Friday, November 17, 2017

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

While preparing our house for our family Thanksgiving feast, I found myself tidying up our DVD collection when I came across one of my all-time favorites; The Wizard of Oz. I can’t begin to count the times I have watched this classic on TV in black and white, or going to Grampa's to watch it on his “color” TV. As an adult, I bought my first VHS player/recorder along with only one movie, and now I find myself rather reflective as I stare at the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy 75th Anniversary Special Edition.

As fond memories raced through my head I found myself beginning to draw parallelisms between the main characters and fundamental leadership characteristics. Consider:

Needing a Vision - Dorothy was certainly given a path to follow and a vision for where she needed to go. In spite of various twists and turns along the way, she never lost her vision and helped others find their path along the way.

Needing a Brain - Although most leaders are intellectual, it’s their wisdom that usually sets them apart. Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit...wisdom is knowing not to put tomatoes in a fruit salad…

Needing a Heart - William W. George an American businessman and academic, professor of Management Practice, and a Henry B. Arthur Fellow of Ethics at Harvard Business School, weighed in on having heart in a recent interview. “You might have a high IQ, but if you do not have an emotional intelligence, then you are not going to be successful. Qualities like passion, compassion, empathy and courage — those are all matters of the heart, and we can’t teach those in business school classrooms.” Which leads us to…

Needing Courage - Let’s be takes courage to put your dreams into ACTION. Without courage you can’t make a difference. Without courage you can’t have the right conversations that lead to change. Without courage you won’t even get off the starting block as a leader. But it’s how you show courage that’s the important point here. Winston Churchill said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Wherever your “yellow brick road” takes you remember to have a clear vision, the wisdom to know when to regroup, the heart to help others along the way, and the courage to do and say what needs to be said and done…

Be good to yourself...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Generally Speaking...

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, I’m reminded of two Generals who I tend to believe are among the greatest military leaders our country has seen during my lifetime.

The first President of the United States that I recall as a child was General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although not noted for being a “politician” he was a leader who had the ability to identify problems, and areas of weakness, then find solutions and resources to “get the job done.”

He is associated with a number quotes regarding leadership. Among the most noteable for me is, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
Leaders who display integrity do what’s right, without wavering, without excuses, without placing blame. I find it curious that the word “grit” is embedded in integrity; reminding me that integrity doesn’t come easy for those seeking to live it.

The second great general who comes to mind never made it to the Oval Office, although I dare say I would campaign for him not matter the political party he’d align. Born in Harlem of Jamaican immigrants, raised in the South Bronx, educated in New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York(CCNY), where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology, participated in ROTC and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation.Colin Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank of 4-star General. His last assignment, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.In January, 2001 General Powell was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State.

Considered a no-nonsense, common sense leader,  Powell is credited with saying, "The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow."

Short, sweet and to the point. People simply believe what we DO. When we blend these two beliefs together we have a solid foundation from which to lead as a leader with integrity who is able to “walk the talk.”

My sincerest thanks to veterans, past, present, and future, who have served our country so that we might enjoy the freedoms which you so valiantly defended. God Bless America…

Be good to yourself...and to those you serve...

Friday, November 3, 2017

86,400 Is All Each of Us Has...

How many times will we be reminded that old Mother Nature is stealing an hour from us this weekend as we “Fall Back” to Daylight Savings Time?

Time…such a powerful word.  It seems as though we never have enough of it.  In some cases we want to shave a hundredth of a second off a particular event, only to wish that we could add hours to another.

In his book, First Thing Every Morning, Lewis Timberlake gives us his observations on the subject for our consideration – my thoughts are highlighted in parentheses:

First: Nobody can manage time. But you can manage those things that take up your time.  (It’s OK to tell a team member that you’re in the middle of something – to come back later – like AFTER work or during their lunch. You’ll be surprised how much faster that meeting goes)

Second: Time is expensive. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of our day is spent on those things or those people that only bring us two percent of our results. (Not sure what research supports this, but the point IS well taken. Take an honest look of how much “bang for the buck” you’re getting with a project or relationship and make a conscious decision to proceed or simply “cut bait.”)

Third: Time is perishable. It cannot be saved for later use. (As my dad would say, “There’s no time like the present.”)

