Thursday, 28 May 2015

Brian Strobel.

Today I'd like to welcome Brian Strobel, author of “Leading Change From Within” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro! 

Brian Strobel strives to be a servant leader. As a middle manager, executive and consultant, he’s helped organizations find value in change for the past twenty-five years. He’s done this within the military, the government and across the private sector. Originally from Pittsburgh, he spent the first part of his career as a Marine Officer before transitioning into corporate management. His next career phase is focused on speaking and consulting with organizations to improve the effectiveness of their middle managers. He has graduate degrees in management and in executive leadership (including study under Ken Blanchard). He is a certified professional coach (CPC) and manager of quality/organizational excellence (CMQ/OE). Strobel is committed to helping organizations uncover hidden value by developing middle managers into more effective leaders. He believes himself to be blessed. His life has been touched by working with some amazing people over the last quarter of a century and he looks forward to the journey that allows him to continue to do so. When not helping others deal with change, he enjoys spending time with his wife and his favorite dog at their home by a quiet lake in the forest, just north of Grand Rapids.

OK - HERE WE GO !!  

No. 1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? … why?

Yes. Laws are made by man to support good order and discipline so that we can we live together in a society. I value individual human life more than I do this good order and discipline, and even more so for those that I love. I hope that I never have to make this choice, but if I do, I would choose to break the law. This choice would have consequences. It’s easy for me to say this now, but I believe I would be at peace with that decision.

No 2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Being alive is simply a matter of physiology. It’s a binary condition. Truly living is so much more, and unfortunately, something that many of us fail to fully achieve. Truly living is about noticing the beauty in the world and its people and enjoying the pleasure from these things through all of our available senses. It’s about taking chances and risks, being hopeful and spontaneous, making mistakes and feeling pain. It’s a goal that we all should seek every day that we have the opportunity to be alive.

No 3 What motivates you to write?

I used to be motivated by an internal passion to speak my mind. I believed I had unique ideas and needed to share them with others. That’s no longer my motivation. Now, I’m motivated to help others. I write with my reader in mind. I don’t believe I’m any smarter than those who read my books. But I’ve been exposed to thoughts and ideas that I want to share with those who will read my books so as to help them in their pursuits to lead others with both their heart and their mind.

No 4 Why do humans want children?

I don’t think we all do. I’ve been married ten years and don’t have children. I love kids, so that’s not it. For most people, I believe this drive is very strong, mostly driven by innate reasons. But people also have a strong desire and need to leave a legacy – a footprint on the world. It’s unfortunate that I might not have that opportunity, unless my wife and I adopt, which we’ve been discussing recently.

No 5 What was the biggest challenge in writing your book Leading Change From Within?

Keeping it to a manageable length. As it is, the book finished at 78,000 words and 282 pages and could have been much longer. As I was bringing the work to a close, I realized what I had created was a road map for a journey for managers to learn new leadership skills and techniques. This is in fact what drove the subtitle for the book. I was able to work through this challenge once I realized I didn’t need to provide all the answers in one book. In fact, my goal isn’t to try and teach people everything, it’s to try and teach them anything. If a reader learns one new skill, thought process or technique from my book, I would consider that particular transaction to be successful.

No 6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?

Should it bother me that I wasn’t able to immediately answer this question? Maybe. So now I’ve thought about this a lot. I grew up relatively poor and disadvantaged. I didn’t let that stop me though and worked through my situation and found ways to excel at academics and athletics. I thought I was able to do so because I had an uncommon drive and desire. But now that I look back on it and think, I don’t believe my success had much of anything to do with me. I was able to excel only because God had given me the gifts of intelligence and athletic ability in sufficient measure to allow my success. So the lesson I’ve learned is to not waste the talent that God has given you.

No 7 How did you come up with the title Leading Change From Within?

I had the book planned for almost ten years before I started writing it. My wife and I were vacationing in Germany and walking through the streets of Cologne when the vision for the framework came to me. We rushed back to the hotel room and I pounded on my laptop literally through the night crafting the book’s outline. The uniqueness of the title is of course a play on the words From Within to refer to both middle managers within organizations and the internal beliefs and values within these middle managers. Interestingly enough, the product I produced that night in Germany is remarkably similar to the final product printed almost three years later.

No 8 How do you handle personal criticism?

Initially, not well. I let personal criticism bother me more than it should. But I think in the end my approach works for me. When someone writes or says something less than positive about me or my work, I focus on it. I mean, I really focus on it. Some may say I obsess over it. I analyse the criticism for what has been stated to try and find value for me to improve. I then either decide to take action or not take action based upon my assessment. Through this approach, I’m able to use the criticism for my benefit and not think about it again.

No 9 Why should people read your book?

My book provides solutions for a growing and important problem facing organizations today. I write about how to lead people though change. Indications are that the frequency of change is increasing year over year and that an organization’s ability to adapt and deal with change will soon help define its competitive advantage. I’ve provided ideas, theories and models that can help managers become better in this task. But I’ve written this from the servant perspective that emphasizes the most important element to consider are the people affected by the change.

No 10 Why is there something rather than nothing?

I think the better assertion is that there is everything. There is everything because it is. That which isn’t, simply is not there. If there was nothing, I wouldn’t be answering this question, the question wouldn’t have been asked, and my book wouldn’t have been written. Stated even simpler, there is everything because God has willed it. Some may not agree with that answer, but that doesn’t change its truth.

Thank you Brian for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book!  Check out  
“Leading Change From Within" 

Change is at the core of human essence. The simplest explanation of change is to make different. Human essence isn’t so simple to explain. Aristotle referred to it as to ti esti, “the what it is.” Accordingly, change makes different what is. For the past fifty years, social theorists have predicted change to be a new problem of unforeseen magnitude. The simple fact is, change has always been present, but few can deny the global economy is creating a new pace for its introduction. Experts are now beginning to assert the primary task of leaders is to manage change. Yet managing change is anything but simple. Leading change is even more difficult. Surviving in this environment requires leadership – and not yesterday’s authoritarian style of leadership, but leadership at a higher level that connects with both the heart and mind. Leading Change from Within helps middle managers learn to succeed in this environment in a manner that increases the value they deliver to the organization and to its people.


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