Are you a leader or are you just in charge?

  • If you do not understand this question –  get in touch with me
  • If you do not know how to tell the difference – get in touch with me
  • If you are just in charge and want to be a leader – get in touch with me

“What is my return on investment?” As a business owner you constantly ask yourself this question. Here is a case study of a startup that made the investment in a professional coach.


The best performers in every field have a coach to optimize their performance. Why don’t you?

If you want to accelerate your professional growth or the growth of your organization/startup/business stop by our office hours for a free 30 minutes coaching session. Explore any area of your life or business you want to improve or just experience what coaching is and what it can do for you.

Sign up at:…/1df3uzUvGzsJ58eKX7MAZsto3Id…/edit…

You will meet with Gary Slyman a professional coach, leadership educator, and trainer. His focus is to empower you to transition to the next level of performance by developing your leadership capacity. For more information go to: or contact him directly at:

How many Startups or businesses have you seen fail because of the relationship between the leadership team?

If there were specific actions you could take to almost guarantee a positive relationship amongst your leadership team, would you take them?

John Gottman, PhD a relationship researcher has developed the ability to predict with over 91% accuracy the success or failure of marriages for the subjects in his studies. Through his research he identified seven principles that are predictors of healthy lasting relationships and documented them in “The 7 Principles for Making a Marriage Work.”

As founders the relationship with your cofounder or leadership team is a marriage. You go through the best and the worst of times together and are committed to making your business work in sickness or health. Read or better yet listen (multiple times) to the audiobook and apply the 7 Principles. Applying the 7 Principles to all your relationships, not only your leadership team, will dramatically improve the probability of success for your business.

What are the 7 principles? Here is the link to a short clip of Dr. Gottman at the start of a workshop listing the 7 Principles:



As an entrepreneur with the dream to a be a founder of a Startup would you consider the advice of three successful founders or CEO’s valuable? Listen to what these successful business professionals have to say about the benefits of having a  coach as part of their team:

Scott Cook – Intuit Co-Founder

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Season 11 | Episode 7, Nov 4, 2015

Accounting for Intuit’s Success

Video Clip:


Rebecca Lynn, partner and founder at Canvas Ventures

Entire Episode: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Season 11 | Episode 17

Audio Excerpt:


Minnie Ingersoll, CEO Shift

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Season 11 | Episode 17

A Drive to Disrupt

Entire Episode:

Audio Excerpt


The author, Gary Slyman is the founder and president of Great Transitions Strategies and has over 35 years of leadership experience ranging from dynamic high-risk environments to the classroom. He empowers high performing individuals and organizations to transition to the next level of performance through leadership development. Learn more at or contact via for a complimentary consultation or coaching session.

Ever think to yourself:

“I have this great idea for a Startup, the technical capability, and desire. I just don’t know how to evaluate the path forward to pursue my dream?”

Many of us have a stereotyped image of the startup entrepreneur as some grad school student living a Spartan existence to make their enterprise a success. That image is incorrect.  Most of today’s would-be entrepreneurs are well-established professionals with significant responsibilities. There is the mortgage, the student loans, savings, tuition, professional responsibilities, and family-life. Those commitments will not allow them to live on a Raman Noodle diet without a paycheck while building their new enterprise.

So how to do it?

Do it by building a team and do NOT – “go it alone”.

To make your transition a reality, build a team that is “all-in” with you in achieving your success! 

Who should be on your team?

Your roster should have players only concerned with your success and who will empower you to rigorously evaluate the challenges each step of the way.

One of those players must be a professional coach. Your coach will engage in a relationship solely focused on you pursuing your vision. Your coach will empower you to reflect, take on challenges, and hold yourself accountable throughout the journey. You will learn about yourself as you answers questions such as:

1.    What is my vision?

2.    What are my current capabilities?

3.    What are the gaps between my current state and my ultimate goal?

4.    How do I move from my current place to achieve my vision?

Ask successful professionals you know who they rely on to keep them progressing. Singers, executives, business professionals, and athletes all have coaches as a member of their team. Why? Because the only purpose of a coach is to focus on accelerating and maximizing a client’s performance.

Invest in yourself by hiring a coach as a member of your team and explore the possibilities of how to become the founder of your own startup.

Ryan Lotche is the latest high-profile victim of poor decision making or more simply “himself”. One night of bad decisions influenced by one, or a combination of the three elements – sex, alcohol, and/or “after midnight.” derailed his success story. Rather than celebrating his Olympic successes that he worked daily over the course of years to achieve, he is dealing with the fallout of one night lying on camera, embarrassing the United States, and losing endorsements.

