Why Top Professionals Are So Successful

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As the days grow shorter and cooler, I find myself reflecting on a week I spent in sunny  Florida at an Alan Weiss thought leadership seminar with 30 of the top consultants in the world. Though they work in different fields, they all have the following traits in common. Here’s why they’re so successful…


All of them clearly understand the value they provide their clients. Whether they’re executive coaches, merger and acquisition specialists or operations and supply chain consultants, they all know exactly how they help their clients accelerate profit, growth and personal performance.


They take bold measures to market and deliver their value. They’re provocative, innovative, and they challenge their clients’ thinking to help move them to levels of performance they never thought possible.


They’re action oriented. Not only did they know exactly what they’d do back at the office to move their practices forward, but they began taking action before they’d even left Florida. I know because when I ran into them at the airport, they were already writing and scheduling their next steps for the following week.

In every profession, we can always work on improving how we articulate our value, being bold in our communication and delivery, and taking action.

© 2018 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Carry it Forward: Three Steps to Making the Most of What You Learn

As we move into 2014, we look back on our experiences from the past year. We’ve talked to many people and gotten a lot of good advice. But those lessons tend to slip away over time. How can we hold on to that wisdom? There are three steps to carrying it forward:

  1. Write it down – right after the conversation or even during it, write down the key concepts you want to retain. Put it in your Day-Timer or on the desktop of your computer. Just the act of writing it down helps you remember.
  2. Act on it – take time immediately after any learning event, whether a seminar, a session with your coach, or during a consulting engagement to think about the results and develop an action plan. Action will work wonders for retention and will help get quick value from the activity.
  3. Review it – periodically, take time to review the ideas and actions you wrote down. I like to stop once each month and review what I have done and what I plan to do going forward. Avoid putting it off until the end of the year.

2013 yielded a lot of great ideas and learning. Take full advantage of that insight and don’t let it slip away. For more tips on creating an Action Imperative® for you or your company, check out my Executive Briefing.

© 2014 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

The Psycholinguistic Theory of Leadership: It’s Not Always Pretty

By guest contributor Bruce Hazen

We live in a word-based reality and psycholinguistics is the psychology of language – how we acquire, use, produce and comprehend the use of words. Try thinking about something for which you have no words. Trick – sorry. No one can do that. Conversely, if I give you a description and name for a complex and opportune economic situation, you’ll see the whole market reality differently for the rest of your life.

Sounds good, but here’s where it goes off the rails for leaders

Many over rely on words and come to believe in three naïve propositions:

  1. I’m articulate and well-educated, so when I use words, everyone will understand me and share that same meaning that I have for my words
  2. People will take actions based upon hearing my words
  3. The actions they take will be the ones I intended for them to take

….and we all live happily ever after

NOT. You’ve just experienced the promise and the disappointment of linguistic-based leadership.

In fact leadership is cognitive, emotional and behavioral. Clearly words are not the same as behaviors. How will you bring your leadership alive beyond the words you use? How can you use symbols, emotions and behaviors to make your leadership live in the people that only hear or see your words today?

Move your leadership beyond the naïve level of psycholinguistics:

  1. The goal of communicating is the creation of shared meaning.  Use more dialogue with people to check for understanding. Speak with them, not to them. Survey people after a speech or presentation to see what they perceived about your message. Ask more questions.
  2. Defeat the knowing/doing disconnect by checking for fear of making mistakes or fear of misunderstanding your meaning (see a). If your reaction to mistakes is worse than your reaction to inaction, guess which one most (though not all) will choose. Fix that with open discussions about the learning that comes from mistakes more than the blame.
  3. You, as a leader, may know that there are circumstances that dictate a limited range of actions people can take. Or you, as owner of the company, may be willing to entertain only a certain range of actions be taken in response to a problem. Fine, be insightful enough to recognize that and communicate that early. Stop the guessing games.

These suggestions may appear logical, but they’re not easy. Ask for help as you begin to experiment with behaviors that get you beyond the Psycholinguistic Theory of Leadership.

Bruce Hazen is President of Three Questions Consulting. As a career and management consultant, Bruce combines business systems experience with clinical training and understanding to address the needs of individuals, in a range of different professions, who are managing other people, organizations, and their own career development. www.threequestionsconsulting.com

© 2013 Bruce Hazen – All rights reserved.

Be a Straight Shooter

The CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” interviewed Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Forbes rates Ms. Lagarde as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women.  Her background is in law, having at 43 become head of one of the largest law firms in the US. She then became Finance Minister of France before taking over the IMF. She is a frank advocate for tighter financial regulation.

Ms. Lagarde has a no-nonsense style and calls the issues as she sees them. She is straightforward, factual and speaks the truth even when it is not politically correct to do so. She was critical of then US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson when he decided to let Lehman Brothers fail. She saw the warnings but said of her discussions with Paulson, “We were debating what kind of swimming costume to wear and the tsunami was coming”.

She sets a great example for company leaders:

  1. Be a straight shooter – be open with the facts and communicate with your people, even when it is uncomfortable
  2. Take action before it is too late – if you see a downturn, or major customers leaving, take action! Don’t wait until things are unrecoverable.
  3. Don’t let your ego get in the way – life, death and love are much more important

When it is time to make critical decisions, take a lesson from Christine Lagarde – call a spade a spade and take action before it is too late.

© 2011 – Rick Pay – All rights reserved

Knowledge Is Not Enough

Have you ever attended or had an employee attend a seminar to learn the latest methods only to come back to work and never use the new information? Have you embarked on a Lean journey only to find a few years later that the methods are not sticking or have not provided the desired results? Have you toured other companies to see how they do things only to return to your company and never see real change? Having the knowledge is not enough to create an Action Imperative; you have to act.

There are two vital disciplines to creating an Action Imperative. One is to take action by applying what you’ve learned, and the other is to create an ongoing pattern of action.

Leading the Charge

The best leaders know how to motivate their followers to act. Some great generals get action through orders while others lead from the front. Sometimes the goal itself is the necessary incentive, other times it is command and control that does it. A strong vision can create the goal or dream that motives people to act, but without action, nothing gets accomplished.

A Habit of Action

A discreet action is not enough to create a sustainable pattern of activity. Without repeated action over time, the change process will grind to a halt. The second law of thermodynamics says that any system that is not improving will sink into chaos.

From Habit to Culture

Companies that can transform single actions into habits will be able to sustain a change effort in the long term. Repeating the action and measuring results to instill accountability will help turn actions into habits and habits into culture. An action imperative yields sustainable results.

© 2011 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved