How to Get Better Results in 2020: A Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival!  This month, our contributors share their thoughts about how to achieve better results in 2020. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors.

Are you a leadership writer? We’d love to have you join us with your articles, videos, podcast episodes, or simply your best thinking on the topic (even if you don’t have additional content to link.) Our topic for February is career development. Click here to submit your thoughts and content!

Featured Asking For a Friend Guest: Ed Krow

Author of Strategic HR: Driving Bottom-Line Results Through Your People

Answering the question: “I really want to set my team up for better results in 2020. What advice do you have for getting my team off to a fast start?”

If you are looking for more tips like this, follow Karin’s Asking For a Friend series on LinkedIn.

Getting Better Results in 2020 Through Effective Leadership

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership asks, 21st Century Leadership, Are We There Yet? He explains three ways leadership in the 21st century will be different as well as how you can transform the way you lead to improve results in 2020.  Follow Wally.


S. Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture gives us a video message about refining our desired culture at work. Want better results? Refine the culture!  Follow Chris.



Julie Winkle GiulioniJulie Winkle Giulioni of gives us Redefine Results by Redefining Career Development. Leaders who are willing to think differently and redefine career development will find that they can drive extraordinary results – in the new year and beyond!  Follow Julie.


Sean GlazeSean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding provides Add Common Since to Improve Ownership Thinking and Innovation on Your Team. Wishing is victim-based thinking that leads to pouting – which is a waste of time… So instead of wishing, what can you and your team THINK DIFFERENTLY so you ensure that you and your team begin to perform differently (and better!)  Follow Sean.


Jessica Thiefels of The Organic Content Marketer gives us How to Build Thought Leadership with Guest Posting.  Driving thought leadership in your industry takes intentional and consistent work. One way to achieve better results in 2020 is to leverage guest posting as a tool and to do it right. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to building a stronger thought leadership presence in 2020!  Follow Jessica


Building Stronger Relationships in 2020

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog gives us Our Differences Drive Us Crazy (but Make Us Stronger) where she shares why we think others should be like us, why it’s actually better that they’re not, and how to handle those differences (even though they drive us crazy).  Follow Lisa.


Nate Regier of Next Element Consulting gives us the Top 10 Fake News Stories of 2019. The drama mavens would prefer that you believe these fake narratives because they keep you small, afraid, and willing to accept anything. Compassion is the practice of demonstrating that people are valuable, capable, and responsible. Compassion fosters connection, innovation, and purpose. Here are some news stories you can believe to inspire you toward better meaningful results in 2020.  Follow Nate.


David GrossmanDavid Grossman of The Grossman Group shared 5 Simple Steps to Show Employees You Care and Get the Business Results You Seek. Leadership is personal; employees follow leaders because of how leaders make them feel. When done in a genuine way, these steps demonstrate that you care and open the possibility of changing how you see your employees as well as yourself. The end goal is engagement from employees which means higher productivity and better business results.  Follow David.


Shelley RowShelley Row of Shelley Row Associates shares Big Decisions: Are You Considering a Broad Range of Information Sources?  When you need to gather information for a big decision this year, who will you go to? Do you ever consider going to people like the argumentative person, the contrarian, or the inquisitor — those that sometimes drive you crazy? There may be benefits to getting their input too.  Follow Shelley.


Challenging Yourself For Business and Personal Growth

Beth BeutlerBeth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests that habits, rather than goals, are the path to greater results in 2020. Examples include moving intentionally nearly every day, even if just for a few minutes outside your regular pattern of movement, getting out of the office for breaths of fresh air, doing a little organizing (digital, office or home) each day, etc.  Consistent, intentional attention applied to new (or existing) habits will naturally lead to positive results in many areas of life and work.  Follow Beth.


Rachel Blakely-GrayRachel Blakely-Gray of Patriot Software, LLC   writes How to Improve Business: Achieving Better Results in 2020. To achieve better results in 2020 try making improvements in your business. From setting reachable stretch goals to improving inter-office communication, check out the six tips in this article to get a head-start on achieving better business results.  Follow Rachel.


Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials gives us A Simple Tip for Best Results in 2020. Simple is powerful. Occam’s Razor says the simplest solution is usually the correct one.  Follow Michelle.



