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Hugh Ballou on January 26th, 2015

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

ConsensusOne of the most powerful processes for team decision-making is the use of consensus. Consensus is not a win/lose. It is a win/win for everyone. Each person participates in the decision making process. There is open and honest debate. There is a negotiated resolution that everyone agrees to support. Everyone give his or her consent to the decision that best suits the needs of the group.

Consensus is the most misunderstood process that I know. When facilitating group sessions for the first time, I conduct an exercise to demonstrate how consensus works. Without exception the participants are not realizing that I am taking them through an exercise to develop consensus until I point out that’s what we just completed. When asking the group to define consensus, I have yet to find a group that understands how it works and how to define it. Many think that consensus is compromise. I see compromise as a decision in which everybody gives us something and typical nobody is happy.

The following list defines what consensus is and what it is not.                                   


What it is not

  • majority voting
  • unanimous agreement
  • pressing individual interests
  • angry sub-group
  • outvoted minority
  • adoption of all ideas
  • decisions made by a power sub-group
  • loud rebuttals
  • sarcastic responses
  • a fast decision making process
  • attacking people
  • manipulation

What it is                                  

  • a group process
  • the input of everyone is considered
  • the outcome is crafted together
  • the outcome best meets the group’s  needs
  • synergy of decision into
  • the best decision possible
  • the root of consensus is the word consent
  • consent means to give permission to
  • the group’s decision
  • consensus is a cooperative intent
  • attacking ideas
  • solution that meets the needs of the group
  • communication of ideas and feelings
  • synergy of building collaborative decisions
  • doing the best for the common interest
  • decision backed by relationship
  • shared expectations
  • Key attributes include:
  • Humility
  • willingness to listen to others
  • see other perspectives
  • willingness to share ideas
  • not insisting on shared ideas
  • honest communication
  • willingness to trust
  • building of relationships
  • participation by all in process
  • a learning experience

Most groups do not understand what consensus is or what value it has to final decisions.

My favorite definition for consensus is a decision that best serves the interests of the organization that is developed through group process and backed by relationship. Consensus required trust. Consensus required active listening. Consensus requires being open to new ideas and expanding of previous thinking.

Roberts Rule of Order is a process attempted my many and understood be few. It’s time honored and proven. It’s a standard for making group decisions. Consensus is a tool to add to group process. It fills a gap in Roberts Rules process. If the group gathers with division and a motion is made, seconded, and discussed and then the call for a vote happens…the motion passes 5 to 4. Yes, the motion passed, however, the group arrived divided and departed divided as well.

Consensus provides an alternative to the scenario above. If the group arrives divided, then a consensus process is agreed upon. On side states their stand. The other side stated their opinion. The group then defines what problem they are solving and agrees on what the problem is. At this point everyone agrees to explore other options. A list is created of all the possible ways of solving the problem. Using a method for sorting ideas (matrix, dotting each idea, assigning a number value, etc.) the group finds the top ideas and places them in priority order. There is potential at this point to discuss the pro’s and con’s of each idea. The group then voted on the idea that best serves the interest of the organization.

Consensus requires the following:

  1. A Definition of the Situation: A statement defining the problem, the issue, the opportunity, or what the group is deciding. Sometimes there are multiple issues. It is essential to define the question before creating the answer.
  2. A Group Facilitator: A person who conducts the process and is not involved in providing content and is not voting. This person manages the process. The participants provide the content. A facilitator keeps the group focused and on track.
  3. Willing Participants: Each participant must be willing to let go of their personal agenda and agree to give consent to a decision that provides value to the group as a whole.
  4. A Clear Value Statement: It’s crucial to define the value of the decision to the organization, group, or entity. Define why it’s important.
  5. A Visual Posting of Notes: Having written notes for everyone to see reminds participants of the facts. Having written facts allows participants to attack the ideas and not the others. This is especially helpful when the topic is controversial or sensitive. This is also a good way to keep the group focused on the facts and not on feelings.

I have defined consensus as a meeting tool. It is, however a finely honed skill of the leader who is a skilled facilitator.

