Articles tagged with: Basic Leadership

Is There Such a Thing as “Leadership Commonsense”?

Posted in Blog, All Posts

4 Things to consider when leading others to find their own “leadership commonsense”

I was recently coaching with a leader who was frustrated with one of their first line supervisors. The complaint was stated like this: "He just doesn't have commonsense when it comes to leading people".

What do we mean by commonsense leadership? Commonsense is defined as sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence. Webster describes commonsense as "the unreflective opinions of ordinary people". Therefore, would we define commonsense leadership as the leading of people from our individual "native intelligence". I thought about this for a few minutes. So, we could have leaders that run the gamut of Michael Scott from "The Office" to maybe a Warren Buffet! That could be like rolling dice with your leaders. Is that a risk that you're willing to take?

The problem with commonsense is that in the best of times, it is our "red flag" detector, the little spot in our brain that says "That doesn’t seem right." In the worst of times, though, it’s that little spot in the brain that says "That seems right" when it isn’t. And if commonsense comes from experiences and experience is the great teacher. Why are we still in a mess?

Duncan Watts, who authored Everything is Obvious - Once You Know the Answer, states that "commonsense is a hodge-podge of accumulated advice, experiences, aphorisms, norms, received wisdom, inherited beliefs, and introspection that is neither coherent nor even internally self-consistent". As evidenced by these famous commonsense quotes: " Two minds are better than one vs. too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth" or Try, try again vs. stop flogging a dead horse". And if "experience is the best teacher", when should one also "maintain a beginner's mind"?

Back to my leader's complaint about the supervisor lack of commonsense. In reality what the leader was saying was, "Why isn't this supervisor doing what I do?" But when you ask some to use their commonsense, you are asking them to do what is common and makes sense to them. If you want people doing what you would do then you must train, mentor, coach to that. A word of caution - trying to pass along your commonsense is going to be very difficult and (I know that this will be hard to hear) your commonsense approach may not be the best in every situation.

Here are four things to consider when leading others to find their own “leadership commonsense”:

1. Commonsense is individual - drawn from personal experience. And often that personal experience is not common nor consistent. What we gain is impacted by our interpretation of that experience at that moment in time coupled with our past experiences. Research states that we pick and choose what we remember about experiences and that our memory tends to forget details that are less favorable. And those different interpretations will give inconsistent and sometimes uncommon sense. An organization and/or teams need a common, consistent approach to problem solving. Creating an environment of collaboration and shared experiences that connects to a shared vision will produce better results.

2. Commonsense accepts obvious answers - because commonsense always has an answer. You immediately dig back into your past experiences looking for commonality or at least similarity to the question/concern at hand. The answer seems obvious because you have been there, done that, and have the t-shirt. Leaders should never overlook the obvious but we too often want a quick answer. We don"t allow time for the not so obvious. Instead of always having the answer - we may need to ask a question. Leaders need to ask the "Why". Why is this an issue? Why is this happening again? Why is the team struggling? Why are our results inconsistent? To find the answer you need to understand the why and the why may not be obvious.

3. Commonsense can be vague - because you're following your "gut". When you are following your "gut", it may be hard to give concrete direction or advice. We say things like "Just trust me on this." or "We don't have time to discuss the details, just do it". Often it is precise actions and directions that are needed. It is a must for any successful organization to have a strategic plan with specific goals that is communicated widely and often.

4. Commonsense produces inconsistent results - each "commonsense" leader sees his role and responsibility differently. We find ourselves deep in the "If onlys"..if only we had the right people leading, if only we could find the right incentives, if only they were more competent. All this actually proves that common sense is not that common. To get the desired results an organization must know what will take to produce the desired performance every time. The only way to know this is to have specific processes, personal accountability, and measurable outcomes that align with the strategy and goals. This requires hard work and time but so worth the investment.

I agree that commonsense is good at making the world seem sensible - by allowing us to reject explanations that don't coincide with our experiences and ignoring counterfactuals. In reality, commonsense may be less about a way to understand our world but more of a way just to survive without having to understand. This is possibly one of the reasons that we don't learn and grow from our and other's experiences. May I suggest that perhaps its time to view our organizational struggles like how medical science views finding cures. No one in the science community is throwing up their hands just because finding a cure is complex and hard. Let's apply that same admirable resolve to our organizations - do the hard work! The reward will be a healthy, productive organization.

What are your thoughts on “leadership commonsense”? We would love to hear your feedback and/or answer your questions. If you are interested in learning more about working with a coach for yourself and/or someone you work with please contact us today at 804-502-4319 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact JoAnn directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Making a Difference

Written by Tony Marbury Posted in Blog, All Posts

3 Things to Aspire to and Improve Your Impact

Most of us want to have an impact on something, especially as leaders. We want to matter and make a difference. I have found this to be true in the work place as well as with our loved ones, neighbors and communities. Abraham Maslow, a founder of humanistic psychology and creator of the hierarchy of needs, tells us that self-esteem and the need to contribute, be respected, and needed is an innate human necessity.

