C-Suite Network™

Growth Personal Development

Ushering in the Future 500 – White Paper

Greetings, C-Suite members.

Exciting news! Navalent, producer of inventive and gainful business, has collaborated with us and published a white paper for c-level leaders on helpful, groundbreaking research on leadership. The truly innovative logic behind the brand is revealed in this publication, entitled: Ushering in the Future 500: How Mid-cap Executives are helping their Organizations Build for Sustainable Growth and Win.

An exciting opportunity for growth is plentiful within mid-cap companies, but oftentimes leaders find themselves constricted by their work environments. The potential for balance within pattern shifts is revealed within Navelent’s publication. Organizational and strategic patterns are investigated and specifically assessed.

The downloadable white paper is available to our C-Level leaders. Please find the offer through this unique link: Download Here

Growth Personal Development

"Ushering in the Future 500" – White Paper


Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.39.46 AM

Greetings, C-Suite members.

Exciting news! Navalent, producer of inventive and gainful business, has collaborated with us and published a white paper for c-level leaders on helpful, groundbreaking research on leadership. The truly innovative logic behind the brand is revealed in this publication, entitled: Ushering in the Future 500: How Mid-cap Executives are helping their Organizations Build for Sustainable Growth and Win.

An exciting opportunity for growth is plentiful within mid-cap companies, but oftentimes leaders find themselves constricted by their work environments. The potential for balance within pattern shifts is revealed within Navelent’s publication. Organizational and strategic patterns are investigated and specifically assessed.

The downloadable white paper is available to our C-Level leaders. Please find the offer through this unique link: Download Here

Best Practices Culture Entrepreneurship Industries Management Skills Technology

Solve Problems and Innovate as an Anticipatory Leader™

Anticipatory Leaders understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow. They know this new reality is driven by the exponentially increasing rate of technology-driven change. Many wonder why so many established organizations of all sizes are moving so slow. The answer is simple: they think they are moving fast. But in this new era, they’re actually moving slower than they realize.

Young professionals are aware their organization’s pace is too slow as their mindset is less historical. They have looked around and seen others outside of their industry moving much faster. The best and the brightest of the younger employees often see the older leaders in their organization as almost fearful of making a bold move.

Anticipatory Leaders leverage the complementary strengths and weaknesses of all generations to enable the organization to move forward faster. They combine the wisdom and experience of the older employees with the out-of-the-box thinking and awareness of new technology that the younger employees have to accelerate innovation and growth. They use the confidence that comes from the certainty of Hard Trends to jump ahead quickly with low risk. They know that not moving faster and bolder is the bigger risk and that if they don’t take advantage of new technological capabilities, someone else will!

Here is a big insight that Anticipatory Leaders know: trying to keep up in today’s world will only keep you behind. The reality is that the company you are trying to keep up with is not standing still. It is most likely ahead because it is anticipatory and moving far faster, keeping a good distance ahead of you. It embraces the fact that in a world of exponential change, the advantage comes from jumping ahead of the change curve with the confidence that comes from high levels of certainty, and not relying on reacting quickly after the disruption or problem happens.

When we think of innovation today, we tend to think of the big innovations that disrupt industries or create a new product or service line. This type of innovation doesnt happen very often in traditional organizations and often has long time frames from ideation to implementation. In addition, only a small percentage of all employees will be involved in the process. Anticipatory Leaders go beyond reactive innovation, even fast, reactive, agile innovation, and empower employees with two new types of anticipatory innovation: Everyday Innovation and Transformational Innovation.

Everyday Innovation empowers all employees to implement inventive solutions to everyday problems by providing easy-to-use methods for rapid problem-solving. This includes applying Problem Skipping and the Law of Opposites, as well as keeping their opportunity antenna up to look for potential problems to pre-solve before they happen. It’s amazing how innovative people can be when they know a few basic principles and are empowered to take positive action immediately.

Transformational Innovation involves identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and using them to become a positive disruptor, jumping ahead with the low risk that comes from certainty and the knowledge that if you don’t do it, someone else will.

If you would like to go beyond agility and become an Anticipatory Leader, pick up a copy of my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage, and consider our online Anticipatory Leader System.


Best Practices Entrepreneurship Leadership Skills

Selling Your Ideas Up: How to Overcome Objections and Get Your Ideas Approved

In an era of fiscal and time constraints, is it possible to sell your ideas to company leaders? Yes, but the success depends on how you frame the opportunity.