Ken Downer of Rapid Start Leadership shares Why I Resolve to Do Nothing This Year. There’s a problem with New Year’s resolutions that maybe hasn’t come up in conversation before. Here’s a fun look at why I think resolutions set us up for failure, and three ways to improve the odds of actually achieving what we set out to do.  Follow Ken.


John Hunter

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement gives us How To Improve.   I am not focused on getting the best result this minute, I am focused on finding the best methods that will produce the best results over the long term (predictable, repeatable system performance).  Follow John.


Eileen McDargh of The Resiliency Group writes Top Three Intentions for 2020.  “I believe 2020 beckons us to deeply search for what would be our best, most clear vision for our lives, our nation, and our planet. Each of us has a role to play and a purpose in a world that is more interconnected yet more fragile than ever before. No one is insignificant.”  Follow Eileen.


Jesse Lynn StonerJesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership gives us 5 Reasons You Should NOT Set Goals. Common wisdom says to start the new year off with clear goals. For most people, setting goals can make the difference between mediocre and high performance. But there are also times goal-setting is a waste of time or can even decrease your motivation and confidence.  Follow Jesse.


 Jon Verbeck of Verbeck Associates CFO Service advises that better financial performance for 2020 will occur by tracking key metrics and intentionally making needed changes for improvement. Use a weekly scorecard to track results and key performance indicators to help lead improvement discussions with the team.  Follow Jon.


Your turn: What would you add? What’s your best advice for setting your team up for a successful 2020?

Leading when life is out of control

Leading When Life is Out of Control


Nothing is certain and life is unpredictable. How can you lead effectively when you don’t know what’s going to happen next and everything seems to be spinning out of control? In this episode David discusses how to find a leadership path through whatever challenging circumstances come your way.

how to help your team reflect on their accomplishments

How to Help Your Team Reflect on Their Accomplishments

Last week we talked about mistakes managers make when delivering performance feedback. So, today let’s flip the conversation around. Let’s talk about how to make these conversations extraordinary. Start by giving your employees a structured way to reflect on their accomplishments. And, prepare them to be a partner in the conversation.

8 Reflection Questions to Help Your Team Reflect on Their Accomplishments

I’m offering eight questions to help your employees reflect on their accomplishments. Every business is different, so pick the ones that are right for your team, and send them out in advance with the expectation that they will come prepared for the conversation. If it’s too late for this year, no worries. Tee this up in your first one-on-one or staff meeting of the year as a structured approach for next year’s review.

If they know you’re going to be asking these questions, they may be even more inspired to look for ways to make a more strategic contribution to the business.

1. What are you most proud of?

This is always a good starter question. It’s great to see eyes light up as people share their proudest accomplishments. And the answers may surprise you.

2. How would you describe your contribution in terms of ROI?

Probes: How would you quantify your contribution to the business in terms of business outcomes? What metrics have improved and why? Which KPIs are not where you would have hoped? Why? What behaviors or activities had the biggest impact on these results? What behaviors or activities were a distraction to accomplishing these outcomes?

Even “softer” accomplishments can be reported in terms of numbers. For example, instead of saying you conducted leadership training, think in terms of outcomes (e.g two team members were promoted; absenteeism improved 20%, 10% improvement in year-over-year employee engagement results.)

3. Which project was the most impactful to the business?

This is another way to talk about how the work they are doing contributes to strategic business priorities, and recognize the important work they are doing.

This works well, even for frontline employees who may not be involved in projects with a capital “P,” to give them an opportunity to talk about ways they have contributed to improving the business. If they don’t have any examples, this is a great opportunity to explore how they might find a more strategic way to contribute next year.

4. How have you grown professionally?

Probes: In what areas have you developed? What new skills did you learn? Which areas of your performance have most improved?

5. Who did you help the most this year and how?

This could be an employee they developed, a peer they’ve cross-trained, or the work they did with a customer or supplier.

6, And, who was most helpful to you and how?

The bonus for you on this one is that you can see which of your team member’s names keep coming up as most helpful, and recognize them for going out of their way to help others.

7. What’s your biggest lesson learned?

What did you learn and how?  How will you apply that learning in the future?

8. What got in the way?

Probes: And how can I help?