Have you effectively used consensus? Give it a try, it’s a powerful tool.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

Hugh Ballou on January 23rd, 2015

Blogs of Note for the Week Ending January 23, 2015

5 blogs that matterEvery day I learn something that advances my leadership knowledge and competency. Here are quotes from 5 blogs that got my attention this week. I don’t benefit from reposting any of these posts. Sometimes, I don’t even know the writer. However, I do read and personally grow my knowledge by reading posts that challenge my thinking and get me to think outside my old paradigm. It’s not important that you agree with any of these writers. It’s only important that you think. I hope you will find some new sources of inspiration with these posts. Here’s the next group of 5 in the series:


Shelly Kramer

Millennials in the Workforce: What Really Matters To Them

Shelly KramerThe generation born in the 1980s and early 90s, sometimes called Gen Y or, more commonly, Millennials, are now making an impact in the workplace. Born into the emerging world of technology and communication, the expectations of Millennials and their outlook on the workplace generally differs from that of their predecessors, meaning that a greater understanding of this cohort is needed in order to find, manage, inspire, and retain this much-needed part of the workforce, especially in the IT world,

As the technology sector booms, IT leaders are more interested in attracting and recruiting the best and brightest young talent than ever before. But attracting Millennials and keeping them happy and satisfied in the workplace is entirely different than it was for prior generations. Generally speaking, this group cares less about job security, paying their dues, and working their way up a corporate ladder than their Generation X and Boomer counterparts, and are exponentially more interested in careers that suit their personalities, their needs, and allow them to have a life outside of work than their predecessors.

Read the post…


Elana Lyn Gross

10 Ways to Take Back Control of Your Career

Elana Lynn GrossWith the new year rush behind us, this is the perfect time to create new goals, envision a plan of attack, and succeed in new ways.

And since we spend most of our time at work, it makes sense to focus on taking control of your career… and being the best you can be this year!

Here are ten things you can do to help you take control of your career:

1. Ask for Feedback

Constructive criticism can be extremely helpful—it can give you fresh perspective on your work and perhaps highlight a few areas where you can reexamine your methods and modify your approach.

If you take criticism effectively—read: not personally or emotionally—and reflect on it, you can definitely improve your overall quality of work.

Read the post…


LaRae Quy

How To Think On Your Feet When Under Pressure

LaRae QuyDuring a large meeting of agents at FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C., the Counterintelligence Section Chief turned to me and asked what I felt was the priority target for foreign spies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My answer was based on solid information gathered by my fellow agents. I kept my answer concise and clear. The Section Chief nodded and then asked, “What operations have you initiated to stop it?”

As every head in the room turned toward me, I felt my mouth get dry and I cleared my throat so I could respond with a calm and clear voice. But the truth was awkward—I hadn’t initiated any operation against the target. Yikes!

Have any of you ever felt yourself under pressure to come up with the perfect answer when put on the spot by your CEO or supervisor? And in front of your colleagues? What if you can’t think of anything to say?

I felt a collective sigh of relief from the others that I had been the one singled out and forced to admit the FBI was struggling to find effective ways to penetrate the activities of a foreign intelligence service. It didn’t help that I’m the kind of person who comes up with perfect retorts—about twenty minutes after the question is asked.

Read the post…


Anna Tomalik

You and the customer: Beginner’s guide to 4 social styles

Anna TomalikCustomers vary in the way they approach us, talk to us (or don’t talk to us) and make decisions. Just as we differ in the way we deliver service to them. Most of the variety comes from different social styles we all use in contact with the outside world.

What is a social style, anyway?

The social style is our public “I”, that we use to interact with people. Our social style is our best, most comfortable and easiest way of dealing with others. It’s like our favorite clothes we put on in the morning while getting ready to go through the day.

Our social style is developed when we are babies and toddlers. At that time, some of our behaviors are reinforced while others are repressed. This way, we learn that some behaviors are more likable than others. Here’s the tricky part: other people, on their journey to adulthood, get different messages about their behavior and develop different styles of communication.

Read the post…


Rebekah Radice

Social Media Conversion Ideas You Should Be Using, but Probably Aren’t

Rebekah RadiceClick, read, buy. Three actions you want your social media fans and followers to take.

But they’ll never know how to react if you don’t ask.

Incorporating specific conversion tactics can make all the difference in your social media posts. But too often, businesses skip the specifics and instead choose to use a call to action (CTA) that only speaks in generalities.

This is a lost opportunity to take a casual fan or follower and convert them into a subscriber or potential client.

So, what exactly is a call to action?

Read the post…



Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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Hugh Ballou on January 21st, 2015

Silence is golden.

