Why the After Action Review is Important to You

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The After Action Review is a dynamic process integral to the Army culture, a key to driving positive change.

  • Unfortunately, many organizations hold an after action review after the end of a failed project, only to use it as a tool to assign blame.
  • Equally ineffective is when companies request after action reports, only to  let these documents end up in a dusty binder on a shelf.

Unless project perfomance feedback is reviewed openly, most of the valuable input is lost.

Here’s the contrast between the two styles:

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How to Get the Value of the Army’s After Action Review

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Quite often, I see others comment on the value of the Army’s After Action Review (AAR), so I wanted to take a moment and share how we conducted an AAR.

Most important, is establishing an environment where everyone is encouraged to share, get beyond egos, and act on constructive criticism.

This way, you can get the same value we did from our AARs by applying this concept effectively to your projects or events.

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Discovering the Four Communication Styles

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Discovering and applying the four communication styles will help project managers improve leadership skills by communicating more effectively.

Good communication skills continue to rank among the most desired. They include verbal and non-verbal, as well as written and listening skills.

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How to Improve Company Culture with Your Values and Beliefs

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Living your values and beliefs is what drives your company culture and promotes employee engagement.

When you uphold your company values and beliefs, you give employees a place where they can align their personal and professional values.  You’ll attract, and retain, the right people for your organization.

Your company culture is critical to their happiness, and essential to your success.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Importance of Communication

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The Importance of Communication Skills

The importance of communication is critical in today’s competitive world.

Leaders must communicate to create new or better awareness and achieve common understanding!

While there are many different communication concepts, perhaps less known is the idea of intent.  The commander’s intent is a concept practiced by all military commanders, which highlights the importance of communication.

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Purpose of Communication

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The Purpose of Communication:

Achieving Common Understanding

The purpose of communication is to achieve common understanding, to create new or better awareness.

Leaders must communicate their vision with a clear and compelling message.

Communication skills are critical for senior leaders, because without the ability to have regular contact with the entire workforce, it becomes increasingly difficult to influence teams. A clearly communicated vision keeps everyone moving in the same direction.

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Benefits of Teamwork

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A Part of Something Greater

Team players crave the benefits of teamwork so much that they are willing to make extraordinary sacrifices.

“The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they are part of a team is to sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you’ll never know your team’s potential, or your own.”

Pat Riley

NBA Coach

Teamwork in the Workplace

History is full of examples of stars that missed out on being champions because they weren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

Conversely, great players would rather share the spotlight than walk away with individual honors. Because they help inspire the team’s willingness to make sacrifices, they reap the benefits of teamwork most.

The following story illustrates how a true champion experienced both individual and team success because of his strong desire to make those around him better.

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Communicating Values

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The Importance of  Communicating Values

As a leader, communicating values provides a distinct advantage because it is the quickest way to build trust and get others to follow you. It also means living the values that your company professes.

(UPDATED: June 15, 2016)

Think about it. Values are like magnets.

  • We are drawn to friends who share our values and beliefs.
  • We join organizations that share our values and beliefs.

Ultimately,

  • We want others to validate our values and beliefs.

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Why CIOs Must Partner or Perish

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CIOs must partner or perish. That was the final subheading in a recent CIO.com article I read that reminded me of my graduate school advisor’s message.

In the early 1990s, the Army enrolled me in their Advanced Civil Schooling program and sent me to the University of Virginia, Computer Science Masters program. While there, I had the privilege of doing my research with the late Dr. Randy Pausch.

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How to Inspire: 5 Employee Engagement Ideas

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Employee engagement ideas remain a hot topic, whether for CIOs, IT managers, or any industry leader.  My personal experience with engagement was one in which everyone knew the culture and understood its core values before joining.  When you live your company values, employees are more engaged.

Specifically, I am referring to my time in an all-volunteer Army.  If a soldier didn’t feel they were in the right place after their initial enlistment, they re-evaluated their decision to join and they moved on; that was a blessing.

Images courtesy tigger11th at freedigitalphotos.net

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CIOs Need to Learn Another Language

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As the Chief Information Officer, you are a key leader of the C-staff, but like most of your peers, you realize that CIOs need to learn another language.

Throughout your career, among other things, you suffered through machine and assembly languages. You learned compiled and interpreted languages. And, you mastered object-oriented and scripting languages.

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Good Mission Statement

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A good mission statement gives you a clear and concise account of what your business must do by answering the basic questions:  who, what, when, where, and how

It should have insight into what the competition is doing, an understanding of what needs to be accomplished and any constraints, and considered critical facts and assumptions affecting your operation.  It should have knowledge of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, attracting employees who will embrace your purpose, or organizational culture.

There may be a broader company mission statement, as well as subordinate department business mission statements.  In either case, a good mission statement will answer these questions:

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Motivating Employees

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Motivating employees, or inspiring employees to be more accurate, implies that we understand why people take action. Ask yourself these two questions:

Ideally, as leaders we’d like to inspire our employees so that the reasons they act are positive, and, they have made the reasons their own.

Let’s look at these two questions by placing them in four quadrants.

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Leadership Development Blog

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Welcome to the Blackhawk Leadership Development Blog, the musings of Blackhawk Consulting Group, LLC, a leadership development firm focused on managers who want to build teams, lead more effectively, and achieve superior results … all with less stress.

The key: aligning your company’s core leadership values in an environment where employees can live their personal values.

NOTE: this post has been updated to include links to articles written or updated after I started this blog

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Command Responsibility

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Leading as a Command Responsibility

Command responsibility is an authority unique to the military definition of leadership:

“An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.”- FM 6-22

In the military, leading is a command responsibility and a sacred trust that extends beyond typical management responsibilities.

  • Why?

Because society expects military leaders to be accountable for the well being of soldiers and to ensure they receive proper training and care.

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Effective Business Meetings

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Running effective business meetings is a sign of your potential.

Imagine you are new and you have been given the responsibility to run a business meeting via the corporate video-teleconferencing facility.

It’s expensive to use and booked solid. You have only one hour to conduct your meeting and depart the facility before the next group is scheduled to arrive.

Your boss will be there and you recognize that this session will showcase your leadership and team building skills as well.

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