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Steve Graves

Transactional vs. Relational Leadership

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Any frequent flier knows there’s a spectrum of airplane problems that can occur. On one end is “No peanuts.” That one is mildly disappointing but certainly livable. On the other end is the plane crash. In between is everything from the airline magazine with the Sudoku already filled in to […]

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Is Your Strategy Useful?

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I get paid to deliver strategy. These requests come through telephone calls or casual lunches or formal whiteboard sessions with business owners, entrepreneurs, or senior leaders, but the assignment is always the same: come in, analyze a situation, and provide useful information that will either reverse downward trends or accelerate […]

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Turning 60

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Are you turning 60 soon? You might feel a bit like this person—the economist Milton Friedman said, “Now that I’m 60, every day I wake up, look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I’m going to shave you anyway.’ ” At 60, what once […]

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How Many Yeses Do you Have in the Bank?

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Every “yes” carries a cost. We usually think that “no” carries the big cost, but a “yes” can even be more expensive than a “no.” Not long ago, I spent the day with a young entrepreneur whose business was growing at a phenomenal rate. The company was in a market-pull […]

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Walk Toward the Barking Dog

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My next-door neighbor has been building a pool. Now, I like my neighbor and this is certainly not a National Lampoon’s sort of neighbor situation. But the building of the pool is an absolute mess. I live in a residential neighborhood, the first house on the right once you hit […]

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8 Insights When the Road Ahead Gets Foggy

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We like to think of our leaders as always knowing what to do and when to do it. In real life, however, leaders get overwhelmed and confused just as much as the rest of us. Maybe more. Nearly three thousand years ago, a new king arose in the Middle East—Jehoshaphat of […]

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Know Your Core Business

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There’s a fast-food burger place a couple miles from my house. I don’t eat there except for the occasional 6:00 a.m. biscuit run when I’m headed out to do some fishing. It’s at a major intersection, though, so I see it all the time. A few weeks ago, I was […]

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Who Should Bat Last?

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Hold out your money. Speak your soup order in a loud, clear voice. Step to the left and pick up your soup. Step to the left too early…NO SOUP FOR YOU!Too slow with the money…NO SOUP FOR YOU! The notorious Soup Nazi in the Seinfeld show cares about proper sequencing. […]

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Habits—The Good, The Bad and the Swap

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“Seriously? I drive there all the time, and I’ve never seen it.” I heard this statement from a friend recently. We were headed to lunch together, and I suggested a new place. That is, new to him. It wasn’t new to town, and it wasn’t new to me. But, he’d […]

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Three Benefits to Delegation

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Delegation can be tough. It’s gut-wrenching to give up decisions or projects you care strongly about, and then it’s doubly gut-wrenching when it goes wrong. See what happens when one city manager delegates the task of selecting a new city slogan. In reality, of course, delegation is a necessity if […]

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