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Get Your Head in the Game, What Business Leaders and Athletic Coaches Can Learn from Each Other

By Allan Stewart

Providing leaders, coaches, and HR Professionals with the ammunition they need to be outstanding in their field. Get Your Head in the Game combines the best practices of both athletic coaches and business leaders to present a unique perspective on the process of leadership.

Drawing on decades of practical experience and academic research, Allan Stewart presents complex ideas in a straightforward and engaging manner. With the book’s three parts—The 7 Steps of Coaching, the 14 Rules of Leadership and Creating a Culture, anyone can become a great leader or coach—and improve the quality of their teams.

Book cover

Contact us to learn how to receive your copy!

Creating Constructive Cultures: Leading People and Organizations to Effectively Solve Problems and Achieve Goals

By Janet L. Szumal, PhD with Robert A. Cooke, PhD

Find out how leaders in a variety of industries are changing the world—one organization at a time! 

If attracting and retaining talent, encouraging innovation, expediting strategy implementation, and bolstering expansion and growth are at the top of your organization’s agenda, then you need to read Creating Constructive Cultures.

Venture into the culture change journeys of organizations—big and small, global and local, public and private, in various industries and countries—to discover what works and what doesn’t. You will learn the secrets of how leadership teams around the world have successfully shifted their workplace cultures in a more productive direction using a proven methodology.

The Myth of “Born Leaders”

Allan Stewart teaching

Allan Stewart is a “Born Leader”

Even though I have heard this statement about me; it is simply not true. There is no such thing as a “born leader”.

The term born leader is one of the most misleading (and dangerous) comments of our time. Years of research have proven that no one personality type or “born with it” trait is conducive to good leadership. People who are good leaders have learned to use good leadership techniques – whether it was by observing someone or whether they were systematically taught.

For me, it was both. I had the good fortune to have been exposed to many good leaders throughout my life. I also had the opportunity to attend many leadership development programs early in my career. The formal leadership development programs allowed me to link leadership theories with the leadership excellence that I had observed up to that point in time. Very good development programs can also enable participants to codify bad leadership practices that they have observed in the past.

The term born leader is often used as praise for a leader who is consistently good. But the term is very dangerous because it implies that not only are leadership skills are something you are either born with, but it also implies that it is something that cannot be learned. When senior managers believe that leaders come with natural talents they were born with, then they start to believe the opposite – that if one doesn’t have leadership talent, they never will.

There are simply too many senior managers – especially in Canada – who believe that leadership training is a waste of time and money. And while there are some ineffective leadership programs on the market, the majority do help leaders become better. The majority of managers that I meet inform me that they are expected to be great leaders – but have received little or no training.

Everyone knows that work units which have effective leaders will outperform work units that have ineffective leadership. But, as long as senior managers believe the myth that good leaders are born, the only way to get a good leader will be to hire one. And since Canadian corporations are among the worst in the industrial world for training leaders the chances of hiring a good leader are quickly diminishing.

If this article has changed your mind about investing in leadership training, here are some things you should consider when choosing or developing a good program:

  1. Adults can better apply leadership lessons if they know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. Therefore, use valid and reliable assessments that pinpoint strengths and opportunities for development in your leadership programs. And be wary of those programs that do not include such assessments.

  2. Ensure that leadership programs are engaging workshops opposed to boring lectures. Workshops that use simulations, group work, and hands-on learning are much more successful in enacting change.

  3. Avoid on-line, self-directed programs. Self-directed learning and reading should supplement a hands-on workshop and never be the focus.

  4. Use qualified trainers who know what they are talking about. Workshop facilitators need to understand leadership theory, but they need to teach how to apply this theory to real life scenarios. While having a good leadership workshop lead by an engaging facilitator can provide results nothing compares to having someone facilitate who can provide practical experience to the theories.

The Rule of Six- A simple exercise that can help improve your Emotional Intelligence

by Ashley Davis-Annett

“Leadership is Emotional”  -Unknown

Attribution theory is simply this: as human beings we tend to falsely attribute negative behaviors of others towards their character. Meanwhile, human beings will attribute their own negative behaviors to their environment they are in. Why does this happen? Well, because we often like to believe that we do bad things because of the situations we are in, but somehow we just as easily believe that other people do bad things because they are bad people (Lencioni, 2005). The theory was developed by a gentleman named Fritz Heider as a way to explain how a person comes to understand events in their life and how those events are related to the person’s thinking process and/or their behavior.

Let me describe a situation that you might be familiar with to highlight Attribution theory. Picture yourself driving your car through town, on your way to run errands. You have the entire afternoon to yourself and it is a gorgeous day. On your way to the store, you happen to notice that there is a car that is quickly approaching behind you. Feeling a little sense of urgency, you look to your right to make sure the lane is clear before moving over. An elderly man, oblivious to the situation, is driving his large Buick in the lane next to you. By now the fast car is right behind you and you notice that the light up ahead is about to turn red. The elderly man in the Buick is abreast of you and you need to decide to either speed up and go in front of him or if you have the time and space to move in behind him. Feeling anxious, angry and upset you think to yourself “what on earth is wrong with this person!?”. All of a sudden, you notice that the fast car has veered into the right lane behind the Buick and is now tailing him. You decide to slow down and make space up ahead, allowing the fast car to quickly jut out in front of you and speed up towards the changing light. Just as the light is going from yellow to red, the fast car pulls hard towards the left and makes their way through the entry into the EMERGENCY of the hospital.

