Category Archives: 2021

Wait A Minute!

Category : 2021

Depending on which research, opinion, tweet, or meme you favor, a lot of life is invested in waiting. The acceleration provided by technology intensifies the frustration we feel during moments when we can do nothing but . . . wait.

During 2020, a large amount of wait time was invested in—

  • Waiting for a download
  • Waiting for meal delivery
  • Waiting for someone to open a Zoom or Teams meeting
  • Waiting for a quarantine period to end

After winter forced a week of disaster and dismay into our lives, the wait list now includes—

  • Waiting for the end of a power outage
  • Waiting for a pipe to thaw
  • Waiting for a pipe to burst
  • Waiting for a plumber

Teaching the value of waiting is much preferred to learning the value of waiting.

The internet brims with platonic blather about the value and importance of waiting. But it is worth noting that the author of the quotation, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for,” is unknown. That probably means no thinking person in touch with reality has ever made that statement anytime or anywhere. For most people, the more honest sentiment is, “Anything worth having is worth screaming for, demanding, fighting for, and whining about until you get it—now.”

When Mozart introduced his The Abduction from the Seraglio opera in 1782, Emperor Joseph II allegedly told the brilliant composer the piece was beautiful but contained, “Too many notes.” Mozart responded, “Just as many as necessary, Your Majesty.” Therein lies Mozart’s genius—knowing how many notes were necessary and when a note became superfluous.

While COVID’s economic and social tsunami changed the notes for many executives, it didn’t alter the tendency for many leaders to continue filling every space in life with as many notes as possible. It is tempting to smother the uncertainty of change with the clamor of activity.

Whether it arrives by circumstance, choice, design, or default, waiting is like a rest in a musical composition. While filling one measure, one beat, or only a moment, a rest in a piece of music indicates an absence of sound. A rest isn’t an interval when nothing is happening, but rather a deliberate moment when space is leveraged to give greater meaning or emphasis to what just happened or to what is to come.

Professionally, a brief or protracted period of waiting invites a leader to take a breath, reconsider priorities, reimagine a strategy, or jettison something that waiting reveals is no longer worthy of time, attention, or energy. When circumstances push us into a period of waiting, we adjust our perspective, tap our perseverance, and act with persistence to do what we can while we wait on what we desire.

Effective communicators know the value of active listening—making a conscious effort to hear and comprehend the words, emotions, and intent in what is spoken. Active listening keeps us engaged in an interaction, so we respond, rather than react. Executives wanting to engage fully and effectively with what is ahead in 2021 will invest time in learning the skill of active waiting—deliberately capturing insight from and fully using the present moment, while anticipating and planning for the future.

Even athletes and performers at the top of a game value the competitive edge offered through timely coaching. If you want to use the current moment to help you prepare for your next step, Leapfrog Executive Services can help. Call us today to learn more.

Your Professional Stress Test

Category : 2021

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” (Peter Drucker)

Most people welcome the news they need a heart stress test with about the same enthusiasm they throw at learning it’s time for a colonoscopy. In both scenarios, the patient isn’t very keen on the procedure. But what makes both events daunting is the anticipation that the conversation afterward might bring the individual face-to-face with information they don’t want to hear.

Reverting to Drucker’s comment at the top of this article—any of us can be tempted to adopt the strategy that says, “If I don’t ask the question, I don’t have to deal with the answer.”

A heart stress test evaluates how well your heart handles the workload you give it. The simple activity of walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike can expose potential problems and help a doctor prescribe the best plan of treatment. In response to the financial crisis a few years ago, financial institutions are required to conduct computer-simulated stress testing to analyze how a bank, its financial portfolio, and the institution’s internal controls would handle a drastic and unexpected economic shift. At a personal level, there are a plethora of assessments, evaluations, and even silly questions you can use to assess your internal responses to the circumstances and events of your life.

Whether targeting your physical health, unexpected events, or your responses to what happens, it is helpful to remember—

We don’t fall apart because of life’s pressures. We fall apart when we respond to life’s pressures with inadequate resources.

Men and women and the companies they lead demonstrate endurance, resilience, and even growth in good, bad, and ever-changing circumstances when they know survival doesn’t depend on the right set of conditions as much as it depends on responding to life’s situations with adequate resources.

Ten years ago, Harvard Business Review featured Stress-Test Your Strategy: The 7 Questions to Ask by Robert Simons ( Though directed at a business, with slight adaptation, Simon’s questions offer a valuable framework for stress-testing a professional’s career strategy. A few minutes invested in answering these questions might expose an area of vulnerability that you would be wise to address as you engage with 2021.