The first step is to avoid talking about the idea itself. While that may sound strange, it’s the primary sales rule that most people break. You may love your ideas, but the feeling isn’t always mutual. When you’re selling your ideas to others, you shouldn’t focus on your preferences. You must focus on the other person, and here’s how:

  • Understand the pain of the person.

Forget about how excited you are about the idea you want implemented. If you’re going to sell your idea, you have to understand where the other person’s pain is. Maybe they’re dealing with upset stockholders or perhaps sales are down. Do your research and uncover the main challenge they’re presently dealing with.

Once you know the other person’s pain, you can position your idea to sell as a solution to it. Essentially, you have to show the person that there’s a direct payoff to them if they approve your idea. If you know that the CEO’s greatest pain is a lack of communication between departments, then you have to consider your proposal and figure out how it can ease the pain and bring resolve to the situation.

Be sure to state it clearly to avoid guesswork. For example, you could say, “I know you’re dealing with poor internal communications. I’ve come across some things that I believe can help you overcome those challenges so the company can grow.”

Then talk about the new idea in terms of solving the current problem only. Don’t go into all the benefits, functions, features, or costs. Right now, you’re simply getting the decision maker on board with the idea and its problem-solving potential.

  • Solve the predictable problems in advance.

As you have this discussion, you’ll also have to address common objections. Plan for them in advance by figuring out what their objections could be and solve them before the discussion.

For example, if you’re talking to the CEO about your idea and you know budgets are tight, you can deduce that they will say, “This sounds great, but the CFO won’t approve this right now.” However, because you’ve anticipated this objection, you can reply, “I’ve already run this by the CFO because I knew it was important.”

Of course, before going to the CFO, you’ll have identified their greatest pain and presented the idea to solve it. If what you’re proposing is really a solution, and you showed how it benefits the company’s strategic imperatives with a good ROI, you will have a receptive CFO.

The goal is to overcome the potential blocks before they arise.

  • Use the power of certainty to your advantage.

When you’re selling your ideas, the people you’re talking to are thinking risk. Alleviate this fear by remembering that strategies based on uncertainty have high risk, while strategies based on certainty have low risk. Prior to the discussion, ask yourself, “What are the things I’m absolutely certain about regarding this idea? What are the current hard trends? Where is the industry, company, and economy going with or without this solution?”

Make your list the things you’re certain about. For example, mobile devices are quite popular. Is this a trend that you know will continue, or will people eventually trade in their mobile devices for an old flip phone of yesterday? The answer is obvious: people won’t go back. Look at sales trends, customers, the economy, and everything around you. Get clear on what’s a hard trend and what will pass.

Additionally, look at the strategic imperatives of the company and the current plan. Determine if your proposed idea is an accelerator or decelerator of that plan. You want to show how your idea can accelerate the plan and how your solution can help increase sales, innovation, and product development.

Go into your list of certainties by saying, “Here are things I’m certain about in the marketplace and in our company. Based on this certainty, here is why implementing this idea is a low-risk winner.”

An Anticipatory Approach to Selling

It’s important to remind yourself before the meeting that if you haven’t done the groundwork to excite the listener, you’ll lose them. As you’re busy talking about features and benefits, the other person is thinking about costs, risks, and uncertainties. Having a preemptive solution is an anticipatory approach to selling – you’re anticipating the problems, rejections, objections, and concerns so you can overcome them.

Anyone who has worked with C-level executives knows that leaders get excited about many things while carrying the weight of costs, controls, and constraints. Challenge those issues by making what you offer about priority, relevancy, and strategic imperatives to sell your ideas.

Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Elevate Cognitive Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Improving cognitive performance is a strategic imperative for anticipatory leaders. With the availability of data, cognitive technology and performance analytics, stakeholders expect stronger performance, higher transparency, greater controls and clearer communications.

Performance Analytics for Cognitive Work

The transactional operations of an organization have demonstrated how people, process, technology, information and analytics can transform their processes and improve performance before, during and after a customer transaction. A key area that is ripe for improvement is the cognitive operations of an organization where the same principles involving the mind, cognitive processes, cognitive performance technology and performance analytics can transform critical thinking and stakeholder communications.

Cognitive Performance Rings

Business professionals are similar to athletes. Both groups seek to achieve greatness from their actions and get to the top of their game. LeBron James in the NBA, Serena Williams in tennis and Usain Bolt in running at the Olympic Games are all recognized for their individual achievements and team play. They didn’t just arrive. They work every day to close their own performance rings on their journey to greater precision in their craft. The same is possible for professionals. They need to not only outthink their competitors, they need to outperform themselves because they know their last performance is their last impression. Their performance is their memorable stamp on their organization and their industry.

