Articles in Category: All Posts

Getting Real: How High-Achieving Women Can Lead Authentically

Posted in White Papers, All Posts

Women aren’t always true to themselves. In a vain attempt to live up to organizational norms and expectations, their behaviors sometimes go against their own values. But it’s not easy being a phony. It takes a lot of energy to behave in ways that are out of sync with our true values, priorities, hopes, char- acteristics and style. The energy expended trying to come across as something you are not is energy unavailable for work and other activities...


Getting Real How High Achieving Women Can Lead Authentically



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Strategy to Succeed: a practical guide to being a strategic leader

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in White Papers, All Posts


A leader without a plan or a plan without a leader simply won’t succeed. Great leaders match their passion for a future vision with the confidence and credibility that comes from strategic planning, in order to achieve that vision. To be successful in the long-term, your organization must have quality leadership and actionable strategy. So how do you help your organization define and manage an effective strategy? In this whitepaper, Barbara Higgins will provide you with practical ways to assess your organization, enhance your approach, and energize your role.


Strategy to Succeed

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Off Target with your 2014 Goals?

Posted in Blog, All Posts

3 Steps to Get You Back on Track

It’s hard believe we are past the half-year mark for 2014.  Have you pulled out your goals and reviewed your progress?  How are you doing?   If you are in the majority, you probably are not doing so well.  Why? There may be a few reasons:

  • Setting goals has become just an empty ritual. We take last year’s goal and “tweak” it.  Often there is not much thought put into creating the goal and not much thought given to it afterwards.
  • No one is really checking in, holding you or others accountable.
  • There are too many barriers – not enough resources.
  • Priorities are constantly changing.

As leaders, if we do not make reaching goals a priority, no one will. Setting and achieving goals needs to be part of regular conversations and expectations. Want some help to get things moving again? Let’s start by analyzing the goals that were set many months ago. 1.  Are these real goals?  Apply the SMART formula to them:

  • Are they specific? Significant? Stretching? Focused?
  • Does each of them have a specific metric that you have applied?  How far off the mark are you?  This shouldn’t be a guessing game.
  • Are the goals attainable?  Goals must stretch us and they need to be attainable. Were you over-reaching? If not, who is responsible for the lack of achievement? Have you been holding yourself and others accountable?
  • Are the goals realistic? Relevant?  Do they align with the mission and vision? Does everyone consider them real goals?
  • What are the time constraints?  Have deadlines been set?  Were there milestones established and published?  Have you and others met all the deadlines?  Why not?  What got in your way?

2.  Once you have completed the SMART formula, consider these questions:

  • Do you have the right goals for the mission and vision of your organization?  Are there more important specific goals that need to be introduced?
  • Which of the goals are truly attainable and relevant?   Which goals must be reached?
  •  Are your metrics appropriate?  Are you tracking the right things?  Are others tracking progress?
  • What barriers need to be removed?

3.  Pick the top 3-4 “must reach” goals. Schedule time with your team and stress the importance of this “2014 Goals Check-In” meeting. Send out an agenda days in advance. The agenda should include:

  • Vision and Mission discussion.  (Note: the vision and mission answers “Why we do we what we do.”)
  • 2014 Goals – Where are we? What do we need celebrate? What do we need to talk about?
  • Focus for the remainder of 2014. New goals, more focused goals.
  • Setting the plan
    • The SMART formula is applied to every goal
    • Barriers are identified and a strategy is created to deal with the barriers
    • Bi-weekly check-ins are scheduled to discuss each goal and progress (no exceptions)
    • Celebrate each milestone achieved
    • Reward appropriately

You still have time to achieve the “must-have” goals. Stick to your plan. Hold yourself and others accountable.  Be sure to celebrate along the way.  The reward of hitting your target will be long lasting and gratifying! Also, as you look to 2015 in your Fall Planning activities, MSBCoach would be happy to help facilitate meaningful and productive planning and team building sessions.  Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss a customized approach for your organization.

