Why Vulnerability Creates Connected Leaders

Dear Evolving Leader,

I begin this letter with the recognition that there’s no such thing as a completely developed leader. Each of us who are seeking to grow, develop and advance needs to be continuously evolving. We are quite literally, a work in progress.

You may be asking yourself why you’re getting this on Thursday rather than Tuesday. The answer is because this is a really challenging topic for me to write about and I’ve re-written this letter several times.

Throughout my career, one of my biggest struggles has been in the relationship between confidence/strength and the ability to be vulnerable. How does the ability to resist and withstand connect with the ability to be open and susceptible? In my mind, this was about the choice of either/or rather than and.

There are areas of our evolution that are easier than others. Some take more time and some less. For me, the balance between strength and vulnerability has been a continual work in progress. These two don’t seem to naturally go together and there are times when I feel like they contradict each other.

All too often, we as leaders find ourselves unnecessarily guarded. Afraid to be real or raw. Hesitant to reveal a personal perspective in order to not compromise the professionalism for which we’re known. Recognizing that there are many times when we have better questions than we have answers.

While there’s a certain protection in not revealing our vulnerabilities, the price that’s paid is potentially becoming unrelatable as a leader. Leadership is about people and it’s about influence. As such, there’s no advantage to being unrelatable to the people we lead.

There’s a very thin line between being relatable and unrelatable. My experience has shown me firsthand that the line is labeled vulnerability.

Vulnerability isn’t based on weakness, it’s based on awareness. Awareness of our strengths, limitations and potential blind spots. Areas where we’re the catalyst for advancement and where we’re the roadblock to progression. Vulnerability is what opens the door to new conversations and new ideas. It’s at the core of innovation and re-invention. On so many occasions, vulnerability means standing in a place that’s necessary even when it’s not comfortable.

So why does vulnerability create connected leaders? Because it’s their source of confidence rather than contradiction. Their ability to withstand is based on their awareness and openness to understand themselves, others and the situations they face. They’re the first to admit their successes and failures. They openly share the experiences that have shaped who they are and they’re willing to say, “I don’t know,” … which is followed quickly by, “but I’ll find out.”

In a world that seems to have no filters, engaging in the conversation creates its own unique vulnerability. I don’t need to be vulnerable because it’s trending or socially driven. For me, my growth in this area is about one thing: Being relatable and valued as a person and a professional to the people with whom I’m connected. 

This is the space of confidence and strength driven by a continual evolution and achieved by a willingness to be open and aware.

In this space, I have come to value what it means to be an evolving leader and I hope that this letter contributes to your progression as well.




What does vulnerability mean to you? Where have you been willing to be vulnerable and built your confidence at the same time? Let me know in the comments.

Why You Should Stop Avoiding Conflict in the Workplace

Why You Should Stop Avoiding Conflict in the Workplace

By Liane Davey

I was recently hired to help a group of doctors work through their issues and get their business back on a growth trajectory. They aren’t talking much. They’re barely making eye contact. After only a few hours, it’s clear to me what’s wrong. I share my diagnosis: “You need more conflict.”

It’s the last thing they expect me to say. They’re already in agony dealing with the smallest decisions. Each meeting is an excruciating cocktail of trepidation, anger, guilt, and frustration. How could they possibly need more conflict?

What they don’t realize is that they’re mired in all those negative emotions because they’re unwilling to work through them. As long as they avoid the topics that are creating anger, guilt, and frustration, they’re stuck with them. There are many topics that they haven’t discussed for years. They’ve tried every way to go around the contentious issues, but now they need to go through them.


The doctors are not the only ones who avoid conflict. Most of us have been raised to think of conflict as a bad thing. Conventional wisdom holds that conflict is bad for productivity and corrosive to trust and engagement. But that view is totally at odds with how an organization works.

Conflict isn’t bad for organizations: it’s fundamental to them. After all, you need to be able to work through opposing sides of an issue and come to a resolution in the best interest of customers, shareholders, and customers–whether you’re on the shop floor or the boardroom. Conflict is part of strategic planning, resource allocation, product design, talent management, and just about everything else that should happen in an organization.

Unfortunately, most humans don’t embrace conflicts. Rather, we avoid, postpone, evade, duck, dodge, and defer them. The result is conflict debt.