Of course there are other missteps such as greed and power that bring down leaders. However, those elements have a more premeditated and long-term process of destruction. What I am referring to here are individuals who in one night precipitate their world crashing down around them. The disaster is preventable and caused solely from decisions that were made after midnight, and influenced by sex and/or alcohol.

I contend that an individual not only has the potential to have their judgment clouded by sex, alcohol, and after midnight, but as you combine the elements the risks increase exponentially. My evidence is purely anecdotal however; you may have anecdotes that also support my point. Think of several people you know that had a good thing going such as a career, family, relationship, or business venture derailed by a one-time event. What were the causal factors? Were sex, alcohol, and a decision “after midnight” part of the equation?

To be clear here are my definitions to fit the context:

  • Sex: merely the act of pursuing the opposite sex qualifies as sex in this context
  • Alcohol: being under the influence and over the legal limit to drive
  • After midnight: making decisions after 2400 hours local time

Lets look at an example: It is Friday afternoon and the group you lead decides to have an impromptu celebration. Your announcement that the company was awarded the contract that consumed the team for two weeks was greeted with cheers. The celebration starts at happy hour, the drinks flow and everyone is having a good time. Those that try to leave get pressured to stay for dinner. There is plenty of wine and toasting at dinner and as dinner ends the group starts coming up with ideas for what is next that night. It’s getting late, many have had too much to drink, and someone says: “Let’s go across the street to that bar with the band and dance floor.”

Have a picture in your mind? What happens next is up to your imagination or experience. Some possibilities:

  • Nothing negative occurs everything works out fine.
  • A drunken coworker gets in their car and drives home.
  • Someone says something to a coworker that is inappropriate.
  • Someone misses an event with a significant other?
  • Photos of the group and individuals are posted on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Someone streams portions of the event on Periscope.

So what’s the big deal you say, your team is just celebrating a professional success. You are right and a well deserved one. But as a leader what are your roles and responsibilities to yourself, your team, and the organization?

Leaders manage many risks to ensure success, to navigate challenges, and to meet high levels of performance. As professionals they constantly prepare for contingencies, they know their responsibilities, and are ready to fulfill their role 24/7. If that is true, how is it then that leaders from the lowest levels to CEO’s have fallen prey to poor judgment outside the confines of daily routines?

Do decision-making, risk management, and training for scenarios outside of the confines of daily routines have the correct priority in your leadership training and education? Leaders’ decisions 24/7 have an affect at a personal, a professional, and an organizational level. Just ask the Ryan Lochte and the US Olympic Committee.

If leadership is a bond of trust between the leader and the led, how do you build that trust?

The Armed Forces Officer (National Defense University Press and Potomac Books Inc. 2007) provides guidance to those who lead in the most challenging environments. Those recommendations are easily adapted to every leadership environment.

Leaders set and enforce the standards: Establishing the expectation of performance is easy. What you do when the expectation is not met can be more difficult. Most importantly, your action or lack of action determines the true level of performance the organization will attain. How do you enforce the standards you set as the leader?

Leaders set the example: This one sounds like a no-brainer; however think how often you point out how your superiors set a poor example. Are your subordinates doing the same? How well do you set the example? If you expect honest and transparent behavior, do your subordinates see you withholding information in making a presentation to the boss? Do you skirt the rules because “rank has its privileges”? Take a few minutes to honestly assess yourself. If your subordinates acted exactly as you do, what would be the outcome?

Leaders model moral courage: Have you experienced a leader unwilling to take a moral stand and do what was right so they did not rock the boat? How did that change your view of them? Moral courage means doing what is right, even when the consequences may not serve you well. Identify an individual in your organization who regularly demonstrates moral courage? What do you think of them? How do your subordinates grade you on moral courage?

Leaders build and sustain morale: You are leading a high performance organization, working hard, producing results, and delivering on time. But is your team truly a team or just a collection of individuals. Does the team work together and demonstrate that the team is more important then the individual? Do team members step outside their assigned roles to assist others? How do they talk to others about the organization? Quantifying morale can be challenging, however when asked, subordinates will readily make it known how they feel about the team.

Reflecting on these four actions will provide an assessment of your leadership. If you are looking for some actionable feedback, you may consider soliciting input from your subordinates by asking: “How well do I …? Please provide specific positive and negative examples.

Everyone already knows the answers – except you.


Leadership is not a popularity contest it is about accomplishing the mission.

You clearly articulate your expectations, you set the standard, and you set the example for performance. Frankly, you don’t care what they think of you because you are leading them where they need to go.

Should you be concerned about what your subordinates think and say about your leadership?

Does your subordinates opinion of your leadership have an impact on their effectiveness?

Does your subordinates opinion of your leadership have an impact on your effectiveness as a leader?

Does your opinion of your boss’ leadership impact your effectiveness?