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The Success Equation

Posted in Blog, All Posts

Strong Values + Strong Will x Skills = Success

I had the privilege of hearing author, Jim Collins, speak recently.  He said a lot of things that made me think, a sign of a good SME (subject-matter-expert), and one thing in particular stood out: “ First, great leaders must have strong values and a strong will and then skills”. How many people have you encountered that had tremendous skills and competencies, with great potential, yet they never reach that potential?  Skills matter and with a strong under-pinning of good values and a strong will, success is inevitable. We are constantly bouncing around the whole “values” concept.  Values are the guiding force of how we live and work. We understand that very few people have identical values. Yet, we know that our values must be in sync for us to work cohesively and productively. When was the last time you thought about how your values and your organization’s values work in tandem? If I ask you to list your personal values and that of your organization, would they align? Would there be any out of sync?  What does your organization offer in support of your core values?  How do your values support the goals/objectives of the organization?  It may be worth your time to examine this.  It could answer a few questions that you may have about your next steps and future goals. Jim Collins told a wonderful story of how having a strong will can make the difference in growing and surviving during tough times.  We all have those tough times – individually and organizationally. What determines a strong will? More importantly how do you develop one?  Ever heard of the phrase: “strong-willed child”?  I happen to have given birth to one….some of you are relating to me right now!  Once this child decided that she was going to do something or not do something, it became a real battle of wills.  I would usually resort to using a well-known technique of: “You will do it because I am bigger than you!”  I realized that technique was not going to last too long so fortunately I was given wise counsel that I should guide that strong will instead of trying to break it.  This wise person told me that my strong-willed child who was pushing all my buttons would have a greater chance of being a successful adult if I would nurture that will. So how do we nurture a strong will?   Here are some thoughts from Jim Collins’ insight and a few from someone who was raising one:

  • Be clear on your objectives.  Know what you want and don’t want. My strong-willed child was always very clear about her objectives, wants, needs, etc.
  • Be ok with others pushing against you.  Many times we get “talked out” of doing something that we know is the right thing to do.  The key here is to make sure that we are aligned with our values and clear objectives. Strong-willed people should always listen to wise counsel and adjust if needed but never cave to someone else’s thinking.
  • Set a plan and follow your plan.  We lose our way so often because we didn’t create a plan or follow the plan that we created.  We allow others to change it or we don’t take the necessary time to think it through.
  • Be “fanatically disciplined”.  This is one of the discoveries that Jim Collins made in his research of leaders for his book, Great by Choice. His research revealed that strong-willed leaders did the “hard” things, sacrificed for the future instead of enjoying the moment, and relied on their skills in times of chaos.
  • Mistakes are going to happen. And there will be consequences. Strong-willed leaders will choose to accept those circumstances and to learn from them. This is a lesson that I learned from my wise counselor.  Every time my strong-willed child made a “mistake”, I was encouraged to ask, “What did you learn?” instead of saying, “I told you so…”

In our ever-changing, competitive, super-charged information world, it’s more important than ever to be clear on our values and to be strong-willed.  What are you doing to stay centered on your values and strengthen your will?  

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Could You Be a Strategy Storyteller?

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

Have you ever listened to a true storyteller? My dad was a gifted storyteller. Each night, he would weave a story for my sister and I, and we were transported to a world of the imagination. Vibrant characters would embark on all sorts of exciting challenges and adventures. These stories created a wonderful fabric of memories for my childhood.

I think of strategy as an engaging story about an organization. A strategy story can draw you into the passion and purpose of why that organization exists and what they hope to accomplish. Like a gifted storyteller, a strategic leader can bring you quickly to care about the mission and interest you in the pathway to the future. Navigating interesting business challenges and opportunities can craft an interesting plot that has you rooting for mission success. Like a gifted storyteller, leaders in great organizations can consistently recount their strategy story about who they are, how they serve their customers, and where the organization is headed in the future.

Shouldn’t you be able to tell your organization’s strategic story? To do it well, you need to develop an attention-grabbing script. Whether it is an employee, vendor, client or even a neighbor, the story you tell can engage the listener and generate interest in supporting future success.

So how do you weave your story of strategy? It takes effort to internalize the important messages of strategy. You need to own the story. Consider the following three parts to compose your strategy story:

  1. What is the most inspiring purpose for your organization? A good mission statement should serve as your guide. Start with the mission statement and put it in your own words. Be brief. As Peter Drucker said, a good mission statement should fit on a t-shirt. Don’t be afraid to believe in the product or service you provide. Be sure it is a “we” statement not a “they” statement.
  2. What role does your character play in the strategy story? Consider your contribution to the organization. Define why you enjoy your role and how you ensure a quality product or service. Think about a great day at work and what you love about your job. Own your story and how you bring unique value to your role. Be proud of your contribution, and this can inspire others to contribute their best efforts.
  3. What do your colleagues contribute to future success? Each person in an organization should connect to future success. It is a great feeling to be a part of a broader purpose and the success of a team. The more you engage others in your strategy story, the more they contribute. Consider each role and how that role contributes to the product or service. Remember to provide feedback and appreciation to encourage participation.

Like a great story, strategy is about the journey to succeed and you get out of it what you put in. You can be a part of creating a wonderful journey of opportunity and success for your organization. I will never forget the amazing characters in my dad’s stories. My wish for you is to invest your career in organizations where you are truly a part of the strategy story.

For further information about connecting strategy and leadership, consider watching the MSBCoach Webinar: Connecting Leadership and Strategy: Sparking Energy for Success

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