Conflict debt is the sum of all the contentious issues that we need to address to move forward, but remain undiscussed and unresolved. It can be as simple as withholding the feedback that would allow your colleague to do a better job, and as profound as continually deferring a strategic decision while getting further and further behind the competition.

The doctors I worked with are in conflict debt. Each time they avoid the discussions, debates, and disagreements that they need to have to get their business growing again, they sink further in. Think of it like financial debt–when you use credit to buy things you otherwise can’t afford. You want something, maybe even need it, but you don’t have the cash at the time, so you use credit. You rationalize to yourself that you will pay it off as soon as you get your next paycheck, but if you’re like 65% of American credit card holders, you carry that balance over from month to month. The debt mounts, and over time, it gets harder and harder to get out just from under it.


As with financial debt, conflict debt starts innocently. An issue comes up that’s a little too hot to handle, so you defer it. You promise yourself that you’ll revisit it when things are less busy, or when cooler heads prevail. You buy yourself time and space. But days pass, and no spontaneous resolution materializes. Instead, the issue becomes more contentious. Suddenly, you’re in conflict debt. You’re feeling anxious, and you find yourself steering clear of your colleagues to avoid having to confront the issue. (Have you ever taken the long way around the office so you don’t run into a disgruntled coworker?) You’re feeling frustrated at the lack of progress, not to mention a little guilty for your role in the stalemate. Conflict debt weighs you down.

Avoiding the issue is only one path to conflict debt. Another is to avoid the opposition. In this case, you broach the topic but exclude people who might disagree or cause tension, surrounding yourself with those who agree with you. You focus on how friendly and productive the discussion is, deluding yourself that your solutions are going to fly with the people who you strategically disinvited. But pretending the opposition isn’t there won’t make it disappear. It will resurface when your opponents kill your plan or, worse, leave it to fail.

There’s a third way to get into conflict debt–avoid the friction. Even if you discuss the difficult subject, there’s still room to get yourself into trouble if you veer safely away from the distressing parts of the discussion. When you make it clear (either intentionally or inadvertently) that nothing antagonistic should taint your conversation, you start to rack up conflict debt. I see this all the time when, just as the discussion gets perilously close to the crux of the matter, someone suggests they “take it offline” to avoid having to deal with the conflict. Everyone smiles and pretends that they’ll actually come back to it at some point–when in reality, they’ve just stifled dissent.

Are you avoiding the conflicts that your organization requires you to work through? If so, you are setting your organization, your team, and yourself up for trouble. When you’re unwilling to work through uncomfortable situations, you stretching your resources thin, stifling innovation, and allowing risks to go unnoticed. On your team, the aversion to prickly conversations forces strong performers to compensate for weak ones and mature people to put up with immature ones. At an individual level, you’re probably burning out from the stress.

When your conflict debt gets too high, it becomes overwhelming. You’re exhausted by the thought of trying to pay it off. You’ve destroyed your credit rating with your boss and your coworkers by letting these issues go unresolved for so long. But don’t give up–there are many things you can do to get out from under your conflict debt. That starts with embracing, and not avoiding, conflict in the first place.

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Meet Liane

For the past 25 years, Liane Davey has researched and advised teams on how to achieve high performance. Known as the “teamwork doctor,” she’s worked with teams from the frontlines to the boardroom, across a variety of industries, and around the globe from Boston to Bangkok. In working with hundreds of teams, including 26 Global Fortune 500 companies (and counting), she has developed a unique perspective on the challenges that teams face – and how to solve them.

Liane’s clients include Amazon, Walmart, TD Bank, RBC, Bayer, KPMG, Aviva, Maple Leaf Foods, and SONY Interactive Entertainment. Liane has experience and expertise across a wide range of industries, but with each client, she customizes her keynotes so that her audience feels like she “gets” them and has been working within the organization for years.

The Good Fight

 In the modern workplace, conflict has become a “dirty word.” After all, conflict is antithetical to teamwork, employee engagement, and a positive company culture. Or, is it?

The truth is that our teams and organizations require conflict to get things done. But, as humans, we avoid conflict and build up conflict debt by deferring and dodging the difficult decisions. Our organizations are paying the price – becoming less productive, less innovative and less competitive. Individuals are paying too – suffering from overwhelming workloads, endless drama, and sleepless nights.

In The Good Fight, Liane Davey shows you how to create the productive conflict your organization needs to get along and get stuff done. Drawing on her 20-year career as an advisor to the C-Suite, Davey shares real-world examples and practical tools you and your team can use to handle even the most contentious conflicts as allies – instead of adversaries. Filled with strategies you’ll use again and again, The Good Fight is an essential field-guide for leaders at all levels.