How do good performers become great performers and continue to improve?

Did you ever look at those high performers around you and wonder “…how did he/she get so good and what is he/she doing to keep getting better?” Is it talent, hard work, or a combination? How can you become one of those great performers and continually improve?

The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule, as the threshold of hours of practice it takes to achieve expertise. He coupled the 10,000-hour rule with talent and circumstances. His argument is that talent alone does not account for success.

However, on the practice front it is more then just 10,000 hours of experience or practice. Dr. K. Anders Ericsson a leading researcher of expert performance found that performance improvement in aspiring experts comes from “…deliberate practice – activities designed, typically by a teacher for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individuals performance.” [1]

Deliberate practice has three main elements. First it requires time, energy, and access to teachers, materials, and facilities. Second, the practice is not always motivating, however the individual knows it is essential to improving their performance. Lastly, deliberate practice requires significant effort and can only be sustained for limited time each day. [2] His research was with individual experts in the fields of arts, sciences, and sports.

Additional support from the science community on how to make intentional and desired changes sustainable, comes from intentional change theory. Dr. Richard Boyatzis, a prominent researcher on change theory describes it as an iterative cycle of 5 discoveries that produce the change. While in the process you discover:

  • Your ideal self and a personal vision – who do I want to be?
  • Your real self – who am I? My strengths and my weaknesses – where are my real self and ideal self similar and different.
  • Your learning agenda – building my strengths and reducing my gaps.
  • Experimentation – new behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Practicing – building new habits through practicing to mastery.
  • Resonant relationships to help support and encourage each step in the process.[3]

So how do the good become great and continue to improve. An analysis of one of those individuals will probably reveal something such as this: they set a vision, develop a plan, engage in deliberate practice, and develop resonant relationship to support them. One of those relationships is very likely a coach.

Successful athletes or artists; team members or individuals who are world-class performers all depend on coaches to reach the highest level of performance. They know they cannot do it alone. Leaders in corporations, education, and non-profits are beginning to follow the same path. They are using coaches to assist them in unlocking their full potential and continue to grow. They help make good performers – great performers.

Examine the below list and see which describes you. In each area the individuals are high performers with a desire to improve and attain a vision.

I am a Leader

I have always gravitated to leadership positions and love the challenges of leading my team. I want to ensure I am always growing as a leader, gaining new skills and getting ready for the next level.

I am a Hard Working Professional With Big Plans and Goals

I am dedicated to my professional growth. I have made steady progress in my field and am recognized as being in the top group of my peers. I want to understand some of the choices I have in front of me, set the path for my career, and continue to grow as a professional

I am a Veteran Transitioning to the Civilian Workforce

I am leaving the military after a successful career and want to make a smooth transition. I am told I have a lot of options but feel like I am just looking at job postings. I want to transition into a field that will allow me to use my talents and make a difference.

I am Transitioning – Geographic Relocation, Promotion, New Job

I am very excited about this upcoming move it is going to be great. This is just what I was working for. Now I just need to make sure I make the most out of this opportunity.

I am an Executive Leading My Corporation/Nonprofit to be the Best in Our Field

I love running this organization, we have a solid vision and have made steady progress in growing and fulfilling our mission. I want to take us to the next level to put us at the top of our field.

I am an Individual Who Wants to Get the Most Out of My Strengths and Talents

I am very happy with my family life and my career. I want to continue to grow and make a difference. How can I make the most of my skills and talents to have a greater impact in my work or other activities?

I am a Student Designing My Future

I love being a student, particularly exploring all of the opportunities I have available to me. There are so many choices such as; summer programs, study abroad, electives, internships, and student organizations. How can I get the most out of my time at school so I am well prepared for what is next.

I am a Member/Leader of a Successful Team

As a team we all work well together and have done well with meeting all of our requirements. How can we improve our performance to make us the top performers in the company?

If you see yourself in one of the descriptions and have the desire to make deliberate and sustainable changes, consider a coach. Great Transitions Strategies works with high performing individuals and teams to reach the next level of performance. The coaching relationship is built around an in-depth partnership that enables you to set a path of continual progress. Your coach will assist you in defining your vision, and then empower you to discover and utilize your strengths and talents to achieve that vision. Visit and make an appointment for an introductory coaching session.

[1] Ericsson, K. Anders. “Expertise”. N.p., 2000. Web. 16 May 2016.

[2] Ericsson, K. Anders, Ralf T. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer. “The Role Of Deliberate Practice In The Acquisition Of Expert Performance.”. Psychological Review 100.3 (1993): 363-406. Web.

[3] Boyatzis, Richard E. “An Overview Of Intentional Change From A Complexity Perspective”. Journal of Mgmt Development 25.7 (2006): 607-623. Web.