Is Leadership Without Passion Really Leadership?


Let me start this post with a few questions:

  1. Are you a passionate leader?
  2. Is it possible to lead without passion?
  3. Will people really follow you if you are not passionate about what you are doing?

When I reflect on my personal experience as a leader my response to the first question is sometimes.  There were times throughout my leadership career when I was very passionate about what my group was charged with accomplishing.   During my periods of passionate leadership I would wake up in the morning looking forward to starting my day with excitement and anticipation.  The day would be one interesting challenge after another and I would lose track of time.  It was truly a “flow” experience.  I also noticed during those times that most of my team was equally excited because I was always communicating my vision and they would witness my passion throughout the day.

There were other times in my leadership career when I wasn’t a passionate leader.  I would wake up at my usual time and drive into the office out of a sense of obligation and self discipline.  I worked just as hard, but each day dragged on, and I couldn’t wait to get home.  As you can imagine, this impacted my team as well.  They were not as excited, or passionate about what they were doing either.  You may find it interesting to note that a number of times I had the same team, both when I was passionate, and when I wasn’t but due to shifts in responsibilities our roles had changed.

I had the good fortune over the years to have worked for organizations that were dedicated to leadership development.  I had the privilege of going to many leadership and management workshops.  As a result of these experiences I became dedicated to my own leadership development and applied much of what I was learning.  However, the success of my application of what I was learning was not consistent.  I didn’t know why until I read this quote:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.”

The proverbial light bulb went on and I gained some valuable insights regarding leadership:

  1. Leadership without passion is not leadership, you are simply going through the motions with very few followers.
  2. With passion, you can be a very effective leader even if you have not yet developed leadership skills.
  3. The answer to the age-old question of, “are leaders born or developed?”, is that it is both.  We are all natural born leaders when we align what we do with our passion.  We all can become better leaders through training and coaching.
  4. Leadership development in the absence of passion will only make us better managers.
  5. Sometimes we can find our passion in our current roles with nothing more than a change in mindset.

Please share your thoughts on passion and leadership by commenting below.  If you would like to learn more about finding your passion and passionate leadership please complete your contact information below.

Should Leaders Fly Solo On The Change Management Journey?

Pixton_Comic_Classic_Change_Mangement_by_BillAccordino(click image to view)

We all know that driving change, preferably strategic change, is one of the primary responsibilities of leaders in all organizations.  One could argue that if a leader isn’t driving change they are not leading at all, they are managing the status quo.  There are countless books on change leadership and change management.  Typically the change leadership books are providing insights and guidance to leaders on how best to drive change.  Much of the advice to the teams of those leaders focuses on how best to accept change and “to become comfortable being uncomfortable”.

The challenge both the leaders and their teams have can best be described by one of my favorite quotes on change management:

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!” – Peter Senge, Author of The Fifth Discipline, MIT Professor

What can leaders do to reduce the likelihood that their teams feel like they are being changed?  Common sense would suggest that leaders should involve their teams in the change process as equal partners.  However, as is often the case, common sense isn’t commonly practiced.  The approach I have used successfully with multiple clients is what I call, Team-Based Change Leadership.  The process has six simple steps:

  1. Strategic Clarity–make sure everyone is on the same page, you need to breakdown the business strategy to the department and team levels.
  2. Identify the Future State–leaders and their teams need to identify what the organization will look like when the change process is completed.  The strategy mapping process needs to include the unique customer value proposition, internal processes and organizational structure, the talent and the organization culture.
  3. Assess the current state–this would include assessing all the areas referenced above.
  4. Develop a plan to close the gap
  5. Perform 80/20 analysis–you will not be able to change everything overnight. Prioritize required changes and determine the 20% that will provide 80% of the desired change.
  6. Execute Your 20% Flawlessly 

The most significant difference between this process and many change management processes is that the teams are involved upfront and actively participate in both the planning and the execution.  However, it is important to assess the readiness of the team to be an equal partner in this change process before starting.  If they are not ready then the leader may have to fly solo in the early stages.   The team assessment that I have used successfully with my clients is The Five Behaviors Of A Cohesive Team.

The bottom line is that the best way to get your teams to do what you need them to do, the way you need them to do it, and when you need them to do it, is to involve them in the change process upfront.

In future blogs I will drill down on the steps in the Team-Based Change Leadership process including The Five Behaviors Of A Cohesive Team.  If you would like to receive more information about this process in advance of future blogs, please complete the information below.

