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

    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

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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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    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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    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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    Transformational Leadership in the USMC

    by, Mark McCatty, SAMC, SCT.

    Organizations exist and survive because of the good people within the organization. There are those in leadership who can create a vision and inspire, while others catch the vision and provide their part through person effort. But all involved are adding by using their strengths and willingly contributing their abilities to the vision.

    Every organizational leader desires to have a followership that is committed to, above all else, providing their unique set of strengths, and their discretionary effort to getting the job done. Having this type of followership does not guarantee that things will be easier, only that goals would be more fully realized through the committed effort of all those involved. Many hands make the load light.

    What I learned at Parris Island

    Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see behind the curtain of the USMC Boot Camp on PI. It was a rare opportunity to participate in an Educator’s Workshop on Parris Island. This experience gave me an insight into the leadership approach that is used to transform young recruits into committed, dedicated US Marines. What I experienced on PI [as a civilian] was an impactful leadership lesson.

    The Drill Instructors do their job well. They have a reputation for being hard, almost unbearable. And as part of my experience there I could get a very small taste of the way the DI’s welcomed recruits to their island. From the very first interaction, the DI’s create a very clear expectation for what the recruits will experience over their next 13 weeks. But it is their ongoing leadership and the personal connections that they develop that allow the DI to build a positive relationship with the young Marines. The Di’s consistently demonstrate their ability to be trusted and respected by their young protégés.

    In her book, “Presence,” Amy Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet someone: “Can I trust this person?” And, “Can I respect this person?” Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both. These positive perceptions are critical to being an influential leader. “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,” Cuddy says.

    “A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.” Amy Cuddy, Presence

    Let me just pause and say, “Happy Birthday USMC!”


    Transformational versus Transactional Leadership

    What I hear from today’s leaders is that they desire their staff, crew, or teams to demonstrate a sense of ownership and accountability for their own individual tasks and responsibilities. The result of this sense of ownership is the self-motivation and recognition is a willingness to take required actions without being prompted to do so.

    Transformational Leadership is required to accomplish this level of commitment. Wiki describes Transformational leadership as a style of leadership where the leader works with their employees to identify the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with other committed members of the group.

    As opposed to transformational leader there is transactional leadership. Transactional leadership is more extrinsic and dependent upon incentives and punishments to induce action. Although transactional sounds efficient it does not deliver the long-term transformation and commitment required to sustain success.

    The 4 Attributes of Transformational Leadership

    There are 4 attributes that we find is effective leaders. They are:

    1. Inspire – ability to motivate and excite others to action
    2. Innovate – ability to think outside the box
    3. Collaborate – ability to work with others for the good of all
    4. Execute – ability to get things done while supporting core values

    Through these 4 attributes we see the leader serve as an ideal role model for followers. The leader “walks the talk,” and is admired and respected because of their consistent example. These leaders have a charisma about them. As such, they have the ability to inspire and motivate their followers. They show genuine concern for the needs and feelings of their followers. Their personal interest in each person, as an individual is a key element in bringing out the very best efforts. The leader elevates values, priorities, and cultural expectations of the organization. These values include collaboration and demonstrating respect for the ideas and contributions of others. The effective leader challenges followers to be innovative and creative. This enables the freedom to be inventive and experiment.

    A common misunderstanding is that transformational leaders are somehow “soft,” but the truth is that they are constantly challenging their followers to higher levels of performance. The Drill Instructors of Parris Island understand what it means to be rigorous in their expectations for the recruits. Yet, they can demonstrate an appreciation for the contributions of each member of their platoon. The DI’s realize, better than most that failure in action may result in a tragic and irreplaceable loss. Lives depend upon the ability of the DI to properly train and prepare their Marines for duty. They may begin the process as transactional leaders for training purposes, but they quickly develop a transformational style of leadership. It is this transformational style that induces commitment to a set of values [honor, courage, and commitment] that sustains the all-volunteer military. It is the graduates of PI and their commitment to these same values that make a significant contribution to our society.

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


    Improving Leadership ROI

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    The GIFTS of Great Leadership

    by Mark McCatty, of Mark McCatty, Inc. Mark is a Leadership & Team Advisor. Helping organizations get results through people.