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Let us know your thoughts on this week's guest blog in the comments.

The Five Generations of Leaders


By 2020 there will be five generations of leaders in the workplace.

The oldest generation in the workplace, the Traditionalists, were born between 1900 and 1945. They were told by their parents that they were to be seen and not heard. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II and truly understand what it means to persevere during tough times. Traditionalists consider work a privilege, which may lead to why they’re not afraid of long hours and expect the same of others.

The youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Z, was born after 1997. They are extremely technologically advanced, absorbing tons of new information daily. Generation Z does not rely on their parents as much as previous generations as technology has made it possible for them to start working at an earlier age than their parents.

The drastic differences among these generations can create a competitive advantage if we take the time to transform how we connect, lead, develop and manage.

“Innovation comes ultimately from a diversity of perspectives. So when you combine ideas from different industries or different cultures, that’s when you have the best sense of developing groundbreaking ideas.” - Frans Johansson


The Medici Effect

In 2004 Frans Johansson published The Medici Effect, an exploration of why robust innovation happens at the “intersection” where ideas from diverse cultures, disciplines, and industries collide. He highlights that “all new ideas are a combination of existing ideas.”

The intersection of generations in the workplace is exactly where opportunity resides. However, there are some generational assumptions to be avoided and some uncomfortable truths to confront.

Generational Assumptions

  1. Traditionalists are technologically incapable.
  2. Boomers are micro-managers.
  3. Gen X’ers are slackers.
  4. Millennials need constant praise and think everyone deserves a trophy.
  5. Gen Z’ers rather spend time on their phone than experience real life.

Uncomfortable Truths

  1. Everyone is sick of generational assumptions.
  2. Employees from all generations aren’t sure they understand their company’s strategy.
  3. All generations want to improve the customer experience.
  4. All generations understand the need to make technological advancements, but their organizations are slow to implement new technology.
  5. Having multiple generations in the workplace is an asset, not a liability.

So how do you connect, lead, develop and manage five generations? After assuring that they all understand your strategy, a good place to start would be with a defined purpose and common objective. Once the goal is established, focus on what each individual does well and don’t make assumptions about which generations will contribute what to the goal. Look for individuals from different generations who have common interests and pair them together to work towards a solution. Allow them to find the intersection of their ideas.


Where have you experienced the intersection of ideas between multiple generations that created, or will create, a decidedly more impactful outcome for your project or company?

How will you engage the views of multiple generations to eliminate blind spots in your approach and/or decisions?

Be authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your answers to today’s Thoughtstarters in the comments.

Start. Stop. Continue.

Designing a strategic plan simply for the sake of the exercise is a waste of time. Along with the plan, action is required. Defining a plan and then failing to act doesn’t equal results.  Understanding and executing around a set of required actions, used as measures of success within your company, may be far more productive.

What Does Action Planning Look Like?

If you or your company are looking for an effective way to advance initiatives, consider three simple words...Start. Stop. Continue. Why wouldn’t you start doing things that will improve your performance or business, stop doing things that are detrimental or unproductive, and continue best practices that are already contributing to success?

If you want to improve a team, department, or your entire business it’s imperative to take the time to reflect on what’s going well, what isn’t going well, and what could be improved. Start, Stop, Continue allows your team to create an action plan for improvement. Here’s how it works...


Hang three large posters on the wall. The posters will need to be labeled:

  • Start
  • Stop
  • Continue

Provide everyone on your team a pad of sticky notes. Tell them they are to keep their sticky notes private; they’ll have the opportunity to share their ideas with the group later. Provide the group 10-15 minutes and allow them to list actions they believe the group should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing, a separate note for each action.

When time is up allow participants to place their sticky notes on the corresponding posters. Then, encourage the group to work together to group the sticky notes by related ideas.

Next, facilitate a discussion to confirm that everyone agrees that the actions have been placed into the correct categories.

Lastly, provide everyone a marker and allow them to put a tally next to what they believe to be the top 2-3 actions to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. The actions with the most tallies are your priorities.

When you complete the exercise, you will have an action plan that was determined and directed by the team. You’ve used a simple process that allows the individuals participating to assess themselves and the team while defining next directed steps that are immediately actionable at all three levels.