Hiring The Right People – More Than A Gut Feeling Revisited

Pixton_Comic_More_Than_a_Gut_Feeling_by_BillAccordino (click image)

My first leadership development engagement was almost 25 years ago.  My client (prospect at the time) asked me if I could develop a training program for the nursing managers of a major medical center.  The topic was interviewing skills.  In particular, behavioral interviewing skills.  I had just left the corporate world, was a hungary rookie entrepreneur, so I said sure (gulp!).  He provided me with a training video on behavioral interviewing entitled More Than A Gut Feeling by Dr. Paul Green.  My mission was to develop a half day program featuring this video, and get back to him with a proposal in a week.

I immediately rushed home to tell my wife that I was very close to wining my first contract.  I then asked her if she knew anything about behavioral interviewing, because I didn’t!  I put the video in my VCR (it was the early 90s) and watched it five or six times in one evening.  From that point on I was hooked on helping managers and leaders develop the skill of behavioral interviewing.  I have been practicing behavioral interviewing for all these years, have trained hundreds of managers and coached over 100 candidates for jobs on how best to nail a behavioral interview.

At the heart of effective behavioral interviewing is the belief that past performance is the best predictor of future behavior.  A word of caution is in order.  Past performance will only be a predictor of future behavior if the position that the candidate is being considered for is the same as their past position(s).  Let’s assume that is the case for the balance of this discussion.  Behavioral-based interview questions are open-ended questions or statements that are designed to elicit detailed responses.

In a previous post I used the example of asking a behavioral interview question to determine how effective the interviewee is at handling conflict with co-workers.  The question may be, “Tell me about a time when you were involved in a conflict situation with a co-worker.  Please describe the problem, the actions you took and the results?”  You gain a much better understanding regarding how effective the candidate is when they share multiple stories in this PAR (Problem-Action-Result) format rather than the candidate simply stating that they are effective at handling conflict, or describing the process steps.  Here are examples of different types of questions and responses:

Question: Are you effective at handling conflict in the workplace?

Answer: Yes, I always deal with conflict effectively whenever it comes up in the work place.  I talk to the individual and resolve it as quickly as possible.

Effectiveness: Closed end question, you still don’t know how they handle conflict situations.

Question: Would you please describe the process you follow to resolve a conflict situation with a co-worker?

Answer: I ask the individual if they have a few minutes to discuss the situation that led to the conflict, I then ask them to describe their perspective, and then we work together to resolve the immediate problem and agree on how best to handle situations in the future.

Effectiveness:  This question elicited a better response, you now know how they would approach conflict but not if they have had  actual success in this area.

Question:  Would you tell me about a time when you were involved in a conflict situation with a co-worker, describe the problem, the action you took and the results?

Answer:  I was working on a project with a co-worker and we frequently had difficulty agreeing on the prioritization of action steps.  As a result of frequently not being on the same page, we started to miss deadlines and avoided communicating with each other. I scheduled a meeting for us to discuss this challenge.  I described the situation, our behavior and my perspective of how it was impacting the success of the project and other team members.  I then asked for his view of the situation and then kept my mouth shout to listen intently.  We discovered that the most appropriate prioritization criteria was not my way or his way, it was a third way that was more representative of reality.  We then both made the commitment to work more collaboratively.

Effectiveness:  You now have a complete picture regarding how effective the candidate is at handling conflict, the process they follow and actual examples of how they have done it in the past.  A critical ingredient to handling conflict effectively is to use the SBI (Situation-Behavior-Impact) method, rather criticizing the individual.  Stay tuned for more on the SBI method in future posts.

If you are interested in receiving more information on behavioral interviewing please complete your contact information below.

Smart Hiring: Five Steps To Improve Your Hiring Success!

BreakthroughPerformance.TalentManagementHiring the right people is at the core of breakthrough performance.  As business owners and leaders we all know that this is a critical ingredient to the success of our organizations.   Our goal is to get the right people, with the right talents, delivering the right results.  I have communicated this goal in previous posts and will continue to stress how important this is to your success.