Cognitive performance rings illustrate current and expected effectiveness in cognitive performance.

The activities performed in the minds of critical thinkers, decision makers and stakeholders are represented through cognitive performance rings in the eight performance indicators of cognitive effectiveness below.

From decades of experiences, we recognized the effectiveness of cognitive work across a wide variety of professionals in business, which are shown in the cognitive performance rings below.  Each performance ring illustrates indicators for the common ranges of current effectiveness along with their expected effectiveness.

When reviewing each performance ring, think about where your teams stand with respect to their cognitive effectiveness. Then prioritize which performance rings are important to you and your organization at this time to help it learn, grow and compete more effectively.

Eight Performance Indicators of Cognitive Effectiveness

How well is your team doing?

Performance indicator 1 — Critical Thinking

How well does your team think critically about risks and benefits?
‘Most people believe their minds lead them down a logical path. Yet, we don’t have a way to challenge the way we think in the moment.

Performance indicator 2 — Stakeholder Communications

How well does your team advance decisions with stakeholders?
‘Our stakeholders increasingly need evidence in a structured way that supports their perspectives and their questions. We don’t have a structured operating process to bring stakeholders into the decision making process easily.’

Performance indicator 3 — Cognitive Collaboration

How well does your team achieve breakthroughs during collaboration?
‘In our meetings, we can’t visualize what’s in each other’s heads. Our current processes don’t provide us a way to arrive at insights and foresights with the amount of time we have together. Frankly, it’s a challenge during this time of expected innovation.’

Performance indicator 4 — Decision Execution

How well does your team execute decisions with foresight?
‘We over rely on our gut instincts. We learn from hindsight. It’s concerning to us because change is no longer constant. It’s accelerating. We need a way to become more anticipatory.’

Performance indicator 5 — Performance Conditions

How well does your team establish upper and lower thresholds for thinking and communications?
‘We don’t share thresholds enough. When we do, we share thresholds verbally and in documents. The only way we shape the cognitive behaviors across our teams is through our review processes by management. This approach affects our culture and we don’t know how to address it.’

Performance indicator 6 — Performance Compliance

How well does your team incorporate performance conditions during thinking and communications?
‘The goals and objectives of our stakeholders aren’t transparent for our team. When we do receive them, we incorporate conditions we remember. We need a systematized way to incorporate conditions into our cognitive work.’

Performance indicator 7 — Uncertainty Monitoring

How well does your team anticipate disruption?
‘We don’t anticipate disruption enough. We are susceptible to external forces as we don’t monitor indicators that can disrupt our business.’

Performance indicator 8 — Performance Advisory

How well does your team strengthen the performance of other teams?
‘We try to lead from experience. Yet, we can’t dedicate the amount of time necessary to accelerate the growth of each individual. We need to provide a way to help them self-learn and deepen their intelligence even more. That would help all of us.’

The performance yield of each ring begins with questions of uncertainty that span outcomes, impact, risk, opportunity, implications, consequences, causation or cause and effect. Performance yields arise from insights and strategic foresights in the minds of professionals. With dashboards presented the way their minds work, professionals lean in and think more deeply about situations. As they access correlated data at the speed of thought, they create performance analytics that challenge the way they think about their current situations. When they visualize indicators and patterns within dashboards about the current and target states of their subject profiles, they work in a software environment to engage their thinking, create their ah-ha moments and generate counterintuitive wisdom.

Tom Brady was selected 199th in the NFL draft by the New England Patriots and became the most decorated quarterback in history. All professionals have an opportunity for greatness. Beyond the physical game, it starts with their cognitive tools.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Digital transformation has divided us all into two camps: the disruptor and the disrupted. The Anticipatory Organization gives you the tools you need to see disruption before it happens, allowing you to turn change into advantage. Pick up a copy today at www.TheAOBook.com.

Entrepreneurship Leadership Personal Development

Friction for Startups is a Necessity: Five Rules to Transform Heat into Profit

It happened very quickly. The car began to skid in an unintended direction. The tires had lost frictional contact with the pavement when the car encountered a large pool of oily water.

Friction is the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another. We often think of friction as a negative force—as in there’s too much friction between two people or two organizations.