Rests in music are not just an absence of sound, they are important punctuations in the music. Rests provide clarity for what just occurred and prepare us for what is about to happen. – Hugh Ballou

SilenceWe fill every moment of every day…

We complain about how much we have to do…

We share our anxiety with everyone we come in contact with…

We end each day with an uncompleted list…

Does this sound familiar? I can relate to this list because it’s my list. I recently fell into that trap of burying myself with good intentions. Yes, everything on my list is important. Yes, everything on my list is essential. Yes, everything on my list compounds my anxiety. Once I get anxious, my thinking is compromised, I try to do too much, and I talk too much. Over-talking is a sign that I am anxious.

I learned early in my career as a coach to listen. I love the expression that coaching is 90% listening and the rest is mostly listening. I also learned to leave 3 seconds or more of silence after a client has finished talking. This silence is clarifying for both of us. First, it clarifies that I have, indeed, heard the person. Second, it clarifies for me how to formulate my response. Lastly, it clarifies that I care about that person and what they are saying.

Gaining clarity is essential to effective leadership. I observe leaders who are brilliant over-talking when working with others, either clients or potential clients. I observe that this over-talking clouds their understanding of the situation and skews their response into advice that is not accurate for the situation.

As a musician, I appreciate the moments of silence in great masterworks. As a speaker, I have learned to use silence in keynote presentations for emphasis. As a facilitator of group planning processes, I have learned that things that matter happen in the silence, and the leader must pay attention. As a worship planner, I understand that carefully placed silence is valuable.

It’s the noise of daily process that can create anxiety and confusion. It’s our job as leaders to create the space for others to connect to us, to each other, and to their excellence in the group process. Too much noise will often block the subtle nuances that might mean the difference between excellence and failure.

I plan silent moments in my day to think…to reflect…to plan…to breathe…and to restore my energy. I am better when I follow this discipline of silence in my day.

Being the best you can be doesn’t necessarily mean that you toot your own horn.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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Hugh Ballou on January 20th, 2015


My New Series

This new blog series will appear on Tuesdays and will focus on resources that I use as I pace my ability to continually strive for my greatest effectiveness. Leaders get things done. In order to accomplish this objective, it’s important to have the necessary skills and systems in place. I have tried many things over many years and have settled on what’s simple, reliable, and consistent.

Each resource will appear under one or more of my 4 leadership principles:
  1. Foundations: Clarity of purpose and outcomes, and equipping one’s self for excellence;
  2. Relationships: Building and maintaining healthy and effective relationships;
  3. Systems: Tools and processes for leading and empowering transformation; and
  4. Balance: Managing multiple priorities and managing self

Each resource I blog about is one I have tested and use personally. I do not make money on these referrals unless specifically stated in the post.

Today’s resource is a product I use to prevent viruses from taking hold in my system. It’s called “Organic Defense.”

Staying Healthy for Being an a Effective Leader

A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.

- Tom Stoppard

I fly monthly to some place to present or to work with a client. The fatigue of travel and the connection with others makes me vulnerable to catching whatever is going around. Being in close proximity to lots of people, shaking hands, and having lots of interaction provides multiple opportunities for me to receive germs. I typically came down with the flu or a cold quite often.

In addition, since my youth, when I drove myself hard and compromised my immune system, the Herpes (mouth sore type) would break out with multiple mouth sores. This made it difficult to eat and created a substantial fatigue that compromised my work and my ability to concentrate.

Virus Image

Human Cell and Virus Cell


With either of these situations (like a typical male, I don’t handle being sick very well) I would be sick for a week to 10 days with no shortcut to healing. Like Zig Zigglar used to say, “A cold lasts one week. If you treat it, it goes away in 7 days.” That’s funny, but not funny.

Being out of sync for an extended period, with low productivity or no productivity, was tough. When self-employed, that means loss of income!

I met a woman at a business growth conference, CEO Space, about 4 years ago. JulieAnn Engel sat at the meal table that I hosted to coach business and nonprofit leaders. We began discussing nutritional supplements and, of course, came to the topic of viruses. She gave me a bottle of her product, Organic Defense.
H1N1 Virus- influenza group

H1N1 Virus- influenza group


I began taking the little black pill immediately. Since that day, I have not had the flu once or one instance of Herpes in my mouth.

