriott was on the phone and motioned me to have a seat. I remember so vividly the kindness of this man. However, he was not at all what I had expected for a “Mr. Marriott.” Meaning, I assumed (never a good idea) he would look and sound more ominous and powerful.

Before I knew it, we were in the throws of conversation. He applauded my persistence, yet questioned the intentions behind why I pursued “The Marriott.” He asked me why he should invest in my cause. He questioned how the money would be used. Then he took a sudden left turn and asked what it was I did for others. He asked if I used my gift of persistence to help anyone other than myself.

I was less than impressive with my answers. Truthfully, his questions were profound and incredibly relevant, I just hadn’t given it much thought before then. He continued, “Christina, I appreciate you for pursuing your dream, however the Marriott can’t give you the funds you need.” Just then he took out his checkbook from his briefcase and started filling it out. While he was writing, he shared this life lesson that forever changed me. “Always remember, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more you will be more.’’

Bill handed me a personal check, giving me permission to use the Marriott name as my sponsor. But what he really gave me that day was a priceless gift of wisdom. His words are forever ingrained in my mind and heart. Mr. Marriott taught me that leadership is about pointing others to their potential and leaving them better off than when you found them.

There truly is no better satisfaction than influencing someone’s life for the better. I have come to the conclusion that Bill Marriott is one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met, not because of his accomplishments or money, but because of his purpose.

I did become Miss California, but more importantly I learned a lesson that has inspired me to value and invest in the future of others.

The principles and standards we abide to, in all areas of our lives, provide enormous clues as to what kind of leaders we are. I suppose Bill knew this when he was asking me those enlightening questions.

As long as we are willing and pledge to honesty we can all benefit from asking ourselves the tough questions. We just can't afford not to know all we can about our judgement and reasoning when other people are involved. 

Bill's Questions (For Self-Reflection)

Why should anyone invest in your cause?

How will you use your money or other gifts?

What do you do for others?

Do you use your gifts, for example persistence, to help anyone other than yourself?

And finally, do your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more?

For Mr. Marriott

This is The Power Seat Way!

Before I Can Become An Effective Leader

By Ron Miles, PCC

Thousands of books have been written about leadership. In a recent 10 year period 17,800 management journal articles were written about leadership. However, for many people, the first question is not, “How do I become an effective leader?”, but,” Who am I and what do I do with my life and career?”

In Mastering Leadership, Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams, offer six leadership practices to become more effective in leadership. Using the first four, I’ve paraphrased them to make them more applicable to your immediate question of “who am I and what do I do”.

Life is purposeful. “First and foremost, find out what it is you’re about and be that” – Bennis, 1989.

Life is the ongoing discipline of translating purpose into a vision.

Transforming your purpose to a vision, will challenge how you think and act, perhaps in ways that are not supported by your current set of beliefs. It will require you to look internally, into the parts of yourself that are not yet ready to embody your vision – that are too small, too scared, too reactive, too controlling, to cautious, etc.


There is no safe way to be great. And there is no great way to be safe. Transformation requires courage. The courage required is not the courage required on the battlefield. You do not risk life and death, although it may feel that way at times. Mostly, the courage required is the courage to tell the truth, and most importantly to yourself.


So equipped with this information, what do you do?


Start by keeping a journal. The purpose is not so much to capture the events of the day, but to focus on your likes and dislikes. What are you passionate about? What gives you energy? What are you attracted to? What don’t you like? What zaps your energy? Practice paying attention to what your life is trying to tell you about whom you are and what you are here to be.

Create a list of MUSTS – the deepest and highest aspirations for your life. Capture your thoughts as they come. Don’t get caught up in the significance or lack of, or if it’s impossible or trivial; write it. On a regular basis review what you’ve written and refine it as you move forward. With this practice and with patience you will be able to formalize what you want your life to be.

As an example, you’ve come to realize you enjoy technical fields and have a keen interest in renewable energy. But, you didn’t complete college and you can’t afford to quit your job.


Having established your purpose, what you want your life to be about, it must be transformed in to a vision. Again, using your journal, start writing about what you want your future to look like. Make it specific enough to set your direction, drive you action and guide you on how to make decisions.

Continuing our example, your vision is to get your college degree in engineering and get a job in the renewable energy sector. Your vision becomes to complete this in three years. It’s specific, sets your direction, drives your action and guides you on how to make decisions.


As you begin to set your direction, the status quo of who you are and how you live is immediately challenged. Suddenly your current set of beliefs that are too small, too scared, too reactive, too controlling, to cautious, etc. don’t align.