Yet many things in our lives, such as automobiles, depend on friction to operate. Wheels need friction on the road: encountering a “frictionless” surface causes the driver to lose control of the steering and often results in a crash. A gasoline motor depends on friction. The motor transforms the reaction in the engine into a positive force that moves the vehicle not just down the road, but over mountains as well.

Startups need friction, too. Unfortunately, too many startups totally avoid friction rather than managing or even encouraging creative friction. Too many others explode from destructive friction, which is the result of unmanaged friction that is allowed to get out of hand. Sadly, in both cases, the result is a potentially great product or service never makes it to the marketplace but is instead doomed to oblivion.

How do you know how much friction is right for your startup? Here are our Five FrictionFactorTM Rules for Startups.

1. Keep close contact with the road. Even if the road looks bumpy, you need to get out and drive. Make contact with potential customers and stay in contact, even when the going is tough. If there are no bumps at all, you may have lost contact with the road and with your customers. Stay close to the market and understand what’s happening with them and in the environment around you.

2. Watch your dashboard. You wouldn’t drive without looking at your dashboard. The speedometer tells you how fast you’re going. The gas gauge warns when you need to refill. Warning lights let you know if there is a mechanical problem brewing. Establish similar leading and lagging measures for your startup. Then be sure to check them regularly to anticipate opportunities and to handle problems as soon as they occur.

3. Love the heat. The bigger the friction, the greater the heat, and the greater the potential to be realized. Startups that are most successful have a mindset that says its OK to be uncomfortable, to try things that haven’t been done before. To make an impact that might just raise eyebrows and even voices, don’t be afraid to stir the pot. Keep looking for how you can keep things exciting. In other words, learn to love the heat.

4. Transform heat into energy. Like a car where the brakes lock, too much friction can grind things to a halt while make a smoking ruin of your tires. We have seen friction like this between developers and marketing or sales. Successful startups look for ways to manage friction before it becomes destructive. The secret is to use the energy of that friction to create innovation. How can you take competing viewpoints and encourage collaboration to create an even better option?

5. Keep creating friction. The way to breakthrough the noisy marketplace is by thinking differently. While the simplest form of friction is rubbing two things together, the foundation of innovation is rubbing together two or more ideas. Putting people together with different approaches and ideas may create clashes but it may also result in the energy you need. Always look for what you can do to increase innovation and encourage people to think differently. You won’t achieve breakout success by staying in your lane in second gear. Do more than think big, act big!

In the example above, the driver fortunately knew what had to be done. He steered in the proper direction, applied the right amount of braking and gas to re-engage with the pavement, and regained the ability to control the vehicle.

Following the FrictionFactor rules will allow your startup to keep contact with the market, enabling you to power up to the mountaintop of success.

Linda Popky is a Silicon Valley-based strategic marketing consultant who helps organizations get heard above the noise and the author of Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters. Alan Willett is an expert on transforming the heat of friction into innovation. Alan has consulted with high tech organizations around the world. Alan is the author of Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People.

Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Create Exceptional Experiences for Customers

With Exceptional Attention to Detail

Do your customers know how important they are to you? And when I use the word customer I’m talking about your clients, your patients, your members, your students, your team members, whatever you call them, let’s use the word customers today. How are you paying professional attention to your customers, whoever they might be?

I want to share with you what I call BDA, which is just a fancy name, or process, for before, during, and after. When it comes to truly paying professional attention, and committing to our customers, I want to share with you an experience I had, and a great example of an organization, or really a hotel, that demonstrates what I call intentional attention through their BDA process.

I wanted to surprise a dear friend and she lives in North Carolina, and so I had booked a weekend in New York as a surprise. Now, what happened was before I even got to New York I had the opportunity to go to their website, register all my details, but it was quite a fun check-in process. And one thing they asked about was there any special occasion? So of course, I mentioned my friend Leslie’s birthday. Then, I was thinking about what made it a really great attentive experience before I even got to the hotel. Well, their website’s well designed, there are so many great pictures. All my questions were answered, their registration process was simple. And I had done quite a bit of research on them through social media.

The Exceptional Customer Experience

I had heard about this unique property called the Library Hotel, and I had personal endorsements from others who’d stayed there. So, I want you to have a think about what are your customers telling others? What are people looking at when they view your social media accounts? Are they sharing and seeing what you stand for? And do you make it easy for your customers to do business with you?