I never travel without a bottle, and several of my colleagues also are committed to taking this supplement daily as prevention. One of these colleagues got off his daily routine and got the flu recently. I just spoke to him and he is now back on track with taking the product. It’s humid acid, however, it’s a very effective form of humid acid that you can’t get anywhere else. I suggest that you try it out. Especially if you are like me and don’t get flu shots.

I asked JulieAnn to give me a link to her site. She did that, and also has offered a free report about viruses. She previously worked as a drug company sales representative and is very knowledgeable about drugs, health, and nutrition.

I highly recommend that you educate yourself about viruses and how to protect yourself from them in all forms. We can’t make any medical claims, of course, however we can share the research and tell our own stories about results. Explore for yourself and see how to stay healthy. There are so many viruses in so many places, it just makes good sense to get knowledge about how to mitigate their effect in our own bodies.

Being a good leader is about equipping ourselves for a variety of situations – intellectually, physically, nutritionally, spiritually, emotionally, and with this kind of knowledge for staying healthy.

Here’s the link to get the free report. You can also choose to get a sample bottle of Organic Defense to see for yourself that it really works.

Organic Defense

Organic Defense

Link –>

Next week’s resource is my tool for writing, client communications, and staying organized. I look forward to this journey on Tuesdays to share my resources with you.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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Hugh Ballou on January 19th, 2015

Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.James Allen

Personal DevelopmentThe business buzz words and miracle programs get overused, trite, and annoying, especially when they compromise the quality of the work output that they claim to support. You know the programs. These programs have names like Six Sigma, Kaizen, Lean, Agile, and others. Some have buzzwords or phrases like Think Outside the Box, At the End of the Day, Game Plan, Quality-Driven, Results-Driven, Stretch the Envelope, Strategic Fit, Bandwidth, or Total Quality among others. There’s a game called BS Bingo in which participants get to call “bingo” once they hear so many of those words in one meeting. It’s funny and sad at the same time.

We confuse a continuing improvement of ourselves with the trendy programs called “Continuous Improvement.” More times than not, the amount of money and focus given to learning a program distracts from increasing human potential and learning to access common sense. I guess common sense is not very common anymore.

As you might determine, I’m not a fan of these programs or the standard instruments such as Myers-Briggs or DISC. They are used by many, and many organizations and consultants make a living teaching with these tools. I applaud their efforts. Those programs don’t work for me. I’ve been a part of staff projects with 5 of those instruments taught by consummate professionals. Ultimately, there was no change in the culture because of the training, or awareness of our personal preferences or the preferences of other colleagues. Many times, people use their profile results to justify their unprofessional, unproductive behavior.

Now, after this rant, let’s focus on continual improvement as a personal discipline.

Here are 6 personal improvement strategies that actually provide leadership growth:

  1. Continuing Education: Access your company’s budget for continuing education and study leadership methodology. For the last five years, my wife and I have been in a study program together on Bowen Family Systems with Roberta Gilbert at the Center for the Study of Human Systems. This program has enhanced our relationship, our work, our family relationships, and my leadership coaching. I have learned more in the past 5 years than I learned in my first 64 years of life. It’s invaluable to my personal growth and effectiveness. Find a program, methodology, or leadership style to focus on for a season.
  2. Reading: There are many, many valuable resources including books, articles, blogs, and online programs that challenge and stretch leaders. Choose a leadership style. Focus on a track for a period of time. Define desired results. Commit to a season of study and application. Take action with what you learn.
  3. Mastermind Group: Gather a group of successful people you consider to be better than you and create a support group. Napoleon Hill determined that the successful people he interviewed all had a group they belonged to that challenged and supported them. Don’t pick a group of “yes” people. Choose people who will ask hard questions and allow you to do the same. Going to the outside of our comfort space is where we grow.
  4. Attend Valuable Events: I regularly attend a Business Growth Conference called CEO Space.  When I was active in conducting, I attended events for musical conductors. As Stephen Covey writes, it’s about sharpening the saw – keeping current with skills, knowledge and best practices. Events are opportunities to learn from experts in other fields, network with other professionals of like mind, and to create opportunities for business and personal growth.
  5. Write a Blog: There’s no better way to grow than writing about how you want to grow, how you have grown, what’s wrong with your process, or searches for excellence. Writing is a way to define and clarify thoughts and to actually clarify what you already know. This is similar to teaching. The teacher learns more than the students. When I write a blog post, I research the topic, outline the post, and then write it. My focus is within my discipline of Transformational Leadership. I don’t leave it where Burns and Bass created it in the ’90s, I continue to push the envelope with my principles and my paradigm of the musical conductor as transformational leader.
  6. Always Have a Coach: Every year I have a coach, I save about 5 years of making mistakes and not knowing what to do next. I serve as strategy, leadership, and team coach for other professional business and nonprofit leaders. I can’t do for myself what I do for others. It’s not possible. Only those willing to grow personally will benefit from a coach, so I make myself vulnerable, transparent, and willing to open my mind to different paradigms. A personal coach provides an accountability partner, content counselor, neutral responder, advocate, encourager, and reality advisor.