In our example what’s going on inside – excited, energized, scared, self doubt, insecure, foolish, regret, etc. For some the journey begins, for you the only word to describe it is STUCK! Faced with the unknown, you linger in your safe world.


To move forward requires courage. You must start with authentic, courageous dialogue with yourself. Go back to your journal and start laying out your action plan. Pay particular attention to your emotions and feelings. Name them, i.e. I’m not smart enough (fear), how will I pay my bills (anxiety), etc, and write them down.

Then start the internal search, where are you stuck, what in your belief system have you made a truth, that isn’t.  For example the fear that you are not smart enough. The truth, you didn’t drop out of college because of grades, it was based on a need to work, the need for income.

The practice is to identify, confront, and change. It won’t always easy but it’s the only way.


In future articles we’ll address how to change our beliefs and behavior


Are You Maximizing Your ROL? (Return on Leadership)

Your “ROL” (Return on Leadership), will be evident not only by the bottom-line results, but also by the intangibles; Grit, Self-Awareness, Resourcefulness...

Top Ten Tips to Maximize your ROL: 

  1. Take charge of your thoughts…your thoughts lead to your actions
  2. Have a personal vision. Who you are is not what you do for a living
  3. Focus on others and in turn they will then be more likely to focus on you
  4. Tap in your innovative potential and give yourself breathing space to find it
  5. Develop your awareness of responding, rather than reacting to situations and events
  6. Make a decision to let go of control and build your capacity to trust in the ability of others
  7. Keep an open mind. Perspective is everything
  8. Be willing to do things differently. Be a leader, rather than a follower
  9. Consciously shift your attitude when self-doubt arises
  10. Apply the power of positive Influence during every encounter
Top Ten Tips from Michelle Ray

So, what is Executive Coaching and what makes it so valuable?

Interview with Dean Miles, President of Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

- Mountain West Credit Union Association, which represents 400+ financial institutions.


Q: Dean, what is Executive Coaching and why is it something leaders should consider?

A: In 1999 a Fortune Magazine cover story discussed the failures of prominent CEO’s and came to the conclusion that the emphasis generally placed on strategy and vision created a mistaken belief that the right strategy is all that’s needed to succeed. They found that 70% of the time, the real problem wasn’t bad strategy – it was poor execution. We can all relate to that, can’t we? For most of my clients, the problem is not a shortage of knowledge or good ideas. The problem is in the application of that knowledge and the execution of those ideas. That’s one of the main reasons why coaching is such a great resource.

Coaching isn’t therapy or mentoring. It’s not about fixing what’s broken or developing specific job skills and knowledge. It’s about the execution of ideas and making the leap from good to great. Coaching is a partnership that focuses on setting goals, creating forward action and managing change.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how coaching works?

A: Sure. Good coaches are there to inspire insight, balance perspectives and drive results. Most of the time, that comes from reminding leaders of what they already know. Think about the amount of information you’ve learned over the past decade. You’ve probably read quite a few books and articles, attended conferences and seminars, maybe watched a few TED talks, learned new skills and gained insight from those around you, etc. But, how much of what you’ve learned has actually been put into action? How many of your good ideas have actually come to fruition?

The truth is, most people spend the majority of their time somewhere in between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaching provides the necessary structure for moving from where you are to where you want to be as quickly as possible.

Q: What can one expect to gain from working with a coach?

A: Professional coaching can provide a fresh perspective about personal and professional challenges, enhance decision-making skills, improve interpersonal relationships and boost confidence. As a result, most professionals who work with a coach experience vast improvements in productivity, satisfaction with their work and the attainment of goals.

There’s a great quote from Samuel Johnson that says, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

Most leaders already know what they need to do, they’ve just forgotten. Coaching helps them synthesize every thing they’ve learned and put it into practice. It helps leaders be more deliberate about what day-to-day actions they need to take in order to move closer to their goals.

Remember the Pareto principle? Also known as the 80-20 rule, it simply states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Most of the time, the key to moving from good to great lies in doing less of a few things and more of the one thing that is generating the most results.

Think about it for a moment. What is the one thing that’s generating the majority of results you are getting? Most of the time that one thing is simple to find, but difficult to achieve. Coaching can help identify the actions generating the majority of results and provide the structure and impetus to act on that insight.

Coaching is not a 3-step method. It’s not about information – it’s about implementation and follow-through. It’s about being deliberate and making a plan for translating an idea into day-to-day actions. I ask clients, “What do you want to do? Tell me how to motivate you?”

Q: Is there an example you can share about how coaching impacted the professional success of one of your clients?

