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    Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor

    To Lead Well, Be Human

    To Lead Well, Be Human
    by Mark McCatty, Mark McCatty, Inc. Leadership Results Through People

    Harvard Business Review recently published an article on leadership. The title is Why Do So Many Managers Forget They're Human. It's a good read.

    The point of the article is that there's unrest in many workplaces. One particularly interesting statistic published by Forbes found that 65% of employees would forego a pay raise if it meant

    seeing their boss fired. Managers complain that their emplyees lack motivation. I think this research indicates the opposite. Employees are so motivated to see their bosses replaced that they would essentially pay to replace them. 

    John Maxwell describes the 5 Levels of leadership. The higher levels of effective leadership are found in those leaders that realize the importance of connecting with their team, and in building relationships. Being personal, being self-aware, being selfless, and having compassion for others is a good list of behaviors that leaders can choice to display.

    Taking care of the people in your care is good advice. Here's the link to the HBR article: 

    Mark McCatty - Leadership & Team Advisor

    McCatty.com – Subscribe to get current updates

    Improving Leadership ROI


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    5 Tips to be a Better Cycling [Team] Leader

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    I used to dislike cyclists. That said, you should know where this impression came from. I was a runner who was recruited to become a marathoner. As such, I would spend a lot of time running the streets of whatever town I was in. As a runner, I would prefer not to run on the sidewalk so I would run in the road. I found the concrete hard on my body and sometimes there are cracks in the sidewalk that can trip a runner. So, a runner is supposed to run against traffic when running in the road. Cyclists ride in the road, and they ride with the traffic. Do you see it? We are both in the road…in the same space. This can create conflict.

    Additionally, cyclists seemed very unfriendly to me. There typically is a bond between people who share a common goal. So, I would wave to the cyclists passing me but they would not wave back. I remember thinking they were an unfriendly lot. It was not until I became a cyclist that I begin to understand that they were not being rude. A group of riders operate in a cluster called a peloton. When riding in a line in this peloton, there must be an intense attention on what’s going on in front of you. Any loss of focus, like a friendly wave at the wrong time, can create an accident with disastrous results. As a cyclist, I’ve seen these situations and the consequences these crashes bring.

    In my work with business teams, I see some similarity between a working team and a cycling peloton. Ultimately, there is a right-way and a wrong-way for the peloton to operate. And ultimately, the accountability for the safe and successful operation of the team, or the peloton, lies with the leader. So, here are 5 tips that will lead to being a better cycling [team] leader.

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    Zumba Like a Leader

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    My wife is always doing things for me. She’s good that way. And since my wife is so willing to do things for me I decided to return the favor by doing something for her. She likes Zumba and has frequently invited me to do Zumba with her. So, when I offered to go with her to a Zumba class she was pleased. We were on vacation together and I thought it would be a wonderful thing for us to do together.

    I don’t know if you have ever been to Zumba before. It was interesting to me. This Zumba event took place in a small workout room; mirrors at the front where the instructor stood and it seemed to me that there was not enough space for the other 15 of us. The music was a salsa-rhythmic type and the instructor was moving…a lot. He would model the moves he wanted us to follow. Without any warning, he would switch up the moves and we were expected to move with him. I was one of the few inexperienced people in this group. And since I was positioned in the back of the room

    I could quickly see that us new folks did not know the moves and we were not able to keep up. So, we created some serious chaos in Zumba that day. I was zigging when I was supposed to be zagging. And when we would face a different wall [denying me of my view of the instructor] I went really out of synch.

    That’s when it dawned on me. I’ve seen this kind of chaos in many companies. People who were expected to work synchronously together were not doing so. The results: people bumping into each other with a little frustration, at times. Understandably, when leaders see this kind of chaos they want things to change. They are responsible for getting work done and chaos like they observe doesn’t help. They want people to work together; in alignment. Learning point: Change occurs at the intersection of Influence and Opportunity. A good leader can straighten out a dysfunctional Zumba class.

    When we want things to change it takes both the opportunity to create the change, and enough influence to induce the change. We’ve seen this before. Some leaders have opportunities presented to them but they don’t have the proper influence to get things to change. And sometimes the opportunities to make the change are small. When we use [even] those small opportunities wisely and develop our influence powers effectively we gain even greater influence and move frequent, larger opportunities to create positive change. Your ability to accomplish goals [great or small] is a product of the level of leadership that you have attained.

    Leadership is influence. From entry level to seasoned professional, leadership has its levels. The process of growing leadership influence is important to future success. So, the level of your influence is the level of your leadership. As you experience hardship, difficulties and challenges you realize that the more you overcome the easier it is for you to overcome. What used to create such stress and anxiety has a much less powerful effect, now. You must be constantly learning and growing. And to grow you must be constantly challenging yourself to change. It is that change which will provide you with a better tomorrow.