    I have been asked to re-post this. It’s that time of year…

    At this time of year with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, our thoughts turn to gift giving. But, gifts aren’t just for family members.  Great leaders bring GIFTS to their organizations, too! A leader cares about the employees in his or her organization and recognizes their contribution.  As a result, the leader has a positive impact on the organization and its people. The GIFTS a great leader brings are:

    • Goals
    • Inspiration
    • Focus
    • Teamwork
    • Success

    Another GIFT great leaders can bring to their organization is their leadership style.

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    What Value Do You Bring?

    By Mark McCatty, SAMC, SCT

    I was humbled by a compliment I received when I was visiting a client’s office. When I walked in I was greeted by several of the team members. As I was leaving one of them said that they were glad I stopped by. They continued to explain that they feel a welcome calmness come over the office whenever I am there. It stopped me cold. Wow! That’s one of the best complements I have ever received.

    It reminded me of the book by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, Multipliers; How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. [http://www.getabstract.com/ShowAbstract.do?dataId=13031.]  In the book they describe the two dominate types of leaders in organizations today; Diminishers & Multipliers. Diminishers sap people’s energy while leaders who act as Multipliers magnify and extend the results of those around them.

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    Quickest Rate of Change

    By, Mark McCatty

    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.

    Planned change is compelled by a business need that the management structure observes. The desire of management is that those responsible for implementing the change will understand, accept, and be fully devoted to carry-out the change initiative.

    Emergent change is driven from lower in the organization. Emergent change, at this level, is driven by those lower in the organization while the change needs to be supported by those higher in the organization. Support from those at the top is needed because it’s those individuals that have the authority and capability to support the emergent change effort – or quickly kill it.

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    Goals for a Self-Organizing SCRUM Team

    By, Mark McCatty

    An important SCRUM principle is the principle of self-organizing team. As opposed to traditional command-and-control style of management, SCRUM utilizes teams more fully. SCRUM offers that today’s workers have much more to offer than just their technical expertise and that the team can deliver greater value when self-organized. By making these teams cross-functional they have the ability to handle all the work tasks within their areas of responsibility. By arranging the teams into self-organized units the teams have the ability to be flexible to respond to obstacles quickly.

    There are very measurable team characteristics for determining effectively self-organized teams. These characteristics are:

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    Characteristics of Successful SCRUM Teams

    by Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    What makes SCRUM so effective as a project methodology is its team aspect. Projects fail, not for lack of process. Rather failure occurs in projects because of a disconnect in the social environment.There are specific characteristics that high performing SCRUM teams have in common.

    1. The team is cross-functional. Cross-functional teams are multi-disciplined. They can bring a holistic context to their effort. Sometimes this diversity creates slightly longer delivery times than the functional teams. But this loss of efficiency is covered by the significant increase in effectiveness. Cross-functional SCRUM teams deliver a better, higher quality end product.
    2. The team is empowered. The teams that are self-organized, self-managed, and properly directed are more engaged and productive. The good news is that team members are motivated and productive. The bad news [for some managers] is that these team members, because of their empowerment, feel a sense of ownership and motivation to contribute their ideas to other areas, too. Managers should welcome this involvement from their team members and focus their team’s motivation on areas that would benefit from their insight.
    3. This leads to the next characteristic, the team has a sense of purpose. Because of their autonomy and their diversity of membership these SCRUM teams feel a stronger sense of purpose. This purpose ignites their motivation. The properly structured and led SCRUM team perform and exceedingly high levels. They can initiate and implement changes that would be difficult for many organizations to acquire.

    The smart organizational leader will take the time to structure their SCRUM teams correctly, and provide the required support to nurture and sustain the team’s efforts. This investment in the team will deliver greater ROI results that will exceed the expectations of customers.

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI

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    Practices of Authentic Leadership

    By, Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor with Mark McCatty, Inc. Authentic leadership describes the character and intentions of the leader. These traits compel the leader to work to remove obstacles – not impede progress – for those who trying to accomplish the vision. They engender feelings of comfort and competence from those that are lead. These leaders help others see what is possible.

    Leaders that lead intentionally and with authenticity have a sense of purpose that extends beyond their own person benefits. These leaders build positive relationships and connect with others. They lead from their heart and operate with the right motives. They have a clear understanding of their values and they discipline themselves to hold to these values.

    Sense of Purpose

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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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