How about you. What would you add? What questions would you offer to prep are your employees to reflect on their accomplishments and have a more meaningful performance conversation?

See Also: Behavioral Interview Questions: What is Your Greatest Accomplishment

How to Help Your Team Reflect on Their Accomplishments Job Aid

how to encourage your team when results are disappointing

How to Encourage Your Team When Results are Disappointing

What do you do when everyone gets an “A” for effort, but the results are disappointing? How do you encourage your team while building a recovery plan?

6 Ways to Encourage Your Team When Results Are Disappointing

It’s easy to lead when your team is on fire with fantastic results. You’re happy. Your boss is happy. Your team is happy. But even the best leaders face tricky circumstances when, despite great plans, long hours, and hard work, the results aren’t there.

Today we share six ways to encourage your team while you work on your recovery strategy.

1. Acknowledge the Stress

If you’ve got people who really care, failure means big-time stress. Sometimes what your team needs first is a bit of empathy.

Karin remembers one black Friday when she was leading a large retail sales team. She’d been up since 4:00 AM and was driving to as many of her hundred-plus stores as possible to ensure everyone was implementing the plan. They needed a huge day to make their numbers for the quarter. As the hourly text messages came in from their automated reporting system, she could see that despite all the planning and execution they weren’t even close to hitting their forecast.

When the Regional President’s number popped up on her phone (he also was getting the automated texts), she was prepared for an angry rant. Instead, he said,

Karin, pull over the car. I need to talk with you.  I know how stressed you are right now. The results are disappointing. But we had a great plan, and I’m out in the stores too and people are doing the right things. After today is over, we’ll figure out if there’s anything we can do differently next time. But for now, stay safe.  And bring only positive energy into those stores.”

It’s like this reminder from Stell Efti, “Stress just means you give a ____(insert F-bomb here).” If your people do, acknowledge that passion.

2. Take Accountability

When results are disappointing, it’s tempting to look for someone else to blame.

  • “We would sell more if the product line were different.”
  • “Our attrition would be better if our competitor wasn’t paying more.”
  • “My quality results would be higher if I wasn’t assigned to the late shift.”
  • “The employees would be more engaged if this wasn’t a union environment.”

Finger-pointing just wastes emotional energy. Own what you can, and focus on what you can control in the situation.

When Karin’s sales team complained that they needed a different product mix, her favorite response was, “sell the bananas on the truck.” If you have bananas, find the people who need bananas, and meet their needs. Drive to where the banana eaters live. Stop wishing you had mangos. Align your team around what IS in their control, and ask “How can we?” questions.

play the game don't game the score

3. Stay Focused on the Game, Not the Score

When your results are disappointing, it’s tempting to make the conversation about the numbers. But talking about numbers doesn’t change them, behaviors do.

Help your team reflect on the wins. What behaviors ARE working? What best practices move the needle? How can you adapt those best practices to work in other contexts?

Work to identify the critical few behaviors that will have the biggest impact—and have those behaviors at the center of every conversation.

4. Own the U.G.L.Y.

One of our favorite techniques for getting underneath disappointing results is our Own the U.G.L.Y. exercise. Ask 4 simple questions.Own the Ugly

U-What are we underestimating?

G-What’s got to go?

L-Where are we losing?

Y-Where are we missing the yes?

5. Celebrate Progress

When you’re so far away from your goal, it can feel silly to celebrate anything, but that may be exactly what your team needs to regain their mojo. Setting milestone goals and incremental wins can inspire renewed confidence.

6. Keep Perspective

Resilience research shows that people are more likely to recover from a setback if they understand that this problem is just one aspect of their life, not “pervasive.” Meaning, just because you didn’t make your goal doesn’t mean your whole life is a wreck. Help your team keep perspective on what matters most in their lives.

Your turn.

What would you add? What’s your best advice for encouraging your team when results are disappointing?

