Leadership Caffeine Anniversary, Special Offers and a Coming Attraction

I continue to be slightly amazed and always humbled at the reception to my book/article collection, “Leadership Caffeine: Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.”

Today is the sixth anniversary of the publication this work, and the content on navigating change, uncertainty and developing and supporting great professionals and great teams is arguably more relevant today than ever before. The fact that groups from law enforcement, municipal government, not-for-profits and dozens of commercial enterprises use it as part of their leadership development programs is the humbling part!

I was asked at a keynote recently where the idea for this collection of my articles came from, and for the first time ever, I share the secret!

I am also thankful for my great friend Wally Bock who initially advised me against the format of this book and then updated his advice in “Book Writing Lessons from Leadership Caffeine.” 

3 Special Offers to Celebrate the Leadership Caffeine Anniversary

1. 5 Free Copies of Leadership Caffeine! 

(Note: I am thrilled to be sending out 5 copies to some great professionals. This promotion is concluded, however, #’s 2 and 3 are still open!)

In celebration of the anniversary of the publication of Leadership Caffeine, I am giving away one free book to the first 5 respondents (in the continental U.S.). Simply drop me a note indicating that you would like a copy and I will be happy to get one in the mail to you. (After the first 5 are gone, the offer concludes.)

2. Free Books to Jump-start your Leadership Discussion Group with Leadership Caffeine:

For the first respondent via e-mail who indicates he/she is starting a leadership discussion group at work and would like to use Leadership Caffeine as a resource, I will provide up to 5 copies at no charge. As an added bonus, I will be happy to join one session live for 30 minutes via telephone to field questions from your team. (Continental U.S. only.)

3. Arm your keynote/workshop audience with up to 100 free copies!

Book a keynote or workshop program with me before September 30, 2016 and receive up to 100 copies of the book free for your audience. (Note, this offer valid for organizations in the continental U.S. only, and subject to our mutual agreement on a speaking/program fee including travel expenses.) Drop me a note and we will set up a time to discuss your program needs.

Next! Coming Attraction: Leadership Caffeine for Project Managers

Inspired by my incredible MBA students in my project management course at DePaul University and the many audiences for my keynotes on project leadership, I am thrilled to pre-announce the forthcoming book, “Leadership Caffeine for Project Managers.”

This collection of articles focus on the issues and skills and behaviors that drive great performance with our project initiatives. The collection features 31 articles focused on the topics that keep project managers (or anyone who is leading a team/committee/group initiative) awake at night. The first edition will be an e-copy only, compatible with ibooks, Kindle, Nook or in pdf format. 

As in all of my management and leadership writing, every article offers ideas, insights and suggestions to help you strengthen performance in the workplace.

Learn more.

Look for more information on the planned September, 2016 release of this new work!

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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Strategy Hunt

strategyStrategy never happens in a straight line. It’s a journey filled with zigs and zags and fateful decisions. If it’s easy or fast, or is magically generated from a template, it’s probably not strategy.

Leaders who take this work seriously understand the existential nature of strategy. It sets the trajectory of a firm and propels every subsequent decision.

Most management teams struggle with strategy work. They dance around the subject and play with a few of the tools, but never actually do the hard work necessary to create power and value in their markets. They dance with strategy as an exercise in current state resource allocation between competing powers. In reality, they should be stripping away their preconceived notions and rethinking everything about their business, the audiences they serve and the methods they choose to compete and serve with.

As I said, it is work that calls into question the very existence of the firm.

Some teams get it right. When I’ve worked with those teams, what you see and hear and observe feels like trust, diligence, passion, respect, tenacity and commitment.

They trust each other enough to let down their political defenses and focus on what’s right for the firm.

They understand that diligence is required to accurately assess their situation. They do the work before they espouse their positions.

They argue passionately for their perspectives. Sometimes passion sounds a bit like fighting.

The respect for each other is reflected in the fighting over the ideas, not over the people bearing the ideas.

They are tenacious and keep plowing through the fog of strategy because they know they must.

And finally, when the choices are made and the dust settles, regardless of prior opinions, they go forth with arms linked and do what they committed to doing.

It’s never a straight line. It’s always an adventure.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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Reorganization B.S.

chessboardI once worked for a firm that reorganized every April. You could set your watch by it.

Nothing important or innovative happened from January to June.

Even at my young age, it was clear after a couple of cycles that the reorganization was a political chess game that had no basis in strategy or operational effectiveness. It was an ego battle of the most powerful players. The employees were the pawns. Customers and shareholders were the victims.

Most restructuring efforts are little more than a real life business version of Game of Thrones. That’s too bad, because “structure” is a powerful tool for creating value. Not the lines and boxes, but the alignment of superpowers with opportunities.

I had a habit of futzing with my structure. I apologize to those I drove crazy on occasion. I didn’t always get it right the first or second time. However, good, patient and motivated people always helped us get it right eventually. And when superpowers aligned with opportunities, the world was ours for a few moments in time.