Fourth: Time is measurable. Everybody has the same amount of time…pauper or king. (It is not how much time you have; it is how you use it.)

Fifth: Time is irreplaceable. We never make back time once it is gone. (True, but hopefully with each passing day we LEARN from time spent on how to be better in the future.)

Sixth: Time is a priority. You have enough time for anything in the world, so long as it ranks high enough among your priorities. (Revisit your goals, professional as well as personal, prioritize…some things ARE more important than others…your actions ARE stronger than your words…)

So my friends…how will YOU use the 86,400 seconds you have tomorrow?  Each second is a precious commodity to be used wisely.

Be good to yourself…

Friday, October 27, 2017

Oh Boy...Here We Go Again...

Here we go again…Halloween is just around the corner with all the ghosts, axe murderers, and goblins preying on innocent neighbors to give them treats or be punished with a “trick” which simply takes the form of vandalism. Do I sound cynical? I suppose I do as I really have a difficult time seeing the “good” in this particular “holiday.”
When you think about it, holidays typically bring out the GOOD in people…in families. It’s a time to draw together to count blessings and be of good cheer. I know I’m in the minority on this one as EVERYONE LOVES Halloween…I’m just the poster boy of the Halloween Scrooge.
That being said, I searched the web to see if there were any positive correlates between leadership and the celebrated holiday.  Here are 6 lessons to be learned as presented by West Chester University in Philadelphia.
  1. Hand Out Treats - Although people aren’t going to go door to door asking for handouts as kids do on Halloween, leaders should look for opportunities to give out “treats” on a daily basis. This doesn’t have to mean candy or financial rewards. People thrive off of positive feedback and recognition, and will put in extra effort knowing that their contributions are not only noticed, but acknowledged and celebrated.
  2. Inspire creativity - Every Halloween, we see people come up with the most creative costumes. People are more willing to participate and bring new ideas to the table when creativity is accepted and encouraged. As a leader, it’s important to be confident in your own creative capabilities and give others the opportunity to bring out their creative side as well.
  3. Stay Determined - Just because you don’t get the candy you want, doesn’t mean you give up on trick-or-treating. It may take two, three, sometimes more tries until you get what you desired. Leaders set their eye on the end result, without losing focus or hope when things don’t turn out as expected.
  4. Don’t Fear the Unknown - Halloween is full of spooky scare tactics. Although leaders are often faced with “scares,” they do not let these fears define or limit them. They do not dwell on the unknown, the “what-ifs.” Instead, they focus on overcoming their fears.
  5. Never Walk Alone - When you walk alone, you tend to stride down the “safe streets.” Having others there can encourage you to branch out to new roads, opportunities, and concepts. Leaders walk in sync with their people, and listen and entrust them along the way.
  6. Don’t Forget to Take Off Your Mask - While it’s fun to take on a different identity for a day, it’s important not to lose sight of your authentic self. Leaders must be consistent and transparent in their identity in order to gain the trust of others.
Hmmmm…maybe there ARE “treats” that even I’m able to take away, without tricking anyone…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, October 20, 2017

Are You Growing...Or Rotting On The Vine?