Missing Leadership Skill to Get Results

The Missing Leadership Skill to Get Results


If your team ever says something like “We can talk about this, but nothing is going to change” (or worse, YOU feel that way), then this episode is for you. In this episode, David shares one critical skill to help you get results and make things happen. It’s not hard – and with this one small shift, you’ll gain credibility, energize your team, and achieve results you’d only talked about. 

how to lead for results and stop the zombie apocalypse

How to Lead for Results and Stop the Zombie Apocalypse

Lead for results and keep the zombies at bay…

They’re the phrases that should send a shiver up your spine if you want to lead for results. I’ve heard them from team members in every industry imaginable. You might recognize them:

  • “I’ve just stopped trying.”
  • “Why bother?”
  • “I give up.”
  • “Just go along to get along.”
  • “When someone bothers to tell me what to do, then we’ll worry about it.”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “It doesn’t matter what you do.”
  • “They don’t care, so why should I?”
  • “Everything they say from the stage don’t mean anything for me and my life.”

Walking Dead

Every time I hear one of these, I shudder.

These are the words whispered by the walking dead – maybe they haven’t left your team or company yet, but there’s no life left in them. They’re just shuffling through the day, going through the motions, like zombies.

If you have people in your team or organization talking this way, one of two things has happened:

1) You have discouraged your team by failing to lead.

2) You have a very negative team member who will be discouraging the rest of the team. (And they’re still there because you’ve failed to lead.)

Either way, it’s time for you to lead. Every person wandering around …

thinking that their effort makes no difference …

feeling that no one cares …

feeling frustrated and refusing to take responsibility …

Has quit.

They’re a walking tragedy of vital human life stunted and withering away. (Not to mention tons of lost productivity for the organization.)

Tough Love

If you want to lead for results, I applaud you. We desperately need good leaders.

But leadership means responsibility. If you have disheartened people on your team who have stopped trying, that’s on you. The reasons are usually straightforward:

  • a lack of encouragement or appreciation
  • outright hostility and abuse
  • no vision
  • absurd systems prevent them from being effective
  • no autonomy or ability to make meaningful decisions
  • they don’t trust you or one another

These are a leader’s responsibilities. And if you’re leading, you’re responsible.

Lead for Results

As every reader of Winning Well knows, you can treat people well and lead for results. They’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go together.

When people:

  • are empowered to make meaningful decisions …
  • understand the purpose behind what they’re doing …
  • trust their leadership and their team …
  • feel appreciated for what they do …
  • feel they’re making a difference …
  • are held accountable for their contribution …

They own the outcomes, are energized, proactively solve problems, and personally invest in what they’re doing.

Which team member would you rather have?

Where to Begin?

1) If you are leading a team that shows signs of the zombi-fication, honestly assess your motivations.

Are you leading for results and relationships?

If not, I invite you to start small. Pick one area—perhaps encouragement—and honestly show appreciation. Or maybe start by removing a frustrating system that prevents people from doing their best work.

The point is, don’t change everything all at once. You can’t do it and you’ll frustrate yourself. Start small.

If you’re not sure where to start and you have any team members you can trust to give you honest feedback, ask them. Or do a DIY 360 evaluation and pick just one thing—the most frequently occurring item and address it.

People are remarkably graceful. When they see you work on being effective, your credibility soars.

2) If you are in an organization characterized by the zombies, build a cultural oasis.

Start by encouraging the people you see every day. Recognize others for what they’ve done. Begin talking about what your team might accomplish or where it could be. Look for problems you can solve.

We Need You to Lead for Results

Whatever your formal role, we need you to lead. We need people who dare to dream, who show us the way. We need people who will take risks to solve problems that others refuse to recognize even exist.

We need people who ask the right questions, who challenge our thinking. We need people who inspire us, who motivate us, and who encourage us.

We need leaders.

We need you.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Let's Grow Leaders (lead for results and keep the zombies away)

Where to start when your team won't collaborate

Where to Start When Your Team Won’t Collaborate


You’ve got a clear goal, you’ve made sure everyone knows what matters most, but your team still won’t collaborate. It’s a frustration many leaders face. If this happens to you, it may be because you’ve only got halfway to the clarity your team needs. In this episode David shares where to start when your team won’t collaborate.

Lead Meetings Get Results People Want to Attend

Lead Meetings that Get Results and that People Want to Attend


It’s a business cliche – people hate meetings. But I don’t think that’s true – we just hate bad meetings.

Why are so many meetings a soul-sucking waste of time? In this episode you’ll get several quick tools to ensure your meetings get results – and that people will want to attend them. Sound impossible? Tune in and transform your meetings forever.