Staying ahead means being responsible for one’s own initiatives for growing. We choose our pathway.

Over the next several months, I will be writing about these resources and others that help me get ahead and stay ahead. The Tuesdays theme will be Leadership Resources.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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Hugh Ballou on January 16th, 2015

Blogs of Note for the Week Ending January 16, 2015

5 blogs that matterEvery day I learn something that advances my leadership knowledge and competency. Here are quotes from 5 blogs that got my attention this week. I don’t benefit from reposting any of these posts. Sometimes, I don’t even know the writer. However, I do read and personally grow my knowledge by reading posts that challenge my thinking and get me to think outside my old paradigm. It’s not important that you agree with any of these writers. It’s only important that you think. I hope you will find some new sources of inspiration with these posts. Here’s the next group of 5 in the series:


Laura Vanderkam

How To Combat A Ridiculous Work Schedule And Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed


When Crystal Paine launched in 2007, she thought it would be a small offshoot of the blog she had been keeping. Then the economy crashed, and millions of people wanted to know how she fed her family for $35 a week. She soon found herself running a company that was growing so fast her hosting service went down every afternoon. She couldn’t stay on top of advertising queries. “I pulled all nighters,” she says. “Your body forgets how to relax and sleep.”

Read the post…


Scott McKain

Is Southwest just flying on their reputation?

Scott McKainOne of the three Destroyers of Differentiation identified in my book, “Create Distinction,” is that “familiarity breeds complacency.”  In other words, the more I do business with you — and become accustomed to how you engage me as your customer — the greater the likelihood that I will take you for granted.

However, the inverse of that maxim is true, as well.  The more I am your customer…the more times I choose you over the competition…the probability that you will become complacent in how your treat me and value my business is exponentially enhanced.

An article in today’s Wall St. Journal makes me wonder if that same phenomenon is occurring at what was one of my favorite companies – Southwest Airlines.

This report by Scott McCartney on “The Best and Worst Airlines” reveals a few interesting facts:

  • Only United was worse than Southwest about canceling scheduled flights.  

Read the post…


Kaylene S. Mathews

Magnify Your Results With Focus Intensity

Kaylene S. MathewsYou’ve envisioned your future and set your goals for the year… is it enough?

Are you positioned to achieve the results you really want this year or do you need to raise the intensity?

When I was younger, a boy in my neighborhood (who may or may not have been a blood relative) wanted to know if it was true that he could set something on fire by focusing the suns rays through a magnifying glass. Young boys and fire; it’s not usually going to turn out well for the victim. In this case the victim was a field of dry grass. He discovered that it was true as the field went up in flames and he became acquainted first hand with the local fire fighters.

Focus intensity = magnified results

Read the post…


Lee Williams

5 Characteristics of a Great Company Culture

Lee WilliamsA few weeks ago, we celebrated our annual 180 Communications Christmas party—a remarkable mixing of our personal and professional lives. I know inside other offices and companies, it’s a dreaded annual obligation, but while at our event, I witnessed pretty amazing camaraderie between our team and family members. From a home-cooked meal to a White Elephant gift exchange that left us all laughing, the focus was very clearly on strengthening our bonds, and by the end of the night, it became apparent that relationship-building is a key component to our company’s success.

Read the post…


Anthony Iannarino 

Do What is Difficult

Anthony IannarinoIt’s easy to reduce your price and eliminate it as an obstacle to a deal. It’s difficult to increase your price once you have established a lower price, even when you create greater value.

It’s easy to avoid dealing with a challenging customer issue, hoping against hope that it resolves itself in time. It’s difficult to have tough conversations, but it’s even more difficult to successfully recover from a challenge the longer it goes unaddressed.

