Category Archives: Book Review

Guest Post by Mark Miller – The Big Picture: Leaders Ensure Alignment


Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Miller. Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do (2007). More recently, he released Chess Not Checkers (2015), and Leaders Made Here (2017). His latest is Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (February 2018). Today, over 1 million copies of Mark’s books are in print in more than two dozen languages.


What’s the hardest thing a leader has to do? Honestly, I’m not sure.

For me, it varies with the circumstances of the day. However, if I pull up and stop fighting fires and escape the entanglements of growing bureaucracy, I think I might vote for Ensuring Alignment.

Having seen our organization grow from less than two dozen staff to almost 2,000, I can say the task of keeping everyone aligned is mind-boggling. However, regardless of the difficulty factor, I believe Ensuring Alignment is one of the leader’s highest priorities – and one with incalculable returns.

For these reasons, I was not surprised when we began sorting through all we learned from our Top Talent research project about their expectations for their leaders, and landed on this idea of Ensuring Alignment as a leadership best practice. No organization drifts toward a big vision – you drift out to sea or over a waterfall, but you don’t drift to greatness.

Here’s an excerpt from the Talent Magnet Field Guide on this topic…

“When organizations work together, they set themselves apart. Clearly, alignment accelerates impact. Leaders who want to position their organizations to accomplish a Bigger Vision must Ensure Alignment; only then can they harness the collective energy of those they lead. Without alignment, energy, productivity, and impact will suffer.

Picture a tug of war. If leaders can get everyone in the organization on the same side of the rope pulling together toward the vision, their competition is in trouble.  When everyone is in sync, not only is the existing workforce energized, but potential talent will be drawn to the team.

Alignment permeates every aspect of a high-performance culture. Leaders know they must model the way and continually work to train team members to embrace the vision, mission, values, systems, and strategy if they hope to execute at a high level. If they succeed, everyone wins. Additionally, they position themselves to be an employer of choice for Top Talent.”

As a leader, you must choose where to invest your time. You can thrash away neck deep in the weeds of busyness or you can make a strategic decision to build an aligned culture. Choose to Ensure Alignment and you will be a step closer to becoming a place so attractive, Top Talent will be standing in line to work for your organization.


About Mark Miller

Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, Mark has steadily increased his value at Chick-fil-A and has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction.

Today, he serves as the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $9 billion. The company now has more than 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

When not working to sell more chicken, Mark is actively encouraging and equipping leaders around the world. He has taught at numerous international organizations over the years on topics including leadership, creativity, team building, and more.


Governance: From Competition to ABC (Awareness-based Collective Action)


Today’s post is written by Otto Scharmer. His new book, “The Essentials of Theory U” (March, 2018), is an inspiring pocket guide that focuses on three essential components: the core principles, the key movements that make the process of Theory U, and the practical applications that transform our economy from ego to eco.

Dr. Scharmer offers an excerpt from his book:

Historically, the 1.0 mechanism was hierarchy and centralization; the 2.0 mechanism came with the rise of markets and competition; and the 3.0 mechanism took the form of negotiation among organized stakeholder groups.

The most important and least understood institutional innovation today concerns the creation of a 4.0 coordination mechanism that is based on making the system sense and see itself: awareness- based collective action (ABC)—that is, acting from seeing the whole. Today we see the first examples of this mechanism in governance being adopted at the local level. In many cities and local communities, stakeholders are collaborating to rebuild the environmental, social, political, and cultural commons. But what is missing is an understanding of how this collaboration across boundaries can be aggregated and extended to larger systems— regions, countries, and continents.

4.0 Lab

In the summer of 2017 I visited the family farm near Hamburg where I grew up. (It is, by the way, no longer just a family farm, as we turned the ownership over to a foundation committed to bridging the three divides.) The purpose of my visit was to attend a meeting of founders and CEOs of green brands in Europe and Asia. Many of the major green pioneers and innovators sat in the meeting circle. It was an eye-opening conversation that taught me many things about the evolution of the food sector.

Looking into that circle, it was also clear to me that what made those leaders (and their companies) so successful in the 3.0 world will not help them succeed in the emerging 4.0 environment. And all of them knew that.

Seeing that, I explored an idea with the group. I proposed setting up a global innovation lab that would bring together pioneers and leading innovators from all four of the systems I just described—food, finance, health, and learning—to focus on co- creating a cross-sector 4.0 innovation lab.