3 Ways to be a more productive leader

3 Ways to Be a More Productive Leader

To be more productive, embrace the secret of every time management system.

You want to be a productive leader, but your to-do list has more tasks, projects, and goals than you can possibly achieve.

The never-ending list can feel overwhelming. Leadership means a continual stream of information, problems, decisions, interruptions from email, texts, phone calls, apps—and that doesn’t include the strategic investments in people and projects that will help you build a better future.

It can seem like you’ll never get ahead.

Two Mindsets to Be a More Productive Leader

There are two mental shifts that will help you end the overwhelm and achieve the results you want.

There’s So Much

It’s not your imagination. There really is more on that list than you can possibly get done.

What do you do with that reality? Does it stress you and paralyze you?

If so, the problem isn’t with your list. It’s with your perspective.

Here’s the reality productive leaders embrace: there is always more to do than you can do. It’s a fact of life.

Right now you could check in with your boss, answer your emails, build a spreadsheet, talk to an underperforming team member, make a to-do list, help your child with her homework, work on your most strategic project, listen carefully to a peer, call a customer, hold a developmental conversation with a mentee, take a luxurious bath, go to yoga, read this article, call a dear friend, check your social media, adopt a cat, clean out the stale food from your refrigerator, and a thousand other tasks.

The list is endless. It always is and it always will be.

When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, the difference is that you’re more aware of your choices. When you’re relaxed on a beach, there are still a thousand other things you could do with that moment – you’re just not thinking about them.

To turn the problem into power, embrace the fact that you can’t possibly do everything.

You never could and you never will. The list is always infinite.

When you surrender the unrealistic hope that the list will somehow go away and acknowledge that it is always there, always has been, and always will be, it frees you to focus.

You’ve Got Serious Limits

Our son loves to multitask. He’ll watch a YouTube documentary while trying to clean his room. Inevitably, one of these tasks wins (and it’s usually not the room.)

The problem is that multitasking is a myth. He’s shifting his attention back and forth between each activity (or not shifting it at all).

It’s another tough reality for most of us to accept: in addition to the fact that there will always be an infinite list, there’s a very limited amount of you to go around.

The second mindset shift that will help you be a more productive leader is that you can only do one thing at a time.

From that long list, you get to choose one task.

That’s it. One.

Finish that one. Or move it forward as much as you can, then move to the next.

This is the secret of every time management and productivity system: There’s always more than you can do and that you can only do one thing at a time.

So how do you choose what to do?

Mind the M.I.T.Mind the MIT

There are many sophisticated systems to answer this question.

We prefer to keep it straightforward:  What’s your M.I.T. (Most Important Thing)?

  • What is the most important strategic outcome your team will achieve this year?
  • Today, what is the most important thing you will do?
  • What are the two or three critical behaviors that will produce the best outcomes for you and your team?

As a productive leader, your M.I.T. often shifts from day to day. Today, it may be to clarify your strategy for the year. Tomorrow, it may be to address an underperforming team member. The next day, your M.I.T. may be a coaching conversation or working with a colleague and your boss to get alignment on their M.I.T. It may be to ensure you finish what you’ve started.

Mind the M.I.T. means that you know what’s most important and do it first, if at all possible. Do it before the inevitable rush of interruptions, problems, and fire drills.

Simple? Yes.

Easy? Not always.

It takes courage to say no. It also takes courage to uncover your M.I.T. when it’s not clear.

It takes humility to accept your limitations and choose excellence somewhere over presence everywhere.

It takes self-awareness and confidence to acknowledge that today’s M.I.T. might be a walk in the woods or time with loved ones.

It takes determination to ignore what’s easy and do what matters most.

When you focus on your daily M.I.T., help your team understand the strategic M.I.T., and know their daily M.I.T. behaviors, you will unleash your team’s energy and transform your results.

To help him be a more productive leader, one Winning Well reader told us that he posted these words from the book on his office wall so he can see them every day:

Infinite Need.

Finite Me.

Focus On the MIT.

Your Turn

To be a more productive leader, embrace the infinite need, remember that you can only do one thing at a time, and focus on the behaviors that will make the most difference for you, your team, and the results you want to achieve.

Leave us a comment and share: What is your best secret to maintaining your focus and productivity?