Paul Schur, General Manager of Slalom Consulting in Atlanta, discusses the challenges leaders face in deciding whether to fix a situation or recognizing when it’s time to start over — what he calls, “blowing it up.”

“So at times you’ll find yourself in a situation where you try to fix things. And so you’re either given a situation or you’ve developed a situation. And you think, “Only 10% there. A little bit more effort and I can get this thing around the corner or over the hill.” And sometimes you’ve got to sit back and ask yourself, do I just need to start over? Do I need to blow up this and start over? Or can you truly fix it?

I had an example where that was the case. Where I truly did feel we were really close to resolving it. And for every one problem we found, there seemed to be another one around the corner.

And so you have to be aware of that pattern. And so after three, four, five of those, you need to ask yourself, is this a time to start over? Sometimes you’ve just got to blow it up and explain why. And depending on, of course what and who’s involved. If it’s your decision and it’s your action that got you into that situation, then again, go with your gut, blow it up and explain.

And I think being vulnerable as leader is important because it does drive connection. I think it’s important. It sets the culture and the tone of a leadership team and as an entire organization. But if you can be vulnerable, admit your mistakes, come up with a plan of action to move forward on how to resolve it. Versus getting your pride in the way. I think it’s a really important thing to consider.

It turned out to be a bad situation for all the stakeholders involved. And I think blowing it up early would have saved a lot of effort, time and energy. And at the end of the day the longer you wait, the bigger the blow up is going to be. And so, again, if your gut is telling you that this is not the right thing to do, to keep forging forward, then call it out. If you think about companies who want to be innovative, you have to take risk. You have to take chances. And you can’t be afraid to fail.”


Kat Cole, President of FOCUS brands, started her career at 17 years old as a hostess in her hometown’s Hooters restaurant; by age 26, Kat had risen to become Vice President of Training for the company – making her one of the youngest executives in the chain restaurants industry. Today, Kat is celebrated as one of today’s great female leaders. As you might imagine, being a young leader has its challenges – one of which, says Kat, is finding your voice. In this video, Kat takes us through her early career journey, sharing the steps she took and the lessons she’s learned about the responsibility leaders have to contribute with meaning, communicate clearly and positively influence others.

I think the way I found my voice was first remembering that there’s a reason I’m there. That helps a lot when you remember there’s a reason that you have a seat at the table. Someone put you there. Someone advocated for you to be there. You didn’t just miraculously show up. And so I reminded myself a lot that I deserve to be there to the best of my knowledge, and someone believed enough in me for me to be here. And that’s a good reminder to keep your voice strong.

The other thing I often thought is you should never confuse having a seat at the table with having a voice. I’ve seen many people have a seat at the table, have a position of authority, and not speak up. I’ve been the employee that’s watched that, and that is such a shame and such an unfortunate waste of an opportunity. And I used those previous lessons to remind myself that if you’re given the seat, it is your duty, your responsibility to speak up and to have a voice.

And so I used that self-talk to remind me to sit up, and show up, and speak up when the time called. And then I mixed that with a good dose of humility, that while there’s a reason I’m here, there’s also a lot I can learn and I’m never going to learn unless I say or do or ask. That self-talk and those reminders really helped me find my voice if you will. And then over time, asking other leaders that I worked with to give me feedback, and that really helped hone my voice over time.

We’ve all had those situations where you have a thought in your head and you’re not sure if you should say it, or you think about it and someone else says it and you’re like, “Oh, that was a really a good thing to say.” And I’ve had countless of those situations occur where I’d hear another contribution and think, “You know, that’s something I could add in the future,” or, “Wow, that’s a great point. I should have asked that.” And so really paying attention to the value that others have offered in any situation has helped me reflect and just kind of bring all those things together to speak up.

And I think just generally, whether it was speaking up in an international opening of a restaurant, or leading a board of directors for a non-profit, or standing up in front of a group of franchisees to try to get them to be excited about a new product or initiative, or to vote or get behind something, the more you speak up, the more you get feedback and inputs, and the more comfortable and confident you are in finding your voice. And so I don’t think there is one particular instance but rather pretty much every time I’m in a group of people, I’m learning and observing and listening to those that contribute with meaning and add value, and trying to make sure I’m doing the same.



An exclusive backstage interview with Andy Stanley taken at 2015 Leadercast Live! In this interview, Andy offers leaders key steps to take BEFORE casting a vision or implementing change. “Simply talking and casting vision doesn’t change the direction of an organization,” says Andy.

Systems create behaviors and this is important in an organization because, as I say sometimes, organizations do what they’re organized to do. So when a leader stands up and casts a vision or does a PowerPoint presentation or says we’re going in a new direction, everybody sitting there nods their head and claps and then they all go back to their offices or cubes and they do exactly what they were doing before they came to the meeting. And when they come to work the next day, they do exactly what they normally do on that day based on what’s in front of them in their cube or their office. So simply talking and casting vision doesn’t change the direction of an organization. So systems create behaviors because organizations do what they’re organized to do.

So to bring about actual change within an organization, leaders, before they cast big vision, before they announce a change, they’ve really got to sit down and look at the systems and ask the question, “What are the behaviors that need to change in order to move in the direction we need to move?”

And then once we’ve identified, “Here are the behaviors that need to change,” then the harder question, because that’s a pretty easy question, the harder question then is, “What systems are in place that are reinforcing the behaviors we need to change? And what new systems could we put in place that will redirect the behaviors?” Because, as wonderful as people are, as motivated and as committed as they are, we’re creatures of habit. And when we go to work and we get in a specific environment, that environment, even just the environment, sort of directs us into a certain task or a certain way of prioritizing what we do during the day.

So change is easy to talk about, vision is important to cast, systems create behaviors, so we’ve got to ask the questions, “What are the behaviors that we want our staff or our team to do? What are the systems that are reinforcing the wrong behaviors?” and then, “What systems can we put in place that will initiate or launch different habits and behaviors?”


Diana Oreck, Vice President of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, explains that it is not enough for everybody on your team to believe in your organizational vision, they also have to “own” it.

Regardless of the size of your business, you have to make sure that you are creating a vision, a mission, and a minimum level of service standards with your staff. And you want to make sure that everybody can buy into them, because it’s a common language. It isn’t enough for just a few to believe in it and own them. Everybody has to believe in it, because it becomes your company’s true due north. That’s the reason why we align back to this culture each and every day.

Let’s talk about the motto, “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” We don’t believe that respect and kindness can be treated like a light bulb that you turn on and off. The reason we practice respect and kindness on each other first every day is so that we never forget to turn the light bulb on with a guest. That they understand.

Now, we often come across difficult, demanding guests. We can’t control how our guests behave, but we can always present ourselves like ladies and gentlemen. And the reason that our housekeepers are so invested is because they are part of these lineups. Their opinion is valued. Service Value Number 9 is, “I’m involved in the planning of the work that affects me.” Nothing is just baked and given to the employees. It’s very participative.

So can you imagine if you were coming from a war-torn nation or a very impoverished background and you’re selected? We don’t hire, we select. You’re selected to work at Ritz-Carlton. What I can tell all business owners is do not underestimate the power of pride. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “Oh, I want to work for the lousiest company out there.” Pride does an awful lot for employees.

So leaders must be storytellers. The other thing about leadership is this. I think everybody would agree that the very best leaders know how to inspire their employees to get out of bed, bring their passion to work, and volunteer their best every day. If you’re treating your employees like owners, it’s a whole different lens for them and it’s very engaging.