  1. Who is your customer? Periodically ask yourself who or what motivates you to do what you do. The need for clear focus and a balanced perspective never diminishes.
  2. What values drive you? A lack of congruence between our values and our actions clouds our vision and complicates decision-making.
  3. How do you measure success? We all face the possibility the ladder we’re climbing with determination and relentless effort might be leaning against the wrong wall.
  4. What do you do with the inherent tensions in life? Decisions always involve logic and emotion. Every action carries with it a level of risk. The need to balance timely action with prudent reflection never goes away. Successful leaders leverage tension—they don’t avoid it.
  5. How do you create accountability? One of the risks inherent in career progression is having fewer people in your orbit that challenge you and ask hard questions. Wise leaders choose to be accountable before they are told to be accountable.
  6. How prepared are you for the unexpected? If 2020 taught us anything it was the cold reality that when you think things can’t get worse—the can and do. Personally and corporately, planning for contingencies and the unanticipated is a life habit more than an annual exercise.

Health experts tell us that beyond fundamental health and lifestyle choices, physical fitness is measured by three things—strength, endurance, and flexibility. Professional fitness can be assessed the same way—having the resources you need, staying at it when you want to quit, and adapting to changes as an expected part of life.


Category : 2021

While the origin of the story is suspect, its meaning and application remain.

Search the pages of 18th century Russian history—or folklore, and you find the story of Grigori Aleksasndrovich Potëmkin, an army officer, statesman, and one of the romantic loves of Catherine the Great. Potëmkin’s notable military successes were followed by a gigantic failure to colonize the Ukrainian steppe. A now believed to be fabricated account alleges that when Catherine toured the area, Potëmkin ordered the construction of elaborate village façades to hide the reality of his failure from the Empress.

Tragically, a respected personality from history is remembered more for what he didn’t do than for what he accomplished. For centuries, a Potemkin village has carried the meaning of “an impressive façade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.” The Theresienstadt camp in Germany was used by the Nazis to hide the horrors of their final solution. Sitting on the north side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Kijŏng-dong or Peace Village is more propaganda than substance. Using the concept positively, an hour east of Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo has constructed AstaZero, a replica of a New York neighborhood where sensor prototypes are given a realistic environment for testing.

In 2017, Photographer Gregor Sailer published the results of a two-year journey capturing images of Potemkin villages scattered across the globe. Sailer shares photos of European-style villages in China, a fake middle-eastern town in the Mojave desert, and a Russian city designed to impress, of course, Vladimir Putin.

From long-forgotten dot-com darlings to WorldCom to Lehman Brothers to a bevy of high-tech companies scattered across the globe today, corporations and the executives that lead them construct elaborate Potemkin villages to lure investors, gain traction in a market, inflate a stock price, or blatantly line the pockets of those behind the schemes. Conversely, Forbes, Newsweek, IndustryWeek, and Reader’s Digest provide annual lists of companies whose brands have remained strong, trusted, and respected for decades.

Any executive facing the challenges, uncertainties, and unknowns of 2021 must choose whether to build his or her personal brand on Potemkinesque imagery or to anchor that brand in authenticity, realism, truthfulness, consistency, and delivered results that focus on more than a financial statement or EPS. Decades of examining corporate results under business school microscopes have confirmed multiple times—the results of a company seldom surpass the character of a company’s leader. Codes of ethics, compliance training, and mission statements appearing as virtual backgrounds during Zoom calls aren’t enough to ensure protection from the Potemkin virus.

Employees in companies of every size are asking for a corporate a purpose bigger than the bottom line and are increasingly intolerant of leadership that is duplicitous, careless with the truth, or unwilling to engage in the conflict that inevitably emerges when a company chooses a path of principle over expedience. An executive in pursuit of enduring results has a pivotal opportunity to choose a path to success built on truth, integrity, and the ability to say, “No,” to anything inconsistent with the leader’s or the company’s values.

Potemkin’s fictitious tale underscores that while a legacy built on a façade may be remembered, it isn’t respected. John Maxwell is right when he says “You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.”

A State of Readiness

Category : 2021

Our 2021 is off to a great start. Are you and your business ready for what’s ahead in the new year? We are! Give us a call to discuss your HR leadership retained search needs.


1.  the state of being fully prepared for something.
“your muscles tense in readiness for action”
preparedness · preparation · fitness · ready · at the ready · available · on hand · 

2. willingness to do something.
“Spain had indicated a readiness to accept his terms”
willingness · inclination · enthusiasm · eagerness · keenness · gameness · promptness · quickness · alacrity · ease · facility · address

3. immediacy, quickness, or promptness.
“quickness of hearing and readiness of speech were essential”
promptness · quickness · rapidity · swiftness · speed · speediness ·