It’s easy to give your client what they believe they want, like a price quote or a response to an RFP…

Read the post…


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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Hugh Ballou on January 14th, 2015

You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

ThisLeading vs Managing is a curious debate. Many in academia use management as the title for business leadership programs. For example, a well-known large university in my town offers a degree in management in the business school and allows for a minor in leadership, which is under the college of life sciences and agriculture. Fortunately, the professor leading that program understands leadership and knows how to apply it in a practical way. I don’t feel that a degree in management qualifies a person to lead an organization, a team, or a project. Its basis is in other areas.

As Stephen Covey points out, we manage time and lead people…we manage money and lead people…we manage project implementation and lead people…we manage things and lead people. There is a distinct difference.

Managing people fits an autocratic leadership style and not a transformational leadership style. It can be a form of overfunctioning. Top down leadership that is autocratic minimizes the synergy of the team.

Here’s a simple chart of my thoughts on the differences:

Topic Leader Manager
Style Transformational Transactional
Direction Engages Demands
Conflict Addresses Avoids
Risk Takes Minimizes
Affirmations Gives Takes
Concern Helps others to be right Being right
Blame Neutralizes Blames others
Energy Passion Control
Power Influence Authority
Focus Leading Managing
Seeks Consensus Mandate
Decisions Facilitates Makes
Culture Collaborative Authoritative
Activity Delegates Micromanages
Horizon Short-Term within Long-Term Short-Term
Creates Leaders on teams Puppets
Engages Followers Subordinates
Rules Uses principles Uses rules
Pathway Creates new Uses existing
Systems Utilizes Avoids
Persona Focus on vision and values Focus on self

As you see, there is a significant difference in these two paradigms.

Effective leadership requires healthy self-esteem, confidence, and constantly evolving skills.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

Hugh Ballou on January 12th, 2015

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Planning is DisciplineKeeping on track with an action plan is the primary focus of this post. Being more productive means planning to be more productive. Studies by social psychologist from Germany, Wilhelm Hoffman, show that people with high self control are happier than those without. I suggest that happiness comes from a sense of fulfillment and completion because a person feels in control of his or her destiny.

Effective planning drives effective results. Planning is nothing without the personal discipline to implement the plan systematically. Creating this personal discipline does not happen overnight. Just like a skilled performer, musician or actor or athlete, personal discipline is a habit intentionally cultivated with daily practice. Rehearse for Excellence is my leadership principle that creates discipline with productive systems.

Here is my list of traps that are enemies of productivity:

  1. Perfection Paralysis – “I will act when…” is the mantra of the perfectionist and the fearful. Some of us are fearful of failing. Some of us are fearful of succeeding. Some of us are so focused on the details that we can’t see the big picture and therefore procrastinate to a point of failure. The old saying is so true, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Being not quite ready is a script that I’m overwriting with intention of action.
  2. Waiting for the Right Opportunity – “I’m ready to do something when the right opportunity appears” is the internal script of the low productivity leader. If we are waiting for someone to appear, what happens if that person doesn’t show up? In my life, waiting for the right opportunity means that I have not clearly defined my actions and time activated those actions.
  3. Not in the Mood – I understand that professional leaders do not always do the right thing. I also understand that effective leaders discipline their disappointment. Failure is a learning experience. Mood is a state of mind that we can control. I struggle with getting motivated to do the right thing at the right time. Working alone is a trap if leaders don’t establish external motivators such as accountability partners and timed events, in which reporting completed actions is the expectation. According to Napoleon Hill, all the leaders he interviewed maintained a positive mental attitude, which was a key component of their success. By the way, solopreneurs are not the only ones with this trap. The corporate CEO can create this  trap by being too busy.
  4. Distractions – Email, phone calls, text messages, family and colleagues are all additions to our lives that create value – or create distractions.  I struggle with this every day and must reset my boundary each and every day. F.O.C.U.S. means free of clutter and unnecessary stuff. It’s a tough battle, however, I’m winning!
  5. Lack of Daily and Weekly Plan – Getting up and developing a list of “To-Dos” for the day, is a disaster. I find if I wait for the morning to define my day…it’s likely to be over before I define my tasks.