“Do you consider yourself green and growing or ripe and rotting?” This is a question that is attributed to the late Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds. It’s an intriguing question.  Let’s be honest, most of us would like to believe that we continue to be green and growing. But are we? How do we know that we’re simply not ripe and beginning to rot on the vine?
Author Marlene Chism outlined the following 7 signs as evidence of growth in her recent blog:
  1. Your beliefs are still evolving.
Beliefs are formed from birth. As we evolve, gather additional information, reflect, our beliefs are changed subtly or, in some cases, substantially. If we are growing…we are still evolving…
  1. You can see different points of view.
If we are growing we’re learning. The more we learn, the more curious we become. The more curious we become, the more likely we are to consider other points of view. That’s not to say that we agree with all different points of view, but that we can at least see “the opposite side of the coin.”
  1. You are willing to stop unproductive habits.
As we all know, the first sign of insanity is to do what we’ve always done and expect different results. If we are truly growing, we are constantly re-evaluating our effectiveness and stopping those habitual habits that prove to be unproductive. A sign of growth, according to the author, is the willingness to stop habits (even the enjoyable ones) that stunt growth.
  1. You consciously build productive habits.
Makes sense that if we’re identifying our nonproductive habits that we should consciously build productive ones. New habits require us to DO something, which may be very uncomfortable at first, but we know that it IS in our best interest. It becomes a habit when we no longer think about it, it becomes part of our routine.
  1. You grow thicker skin.
A sign of growth is that you no longer take things so personally. Instead of anger getting the best of you, you take a deep breath, ask clarifying questions and realize that debate, differences of opinion can be a healthy way to move forward. You realize that the whole world is NOT against you…
  1. You achieve more than you thought possible.
By definition, growing is becoming larger or greater over a period of time…to increase. A sign of continuous growth is looking back and seeing how far you’ve come…and a desire to keep moving forward.
  1. Your definition of success changes
I believe this is directly related to the first indicator. As our beliefs are honed, experiences gained, we no longer need to “keep up with the Joneses.” As we grow, we find that success isn’t measured by “things” but rather by our state of being, the kind of relationships built, the growth of those mentored under our watch. Someone once said, “Success is not measured in the amount of dollars you make, but the amount of lives you impact.”
So…are you green and growing or ripe and rotting? The choice is really up to you. I must admit, I’m in various stages of this growth chart and there are times I need to regroup in certain areas (I guess that’s a good thing to realize if I am going to continually grow.)  However. as I read and re-read these 7 indicators of growth, they all seemed to revolve around LEARNING…hmmm…I guess if we’re not learning…we are indeed rotting…
Be good to yourself...

Friday, October 13, 2017

So...You've Gotta Ask Yourself One Question...

For those of you who are superstitious you’re well aware of today’s date and all that it encumbers. Friday the 13th falls at least once a year and for really bad years can fall as many as three times in a given year. Today marks the second and last Friday the 13th for 2017.

SO you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well do ya…?” Of course, there are two types of luck…good and bad…Interestingly we all know someone on each end of the spectrum…how can one person fall victim to so many “unlucky” mishaps while the next person seems to fall into a pile of manure only to come out smelling like a rose?

Is luck simply a mindset? There are those who would suggest that when we
BELIEVE in a particular ritual or superstition, it’s that belief or trust that boosts the certainty of the outcome. Believe that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck and everything that goes wrong will be magnified by that lousy mirror. Rubbing a rabbit’s foot might be just what you need to help boost your confidence which has a way of cascading a positive effect in your mental state which helps performance.

It’s no coincidence that organizations succeed when leaders provide their people with a greater sense of purpose to believe in. The power of conviction is not to be ignored. When we believe, trust, and are committed, our brains can override uncertainty, or, conversely fan the flames of certain doom depending on if we believe in “good luck” or “bad luck.”

SO you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well do ya…?”

Be good to yourself…

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fill In The Blank..._______ is Golden!

For those of you who know me, I assume this will not be a stretch for you to understand or believe, but as a child, I was a TALKER! My elementary report cards would verify that when it came to my “social habits” talking was one that always seemed to “need improvement.” My parents were very patient, reminding me on more than one occasion that, “Silence is Golden”…a concept I had a hard time grasping. As time marched on, I learned the value of listening more and talking less.

Over the past decade however I have noticed the deterioration of a good discussion giving way to countless emails, or the use of some sort of social media format. People seem to be talking less, giving way to email or text blasts eliminating face to face dialogue and silencing open and honest discussion. I’m beginning to feel that silence is NOT golden…that silence is becoming more of a detriment to the overall culture and health of many organizations.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, authors Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind conclude that Leadership Is a Conversation. (CLICK HERE for full article) Their research concluded that by TALKING with employees, rather than simply issuing directives via email, leaders can promote flexibility, engagement, and strategic alignment.

They go on to identify four elements to create “organizational conversation” that reflect the essential attributes of interpersonal conversation:

1.      INTIMACY shifts the focus of “top-down” to “bottom-up exchange of ideas and solutions. Organizational conversation is less formal and is intended to incorporate a casual tone. It’s more about asking and answering questions than it is about simply issuing orders or directives.
2.      INTERACTIVITY is to embrace the unpredictable vitality that a dialogue can bring versus a traditional “one-way” media such as print or that of a broadcast such as an email or text.
3.      INCLUSION turns employees into full-fledged conversation partners, entitling and encouraging them to provide their own ideas and possible solutions.
4.      INTENTIONALITY enables leaders and employees to arrive at a strategic and relevant action or solution from the push and pull of a DISCUSSION…
So my friends, perhaps it’s time to rethink old adages…as DISCUSSION is GOLDEN…not silence…

Be good to yourself…

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more; you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

Friday, September 29, 2017

How Big Are Your Ears?

