white typewriter keys

The Mindful Leader | Part 6

Daniel Montgomery Reality

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality Are you a good storyteller? Whether it’s a Hollywood blockbuster or a children’s book, nothing has the power to arrest our attention like a well-told story. Successful leaders know this better than anyone: Want to capture an investor’s imagination? Tell a story. Need to motivate your employees to take action? Tell a story. Eager to sell your new product? Tell a story. PowerPoints and position papers don’t move people; stories do. Why? Because human beings are storied creatures. Like it or not, we’re all surrounded by narrative. What’s Your Story? The stories we tell ourselves can’t help but influence the stories we tell others. You can use a lot of words to describe me: Christian, husband, father, leader, Kentuckian. Each label draws out a different aspect of my personal story, even as it places me within a larger narrative: God’s story, my family, …

Mindful Leader Walking Architecture

The Mindful Leader | Part 5

Daniel Montgomery self awareness

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality How close are you with your employees? Do you feel very connected? I once saw an episode of the Office where Michael Scott spent the entire episode trying to work his way into the “loop.” In scene after scene, he’d awkwardly insert himself into conversations and ask cringe-inducing questions like, “What’s the scuttlebutt?” Michael Scott is a farce, for sure. Still, the image of lonely manager floating around the office and trying to force a connection with his employees sends shivers down my spine. Leaders struggle to connect with their people. Half of the CEOs out there wrestle mightily with loneliness. When asked, 61% of them say it negatively impacts their job performance. What contributes to leader loneliness? Really, what doesn’t? The corner office The exalted title The pay disparity The authority barrier The generational gap Leadership is an inherently lonely enterprise. The …

neon sign you are here

The Mindful Leader | Part 3

Daniel Montgomery self awareness

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality Are your employees disengaged? Would you notice if they were? According to Gallup, only a third of Americans are engaged at work. The rest are either passively skating by (50%) or actively trying to bring down the company from the inside (17%). Every year, disengaged employees cost American business billions of dollars. In combatting this epidemic, smart leaders have discovered that workers—especially millennials—need more than a parking spot and a paycheck to engage with their work. What is that more? Some call it passion. Others call it purpose. I call it place. Mapping Our Place as Leaders In simple terms, place is where you find yourself at any given point in your story. Yes, that includes space (where you are) and time (when you are). More than that, place describes the social, emotional, and cultural environments in which you live and work. For …

clocks on a wall

The Mindful Leader | Part 2

Daniel Montgomery Reality, self awareness

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality Have you ever had a morning like this one? It’s 9 AM. For the past hour, you’ve tried (and failed) to start in on your to-do list. For some reason, you can’t stop stressing about that upcoming meeting with senior leadership. So, you distract yourself with a little email. 30 minutes later, you decide to get back in the saddle and make a few phone calls. As soon as you pick up the phone, you remember the call you blew yesterday. Afraid to repeat that ugly performance, you fire up Facebook instead. You’re just going to check in and make sure you didn’t miss anything important, of course. Another half hour goes by. The phone rings. There’s an emergency in production. Congratulations! You just lost the rest of your day to crisis management. So much for that to-do list. Time is on my …

Silhouette mind clouds

The Mindful Leader | Part 1

Daniel Montgomery Reality, self awareness

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’ve been heads down for hours working on a critical project. You finally come up for air, only to realize it’s 6 PM and you’re not even halfway done. Your back is in knots from an entire day spent hunched over a laptop. You’ve not seen any of your team members since the morning huddle, much less interacted with anyone outside the digital wasteland that is social media. You’re tired and dejected. You’ve been busy for hours, but you have no clear sense why. You wonder whether anything you’ve accomplished—this week, this month, this year—is of any real and lasting value. Oh, and you just realized you promised to pick up the kids from soccer at 5:30… Have you been here? I know I have. For business leaders, it seems like we’re always chasing after that mythical sweet …

How to Fix Corporate America’s Leadership Crisis

Daniel Montgomery Culture

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality On November 8, 2017, the Golden State Warriors had a problem.  After suffering a nasty thigh contusion a few days before, their superstar, Kevin Durant, was forced to sit out that night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  For plenty of teams, this would be a disaster. But not for Golden State.  Omri Casspi, JaVale McGee, Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney, Nick Young—names you wouldn’t recognize unless you were a hard-core Warriors fan—jumped in to score an unheard-of 57 points from the bench and propel the Warriors to a decisive victory. What does that have to do my business?  In a survey conducted by DDI, 84% of the respondents expected to fall short of their leadership needs within 5 years. And, while they recognized the need for leadership development, only 5% had implemented a holistic plan for making that happen. Even worse, 25% had a …

Why You Need to Put Culture Before Strategy

Daniel Montgomery Culture

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This quote has been floating around the business world for a while. It’s often credited to Peter Drucker, but the jury’s still out on who really said it first.  Mark Fields—former president and CEO of Ford—summed it up nicely: “You can have the best plan in the world, and if the culture isn’t going to let it happen, it’s going to die on the vine.”  What Drucker/Fields/Whoever is saying is spot-on. You can go ahead and pay a consultant big money to draft the most incredible strategic plan anyone has ever seen. But, if you don’t have the culture to support it, that plan will be dead on arrival. Have We Heard Something Like That Before? To my ears, this sounds like a slight variation on a theme we find in Jesus’ ministry. Once, Jesus ripped into a …

Where Are You Right Now? 7 Signs of the Unaware Leader

Daniel Montgomery Reality

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality As I shared last time, self-awareness is the key to high performance. Tasha Eurich—an organizational psychologist and New York Times best-selling author—has a lot to say about that in her book, Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as we Think. Referring to self-awareness as the “meta-skill of the 21st century,” Eurich writes: “[T]he qualities most critical for success in today’s world—things like emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, persuasion, communication, and collaboration—all stem from self-awareness. To put it another way, if we’re not self-aware, it’s almost impossible to master the skills that make us stronger team players, superior leaders, and better relationship builders—at work and beyond.” For me, Eurich’s most startling research finding was just how oblivious we are to our obliviousness. 95% of people think they’re self-aware, yet only 10-15% actually are. “For most people, it’s easier to choose self-delusion,” she says, “over the …

leadership development

The One Thing Leaders Miss

Daniel Montgomery Reality

DANIEL MONTGOMERY Founder & CEO Leadership Reality Have you ever watched a singer go down in flames on American Idol? How does that happen? How do these poor people make it all the way to the TV screen entirely unaware of their glaring lack of vocal talent? Did no one ever tell them? I’ve had a similar feeling as I’ve consulted with companies.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about professional competence. The people I’ve met and worked with are some of the most brilliant operators you’ll ever meet. Unlike those contestants on Idol, they consistently demonstrate why they belong in the spotlight. But, just like those early washouts, these leaders walk out onto that stage with a paper-thin sense of who they are and why that matters to the audience before them. For all their operational brilliance, they’re completely unaware. Typical Examples In working with businesses, I’ve met …