There are some ideas before you even get that customer interaction. But let’s talk about what happened during my stay at the Library Hotel. It was a very hot summer day, we had both got into the city in very different ways, and we jumped in a cab to get to the hotel. It was a hot, sticky day. Imagine our delight when we were offered water by the attentive, kind staff who offered us water upon entering. We were early, so our room wasn’t ready for us at that time.

But, what was amazing was that they wished my friend a happy birthday as soon as she walked up to the counter, which is incredible, and they offered us a hospitality suite to be able to change so we could then go and enjoy a luncheon. Not only that, the hospitality suite was equipped with lovely complimentary drinks and snacks, and it was a gorgeous beautiful facility.

We told them a little bit about our day’s plans, a little bit of shopping in Soho, and then lunch at Balthazar. Now, Balthazar is one of my favorite French bistros in New York, and it is just a hustling and bustling very New York type place. I go there whenever I have a chance.

We had mentioned this as we jumped in our Uber to go out after leaving our luggage at the Library hotel. We had a lovely lunch and after returning from lots and lots of shopping, they told us our room as ready and they had sent our bags up to our room.

Now, here’s what’s interesting. When we got into our room there was a birthday card for Leslie, some little chocolates. There were two mugs with the Library Hotel so that we can enjoy them after we left. And I looked across the room and I saw a bundle of my most favorite champagne. How did they know? What was even more remarkable was when I found this. This is the cookbook for, you guessed it, Balthazar.

They had organized for a copy of this book, including a lovely handwritten note from the manager about our experience. Now, this is attention to detail! They gave us a beautiful room overlooking the New York Library – the hotel’s namesake.

Every room is on the Dewey Decimal System. Isn’t that interesting!? You might remember, if you’re as old as me, going to a library and pulling out the draws. And they had those little-indexed cards with the number and then you had to go find the book. I know, before the internet, I’m that old.

But the Library Hotel was a fantastic case study in how, from the moment we set foot on their property, they paid attention, the staff was trained, everyone was attentive. They listened to our conversation and added little tiny moments that would make us remember it for a lifetime. We had an amazing time at the Library Hotel.

Interesting. After we left, so remember BDA, before, during, and after, they also reached out to see how was our stay. They asked for feedback. We got lovely responses, and obviously, we shared our experience on social media. What are you doing for your customers to make them feel seen and heard, before they interact with you, during their interaction with you, and then after they leave you?

Create Your Exceptional Experience

We work hard to get customers to support our business. There are so many tools available for you to you to pay attention and commit to your customers. Your website, your marketing collaterals, your advertising, your social media, your staff training, your policies, your procedures. And the experience of your physical environment if you have one.

What are all the things you could be paying attention to? All those touch points that leave an impact on your customers? I want to challenge you today to have a look at one of these areas, before, during, or after. Think about what could you do differently and commit to your customers in an even deeper way.

Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Personal Development

What CEOs and C-Suite Leaders Really Want

Chris Westfall Leadership Meeting

What do leaders really want?
That’s the question that IBM asked over 1500 CEOs: what’s the number one quality you look for, in a leader?

From Dubai to Dubuque, and everywhere in between, CEOs weighed in on the most desired aspect of leadership.

Surprisingly, the most-desired quality or characteristic was not technical competence.

It wasn’t loyalty, or communication skills, or financial acumen.

The top characteristic wasn’t charisma. Or empathy.

The number-one most important characteristic for business leaders?


That characteristic is quite surprising, when you consider the traditional definition of creativity.  Under careful consideration, “being creative” is not always a positive and encouraging description.

Related: Find out what Entrepreneur has to say, about Identifying Your Blind Spot

For financial professionals, project managers, executives and other task- or numbers-oriented individuals, the call for creativity seems quite contrary to the training and experiences that form the very foundation of the business world.

For example: Where do you find creative accountants?
Answer: Jail.

“Creative” skills are not commonplace in shipping, accounts payable, or operations.  Or are they?

Creativity, in the context of business, means the power of creation.  Creativity is the way that leaders harness imagination to disrupt the status quo, and find new solutions to the same old problems. The global leaders in the IBM survey are seeking creative solutions to business challenges.  The leaders in the survey identify creativity as the antidote for the status quo.

For leaders, creativity is a vital disruption. Creativity is the birthplace of innovation.

Creativity can exist anywhere a process is created or improved. That means in shipping, accounts payable, or operations. And especially in the C-Suite.

Creativity means many things, but at its core, the process of creation begins with an idea.