The next time, you feel a bit frustrated by strategy, consider three simple questions to get your thinking and action moving in a positive direction.

  1. What do we need to start doing?
  2. What do we need to stop doing?
  3. What do we need to continue doing to advance performance/results?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. What did you discover by utilizing this exercise? Let me know in the comments.

Remember, There Are People at the Other End of Your Decision

Your decisions matter and the impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you.

Click on the following link to understand in 15 seconds exactly what I mean.

The Impact of Your Decisions

Why This Matters

Someone I respect once said, “Brent, always remember at the other end of your decision there’s a human being. Every single time a decision is made, SOMEONE is impacted.”

His inference was clear, concise and directed and here’s my interpretation:
Don’t let your decisions get so far beyond the people you lead that you forget about the impact to the people you lead.

This is one of those “nuggets of wisdom” that you want to keep top of mind. It’s so powerful that it should cause us to constantly evaluate our decisions and not just from the view of our own lens.

Consider the Context

A decision made in isolation is a decision destined to create some dynamic of disruption and I don’t mean a positive disruption.

Every decision has context. Each decision has reach. Decisions are connected to impacts and outcomes. When decisions are made in isolation, it’s often because we fail to consider the context, reach or impact on others.

This is why, on so many occasions, leaders are left wondering how one decision could have such a devastating impact on so many people.

The answer… a failure to consider the context.

The Benefit of Context

We’re all guilty of failing to consider context at some point or in some situation or around a specific decision.

Typically, 90% of my day is invested in listening to leaders and asking the questions that reveal context. The benefit of context is the ability to assess our decisions more completely before we make them and yet, purposefully understanding context is a work in progress.

Before there was experience, there was inexperience. Before there was understanding, there was a lack of understanding. Before there was wisdom, there was less insight. Before there was listening, there was talking. Before there was attention, there was distraction. Before there was awareness, there was a lack of awareness. This is the progression of my growth related to context. Can you relate?

Early in my career as an advisor I was introduced to a really bright business owner. As a person eager to make his mark, Jared had his company on the grow and had decided that it was time to take his company to the next level. He asked for my guidance and input on the addition of sales staff. The conversation was fast-paced and driven. Jared was intent on building the base of his business by building a sales team. What Jared needed was the consideration and questions that would lead him to context. What Jared got was the support of his idea because I believed he was on the right track and our conversation revealed that he had thought it through well. With the exception of one critical question related to how he was structuring the two divisions of his company.

After a lot of time and work had been invested on both our parts, I asked Jared a question about how he planned to handle the separation of the divisions. His comment was telling. “Why didn’t you ask me that question before now? That question would have been really useful before we got to this point.”

Lesson learned - Always work to consider the context!

The impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you. As an advisor to leaders of businesses, experience has shown me that when context is considered deliberately, the development of people and results achieved are both exponentially impacted in a positive way. This awareness leads me to this question. “How is your leadership expanding the context and understanding of the leaders you’re developing?”


As you go through your week, invest the time to consider your awareness around the context of your decisions. Consider the impact of your decisions so that they are fully understood. Ask yourself this question:

What’s the impact that extends beyond you?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Family Business and The Core Belief in Cash

There’s a saying that goes something like this… “Show me a person’s checkbook and calendar and I will show you what that person values.” Today, we’d need to adjust that saying for the era of electronic banking. Or… we would simply need to recognize the simplest of truths. How you spend your money and time reflect what you value most.

The value systems in a family business run deep. So deeply that they’re often referred to as core beliefs and they serve as the foundation of decisions and choices both individually and organizationally among owners and leaders.

The Commonality of Core Beliefs

Among the core beliefs that make-up the value system within a family business, there is one in particular that stands out for me as being essential to long-term success. Like many sayings offering timeless wisdom this core belief is simple, can be applied by everyone and is mastered by a few. This is the core value of dry powder and debt.

Dry Powder and Debt

In business, the term dry powder refers to cash and is the fuel for growth. Debt is a ratio to be managed correctly in relationship to that cash. Translated as a core belief of family business, the premise is simple. Don’t let a bank dictate your decisions. Manage your cash (dry powder) so that you can fund your future growth and opportunity. The leadership, relationship and ratio between the two is about one simple concept...CHOICE.