What we tell ourselves, in our minds about other people, regarding how they act or making assumptions about their intentions forms our understanding and our beliefs. What we attribute regarding ourselves and other people is what formulates our truth which often influences how we behave or make decisions. “Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80% of the “success” in our lives” (Freedman et al). Bringing about awareness and challenges ourselves when we notice that we are creating negative assumptions or attributing negative characteristics towards other people does not allow for the creation of constructive behaviors, leadership or cultures (Leadership WorkStyles Inventory). For every time you catch yourself negative attributing or negative assuming bad in others, force yourself to think of six positive reasons or attributes instead (the rule of 6). It is about training our brains and creating constructive stories in our minds about people who are around us. This is what will allow you to develop healthy relationships, work more effectively, and act more Humanistic-Encouraging™.

Supply Chain Culture Clash – What can companies do to achieve synergy within organizations working towards the same goal?

Supply Chain Management (SCM) has been a ‘buzz term’ for a few decades, and its importance is vital. However it is unrealistic to assume that all companies operate the same way, share the same vision and agree on the same values. Therefore, how can companies manage a supply chain culture clash?

First and foremost, it is necessary to understand what culture is and its importance. Simplistically, organizational culture can be defined as ‘how employees act when the boss is not around’, and most importantly, ‘how do they react when the boss is around?’ – Organizational Culture delineates how personnel respond to negative situations; hence, it has great influence on organizational performance and long-term viability.

If the supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, all companies involved should understand culture and actively collaborate in efforts to reach the desired synergy. Supply Chain transparency and collaboration are imperative parts of the ever-changing supply chain and culture machines. But how do we know if cultures will collide?

Culture assessments can be done through Human Synergistics Organizational Culture Inventory® in combination with the Customer ServiceStyles to bring to light deep understanding of cultures’ inconsistencies, compatibilities, and what needs to be addressed to ensure synergy. These assessments unlock the potential for effective change that will lead to increased supply chain quality.

These world-class tools analyse and provide insight into how the culture looks like, and how they want it to look like. It is encouraged that companies assess their own Customer ServiceStylesTM, and find out how their culture can be impacting their business’ relationships.

Supply chain management stresses that the success of your supplier depends on yours, which depends on your clients’; and vice-versa. Instead, businesses have been focused on competing against each other and out-performing other companies; even though this may be hurting their overall long-term viability and negatively impacting their own markets.

It is important to keep in mind that these efforts are managing future rewards. Bringing together unequaled cultures generates friction and instability in the short-term; however, managers and leaders should recognize that the organizational culture road is long and continuous and research has found to be positively linked with long-term organizational performance. A successful supply chain realizes that companies depend on the accomplishment of each other; and thus, are working towards the same goal.

In a globalized world, there is no question that culture clash is a challenge. Be mindful of whom you do business with, certify that interests are aligned and that collaboration exists throughout the entire chain, and that all are working towards a constructive supply chain culture.

LifeStyles Inventory and Transformative Learning Experiences

Submitted by Dr. Teal McAteer, University Professor and Consultant.

In my more than 20 years as a leadership and career transition coach, I have worked with hundreds of displaced business executives. My experience working with these executives, along with my experience teaching at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business have demonstrated the need for transformative learning experiences among our present and future corporate leaders. My philosophy is that in order to make changes in behaviours, instructors in post-secondary institutions need to move beyond purely intellectual knowledge transfer.

Four of McMaster University’s programs utilize Transformation Learning Experiences (TLEs) in their Leadership courses. I not only facilitate, but have also specifically designed the curriculum for these courses. They include: a Leadership Coaching course within the EMBA program; a Leadership Coaching Foundations course within the MBA program; an upper year Leadership Development course within the undergraduate Commerce and MBA programs; and a Leadership Coaching course within the Integrated Business & Humanities (IBH) program. In varying degrees, they all use these TLEs to focus on the relationship between learning and sustainable personal/professional change.

The goal of any business school should be to produce graduates who enter the workforce and are able to make key strategic decisions and initiate change within their industries. Business schools must therefore focus on the market-readiness of its graduates. By growing its leadership education components that encourage students to fully understand self-thought and resultant behaviors, these more progressive business schools would be helping to build more authentic leaders for the future.

