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Which Are You Providing – Clarity or Confusion?

One of the known issues in business today is the element of complexity. As a Leader, you need to guide your people through the maze of complexity to a world of simple solutions and progress. So, what is the real issue?

Seems like confusion is higher ranked, mostly by default than purposeful actions on the part of leaders. I know, you’re asking “everyone is dealing with complexity so what can I do about it?”

Good question – really, I mean it 🙂   The only missing piece of the question is “how can you take responsibility to change the situation for your team?”

What Has Changed without Your Awareness?

This weekend I watched parts of several football games – both college level and professional. And, while watching them I had an aha moment regarding how things change without us being aware of the changes.

My aha was regarding the offensive lineman and specifically their technique. What I was playing football, lineman were not allowed to grab the defensive player at any point. In fact, we were taught to grab our own jerseys and basically use our arms as big flippers to hit our opponent. Therefore, it was easier for the defensive players to attack the offense and make plays.

Today the rules of the game have changed. It appears an offensive lineman can grab as much jersey as he wants as long as he does get outside the opponents arms. Therefore, watching these football games was an exercise in watching basically wrestling matches at the line of scrimmage.

My initial thoughts were – wow I could have really good if I could have grabbed hold of the defensive player’s jerseys during a game. With my long arms this would have stopped my opponents dead in their tracks and I would have won even more of these battles.

Okay, so what does my story of football have to do with leadership today?

5 Reasons Teams Fail

Teams are still a hot topic in the business world. I remember the impact of total quality movements on team development and functionality. And, likewise there were both successes and failures on the business side.

There were consultants and researchers studying the reasons for success and failure in total quality teams. There results were also all over the board so success was harder to grasp.

While there are many reasons for team failures including two of the bigger issues – lack of a common or shared goal and a lack of individual responsibility or accountability to get their share of the results. The latter reason is my focal point for this article.

There are Five Reasons Teams Fail, check these out and see if your teams have any of these issues to correct.

What Can Leaders Learn from the Rolling Stones? A lot!

Okay, some of you know I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan and recently I watched a concert presented in Hyde Park. At first, I was going with the flow of their songs and the joy and excitement of the crowd. Then I began to think about what leaders could learn from this amazing group of old dude’s in today’s market.

I know the old dude was not necessary, yet, here is the core group of the Rolling Stones in the their late 60’s or older entertaining their fans – their loyal fans who knew the words to every song played.

So what do leaders of organizations need to relate to when thinking about the Rolling Stones and their Organizations?

Here are the Five Lessons to the Longevity of this group – driving at least 50 years of success and music together.

Trends for 2014 and beyond for the Business Leader

As a new year begins to unfold I assume you have taken the time to review the results of this year. Reviewing the results of the year is very important – if you are interesting in results and execution.

The fact is plans are a dime a dozen – everyone has plans. There are Strategic Plans, Business Plans, Marketing Plans, Sales Plans, Developmental Plans, New Development Plans and Key Account Strategic Plans. However, plans without an extensive review and comparison to expectations is only a sheet of paper with writing or numbers upon it.

The key is the execution of the plans which directly relate to the results and outcomes your organization or business  unit accomplishes. This is the time of the year to take long looks, dialogues and focus upon what has occurred against what was planned. By focusing on your results, you can put together an improved plan for the future.

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to one of the futurist thinkers of our time and he pointed out four specific trends occurring in our business environment for us to reflect upon. By reflecting I mean taking a hard look at your industry, apply what you learn about these trends and then assume something is going to happen in your marketplace with a definitive impact upon your plans.

The four trends are…

  1. Smart Devices are taking on more emphasis
  2. Amazon is going after new industries
  3. Technology and Social Media determines your business level
  4. Robotics are coming fast

Let me explain how these trends will impact organizations.

Government Shutdown and the Real Role of Leadership

As with most people in the United States I have watched the unfolding of a stand off between the President and Congress with keen interest. My focus recently has been upon the role of leadership or this case a lack of true leadership. It is possible this politicians should take a moment to read an article entitled “Shared Leadership.”

As a Business Adviser, I work hard to simplify what is actually happening – using the Law of Cause and Effect to clarity the reality of situation. So here are my observations regarding this apparent deadlock of ideals…

First, blame is not of any interest to me. You can blame all of them if you desire. In fact, I have observed many discussions and diatribes assigning blame to everyone – which in my opinion is not an accurate effort. It is true however there is a lack of real leadership within all groups – White House and Congress.

Voss Graham interview by Jeff Blackman – Part 2


Here’s more of my conversation with friend and fellow pro, Voss Graham. Voss is the CEO and Senior Business Advisor for the InnerActive Consulting Group in Cordova, Tennessee. He helps individuals and companies get to their “next level.”

Jeff Blackman: How does confidence impact short and long-term success?

Voss Graham: Self-confidence is the bedrock or foundational aspect for the successful athlete, businessperson or sales pro. In fact, sales people with high levels of confidence seem to make sales before they even offer a solution. Why? Because customers want to do business with confident people. They feel these people will make things happen and do whatever it takes to get the job done.

People lacking self-confidence are at a major disadvantage. Customers sense a lack of confidence, and therefore lose faith in the abilities of the sales pro or business person. Yes, that’s an emotional response by the customer.  Yet all decisions are based in emotional responses, and logic is used to justify our emotional decisions.

In sports or business, confidence breeds a winners’ attitude. Winners take control of their mental mindset and view all situations with a positive point of view. Losers tend to look for negatives and use both internal negative self-talk and external negative talk, which attracts more negative influences into their lives, and their results become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

JB: So confidence drives our self-perception and the world’s perception of who we are?

Voss Graham interview by Jeff Blackman – Part 1


The first time Voss Graham and I met, we were sitting next to each other, both doing something we love. Watching a ballgame. Nope, not the Chicago Cubs. It was actually a New York Yankees game, in famed Yankee Stadium.

We soon discovered we had a lot in common. A passion for professional sports. A rabid loyalty to our respective college alma maters and their teams’ wins and woes. For me, the University of Illinois. For Voss, Louisiana State University. A passion for our profession. A shared and valued collection of mutual friends. And an ongoing curiosity about human potential.

Voss is the CEO and Senior Business Advisor for the InnerActive Consulting Group in Cordova, Tennessee. As you’ll soon discover, he’s one smart dude. Especially, when it comes to understanding what helps people and companies succeed and get to “the next level.”

Jeff Blackman: What does it mean, “to think like a winner?”

Voss Graham: There’s only minimal skill, competencies, or attributes gaps between winners and losers. Yet, the difference in results between the two classes is very significant. Since skills, competencies, and attributes can be measured, what’s the factor that leads to such big differences in personal performance? It’s simply the attitudes people bring to the game.

Attitude has a multiplier effect on both our inborn attributes like intelligence and behavioral style and our learned attributes of skills, knowledge, and experience. Using a positive multiplier, a person can distance themselves from both peers and competition relative to the results and outcomes.

“It’s the Singer not the Song”

Over the weekend I was listening to music from the Great British philosopher – Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones – and listened to this phrase in one of his songs…

It’s the Singer, Not the Song!”

I realized at that moment the parallel to individuals in today’s business environment.

The fact is everyone knows the words and parrots them quickly and easily. Yet, few actually walk the talk of the leadership world. You see it takes discipline and persistence to do the right things as a leader in every situation. It’s the singer who makes the difference.