In broad outline, the “4.0 Lab” would begin with regional labs in one or multiple geographies. Each regional lab would start with an agenda-setting workshop in which the key innovators and institutional partners would connect, get to know each other, and co-initiate the agenda and set the regional focus of each lab. The Presencing Institute would support these labs with methods and tools, as well as with our online-to-offine u.lab platform, and share the results via the joint multimedia platform on the new economy that we jointly curate with HuffPost.

Even though this idea came up only toward the end of the meeting, three or four of the founders in the circle instantly said “I’m in”—even without knowing exactly what they are in for. Nor of course do I. But I do believe that these kinds of cross-sectoral initiatives are needed now more than ever—in many places, regions, and geographies—because no one can create 4.0 platforms and eco-systems alone.


More about Otto Scharmer
Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is the author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. His latest book, The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applicationsilluminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U.


In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course for leading profound change that has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 100,000 users from 185 countries. With his colleagues, he has delivered award-winning leadership development programs for corporate clients and co-facilitated innovation labs on reinventing education, health, business, government, and well-being.

Guest Post – A Recipe for Employee Engagement


Today’s post is from Art Barter, in conjunction with the newly released book “Servant Leadership in Action” by Ken Blanchard. Art is one of a handful of people who contributed to this book, including Marshall Goldsmith, Dave Ramsey, mark Miller, Cheryl Bacheleder, and Simon Sinek. Art brings to us a perspective of servant leadership in reagrds towards employee engagement.


The Servant Leadership Institute helps leaders around the country change their leadership beliefs from the control model to the service model. Leaders we help all have a common desire: to engage their employees at the highest level possible. Most realize that how they are leading today needs to change.


We have all been in meetings where those in attendance have lost interest in what the leader is saying. It took me some time to understand when people are looking down at their papers, playing with their pens and doing everything to avoid eye contact, it was my own behaviors that drove their response. Why is it so hard to connect with those whom we spend most of the day?  As leaders, how do we develop a culture where people are encouraged to participate and give feedback to their leader — and the leader cares about them enough to actually listen to understand? Here are some of my thoughts and experiences on how we can engage employees today.


Do you inspire your employees?


People don’t feel inspired by their leaders. Leaders today do not live the company values through their behaviors. Leadership behavior, in the most part, has been driven by the command and control leadership model. People want their leaders to care about them, not just say they care. Leaders inspire others through their behavior more than anything they might say.  Part of that behavior is painting an inspirational picture for employees — one that shows them how their work impacts the world. Be a storyteller, reminding employees all the things they have accomplished.


Do you invest time in your employees?


People don’t feel their leaders really invest in them. Leaders today don’t feel they need to meet people where they are. Most leaders don’t know what this means. I love to ask leaders if they invest their time in their employees. Most will respond with that worn out saying, “my door is always open.” I ask them to tear the door off its hinges and show me their calendar. When I see employees scheduled in a leader’s calendar on a regular basis, I know the leader really cares.  We all should schedule regular one-to-one meetings with those who report directly to us.


Do you trust your employees?


People don’t feel leaders trust them. Trust is the basic item needed in any relationship. If leaders don’t extend trust, how can they expect trust in return? There is both a social and economic driver in trust. Leaders need to understand both. In our manufacturing company, we measure trust every six months through a trust index. Leaders can’t build trust in their organizations until they trust themselves and trust the other leaders in the company. Leaders don’t believe the trust issue is with them — which couldn’t be further from the truth.


Do you model the company values, mission and purpose?


People notice when leaders’ behaviors do not support their words. “Walk the Talk” is another worn-out this phrase. We need to change it to “Behave the Talk.” Leaders cannot inspire and equip others through their talk, only through their behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior first before they can expect a change in their organizations and people. In todays’ world, people are looking to follow a leader who is serious about values and a higher purpose for the organization. They will follow leaders who behave their values, purpose and mission. Do people in your organization see you behave in accordance with all three of these?



In the end, our role as leaders is to inspire and equip those we influence. People are disengaged today due to their leaders’ behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior before they can set expectations for people in their organizations to change. It took me almost 30 years to realize this. Our organizations started to grow and perform after I changed my own behaviors and invested time in our people. Serving them has been the most rewarding journey of my leadership career. Start your journey today; you won’t regret it.

More about Art Barter

Art Barter ( is the owner and CEO of Datron World Communications and the founder and CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute. Art began his career working for the Walt Disney Company. He then spent more than twenty-five years with several manufacturing companies before joining Datron in 1997. Art Barter has a chapter in the new book Servant Leadership in Action (Berrett-Koehler, March 6, 2018). Coedited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell, the book is a collection of original essays contributed by 44 servant leadership experts and practitioners.

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