Less Culture Talk; More Leadership + Strategy


There has been a lot of talk about “changing the culture” of a lot of things lately: education, crime, business, neighborhoods, families - you name it.

And, no doubt, there is room for growth in all these areas. I welcome the conversation; however, I came across an article on LinkedIn that is challenging paradigms on culture, strategy, and leadership.


The author is Fred Aubin. Follow him on Twitter @FM_Aubin.

Although you owe it to yourself to check-out the article, I wanted to share a couple of takeaways. The first one is, by far, the most important:

Culture doesn’t eat strategy for breakfast….

but it will regularly feast on weak leadership and incoherent strategy.

Leadership chart

Personally, I think this is a powerful reality check. It certainly made me sit-up in my chair and give serious consideration to what I do in my various roles: family, volunteer commitments, work, etc.

To me, the statement above all else is saying – it’s on us. It is on us to do what needs to be done right now. And, if we feel we are coming-up short, don’t blame the culture. Own it!

Does culture matter?  Of course it does but let’s not blame culture (something we can influence but not directly control) for our lack of action (something we can control).

Back to the article….

Peter Drucker often argued that a company’s culture would trump any attempt to create a strategy that was incompatible with its culture.

The actual quote in question is, “Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.”

Instead of describing how you are going to change culture, concentrate on creating conditions that will promote positive change.

If you are not enamored with your corporate culture … you may want to take a long glance in the mirror.


Please stop using culture as your whipping boy for incoherent, or poorly communicated strategy.


 Your corporate culture is not the bogeyman.


 It’s an important facet of any strategy and you ignore it at your own peril …..but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

And, …. if you firmly believe that your culture is a brick wall, just remember that you had a role in building it.

What are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to impact your _______ (fill-in the blank – family, neighborhood, non-profit organization, place of business, etc)?

What are three things you can do in the next 6-12-24 months?  Better yet, what are three things you can do in the next 90 days?

Don’t let culture be a reason not to act!

Thanks for reading!

Frank Haney – “Rockford’s Insurance Coach”

 Questions?  Comments?  Let me know.

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Dare To Disagree


I am a huge fan of Ted Talks. Recently, I clicked on the following video: Dare to Disagree. It is a Ted Talk by Margaret Heffernan. Here are some key takeaways:

- Some people are afraid of the consequences of having a tough discussion. By nature, people are afraid to raise conflict. 85% of people have this concern. As a result, nothing changes and problems persist. However, at some point, must become more afraid of the negative impact of silence; of not having the tough conversation.

- Openness is good. But openness is not the end.  It is the beginning. Openness alone does not drive change. You must seek partners who are not echo chambers.

- What is the difference between constructive conflict and destructive conflict?

- We need to find people who are different from us; both in perspective and experience. Find ways to engage.

- It is critical that we remain open to changing our minds.

- The biggest disasters come from situations where the info is out there but we are not comfortable talking about it.


I also read an article by @LeadershipFreak that discussed the concept of Tough Compassion.  It is definitely worth a quick read.

- Compassion is a good thing. But compassion goes wrong when it coddles. Tough compassion calls for extraordinary commitment that stretches people.

- The most important aspect of tough compassion is monitoring the team as they work. Step-in when shoulders droop and frustration persists.

- People never know how far they can reach until they reach for something that’s out of reach. Coddling suggests people can’t do it before they try.

Warning: Constant pressure eventually defeats. Failure to celebrate devalues success. Time-off and fun energize teams to bring their best.

Tip: Celebrate wins!

Tough Question: How can leaders walk the line between stretching people and pushing too far?

Questions?  Comments?  Let me know.
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Stuff Leaders Say…

LeadershipRegardless of title or status within an organization, working with and serving other people is tough… REALLY TOUGH.  Why? Time and resource constraints, market realities, personality differences, office politics, existing culture, etc.

I came across the following leadership article from Inc:

9 Things Great Leaders Say Everyday.

Although the link provides more detail, I included the 9 statements as an overview:

This is the situation.

Here is the plan.

What do you need?

Tell me more.

Remember our values.

I trust you.

You can count on me.

We can do better.