Does your current hiring process support this goal?  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms perhaps the answer is no:

  1. Voluntary turnover is increasing
  2. Your recent hires are not fitting well with your organization and its values
  3. Your onboarding process is ineffective, or doesn’t exist

As my good friend and coach Chris Ruisi always says, “you need to hire slow and fire fast!”.  The first step may be to slow down and consider following these five steps to ensure smart hiring processes and get the most out of your people:

  1. Identify hiring problems–Analyze your hiring process and identify the root cause of your talent shortfall.
  2. Recruit people who match specific positions–Invest the time to identify the success profile for all of your positions.  You should develop a competency-based job description.  Consider using pre-employment assessments that will identify the cognitive, behavioral and career interests of the candidate.
  3. Be innovative when you prospect for new candidates–Ask your top employees for referrals, look for companies announcing cutbacks, partner with colleges and vocational schools.
  4. Prepare for a winning behavioral interview–Spend a sufficient amount of time reviewing the candidates resume in relation to the job requirements.  Plan to ask behavioral questions of your candidates.  Rather than asking the interviewee if they are comfortable effectively dealing with conflict, ask them to give you an example of how they handled a conflict situation with a co-worker or customer.  Ask them to tell you the story by sharing the problem, the actions they took, and the results.
  5. Continually refine your best hiring practices–You should regularly analyze the success of your hiring process and make the necessary adjustments.  These should be an ongoing process, not an event.

Learn more about these five best practices and much more by requesting the Hiring Blook: 10 Success Steps for Effective Hiring.

Job Fit-The Power of the Right Person

shutterstock_269067383In order to effectively drive strategic change and achieve breakthrough performance you need to have the right people, with the right talents, in the right jobs, delivering the right results.   Wow, that’s a mouthful!  The old phrase, “says easy, does hard” comes to mind.

We all know this intuitively, and most leaders and managers work diligently to make this happen.  We also know that we should align our hiring process, development process, and succession planning process with our business strategy and talent needs.  My experience would suggest that success in these critical areas is more a matter of chance than a focused strategic workforce plan and its execution.  One key ingredient to make all of this happen is Job Fit.

What is Job Fit?  It measures the degree to which the requirements of the job match the individual’s strengths, needs and wants.  If we identify an individual’s personality traits, abilities and behaviors,  we are better able to predict if they can do the job, how they will do the job, and if they will enjoy the job.  We are all motivated and driven by different influences.  Job fit outlines the unique job-related qualities that make a person productive.

Why is this important?  Studies show that job fit improves engagement and job satisfaction, resulting in improved productivity.  In fact, the findings of one study suggests that employees who are well matched in their jobs are 2.5 times more productive on the job. Here are three simple steps to get your started:

  1. Identify and assess top performers–this approach is effective if you have multiple people in the same position.  You would need to use a validated and reliable assessment tool.  If you don’t have any top performers in the position you will need to start to identify the skills, behaviors and other attributes that you believe the position requires.
  2. Benchmark top performance to create a performance model–creating a performance model from the assessment results of your top performers provides a remarkable advantage.  You are creating a performance model that defines the characteristics of a top performer in your organization.  If you do not have any top performers in the position you will need to perform a focused job analysis using the tools provided by a talent management solutions provider.
  3. Evaluate candidates relative to this performance model for maximum productivity and engagement in that position.  This process should be used when considering outside candidates and internal candidates for your key positions.  The assessments in comparison to the performance model can also be used to support your coaching of existing employees.

Your organization will experience significant productivity increases over time if you start to use Job Fit as part of your hiring process and employee development process.

If you would like more information on Job Fit, please contact me at (732) 528-0320, or at  Please complete the information below if you would like to receive the eBook, Job Fit: The Power of the Right Person.

What Do You Do When You Have 37 Strategic Change Initiatives?


What do you do when you have 37 strategic change initiatives?  Nothing!

This was the challenge facing a client attempting to execute a significant change in strategy.  This client was stuck!  The solution was to focus on those initiatives that will have the biggest impact.  The challenge was, how do we choose the right one to three initiatives.  The process used was applying the 80/20 Principle to choose the right change initiatives.

Business owners and leaders driving change need to live and breathe this principle.  Here is the Wikipedia definition:

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

Quite simply, leaders need to focus on the 20% of their personal activities, and 20% of their team’s activities that will provide them with 80% of the desired change results.  The question I always ask leaders and their teams is, “Do you know your 20%?”.  What actions, activities and change initiatives will get you closer to achieving your strategic goals?

Here are 7 steps a leader can follow to make the 80/20 Principle part of their change leadership toolkit:

  1. Strategic Clarity–Make sure that your entire team understands your business strategy and has determined the impact it has on their day to day work.
  2. Identify the Future State–How does your organization need to change to be better aligned with your strategy?  What kind of talent do you need?  What internal processes are needed to better support your strategy?  How about your infrastructure/technology?
  3. Assess the Current State–Assess your current talent, review your processes and technology in comparison to your identified future state.
  4. Determine what needs to be done to close the gap
  5. Perform 80/20 Analysis–You will not be able to change everything over night.  Prioritize the required changes and determine the 20% that will provide 80% of the desired change.
  6. Choose you strategic change initiatives
  7. Align your entire organization to those initiatives

Always remember, the planning process has more value than the plan itself.  You need to stay flexible and always ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?”  Or in 80/20 lingo, what is my 20%?

If you would like to receive a complementary 80/20 Worksheet, please complete the information below.

Coaching For Breakthrough Performance Vs. Performance Reviews

BreakthroughLeadership  Performance coaching is a key change leadership tool and essential to achieve breakthrough performance.  Performance reviews are a key management tool.  My experience as an executive coach, leadership development consultant and HR professional would suggest that there is general agreement that performance reviews are needed as an important component of the overall performance management process.  That is not to suggest that managers and leaders enthusiastically embrace performance reviews, but they do begrudgingly agree that they are needed.

However, when the subject of coaching for breakthrough performance is brought up in my conversations with clients I very often get a blank, or confused stare.  They either view performance reviews as synonomous with coaching, or they just don’t understand what I am suggesting.  Allow me to start this discussion by providing you with my definition of coaching for performance and how it is different from performance reviews.

Coaching for performance is a development process.  Its primary objective is to help employees grow, learn new skills and competencies.  It is either focused on doing their current job better, the proverbial taking it to the next level, or helping them prepare for another job.  Performance reviews on the other hand, are designed to evaluate the individual performance compared to expectations, provide them with a performance rating, and ultimately provide the basis for compensation decisions. Coaching is focused on the future, while performance feedback is focused on the past.  It is really a question of the primary objective of the process.  Ken Blanchard, famous author and leadership expert, is quoted as saying, “People want help getting an A (coaching), they don’t want you to grade their papers! (performance feedback)”

If you agree that coaching for performance is an important part of your overall performance management process, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Invest the time to help your employees develop specific development goals, separate and distinct from their business goals.
  2. Each employee should have a maximum of three development goals, too many goals are not sustainable.
  3. The concept of SMART goals is certainly applicable with development goals.  Each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  4. Be sure to keep your coaching discussions separate from your performance feedback discussions recognizing that there is overlap.  You need to demonstrate that you are sincerely interested in helping them grow, not just evaluating their performance.
  5. Performance coaching should be viewed and practiced as a process, not an event.  Coaching should be done throughout the year, and often will be no more than a brief and focused discussion for 5-10 minutes.

Stay tuned for more on SMART Goals!

If you would like more information about Performance Coaching please complete the information below:

Are You And Your Team Ready For Breakthrough Performance?


Does this sound like you?

You have successfully grown your business and have made multiple course corrections over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of the marketplace. You have built a strong team to help you deliver quality products and services to your customers.

Although you have had these past successes, recently you are feeling stuck, unsure of what you need to do to take your business to the next level. You now realize that you can’t do it alone anymore; you need a different mix of talent. These symptoms may also describe you:

• Your smart, talented and hardworking employees are now underperforming.
• You have made some poor hiring decisions
• You don’t know what kind of talent you need.
• Your teams are dysfunctional and productivity is dropping.
• Despite your focused coaching efforts, performance is not changing

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may need to better align your talent with your strategy in order to position your business for Breakthrough Performance. Your overall goal is to get the right people, with the right talents, delivering the right results.

Here are some guidelines to help you get unstuck and start your journey to Breakthrough Performance:

  1. Identify the key positions in your organizations that you need to execute your strategy.
  2. Develop a success profile (performance model) for each of these key positions to include the required thinking style, behavioral characteristics, career interests and education/certifications needed.
  3. Choose an employee assessment from a reputable provider that is valid, reliable and meets or exceeds all 13 of the Department of Labor requirements.
  4. Assess all encumbents in these key positions and perform a talent gap analysis.
  5. Develop a strategic workforce plan to address the needs identified in your gap analysis deciding how best to close the gap, i.e., develop current employees, hire new employees more closely aligned with your needs, or a combination of the two.
  6. Execute your plan.

If you would like more information on aligning your talent with your business strategy, please complete the informaiton below.