Owner’s Choice

When faced with the decision, the owners of family business prefer to control what they can control. This is what we refer to as the owner’s choice. This is the specific reason that keeping cash reserves high and debt low in relationship is a core belief of so many owners of family businesses. They recognize the long view requirement of smart financial decisions and their impact on advancing or restricting the opportunity for growth within their business.

Imagine the opportunity to grow the business exponentially based on a strategic choice. Now imagine the frustration of a business owner that is so leveraged with debt that they’re unable to pursue the very opportunity that would have accelerated their business to the next level. Conversely, imagine the options for the owner who has lived by the core belief of maintaining high levels of dry powder and low levels of debt.

In a word, it’s all about CHOICE.

The Value of Simplicity

On a personal level, I’m grateful that my parents instilled the simple, yet profound, core belief of financial competence in my life at a very early age. There are three things that my parents said over and over again to bring practicality to financial knowledge. These are the same things they tell their grandchildren today to instill a core belief across generations. The great part about something that’s simple is that it often times requires no more explanation. Such is the case with the timeless and simple wisdom of a school teacher/administrator and business owner.

  1. Spend less than you make
  2. Don’t live beyond your means
  3. Save and invest something from every paycheck and you’ll be the one signing the paychecks

Thoughtstarter: Control What You Can Control

If you’re interested in increasing your financial knowledge let me encourage you to check out a couple of resources that you may find useful, starting with a guy by the name of Dave Ramsey.

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, you may want to invest the time to learn about him. 30 years ago, Ramsey filed for bankruptcy. Today, he’s considered “America’s trusted voice on money.”  He’s the owner of Ramsey Solutions, the voice of The Dave Ramsey Show, a New York Times Best Selling Author… and he has an estimated net worth of about $55 million.

One of my favorite quotes from Dave, of which there are many, is “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” Think about that as it relates to your core beliefs, choice and the value of simplicity.

Two books that are required reading for people I care about and who care about being able to make their own financial choices and define their financial future are:

  1. The Millionaire Next Door
  2. Everyday Millionaires

Here’s to the core beliefs of family business that are the foundations of decision and choice.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

P.S. I want to hear your thoughts - please share them in the comments.

The Void - Offboarding

We exist in an era in which the leaders of high-performing family businesses have become highly purposeful with the onboarding and integration plans for people that are joining their company. Their focus stems from the intent and desire to engage and connect people with the culture of the company and decrease the chances of someone becoming disengaged or choosing a job-hopping departure.

Uniquely, these same leaders seem to have forgotten about the other end of the equation and that has resulted in large numbers of people, most of them over the age of 60, choosing to keep quiet about any and all plans to announce that their career focus is changing or coming to an end.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost per hire is almost $4,000. Statistics on offboarding are far more difficult to identify. Experience has shown me that if it’s not being measured, it’s likely not getting done.

The Void

The leaders of privately-held and family-owned businesses must plan for, and deal with, the end of career process (offboarding) as seriously as they do the beginning (onboarding) otherwise, they will face a potentially catastrophic outcome that I refer to as The Void.

The Void  is the empty space created by leaders of companies who fail to establish a process for transferring the large amount of internal knowledge possessed by key people to the next generation of leadership.

Left undefined, this void creates a massive disruption to the business of the business.

Conversely, when clearly thought through, offboarding should be viewed as the catalyst for performance, knowledge and generational continuity within the high-performing environment.

A Key Step

Offboarding should be viewed as a key transition in the life-cycle of individuals who have contributed significant knowledge and value to the company.

Within family businesses, closing the gap on The Void begins by looking at the situation through a different lens. Instead of focusing on this career phase as a conclusion with limited conversation, it should be seen as a phase of definition with expanding dialogue and knowledge share between generations.


  1. How are you consciously expanding the conversation and knowledge share between the generations?
  2. How are you defining and practically capturing internal knowledge from key people while they’re still a part of your company?
  3. Define knowledge sets that are held primarily with one person in your company. Begin purposefully expanding the circle of people who have awareness, understanding and knowledge on those topics.

How are you avoiding The Void? Let me know in the comments.


Think about friends who are an important part of your life. These aren’t acquaintances. Beyond family, you favor and care about these people. They are the people who are attached to your life and that you would call at 3 a.m. if you had an emergency or needed something. More importantly, they would answer that call, stop what they were doing and be there for you. Why? Because that’s what true friends do for each other.