Let’s celebrate!

Simple stuff I know. However, it is the things we know and forget to execute on that creates the most problems.

Leadership II

Here are some perspective-building quotes about leadership….

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~ Winston Churchill

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” ~ Peter Drucker

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” ~ Tony Blair

“We need leaders, who add value to the people and the organization they lead; who work for the benefit of others and not just for their own personal gain. Leaders who inspire and motivate, not intimidate and manipulate; who live with people to know their problems in order to solve them and who follow a moral compass that points in the right directions regardless of the trends.”  ~ Mary Kay Ash

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”  ~ Abraham Lincoln

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”  ~ Norman Schwarzkopf

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”  ~ Stephen Covey

“To add value to others, one must first value others.”  ~ John Maxwell

Thanks for reading!




14 Stephen Covey-isms


Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was one of the first leadership books I read.  I read the book just out of college and it helped shape my views on relationship building, time management, leadership, and goal setting.  

Fast forward twenty-years…. a bunch of life experience working with both adults and young people, three kids, a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership.  Many lessons have been learned, most of them the hard way.  Many, many humbling moments.  After all of that, you would think I would have it figured out by now, right?  Wrong!  Not even close.  However, much of what I learned from Stephen Covey has helped. 

Here are 14 Stephen Covey-isms for your review.  For some, it will be a review.  For others; especially younger readers, it will introduce you to a true thought-leader on personal leadership.   

1.  Consider what you really want said of you at your funeral.  Are you on track?    

2.  Strength lies in difference not similarities.

3.  My personal favorite: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.  

4.  Life is not accumulation, it is about contribution.  

5.  Historically, the family has played the primary role in educating children for life, with the school providing supplemental scaffolding to the family.  

6.  The famous 7 Habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

7.  Live out of your imagination, not your history.

8.   We teach people how to treat us by what we allow.

9.  We are not a product of our circumstances.  We are a product of our decisions.

10.  Many people seem to think that success in one area can compensate for failure in other areas.  But can it really?  True success requires balance.

11.  Without involvement, there is no commitment.  Mark it down, asterik it, circle it, and underline it.  Without involvement, there is no commitment.

12.  Management works in the system.  Leadership works on the system. 

13.  Relationships are like ‘bank accounts: the key is to make more deposits than withdrawals. 

14.  Tasks fall into one of four categories:

 Urgent, important

 Urgent, unimportant

 Non-urgent, important

 Non-urgent, unimportant

Stephen Covey passed away in July of 2012.  However, his contribtions are noteworthy:

In 2002, Forbes named The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the top 10 most influential management books ever. 

A survey by Chief Executive magazine recognized The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as one of the two most influential books of the 20th century.

Here are four must-read Covey books: 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

Principle-Centered Leadership

First Things First

What are some of your favorite Covey-isms?

Who are some of your other favorite authors?

Thanks for reading!

Frank Haney

“Rockford’s Insurance Coach”

Eckburg & Bates Insurance Agency

(815) 979-4045    @FrankHaney_Biz     Frank@FrankHaney.Biz

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. There is no legal advice being suggested or offered. The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon the above-mentioned information.

10 Thoughts On Leadership

1.  Don’t chase success. Instead decide to make a difference and success will find you.

- Jon Gordon

#1 is a little unconventional:  Don’t Create Back-Up Plans.  Author Jeff Haden thinks that it creates an easy out when times get tough.
Total commitment – without a safety net — will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined.
4.  Sometimes you need to agitate to get the wash clean.  – Unknown.
5.  Zoom Focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.   – Jon Gordon
6.  Ask yourself, if everyone had your attitude, how good would your company be?
  • Model the way
  • The ability to inspire a shared vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart

8.  How Large Is Your Network?  The Power of 2nd and 3rd Degree Connections.

Do not underestimate the power of loose connections:

Suppose you have 40 friends, and assume that each friend has 35 other friends in turn, and each of those friends of friends has 45 unique friends of their own. If you do the math (40 × 35 × 45), that’s 54,000 people you can reach via an introduction.