    John Maxwell talks about the 5 Levels of Leadership. Your influence increases and your results build as you grow through these 5 levels. Starting out with only a position allows some basic powers of influence. As you develop relationships and connect with those whom you lead your influence will increase and allow you to accomplish more. As your produce greater results, the opportunities for you will increase. But, if you forget that people enabled your successes, and begin to operate with less concern for your team, your achievements will begin to falter and fail. Those leaders that remember what allowed them to achieve accomplish greater results, and then begin to make occasions to develop their team members individually will see higher levels of leadership, influence and opportunities.

    The learning point here is that the more a leader understands that their power comes from their ability to connect with people in a way that demonstrates value. A leader’s ability to understand what other’s value and their ability to partner with them advances the leader’s level of influence. As influence levels increase greater opportunities for using that influence advance the leader’s level in the organization.

    In the book, The Extraordinary Leader http://bit.ly/extraleaderZinger and Folkman write about the stages of leader development and the corresponding challenge that any organization faces for consistently attaining goals. There is a cap on the quality of leadership and on what an organization can achieve. “The quality of the leadership in an organization seldom exceeds that of the person at the top.” This limitation to the organization is due to the stages that leaders go through as they develop leadership competence. There are 4 stages of competence as new capabilities are developed and the leaders begin to develop into more mature and effective leaders. These capabilities are developed through 4 stages:

    1.       Depending on others

    2.       Contributing independently – Personal Leadership

    3.       Contributing through others – Local Leadership

    4.       Leading through vision – Organizational Leadership

    In stage 1 Leaders begin by depending upon others. This first stage is dependence and it is common to most learning and development models. As individual leaders progress they become more independent and will face what is sometimes referred to as the hardest leadership ability; the ability to successfully lead self.  Through their on-going progress this second stage allows for contributing independently. Then, as leadership capabilities continue to develop the leader begins to make greater contributions to the organization by contributing through others. This local leadership stage allows the utilization of collaboration between teams to bring greater results. The fourth stage of leadership development is organizational leadership and involves the power of the leader’s vision to inspire and align activity beyond themselves and their local team.

    A leader in a lower stage of development will have a very difficult time helping other leaders in the organization reach their potential and elevate themselves to the higher stages of development. When a senior leader is mired at the local team level, it will be hard for them to lift a lower level leader beyond simply leading themselves to become a strategic leader who possess great visions and leads strategically, especially when that strategy is best for the organization, but not personally agreeable. It takes a leader to develop a leader. The senior leader must know where the candidate actual is in their leadership voyage, where they want and expect them to be, and be able to develop a robust plan to close the gap between actual and expectation.

    Smart leaders understand the stages through which leadership must develop. They understand that there are levels of leadership which impact the amount of influence that is available. These leaders are intentional in seeking resource for developing their own leader capabilities. They acquire resources and invest their own effort in the development of other leaders. And they implement leadership with a modular mindset. They create a collective of strong, mature leaders that lead effective balanced teams. When this intentional leader reaches the 4th stage of development and begins to engage the organization, they utilize these modular teams like Lego blocks to build a healthy and competent organization. These leaders keep the long view and sustain consistent growth. Improve your Leadership ROI, and be that kind of leader!


    Mark McCatty - Leadership & Team Advisor

    McCatty.com – Subscribe to get current updates

    Improving Leadership ROI



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    Quickest Rate of Change - Part 2

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    In a previous blog, we discussed the first 2 maxims of change. The first maxim [people do not resist change; they resist being changed] helps us understand the second axiom [in every change some people will be unhappy with some facet of the change]. The key for change acceptance then is to recognize that successful change must not be focused on changing people, but rather on helping people to be part of the change. Let’s focus this blog on generating more constructive emergent change that will encourage people to actually lead positive constructive efforts.

    There are two types of change that organizations deal with. The two types of change are planned change and emergent change. Planned change is top-down and mainly driven by management. While emergent change is bottom-up and comes mostly from employee levels.   

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    Wow! Where Did the Time Go?

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    When I was a kid, my only concern was with being able to play a little bit longer. Was it the same for you? Then, as we grew older our focus was to extend our curfew a little while longer. Later, we begin thinking about our future, career, our family and life goals. Suddenly, you say to yourself, “Another year already! Where did the time go?” And you find yourself beginning to pay more attention to commercials when they talk about relieving pain and living longer.

    There are many reasons why people look back over their long – or short – life and feel like they have lost time. Time is easy to waste and there are a lot of reasons why this wastefulness happens. My favorite “reason” for lost time goes back to the story of the two farmers talking together. One farmer says to the other, “Hey, can I borrow your axe? I need to chop some trees.” The second farmer responds with a no because he’s making soup. Puzzled, the first farmer wonders out loud what making soup has to do with loaning out the axe. “Nothing,” the second farmer explains, “One excuse is as good as another.” Bottom line, it doesn’t matter how time passed so quickly without positive results. Any reason [excuse] will suffice.