Some jump in head first and commit, others sit on the sidelines waiting for the coach to put us in the game. Regardless of your situation or desire, making a difference begins internally. It starts with you. Taking the time and effort to get to know yourself is the absolute best way to begin to make a difference.

Getting to know yourself (mentally, physically and spiritually), will help you prepare to make a difference and prepare for what the world may demand of you. Below are three things I aspire to. I hope these things will encourage you as well:

  1. Exercise - You may have heard this from different people and sources on many occasions. I would like to share it with you yet another time, because it is so important. You may be surprised how much of a difference you can make when you reap the benefits of a sound body. I find that when I run without my headphones, my mind is just as active as my body. I’ve solved some of my world’s greatest problems in just 4 miles!!
  2. Arrive early - This is especially hard for those of us with chauffeur responsibilities. Set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier to give your body a change to transition from slumber to wakefulness. Try to leave for the office or your appointments 15-30 minutes early as well so that you can give your mind a chance to transition into your work. Reduce what I will call “shock of circumstance” by giving yourself a chance to adapt to, think about, and reflect on your immediate environment.
  3. Slow Down - This is a type of meditation that I have adapted from the book, “Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game” by Dr. Joseph Parent. Regardless of the game or situation, the key word here is mental. Find five minutes during your day, every day, for clearing your mind, relieving stress, and/or preparing for action. Find a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted -- an office, closet, or even the bathroom will do! Turn off the lights and sound and close your eyes and just sit. Let your head and chin rest by removing the stress on your neck. Release your shoulders by letting them drop. Let your arms rest on your legs and place both your feet flat on the floor. Relax your muscles and body and feel yourself breathing. With your mind’s eye count from 1 to 100 or slowly recite the alphabet. Concentrate on every number or letter. Without moving, feel your toes and slowly move from there to every part of your body individually. Once done visualize yourself being perfect, doing everything perfectly, and making a difference.

Now it’s time to focus and go out to do great things. As leaders it is imperative that we know ourselves, our capacities, as well as our limitations. We need to use tools and do exercises that prepare us to make a difference and inspire others. Please share the tricks of the trade that help you.

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Help, I’m A Control Freak!

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

Dear Michelle,
My husband and even my dear friends refer to me as a control freak! I own and operate a catering business, and yes I’ll admit I have a tendency to micro-manage (one time I almost divorced my husband and now ex-chef just because I thought his cilantro pesto was too salty!) How do I break away from my compulsion to control everything while maintaining top notch food service and quality for my clients?
– Control Freak in Harrisonburg, VA.

Dear Control Freak,
You have taken the first big step with any personal challenge and that is, “owning it”. In order to improve a behavioral pattern we have to first be aware of it, the second step is to make a plan of action. Most of our problems do not stem from what we do not know, they manifest from doing nothing. Below are some suggestions that should help:

  1. Open your mind to other people’s opinions and ideas – your way is not the only way.
  2. Wait, breathe, and think before you respond – this gives you a window of opportunity to mitigate a situation without regrets.
  3. Practice self-observation and keep a journal – this helps you to “see” yourself from an outsider’s perspective so you can correct mistakes.
  4. Set one goal at a time for yourself – changing a long-time behavioral pattern takes time, so be patient and try not to get overwhelmed.
  5. Set up accountability partners – confide in 1 to 3 trusted people about your new goals and give them permission to hold you accountable to the behavior changes you have set for yourself.

Changing anything takes time, but staying focused, developing a plan, and surrounding yourself with accountability partners will keep you on track. Following these steps will relieve stress on yourself and your business colleagues, plus give you more fulfillment in your life. Now how do I get a hold of some of the cilantro pesto?

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The Four Energies of Leadership

Posted in Webinars, All Posts

During these economic times, leaders feel as if we are being pulled in all directions. Strong and balanced leadership is essential to greater success.

To be effective leaders, we must access four different kinds of energies to motivate, inspire vision, and to lead. Please join Michelle Prosser, an executive coach, team builder and author; as she speaks about the four types of leadership that every leader needs to live in greater balance. Michelle uses cultural archetypes to help clients stretch into a new place of leadership and to address weaknesses. You will learn to identify where you are strong and where you need to stretch.

Join this webinar to identify:

  • What the Four Energies of Leadership are
  • How the Four Energies of Leadership affect your management style
  • How the four Energies of Leadership affect your team

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