9.  Rules To Live By:
  • Don’t take shit.
  • Get shit done.
  • Have fun.
  • Add value.      – Ryan Hanley

10.  Strength lies in difference, not in similarities.  – Stephen Covey

I help people with their business and personal insurance.  Need something?  Have a question?  Give me a call (815) 979-4045.

Frank Haney CIC, CLCS

Rockford’s Insurance Coach


Burst Your Leadership Bubble


 I came across the following exerpt from a book Stop Paddling & Start Rocking The Boat:

A lot of corporate execs are happy only when the data that is reported back to them fits with their paradigms or confirms what they already believe.  Over time, these internal reward/recognition systems shape the company.


People hear what management says, they hear what the CEO says, but they do only what they’re rewarded for doing and avoid what they’re punished for doing. 


The sooner CEOs understand that, the better off they’ll be.  CEOs are often so isolated and insulated they don’t understand what the rank and file are thinking.  And CEO’s – corporate emperors, if you will, don’t like to be told the truth. 


The result is that, out of fear, no one in the company will break bad news to them.

I know, I know….  99% of us, myself included, are not CEO’s of large corporations.   Does this quote still apply to ‘the rest of us?  My answer is YES!  Substitute the word “CEO” and replace it with “leader.”  It applies to anyone who works in a team dynamic, including small and medium size businesses, team leaders, coaches, as well as….  ready for this… PARENTS.  

Read this quote again and ask yourself, “am I intentionally putting myself in a position to receive honest feedback from the people in my life who can help me make effective decisions – decisions that impacts myself and others.”

Below is an excellent article from Harvard Business Review that offers a couple of specific ways to ensure you are receiving constructive feedback:  How Criticism Creates Innovative Teams.  I really like the concept taken from Pixar Studios that talks about “plussing.”  What do you think? 

Thanks for reading! 

Frank Haney

Rockford’s Insurance Coach

Cell:  (815) 979-4045       Email:  frank@frankhaney.biz       Twitter: @FrankHaney_Biz


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. There is no legal advice being suggested or offered. The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions take or not taken by the readers based upon the above-mention information.


10 Tips To Strategically Accelerate Your Week

The goal of this blog is to add value to those in my network – to help in someway – to pass along things I have learned from others – to be of service. 

My audience: CEO’s, Difference-Makers, Executives, Teachers, Innovators, Leaders, Rainmakers, and the people who want to be.

Here are my 10 Tips To Strategically Accelerate Your Week (3/5/12):

1.  You must read the book, Strategic AccelerationNo, you absolutely need to read this bookTony Jeary is a business coach to some of the top CEO’s in the world and talks about succeeding at the speed of life.  Tips #2-9 are from his book.  Enjoy!  Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to read #10.

2.  “It is not the big that eat the small, it is the fast who eat the slow.” 

3.  The speed of life has not changed the basic fundamentals of achievement; it has merely reduced the amount of time you have to do what you need to do….  Businesses face scenarios that demand almost simultaneous planning and execution…..  Do this sound like your business? 

4.  What is clarity?  Understanding your targets and the “why” behind reaching them.

5.  What is focus?  The ability to block out all the things we don’t like about yesterday, the things we worry about tomorrow, and to do the next correct things we need to do today.  

6.  What is execution?  Use effective communication to get things accomplished – faster?

7.  5 questions to ask yourself regarding change:

  • What opportunities and choices present themselves to you daily?
  • What causes you to feel stressed or rushed?
  • What are the five most important actions you take that bring value to your business or personal life?
  • What are five actions you can either delegate or spend less time on?
  • If you spent less time on the actions in #4 and focused more on the actions in #3, what would that mean to your effectiveness?

8.  Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

9.  “Unless you are willing to change, you won’t.”

10.  If you are having problems with your business or personal insurance or if you would just like a second opinion to compare with your current insurance program, please give me a call (815) 979-9121.  I like to connect with good people.   

Questions?  Call me at (815) 979-9121.

Frank Haney

Relationship-focused insurance agent dedicated to protecting your business and family.

Agency: Williams-Manny, Inc. – located in Rockford, Illinois.


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or offered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions take or not taken by the readers based upon the above-mention information.