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The Compass

Topics to keep you and your organization on course.

Leadership Style: Looking for a Fit

How does your actual leadership style fit you?  Do the people you supervise think you are genuine and sincere? Does the culture of your organization match your approach and philosophy on management?  How often are you asked to act in a way that doesn't align with your...

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Do Leadership Principles Apply to Hourly Employees?

"This all sounds great for teams with motivated and educated people, but what about teams of entry-level or disengaged workers?"  An attendee asked this at a recent workshop focused on building effective teams.  She then said that all of the leadership material she...

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Rural Nonprofit Problems: What Can Be Done?

All small nonprofits face challenges, but rural nonprofits face added difficulties. Here are three common challenges and how to address them. STP STP means everything is run by or supported by the Same Ten People.  They serve on church boards, volunteer with Little...

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Tough Employee Near Retirement: Just Wait it Out?

Problem employee nearing retirement?  Why not just wait for them to go? I've heard this sentiment so many times.  A leader describes, to minute detail, an employee's negative impact and then says something like, "They will be retiring in two years, just waiting for...

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Adventure: Inspiration is All Around Us

Grit.  Resilience.  Determination.  Perseverance.  When I deliver the Endurance Leadership program, I encourage attendees to substitute whatever word they like with the word endurance.  While they may not be technically synonymous, I find that people connect with...

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Empathy is Not a Soft Skill

We understand the purpose of empathy, and maybe even its importance in theory, but in situations that matter, we have difficulty putting ourselves in others’ shoes.

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Encouraging Mistakes

I might be a mean parent. My daughter recently got scraped up doing something outside. Instead of diving for the first aid kit and offering sympathy, I commented on how cool the scrapes were.  Okay, maybe I'm not mean, but I know that minor scrapes and bruises show...

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Lessons from the U.S. Women’s Ski Team

The most recent Olympics provide an opportunity to celebrate a couple of amazing performances and see directly how they relate to individual performance inside a team environment.  The gold medal earned by Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall show that focus on effort, process and team culture can bring historic results.

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Addressing Board Committee Challenges

I once worked at a nonprofit organization that had 11 standing board committees.  The board also required nearly every significant decision staff made to be approved by the appropriate committee who then needed their decision approved by the board.  Wasn't that...

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One Approach to a More Effective Team

Working with a client recently, the group discussed the difficulty of creating truly effective teams.  They work in a fast-paced industry and say they have little time for team development inside the office.  They also experience relatively high turnover, a standard...

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Get Comfortable with Discomfort

A couple of weeks ago, I competed in the Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon.  I rode in the 80 mile bike race in northern Wisconsin.  The temperature hovered around zero Fahrenheit during the day, but as the sun went down, it dropped quickly to about -20.  I didn't have a...

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Exploring the “Why”

  In his incredibly popular TedX talk, "Start with Why" Simon Sinek says "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."  That's as true in leading people as it is in selling products or services.  People want to know our motivations, our "why's".  I see it...

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Praise, With a Dash of Criticism

Kids are smart.  This was illustrated for me once again on a recent long drive with my family.  Somehow we got on the topic of people who offer too much praise, and others who don't offer enough.  According to my 10 and 14 year-old kids there's a "just right" mix of...

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Time to Focus on Your Team

There's an old saying, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now."  The same concept applies to focusing on your team's performance.  Work teams are always changing, people come, people go, responsibilities or staff structure...

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