Based on current information, “what if?” opens the door to imagination. New solutions can only come from within the realm of new ideas.  As the economy continues to expand, the leaders of tomorrow are the ones who are open to new concepts, new perspectives and new solutions.  Seeing things as they are is an important skill.

But, for C-Suite leaders: seeing things as they could be – and then making them that way? Well, that takes some creativity.

  • Do you agree? What does creativity mean to you, and to your organization?
  • How do you develop a workplace where creativity is allowed to thrive?
  • How is creativity linked to innovation for you?


About the Author:

Chris Westfall is the publisher of seven books, including the international best-seller, The NEW Elevator Pitch. His latest title is Leadership Language: Communication Skills for Changing Your Results, coming from Wiley in the fall of 2018. Find out more on his website, and follow him on twitter.



photo credit: Philadelphia Business Meeting image by the author

Best Practices Growth Management News and Politics Personal Development

Politics, Obstruction and REAL Leadership

Doesn’t it seem like our political leaders specialize in obstruction, when that might just be the last thing anyone really needs?

Street SceneNo matter which side of the aisle you’re on, it seems that stopping things is the main focus of our representatives in Washington these days. Look, I’m not a political guy, but when it comes to leadership, shutting down the dialogue is the last thing you need. Seems to me that there’s a real misunderstanding going on.

Changing the conversation is about helping people to get to “yes”, not the opposite. Obstructing others from getting what they want might classify as political leadership – but, in business, those kinds of politics can kill your career.

Look for openings, not obstruction, if you want to create new results.

As Sam Shepard said to his friend, rockstar Patti Smith:

“When you hit a wall, kick it down.” – Sam Shepard, Author, Playwright and Actor

What would happen if you helped people to find doors, instead of blocking them with walls?

As you go through the week, take time to consider the folks that matter most to you: your stakeholders, your team and your customers.

What would change for you if you started to look at everyone around you … as your client?

What happens if the people around you became your clients as well? In my new book, Leadership Language, I talk about the value in seeing the people around you as clients – seeing that the service you provide is the key to the impact you create. It’s easy to see that your customers are those you serve – after all, that’s why they call it ‘customer service’.

I talked about how to create greater influence for your internal clients, in my latest article on Forbes – check it out right here: “How to Get Buy-In for Your Ideas”.

Common Ground, Uncommon Results

The idea of internal customers (or clients) is nothing new. But focusing on how you can help people to get where they want to go – instead of shutting them down – can be a powerful place for your attention.

If you find yourself being frustrated by other people, and other agendas, here are some useful questions that can make a difference:

  • What would have to change, outside of the people involved, for this situation to improve?
  • What assumptions are you making, about the people and processes involved, that are leading to your frustration?

When it’s time for a difficult conversation, ask yourself: what is the focus that’s going to be most useful? Is obstruction really the answer?

Then, get out of the “he said-she said” mode. Focus your team (and your client) on that thing that matters most.

Leadership Language Cover Mock-up
Coming from Wiley – Fall 2018

I’m not suggesting that you turn into Santa Claus, or start granting wishes. Sometimes what people want and what can realistically be delivered are two different things. That’s when you’ve got to ask yourself, “What’s this conversation really about?”

And, as a follow up: What does this conversation need to be about? Maybe the dialogue needs to be shut down. Incorrect initiatives must be stopped. A new beginning often starts with a fresh ending.

But understand where that decision is really coming from.

Is obstruction the kind of impact that you want to create?

Obstructing the Possibilities

Block the shot. Or take the shot. The choice is yours. (Decisions like that are why you’re in the C-Suite).  But why you choose your shot is what matters.

Can you influence your team and the clients that matter most to you, by obstruction? What good comes from the absence of dialogue? What’s the real impact of shutting down the conversation?

There’s no need for a vote; new solutions don’t come from obstruction. Open up the conversation, if you want to discover new results.

Look in the direction of ‘yes’ – and guide your clients to the solution that fits, for everyone involved. Take time to look at your assumptions. In my experience, you will discover what changes when those assumptions aren’t written in stone. Because trying to block someone isn’t the best way to lead them to a new solution.

About the Author

Chris Westfall is the publisher of seven books, recognized as the US NATIONAL ELEVATOR PITCH CHAMPION. A keynote speaker to Fortune 100 companies and high-growth businesses across multiple sectors, he provides performance coaching for leaders and their teams. He’s appeared on CNN, ABC NEWS, NBC TV, and in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fortune and many other media publications. Find out more on his website and follow him on twitter.