Some friendships have been built over the course of a lifetime. You grew up in the same community or neighborhood and continue to live there today. Others began at a certain point in our lives and continue forward beyond the affiliations, experiences, children or life events that brought us together. Other friendships come into our lives for a moment or purpose. These friendships exist for a period of time and regardless of how brief or how long, we are better off for having had them in our lives.

An Introduction

I’d like to introduce you to Carlton. Carlton was a short, charismatic Italian originally hailing from Rhode Island. He lived and owned a company in California when we met. He was fast talking, quick witted and had bold vision. In my eyes Carlton was fearless. He had a gift for challenging people in a way that was both encouraging and inspiring. He caused people to discover abilities they never knew they had or advance skills he felt were being underutilized.

As I began working with him - which was a whole series of circumstances in its own right - he quickly became the brother I never had and my mentor as well. All of this in a period of three years. Who I am and what I do today wouldn’t exist without his friendship and mentorship.

Worth, Value and Challenge

Carlton was such an important figure in my life because he initiated something in me that I had chosen not to initiate myself. He identified potential that I had only thought about and compelled me to act towards utilizing that talent. He drew it out of me through friendship, mentoring and tough brotherly love. The deepest of friendships provide worth and value between people. This friendship and mentorship was all of that and more. Carlton was never shy about telling me what I needed to hear ahead of what I wanted to hear.

I needed to evolve my thinking and transition my mindset to one of abundance and thriving versus limitations and reluctance. Carlton taught me to constantly assess where I am and what I’m doing in relationship to where I am and what I’m capable of doing. He would frequently remind me that you can’t be the victim of your own choice.

The Importance of Mentors

In my mind, mentors are models of excellence in some shape or form. They aren’t however models of perfection. These giants of influence are people who have an ability to see more in us than we see in ourselves at times. They are the people who require us to define ourselves so others don’t. When they see potential, they are relentless in their pursuit to get it released, utilized and maximized.

The importance of mentors, like true friendships, is that they both hold a common bond of worth, value, trust and authenticity. They don’t judge and yet they aren’t afraid to challenge. They are supportive and clear on the difference between talking with you as a part of your development rather than about you as a part of their progression. Mentors, like friends, are the people you can call at 3 a.m. and they will answer the call.

A Final Note

Nearly 16 years ago, my friend and mentor passed away suddenly. Anytime I write about Carlton, I do so with his memory and mentorship in mind. In our work together we traveled extensively. As such, Carlton felt the need to assign nicknames as a way to generate a laugh and keep a smile. His was Mother Goose and mine was Roving Hen. Where that came from I still have no idea. To this day, the memory of him calling me and saying, “Roving Hen, Mother Goose here… how’s everything today?” still brings a smile to my face and an appreciation for all that he was and all that he did for me through his friendship and mentorship.

Thank you, Carlton. Like many things I write, this is my tribute to you.


  • Who is a giant of influence and mentor in your life?
  • What are three things you have learned from them?
  • How are you using what you learned from them to mentor someone else?
  • Last week I encouraged you to let this person know how much you appreciate them. Did you?

Until next week,

P.S. I'd love to hear about your mentor and the guidance they provided you. Leave me a note in the comments.

A Storming is Brewing and Its Name is Conflict

On the Arizona horizon, on any given summer day, you can see when a storm is brewing. Monsoon season brings with it all of the volatility that Mother Nature has to offer in the form of an intense dust storm, affectionately called a haboob, microburst, and torrential rain.

Monsoon storms and haboobs are unique in the sense that they can seemingly come out of nowhere and with an instantaneous furor. I’m not a meteorologist so I can’t tell you which one comes first or which one causes the other in weather sequencing. What I can tell you in layman’s terms is that when a monsoon storm is brewing, it seems to take shape in one of two forms.

The first will seemingly come out of nowhere. In one minute the sky is blue and clear. In the next minute, almost instantaneously, the sky and landscape are covered with dust for as far as the eye can see. Yes... you can taste the dust as well. The second will build and build throughout the afternoon. The clouds getting bigger and higher by the minute and hour. It’s likely that these clouds built over the mountainous regions of Arizona and show their intensity as they roll furiously into the Valley of the Sun. The monsoon lightning across the skyline of Arizona is a painter’s paradise.

Storm Warning

Here’s an alert you won’t likely get coming across your cell phone or smart device.

A storm warning has been issued for your company. The storm, named Conflict, is on a path that targets all growing organizations where humans work. Conflict is a serious storm and is different than previous storms such as a small argument, minor disagreement or brief upset. Conflict expects to hit landfall in companies where protracted issues are common among humans due to a lack of awareness, interaction, understanding and consistent communication.

Conflict’s path of destruction is well documented and detailed in the loss of satisfaction, interaction, authenticity, transparency and engagement on the part of humans in their companies. Numerous leadership careers and legacies have already been cut short, rendered ineffective or completely derailed at the hands of Conflict. It’s anticipated that companies struck by Conflict will suffer the significant and prolonged loss of direction, purpose and performance.
It’s anticipated that Conflict will cause the complete departure of humans in some companies as they focus on heading for areas generally not impacted by the storm.

Preparation Mode

Forward looking leaders with a high degree of awareness have been in preparation mode. They have thought about what they need to do and have established a plan should Conflict arrive at their door. They know full well what Conflict could look like and have a perspective on the devastation and havoc it could bring.

The leaders of these companies are prepared to act and are actually lining up to welcome humans from Conflict torn companies and offering them the opportunity for a new start and a better way of life. They have recognized that the best way to both survive and thrive through a storm of this nature is to offer exceptional communication and consistent interaction with humans. They view these relationships as critical to advancing their business beyond the storm and achieving recovery and resolution quicker, sooner and faster when the outer bands of the storm threaten them.

A storm is brewing and it’s headed for your company unless your leadership awareness and communication consistency cause it to take a sharp left turn towards to the easier path of someone else’s company.


  1. Are you watching the storm of conflict seemingly come out of nowhere? What are the contributing factors and how can you deal with them?
  2. Are you seeing the clouds of conflict build and build until they roll in furiously? What are the contributing factors and what’s your plan to deal with them?
  3. Define how you expect your humans to deal with Conflict.

Your business meteorologist,

P.S. What do you think is the largest cause of Conflict in companies, particularly family business? Let me know in the comments.

Out of Your Control

I like to control what I can and don’t much care for the things that are beyond my control - particularly if I’d prefer that they were.

Realistically, doesn’t everyone want to control the course of events in their life?

When we are in control we feel energized and empowered. When things get beyond our control we may feel frustrated, confused or even overwhelmed.

Growing up as the son of a science teacher, I would often hear my dad talk about the controlled environment that was part of an experiment. As a part of the experiment, he would reference the control sample. The common reference point to both was rooted in stability. The ability to create an environment of equilibrium. “A fancy word for balance,” he would say. “The relationship between the internal factors and external factors and their impact on something.” Note: This exact bit of fatherly science teacher wisdom on equilibrium helped me win a blue ribbon in the 7th-grade science fair.

In business today, we face a constant battle of equilibrium. The relationship of balance between internal factors impacting our business and the external factors. That which we can control and that which may be beyond our control. Forces working collaboratively to our benefit and at times working in direct opposition to our detriment. This is the scientific state of business that demands our agility to achieve stability.

This all gets very real when we understand that at any given moment there are external forces that are more than willing to challenge our business balance or, worse yet, our very business existence.

The belief that external factors or forces will never impact you or your business is unrealistic. Just remember that your competitors would have no problem taking your business if you or your company ceased to exist, or became irrelevant, in the mind of the customer or client.

Beyond Your Control - What Would You Do? #Thoughtstarter

You're driving a car at 70 mph on a crowded freeway with cars in front of you, behind you and to each side. You’re listening to music and doing your own version of carpool karaoke. Suddenly, a large piece of cement debris falls from the overpass and lands on the freeway just a couple of cars in front of you. What would you do?

Prior to leaving for work, you’re catching-up and reading the latest Google Alerts on several of your customers. While reading, you discover that your largest customer had a major fire at their only manufacturing facility and the owners have decided to cease operations and shut down the business. What would you do?

You arrive at work only to discover that the EPA has shut the doors to your energy plant for unsafe operating practices. There has been no communication to the employee team and you are all arriving at work only to find that this isn’t a business as usual day. What would you do?

As the famous philosopher, Mike Tyson says, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” A good friend and colleague of mine put it another way. He says, “Watch out for the sucker punch. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to come but when.”

The sucker punch is the unexpected blow. The punch that you didn’t plan for. In that moment; when we confront things that are out of our control because we will, we all have a choice. What will you do?

Until Next Week,


P.S. I'd love to hear what would you would do in the scenarios above. Let me know in the comments.