Recently I was in a leadership meeting as the agenda gave way to discussing a portion of a book we were all asked to read by the chairman.  The book, It’s Your Ship, was written by a captain and former commander of the US Navy, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff.
As one might imagine, the book navigates through leadership using examples from the Navy, while weaving the same concepts into any organization.  The topic we were to discuss was found near the middle of the book; innovation knows no rank.

Abrashoff points out that officers are TRAINED NOT to listen to their crew or their ideas and concentrate on the issues at hand, a quality of which the captain doesn’t adhere. He believes that “every leader needs big ears and zero tolerance for stereotyping.”

How many ideas, opportunities missed, or solutions have we dismissed solely on who was making the suggestion? As leaders, it’s imperative that we value the voices which surround us and grasp the notion that sometimes it takes 1000 bad ideas to come up with one good one, no matter who is delivering the message.

Be good to yourself…

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mother Nature's Cue

Over the span of my life I have been accused of many things; being a great gardener is not among any of those accusations. That being said, one just needs to visit their favorite garden center to see that fall is known as the “2nd Planting Season”; a time to plant your new shrubs, trees, and bulbs. Interestingly, it’s also the time when we are urged to prune away the dead wood to encourage new growth and promote a healthier plant.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to follow Mother Nature’s cues. What new ideas, procedures, and challenges should you be “planting” in YOUR organization this month? What could you revisit that hasn’t yet bloomed the way you had hoped? Conversely, what needs to be cut back, or all together eliminated as it is draining strength from the entire organization? Or worse…have weeds, disguised as harmless, beautiful additions taken over without you even realizing their destructive intent? Or is your organization is a good place where simple maintenance is needed to ensure continued and sustained growth?

I guess as leaders, we ARE gardeners in a certain fashion. So this fall, dust off your “green thumb” and tend to YOUR garden….

Be good to yourself…

Friday, September 15, 2017

FM 6-22

Recently I came across a publication called FM 6-22 Leader Development. It was published by a cooperation which succinctly outlined:
·       Leader Development and its Purpose
·       Creation of Development Programs
·       Fundamentals for Developing Leaders
·       Self-Developing Processes Including Strengths, Needs, and Goal Setting
·       Developing Character, Judgment, Problem Solving and Adaptability as Situational Leaders
·       Clear Leader Expectations to Provide Feedback and Growth Opportunities
·       Recommended Learning and Development Activities
What struck me was the clear focus of continual renewal and development. As leaders, we are prone to fall in a trap that somehow we “have arrived.” Great leaders continue to grow and develop, and in doing so inspire new leadership from within the ranks. Ralph Nader said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders…not followers.”

I was also struck that I never really thought of this organization as a “leader among developing leaders”, when in reality, it should have been rather obvious as leaders are not born, but developed.

So…what are YOU doing to develop YOUR skills??? Perhaps start with reading FM 6-22 Leader Development…oh…the organization you ask??? You might be surprised…Take a look

Be good to yourself…

Friday, September 8, 2017


Candor is word which I find curious as it is seldom used or witnessed as we try desperately to find the “politically correct” way to address issues as they arise. We struggle finding the perfect words; we worry about hurting feelings, or making things worse rather than just coming out and asking the question everyone in the room wants to ask.

Candor is a quality found in great leaders as they are able to use it to their advantage. They are able to question without accusing, show an open and honest curiosity, and bring clarity to a discussion. Candor used correctly is simply noticing. It isn’t being belligerent, or angry, or being up in somebody’s “grill.”

When used with compassion, candor doesn’t seem harsh or being “nosy” but rather shows a genuine concern as you question to learn, not judge.