If your restructuring efforts don’t focus on bringing superpowers to opportunities, it is mostly b.s.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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The Checklist App for Living and Leading

Your Checklist for Professional GrowthThere are seemingly endless opportunities to waste our time in search of improved productivity, increased creativity and higher quality in our personal and working lives. The buffet of apps for our devices and seemingly endless articles offering tips to help us conquer our personal drift toward entropy are everywhere. It feels like everyone is looking for help and no one is truly finding what they need.

In my informal polling of people I encounter, most are not feeling better organized and prioritized and on-task as a result of their apps or the advice articles. Most people tend to look and act like their hair is perpetually on fire.

Perhaps we’re looking for technology to solve a distinctly analog (human) challenge.

The other day I observed a pilot at a small regional airport prepare to fly his private plane on a cross-country journey carrying his wife and infant child. Precious cargo.

He walked slowly around the plane looking it over and testing the various moveable parts. He made certain the gas caps were secure, ran his hands over the plane’s surface and then satisfied that all was good, he climbed into a cockpit filled with technology and proceeded to pull out the most fundamental of all personal productivity and quality tools, the checklist.

This pilot has thousands of hours of flight time gained in over 40 years of flying. I suspect he could recite the preflight checklist in his sleep. Nonetheless, he diligently checked every item on the list as if it was his first time preparing to fly.

No other tool so clearly focuses our attention and requires us to acknowledge completion.

As a lifesaving tool, the use of the checklist is probably responsible for the overall great safety record in the aviation industry.

What We Need is A Checklist for Living and Leading:

Perhaps the app we are all looking for to ensure we do the right things in the right order to improve our productivity and quality is the tried and true checklist.

Here are some ideas for your own “preflight” checklists:

  • The life checklist reminds us to love our families, treat everyone we encounter with kindness and respect, take care of our physical and mental health and strive to learn from our copious personal mistakes. Some of us should include the reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.
  • The leadership checklist draws on the life checklist and reminds us of our responsibility to create value with every encounter—to strive to make someone’s situation better while helping them to do their best. The most potent reminder on this list is to “make meaning” through our actions.
  • The citizen’s checklist reminds us of our responsibilities as individuals living in a free land. It includes our obligation to serve our country, engage in civil discourse about civic issues and to never take our freedoms for granted.

The Bottom Line for Now:

Much like my pilot friend relying on this checklist to safely shepherd his family home, our own checklists will help us focus on what matters. Of course, like the pilot, you have to use it daily and diligently. Oh, and the best things about this checklist app: you don’t need to charge a device to run it, it doesn’t require you to invest in cloud storage and there’s no cost for upgrades ever.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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We All Make the Choice to Transact or Transform

water-1117700__180As leaders, managers, and contributors, we make the choice every day to transact or transform in our encounters with colleagues and customers.  Many opt for the former, exhibiting the bare minimum amount of energy to reasonably fulfill their obligation to the other party. These people transact. In most cases their firms perpetuate a transactional culture that flows from the corporate offices out into the customer environment.

You see the transaction effect in the big, impersonal retail stores where cashiers seem to be trained to not make eye contact and almost never smile. You experience it at the airline counter and your doctor’s office and in so many other encounters in your daily life. These organizations and those in them who run the business simply don’t care.

That’s too bad, because the cost of striving to transform is negligible and the returns remarkable. It’s the best risk-reward ratio you will ever encounter. And if there is added cost to identifying and training people to give more than the bare minimum or, in spending more time in their encounters, it’s the best investment return available

Consider the small but transformational effect on someone’s mood and loyalty based on a smile, direct eye contact or a genuine offer to help. The clerk at the local ACE Hardware hooked me for life when she asked for my shopping list for my latest project and led me around the store for each item, offering guidance on the right and wrong choices. I would have spent hours mulling options and more time dealing with the wrong items and project slowdowns.

I drive to Rochester, MN for medical issues at the Mayo Clinic because their values and their hiring and training practices ensure that all their employees give more than the bare minimum for patients and families. When my son faced a serious challenge, the doctor and his team spent hours with us exploring options and answering questions. When we departed,the lights were off in the Clinic. It was two hours after closing time.

Consider the ripple effect of offering clear, timely positive and constructive feedback on a person’s growth and development. It’s a transformational discussion, not transactional content.

Consider the seismic impact of giving a good but inexperienced person a first-time chance to do something new. You are giving them an admission ticket to growth and learning that supports career development and transformation.

Consider the profoundly personal experience you are offering to someone who has made a mistake when you let them learn from the mistake versus punishing them.

The ripples from transformational behaviors spread far and wide.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

The good news is that each of us chooses whether to be transactional or transformational in our encounters. Even if your firm is transactional, strive to make the right choice and do your part to give more than the bare minimum for those you encounter on your daily journey. You never know how far out the ripples will reach. Perhaps they will touch you when you need them most.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

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