Effective leaders are continuously working on self improvement and remaining transparent. Transparency is a primary leadership strength. In that light, I share with you my efforts to stay centered and to be disciplined to reach my goals. My personal discipline consists of the following:

  1. Claiming My Best – Perfection paralysis is caused by several factors, however I am convinced that it’s centered in insecurity. Nobody wants to fail. If a leader does nothing, then the idea is that there is no chance to fail. Not doing anything is, in fact, a form of failure. It’s failure to act. I know that I am not perfect, therefore, I take measures to build support for the areas I know are not my top skills. I surround myself with people who are experts in areas that complement my areas of strength, and skills that fill in my gaps in skills. I define the objective, and then begin at once to move forward. I keep planning, evaluating, revising, and recommitting.
  2. Creating the Opportunity – I consider myself a problem solver. I love to look at problems and create a solution that brings value to all concerned. Most of the time, the solution is a co-creation with key stakeholders. In my own businesses, the SynerVision® brands, my mind automatically goes to the problem and then goes backwards to define why the problem happened, and then to develop strategies of prevention, or to imagine a new paradigm for moving forward. Getting unstuck typically requires sharing the problem with a trusted colleague or advisor and opening my mind to ideas outside my “Box.”
  3. Empowering Intentional Daily Inspiration - Daily reading, writing etc….
  4. Eliminating Any Distractions – Email, phone, electronics, personal interruptions, familiar surroundings…
  5. Planning Ahead - I develop tomorrow’s plan at the end of each day. I call the daily plan Daily Valuable Deliverables (DVDs). These DVDs are baby steps related to my weekly action plan, which is under my monthly milestones, and is tied to my yearly objectives. Nothing goes on my action plan that doesn’t fit my year’s objectives and isn’t defined by my monthly milestones. Exception: I allow time in my schedule for “Sliding Priorities.” Sliding Priorities are those important things that I must do, however, I can’t predict exactly what they might be. They come from external sources such as clients, service providers, staff, or joint venture partners – I also allow for family interruptions that can’t be deferred.

Here’s the new script to repeat each day: “Succeeding is up to me.”


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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Hugh Ballou on January 9th, 2015

Blogs of Note for the Week Ending January 9, 2015

5 blogs that matterEvery day I learn something that advances my leadership knowledge and competency. Here are quotes from 5 blogs that got my attention this week. I don’t benefit from reposting any of these posts. Sometimes, I don’t even know the writer. However, I do read and personally grow my knowledge by reading posts that challenge my thinking and get me to think outside my old paradigm. It’s not important that you agree with any of these writers. It’s only important that you think. I hope you will find some new sources of inspiration with these posts. Here’s the next group of 5 in the series:


Cheryl Snapp Conner

5 ‘Can’t Miss’ Conferences For Entrepreneurs In 2015

Cheryl ConnerWhere will entrepreneurs spend their networking and learning time in 2015? With the help of Orange County friend Dave Phillipson, I’ve compiled a list of 5 can’t miss conferences in 2015 for entrepreneurs.

This is an unofficial list compiled on the basis of quality of attendees, avoidance of hard sell platforms, the social responsibility mission of each, and positive results for entrepreneurs. (As disclosure, I serve in an unpaid role as a faculty member for one of the events, CEO Space. Phillipson serves the company as Director for Alliance Membership. The conference is how we met).

On that note, our collective five picks are as follows:

1) CEO Space. Now in its 27th year, this event is billed as a business growth accelerator conference and touts itself as the world’s central catalyst for Cooperative Capitalism, which I have written about in this column before.  It addresses entrepreneurs of all ages, including teens. Events occur five times per year.

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Anese Cavanaugh

How to Set Boundaries When You’re Busy

Anese CavanaughThe energy of busy is killing us.

Yes, killing us. How’s your life right now dear reader?

Busy? Full? Crazy? Overwhelming?

You have your business, your life, your wife, your man, your kids, your friends, family, pets, and your mortgage…

It’s daunting.

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Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne 

5 Choices That Will Maximize Your Productivity

5 ChoicesFollow these rules and feel more accomplished at the end of every day.

In The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity (Simon & Schuster, 2014), co-authors Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne explore how effective time management can improve overall productivity levels. In the following edited excerpt, they outline the three main challenges to achieving productivity, as well as the five choices to getting more done every day. 

It is both easier and harder than ever before to achieve extraordinary productivity and feel accomplished in our lives.