It has been said that candor is a risk worth taking, but as with any strategy it takes practice to do it with kindness and clarity. Done correctly it can do nothing but build strong relationships…and we all know…nothing great happens without great relationships…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, September 1, 2017


For those of us who live far enough north to worry about snow, Labor Day signifies the end of summer, the beginning of fall colors, and the advent of cold winter days. It is a day dedicated to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American worker and the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our great country.

Research show us that great leaders live with an attitude of gratitude and that every day is celebrated. Workers feel that they are a part of something larger then themselves, that the vision is clear, the workers are valued, and they have a voice which is heard. From the leader, a simple thank you, job well done, a pat on the back, a brief conversation about life outside the office, pays great dividends without a cost… and yet, void of such a culture costs a great deal.

So this holiday weekend take time to consider how to celebrate “Labor Day” more than once a year, and perhaps the “winters” won’t be as harsh…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, August 25, 2017

Did You See It????

Did you see it? No???? Really???? Yea…me either…AHHHHHHHH…one of the most heralded events in recent history and I missed it! Damn clouds…

Not sure what emotions, or thoughts you had on the historic total solar eclipse this week, but I couldn’t help but to reflect on the effect it seemed to have had nationally, locally, and personally.
On the national level, the nightly news had some sort of clip to hype the event during the past 2 weeks which gave a welcomed respite to the overburdening negative news which has perpetuated our airwaves. Locally, schools had to navigate the burden of safety and liability and decide how students were to experience this scientific marvel and embrace a teachable moment in “real time.”

Personally, I was humbled by the whole thing as it made me stop and marvel in the miracles which surround me each and every day. I saw a rudimentary scale of the sun in relationship to earth and the moon. Not sure exactly how precise the illustration was, but it had a 10 inch paper plate represent the sun, while a peppercorn represented the earth and the moon the size of a mustard seed. These three aligned themselves this week to remind me of the importance of all of us playing our part in the universe in which we reside. No matter our size, our power, or our position in life we all have a purpose, and when we’re aligned to those in our organization we make a noticeable difference which cannot be ignored or denied.

I must admit…there ARE days I feel as insignificant as the mustard seed and occasionally I’m on fire like the sun, while other days I’m at ease simply revolving around the glow of others enjoying life’s miracles…

The Krause Quips have returned for another year and will be posted weekly each Friday until the end of May. They are meant to make you think, to smile, to reflect…do with them as you please…delete or feel free to forward them, just give credit where credit is due…
In the meantime…be good to yourself

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Friday, May 26, 2017

What DOES Success Look Like?

Recently I read the blog of a colleague who had the attached picture as a visual to his written word. The picture and his message gave me pause to ponder, which lead to me laughing at myself. As leaders it’s important to remind those around us that success does not come easily, that rarely, if ever, is it simply linear. We all have experienced taking two steps forward, a step back, and a step to the side as we try to navigate to our ultimate goal. 

As leaders, we also take on the roles of mentor and coach to those with whom we work. It’s important for them to realize, that although at times we “make it look easy” that we too struggle and that success takes hard work, diligence, determination, and a bit of luck along the way. 

As my dad would remind me…”Success comes before work…only in the dictionary.”

Be good to yourself!

(This will be my last Quip for a few months as I begin to enjoy a respite and try to gather a few new ideas for additional Quips beginning sometime in late August...if your email changes and you'd like to continue receiving your weekly Quip, send me your new email address and I'll make the necessary changes. If you wish to no longer receive these weekly messages, simply email me and request to be deleted from the distribution list...may you all have a wonderful summer...)

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Talkin To Yourself??? Not a Bad Idea!

Sometimes the arguments are short and sweet, other times they linger for years as some issues are more difficult to sort, not everything we encounter is black or white. In fact, I’d dare say that the “either/or” debates are easier to solve than those which offer various paths to follow.

As leaders, we all feel the need to be decisive. Our followers expect that we have all the answers. There are times that we drive ourselves to the brink of insanity because we weigh too many options. For those of you who believe that you MUST make a decision on everything…consider…to decide not to decide is to decide…

So…go ahead…make the decision not to decide and have a good ol’ fashioned argument…with yourself! You may find that you grow from the discussion, you may find that there is no “right” answer, or that “and and both” is better than “either/or.” Whatever you decide is probably better than any decision that you didn’t really discuss...with yourself…just sayin…

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