Human Synergistics’ LifeStyles Inventory (LSI) provides the foundation to successfully coach all of my students to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives. The students complete the LSI, measuring their thinking styles and become “aware” of thoughts, behaviours, feelings — many of which are unhealthy and unproductive. Students are then asked to prepare a self-reflection and 6-week action plan in which they define what thoughts and behaviours they wish to change and how they will go about changing them. A second critical reflection piece following the 6-week period, allows students to walk through their transformative journey and learnings. Students describe the experience as “life-altering,” “revealing,” “a professional development opportunity leading to profound growth,” and “an individual leadership experience absolutely necessary before attempting to lead others.”

Bottom line —- I use the LSI everywhere and with everyone! It has allowed me to connect with hundreds of people (clients and students) and provided the foundations to successfully coach all of them to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives.

LifeStyles Inventory and Transformative Learning Experiences

Submitted by Dr. Teal McAteer, University Professor and Consultant.

In my more than 20 years as a leadership and career transition coach, I have worked with hundreds of displaced business executives. My experience working with these executives, along with my experience teaching at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business have demonstrated the need for transformative learning experiences among our present and future corporate leaders. My philosophy is that in order to make changes in behaviours, instructors in post-secondary institutions need to move beyond purely intellectual knowledge transfer.

Four of McMaster University’s programs utilize Transformation Learning Experiences (TLEs) in their Leadership courses. I not only facilitate, but have also specifically designed the curriculum for these courses. They include: a Leadership Coaching course within the EMBA program; a Leadership Coaching Foundations course within the MBA program; an upper year Leadership Development course within the undergraduate Commerce and MBA programs; and a Leadership Coaching course within the Integrated Business & Humanities (IBH) program. In varying degrees, they all use these TLEs to focus on the relationship between learning and sustainable personal/professional change.

The goal of any business school should be to produce graduates who enter the workforce and are able to make key strategic decisions and initiate change within their industries. Business schools must therefore focus on the market-readiness of its graduates. By growing its leadership education components that encourage students to fully understand self-thought and resultant behaviors, these more progressive business schools would be helping to build more authentic leaders for the future.

Human Synergistics’ LifeStyles Inventory (LSI) provides the foundation to successfully coach all of my students to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives. The students complete the LSI, measuring their thinking styles and become “aware” of thoughts, behaviours, feelings — many of which are unhealthy and unproductive. Students are then asked to prepare a self-reflection and 6-week action plan in which they define what thoughts and behaviours they wish to change and how they will go about changing them. A second critical reflection piece following the 6-week period, allows students to walk through their transformative journey and learnings. Students describe the experience as “life-altering,” “revealing,” “a professional development opportunity leading to profound growth,” and “an individual leadership experience absolutely necessary before attempting to lead others.”

Bottom line —- I use the LSI everywhere and with everyone! It has allowed me to connect with hundreds of people (clients and students) and provided the foundations to successfully coach all of them to make significant and sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives.

Importance of Leadership and Management Training

Leadership training bridges the gap between the type of organizational culture leaders think they are creating and the type of culture they want to create. By introducing leadership and management training programs, leaders will receive feedback on how they are affecting subordinates and what actions and steps can be taken to address areas that need instantaneous attention.

Understanding how actions affect others that rely on them, directly and indirectly, is the key difference that is incorporated in effective leaders. Leadership training and development increases their own perspective of how influential they can be and the effects that such influence can cause on the overall culture.

Evaluating the effectiveness of leadership helps leaders identify strategies and techniques that can be employed to encourage the durable effectiveness, performance, and productivity of the organization and its members. Management training provides feedback that managers can turn into immediate actions.

Just as important as knowing and understanding their weaknesses, great leaders also recognize their strengths.  Leadership training provides feedback and insight on the fortes and positive aspects of the leader’s actions and styles. Training program and materials ensure those strengths are explored and mastered, building a well-rounded and effective mentor to those surrounding them in the workplace.

Socrates said, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” Leadership training programs exist after years of extensive research to help those trusted with the weary task of influencing and guiding others. Ultimately, leaders and managers of organizations are responsible for creating and maintaining a constructive culture. It is plausible to assume that leading others is no easy task for most. Just like a captain sailing with a broken compass, a leader without the necessary tools runs the risk of leading the ship astray.

To be consistent with the visions, values, and strategies of most organizations, managers need to receive information on how to strengthen their capability to meet their organization’s goals. Accordingly, if those skills and capabilities are left unattended, managers will not achieve the desired impact and effectiveness. Therefore, providing leaders with training will bring them one step closer to reaching organizational goals.

Training and development induces change, and even though change isn’t welcomed by all, it is an essential component of successful organizations that want to make a positive impact. This, perhaps, is better explained by the words of George Bernard Shaw: “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Build the Culture Advantage, Deliver Sustainable Performance with Clarity and Speed

By Tim Kuppler and Ted Garnett

This practical guide outlines a clear, customizable framework for building a strong culture foundation and steering the work directly at performance priorities. Written by a collaboration of culture experts, it includes proven approaches to connect culture and performance with clarity and speed.

Build the Culture Advantage, Deliver Sustainable Performance with Clarity and Speedis available for purchase through Human Synergistics. Please contact us to place an order.

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