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    Men Can Do Laundry; Dealing with Poor Performance

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    How many times have you heard a complaint about what somebody did wrong? The expected performance was poor. Frequently, that’s an issue that has been brought to me. The situations are various but the bottom line is the same; they did me wrong. I came across this interesting statistic that illustrates the point well.

    Per recent survey results; * Men do 29% of laundry each week. Only 7% of women trust their husbands to do it correctly.

    There is an obvious distrust from the clear majority of the wives who took part in this survey about their husband’s ability to safely handle the laundry tasks. I believe the tasks for maintaining the household should be a shared responsibility. I think that most women would agree that all household tasks should be shared. I would assume that they would not want to take on the laundry tasks alone. I further imagine that more than the small minority of men identified in the survey would, in fact, want to assist their partner by helping with the laundry more.

    Think of the traditional approach of pointing out, very clearly, what a sorry job was done when the the laundry was prepared.

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    Getting Teams Moving

    I was called in to work with an existing team. This team was a highly-motivated team working in a manufacturing environment. The management structure wanted teams. Well, they wanted people to take accountability and manage the process. So, management supported the team effort. And the hourly employees were hired on with the expectation that they would be working in teams to manage their daily production [and related] activities. The problem was that…well, there was little observable productivity coming from these teams.

    John Maxwell, in his book on the laws of leadership, talks about the law of The Big Mo – Momentum is a leader’s best friend. All leaders will face a challenge when they try to start [or change] a process. No matter how much everyone wants to change, there are natural drivers against change. We are plagued with inertia.

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    Who is Affected by Today's Technologies

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    I recently promoted last year's Live2Lead leader event in my home town. The Live2Lead event was viewed by thousands around the globe. Along with John C. Maxwell, Simon Sinek was one of the key presenters and he was highly appreciated for his presentation. Simon Sinek has been viewed by thousands talking about the challenge of technology for our younger generations. He talks about the addictive effect that using technology provides and how it destroys the ability to develop positive relationships.

    There is a lot of talk about the challenge that younger people face because of dealing with technology. Along with the talk of the problem younger folks have with their addition to technology is the [sometimes] disgust that is expressed with the impact this dependence on technology has on those who live and work with this younger generation.


    But let's be real about the issue with technology.

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    The Sound of Silence in a Culture

    by Mark McCatty, Mark McCatty, Inc. Leadership Results Through People

    Company culture represents the values that are elevated within the organization. It’s how things are done. A healthy culture is robust and full of ideas and exchanges. A healthy culture is a noisy place; Full of positive activity. This does not mean that everyone is always in agreement. It does mean that everyone knows full well where everyone else stands and that they respect the positions that others have taken even if that position differs from their own.


    The “happiest companies” [What Happy Companies Know] have warm corporate cultures, modest, sincere leaders and flexible, engaged employees. Positive companies have an invigorated company culture where there is an expectation and appreciation for true honesty. As Bill Gates says, “Bad news must travel fast.” Microsoft employees are encouraged to speak their minds even if they must deliver bad news.




    Culture Trumps Strategy

    The sound of silence can mean discord and disconnection. You know what it’s like when you walk into a room that immediately goes quiet. It is not a good sign when the breakroom buzz goes still when the manager enters. Therefore, many managers tend to shy away from employee meeting areas. They may say that they “want to give the employees their space.” This is the same management who believe that they cannot be friends with the staff; no fraternization.  They do not understand the leadership power of their ability to connect with other people.


    When there is no connection there is distrust and fear. An autocratic leader acts like they believe that they know best. This causes others to shy away from giving input. It causes cynicism and fear. I was working with a bank where such a condition existed. The staff was so fearful of management’s perceptions that they were not even comfortable giving hypothetical examples of poorly handled customer situations as training examples. They were so afraid that the leadership would misinterpret these examples as real and seek to find and punish the infractions. 

    Those That Know Need to Speak Up

    Over the years, I have surveyed thousands of managers and supervisors. I ask for their chief expectation for how their employees should interact with them. The top answers are:  don’t surprise me, tell me if there is a problem, don’t hide it; and be honest with me. Interestingly, these are the very results gained through a positive culture.


    Openness, lack of surprise, ability to resolve conflict, and productivity are all products that can be developed in a company culture. When companies follow the “Rule of 3” [The Orange Revolution] the outcome is a more productive and positive social environment.