Yes, our coaching with U. S. Steel Oilwell Services comes to mind. This is a good example of an organization having a good strategy, i.e. goals, with the challenge being the execution. We were able to work with all levels of the organization. Once we were able to establish that every level knew their goals as it related to the overall strategy, we turned our attention to the execution.  Here again, it wasn’t so much about teaching them anything new, but reminding them to establish and maintain the structure of priorities, making commitments, giving account, and driving success.

As a result of this partnership, they have developed a high performing management team that meet or exceeded their goals and accomplished a 7 to 1 return on the investment of coaching.

Our coach worked with our employees at all levels to help us align our business strategy across the organization. He helped us develop the road map to reach our goals and provided the right amount of assistance and support so our employees were equipped with the tools to succeed.
— David Clarke, Director of Offshore Operations.

Behavior is always perfectly aligned with results. As you change behavior, results change right along side. When someone is there to remind them of what they already know and help them put that knowledge into action, we can really accelerate their growth and create the results they are looking for.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Bridgepoint Coaching, you’ll find them at

Myth: Communication Equals Understanding

Since Michael Porter’s seminal work in the 1980s we have had a clear and widely accepted definition of what strategy is—but we know a lot less about translating a strategy into results. Books and articles on strategy outnumber those on execution by an order of magnitude. And what little has been written on execution tends to focus on tactics or generalize from a single case. So what do we know about strategy execution?

We know that it matters. A recent survey of more than 400 global CEOs found that executional excellence was the number one challenge facing corporate leaders in Asia, Europe, and the United States, heading a list of some 80 issues, including innovation, geopolitical instability, and top-line growth. We also know that execution is difficult. Studies have found that two-thirds to three-quarters of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies.

Myth: Communication Equals Understanding

Many executives believe that relentlessly communicating strategy is a key to success. The CEO of one London-based professional services firm met with her management team the first week of every month and began each meeting by reciting the firm’s strategy and its key priorities for the year. She was delighted when an employee engagement survey (not ours) revealed that 84% of all staff members agreed with the statement “I am clear on our organization’s top priorities.” Her efforts seemed to be paying off.

Then her management team took our survey, which asks members to describe the firm’s strategy in their own words and to list the top five strategic priorities. Fewer than one-third could name even two. The CEO was dismayed—after all, she discussed those objectives in every management meeting. Unfortunately, she is not alone. Only 55% of the middle managers we have surveyed can name even one of their company’s top five priorities. In other words, when the leaders charged with explaining strategy to the troops are given five chances to list their company’s strategic objectives, nearly half fail to get even one right.

Not only are strategic objectives poorly understood, but they often seem unrelated to one another and disconnected from the overall strategy. Just over half of all top team members say they have a clear sense of how major priorities and initiatives fit together. It’s pretty dire when half the C-suite cannot connect the dots between strategic priorities, but matters are even worse elsewhere. Fewer than one-third of senior executives’ direct reports clearly understand the connections between corporate priorities, and the share plummets to 16% for frontline supervisors and team leaders.

It’s pretty dire when half the C-suite cannot connect the dots between strategic priorities.

Senior executives are often shocked to see how poorly their company’s strategy is understood throughout the organization. In their view, they invest huge amounts of time communicating strategy, in an unending stream of e-mails, management meetings, and town hall discussions. But the amount of communication is not the issue: Nearly 90% of middle managers believe that top leaders communicate the strategy frequently enough. How can so much communication yield so little understanding?

Part of the problem is that executives measure communication in terms of inputs (the number of e-mails sent or town halls hosted) rather than by the only metric that actually counts—how well key leaders understand what’s communicated. A related problem occurs when executives dilute their core messages with peripheral considerations. The executives at one tech company, for example, went to great pains to present their company’s strategy and objectives at the annual executive off-site. But they also introduced 11 corporate priorities (which were different from the strategic objectives), a list of core competencies (including one with nine templates), a set of corporate values, and a dictionary of 21 new strategic terms to be mastered. Not surprisingly, the assembled managers were baffled about what mattered most. When asked about obstacles to understanding the strategy, middle managers are four times more likely to cite a large number of corporate priorities and strategic initiatives than to mention a lack of clarity in communication. Top executives add to the confusion when they change their messages frequently—a problem flagged by nearly one-quarter of middle managers.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review

We at Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group have experienced this myth of communication equals understanding with nearly every corporate client. Donald Sull, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management states, "It's not surprising that corporate strategy is misunderstood, it's how surprised executive leadership is that this is true."  Remember, only 55% of the middle managers surveyed can name even one of their company’s top five priorities.

Is this true for your team?