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Adam Grant

The 15 New Books to Read in 2015

Adam GrantThere are few better ways to start a new year than picking up some fresh perspectives to put into action. Here’s a sneak preview of 15 exciting books on business and behavior that will hit the shelves in the first half of the year. I’ve had the pleasure of reading eight of them so far. If the other seven are half as good, we’re in for a treat…

1. How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton (January 20)

The innovator who coined the “internet of things” solves many of the mysteries of invention. He argues persuasively that creativity is more often the result of ordinary steps than extraordinary leaps…

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Ben Hallman

Hey America, Your New Year’s Resolutions Are Garbage

Ben HallmanIt’s been a week since you awoke with a hangover and promised to do something different. If you are an American, the odds are high that the different-something involved making yourself better in some incredibly tedious way.

Maybe you pledged to be less fat. Maybe you resolved to be a better friend. Maybe — the absolute worst — you pledged to exercise more often.

So, how’s it going? Let me guess: you ran two miles on Thursday. On Friday, you called Cindy, even though you secretly kind of hate her. And on Saturday, you binge-watched The Big Bang Theory and ate 12 boxes of raisins, the only sweet food you hadn’t tossed in the garbage in a fit of optimism.

Here is the awful math of New Year’s resolutions. By the time you read this, there is a roughly 25 percent chance that you have given up. Already. After nine days…

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Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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Good leadership consists of doing less and being more. – John Heider*

Do LessI constantly hear from leaders that they are doing too much. I respond by asking how they contributed to the situation. The first response to that question is a puzzled look. It’s a revelation that we actually cause problems as leaders. It is a very sobering fact that we set up problems.

Many of those problems are set up by the leader’s over-activity – talking too much, overfunctioning, defining all the solutions, and telling others what to do. We have learned from others that these are things leaders do. We have been taught the wrong things.

I specialize in reverse paradigms. John Heider (quoted above) talks about reverse polarities in his book. Here are some reverse strategies to consider:

Talk less and listen more – Over-talking is easy to do. After all, the leader owns the vision and knows more than anyone else, right? Wrong! Once a leader said to me that they were always right. I responded, suggesting that it was more important that the members of the team be right. Too much talking is a sign that the leader is anxious and blocks input from others who might have the right ideas. Observing and listening are primary leadership skills. Doing less and getting more done is empowered by not talking, and listening more.

Ask good questions and listen to the answers – Many leaders perceive that they must have all the answers. I disagree. Leaders must ask good questions. That’s the first part. The second part is to listen carefully to the answers. It’s amazing what you can learn by listening if you take away the need to be right and the need to respond to those answers. Listen. Leave some silence. Then respond, if appropriate. Doing less and getting more done is empowered with good questions and intentional listening.

Observe and respond – Leaders listen to the words from others. Watching how people respond is very informative. Research tells us that only 7% of a communication is in the words. Observe what’s happening and observe how things happen. The musical conductor guides the music making and does not make the music. Reacting is a negative energy. Responding comes with discernment. Watch, think, listen, and then respond. Many times a response is not necessary. Having good people and getting out of their way is a good leadership skill. Doing less and getting more done mostly happens when the leader observes.

Function less and empower others to function more – Overfunctioning is a leadership disease. More leaders have it than not. The reciprocity to overfunctioning is underfunctioning. The musical conductor draws out the music from the ensemble. Leaders let others function. Doing things for others, making all the decisions, planning all the action steps, and telling others how to think, bring negative energy and animosity. Doing less and getting more done means doing less. Really!

Coach others to solve problems – This is the same theme. Don’t solve the problems. Ask others what they would do to solve the problem. This is not giving up leadership authority. This is inviting others to think. This is giving team members the permission to participate. Micromanaging is telling others how to do things. Coaching is leading others in learning how to do things better. This includes learning to solve problems. If the leader solves all the problems, then the team is dependent on the leader. Effective leaders lead others into higher functioning. Doing less and getting more done is facilitated by coaching others to be better leaders.

A good routine for leaders is the daily assessment. Schedule a time at the end of each day to reflect on the day’s activities. Take notes on what went well and what needs changing. Learn from yourself. If others are not producing up to expectations, then look in the mirror and see what to change about yourself. Organizational transformation begins with the leader’s transformation.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

*Heider, John (1986-04-19). Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age

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