    1.       Every individual adopts unforgettable, “world-class performance” as a model to create a “wow.”

    2.       Each team member keeps others apprised of current and upcoming activities so there are “no surprises.”

    3.       Team members praise each other’s success and “cheer” for each other.


    This “Rule of 3” environment generates greater levels of employee engagement.


    Leaders bring value when they help others add value. ~Mark McCatty

    Leadership’s Role in Creating Noise

    Top leaders and teams work to expand their competency by focusing their efforts on priorities as: “goal setting, communication, trust” and “accountability.” They readily recognize their colleagues when they do well. Research shows that when team leaders focus on the priorities and publicly acknowledge positive achievements, their teams have the best opportunity to excel.


    Confident leaders encourage respectful dissention, allow questions, learn [and help others learn] from set-backs, and they model desired behaviors.  To get employees on your side, be honest and transparent and let employees know what’s going on, good or bad. Show your trust by sharing insider knowledge. Withholding information can make folks suspicious of their leaders, and they feel less connected to the company.



    Accountability [employees’ acceptance of personal responsibility for meeting their work goals] is essential to cultural success. Increase your workers’ accountability by establishing clear expectations. Help them to succeed through there being the best at what matters most.  Keep them informed about company performance management standards. Establish systems to monitor employee progress against their goals and deadlines. Celebrate achievement whenever possible.


    No matter how accomplished or well compensated employees are, people need to feel appreciated. Show your employees that you recognize how hard and how well they work. Employees can feel more secure in their jobs and more passionate about their work when their leaders single them out for recognition. They become more productive when their colleagues are “empowered” to applaud their accomplishments.



    A positive culture can be challenging for many leaders. When you begin to engage, and empower employees they feel more comfortable to share all their ideas. Frankly, some managers just want employees to be quiet and do their job. In today’s world, we need positive cultures. This means good leaders leading good interactions and aligning people around common, purposeful jobs. Be that leader!


    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI


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    SCRUM Team Leaders Learn from Failure

    by Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor
    “To err is human.” The reality is that humans err. We all make mistakes. Some errors go by hardly noticed while other errors people make cause catastrophic consequences. So, the issue is not whether errors will occur; they will. The issue is what do we do with the tendency to make mistakes, and how do we benefit when they occur. There are some pretty interesting results from research about why we make these annoying errors. Some of the more commonly known causes of errors are:

    ·         Stress. Mental stress increases as familiarity the decreases. When under stress we tend to operate emotionally and not cognitively.

    ·         Fatigue. Fatigue is affected by on-the-job demands, and off-the-job life style. Trying to do complex tasks while recovering from a late night out can create errors.

    ·         Difficulty seeing one’s own error. We all think that what we do is good. People may fail to detect abnormalities when working closely to a task, especially when preoccupied. How many times has someone pointed out a needed edit [to a document] that you failed to see?

    Some of the more interesting ones are:

    Failure is not a permanent break. It's just a temporary bruise..jpg

    ·         Avoidance of mental strain. Seems we are all a little bit lazy. John Maxwell says that few people really think. Turns out, people tend to look for familiar patterns and apply the-way-we’ve-always-done-it solutions to problems. They may use short cuts because it’s easier and faster.

    ·         Limited working memory. The limitations of short term memory are at the root of forgetfulness. We are learning that we are not good at multi-tasking.

    ·         Limited attention resource. Attention is a limited commodity. Many times, we operate on auto-pilot. Our ability to concentrate depends greatly on the intrinsic value of the current object of attention.

    SCRUM project management is growing, yet it is mostly new for many project teams. If SCRUM leaders know that people will make mistakes, then they should be able to predict, mitigate, and learn from these events. Ah, that would take farsightedness and patience, though. True leaders have farsightedness; they see tomorrow’s possibilities in today’s reality. True leaders have patience; they see the potential in the erring human. Allowing people to make [and learn from their] mistakes is part of what increases competence, trust, and motivation in the performer. The wise leader manages the size of the mistake so that nothing catastrophic [damage to life, limb, asset, or customer] comes from the mistake.

    Boiling it down: Learning within the SCRUM organization requires an acknowledgement that errors will occur, and a process that enables everyone to learn from them. [Of course, this is different from willful violations and sabotage.] Leaders lead learning organizations that can allow the team the right to make mistakes, admit them, and share their learning with others. Or, the leaders can punish mistakes, and push them below the surface. Oh, the mistakes are still there, though. Errors still occur. Only in this instance, we find them when they are catastrophic.

    Many times, I am called to work with a project team that is suffering from a recent catastrophic failure [a failed project deliverable or significant customer problem]. The signs were there. Apparently, people did not want to look at them. Get your people and your team involved early. Make learning easy, acceptable, and profitable. Don’t be that project team! 

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


    Improving Leadership ROI – MMcOnlineTraining.com

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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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