Ken Downer

About Ken Downer

Ken has been a leader in many capacities, from his 26 years in the Army to his 17 years in the Scouting program. He's excited about being able to share what he has learned about leading with others who are just starting out on their leadership journey.

What is Your Leadership Legacy?

One of the greatest challenges for leaders is focusing on the invisible part of what we do.  Even as we go about the business of getting things done every day, we are also doing something else.  For better or worse, we are forming and shaping the people on our teams into into their future selves; we are leaving a leadership legacy.  A short walk in an old-growth forest on the Oregon coast yielded a surprising discovery about this truth, and what it means to really have an inpact as a leader.

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Bridging the Gap to Your Goals: Building a Span That Lasts

If there is a gap between where we are and where we want to go, often the way across is to construct a bridge.  But if you ignore the environment the bridge is built in, you risk spectacular collapse, as the engineers of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge learned in 1940.  Whether you are building a real bridge, or bridging the gap to your goal you need a span that can withstand the pressures of life; here’s how.

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Listening Skills for Leaders: 8 Ways to be Sure You Get the Message

Have you ever been in a situation where you had something to say, but people didn’t seem to be listening?  How did that make you feel?  I’m guessing your response would not include words like  “understood,” or “respected.”  Listening skills are are often overlooked in leaders and yet are so essential to our ability to lead.  We’ll try to fix some of that today by giving you eight ways to be a better leader by listening.

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Creating Unexpected Wins: Leadership Lessons from “Team Short People”

[Guest Post*]   Everyone loves an underdog story, but much of the time, we only perceive the underdogs as such because we are overlooking the strengths that really matter. In the story of David and Goliath, the fact is, much of David’s unexpected win boils down to the fact that his sling was more powerful than his adversary realized.

Today I am going to tell you another underdog story from my time as a trail worker in Colorado. Through it, I will show you how to see your team’s strengths for what they really are, create a more balanced team dynamic, and set yourself up for more unexpected wins.

Goliaths of the world beware.

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By |August 22nd, 2017|RapidStart Leadership Blog, Take Action, Written Blog|Comments Off on Creating Unexpected Wins: Leadership Lessons from “Team Short People”

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Influencing Outcomes: 3 Ways to Get the Ending You Want

Can we change opinions by changing expectations?
A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seems to think so.  He conducted a simple but revealing experiment that speaks volumes about how humans form opinions.

Spoiler alert:  we are not nearly as independent-minded as we like to think.  But that’s good news if you happen to be in the business of trying to influence others.

Today we’ll talk about that experiment and use his findings to help us start influencing outcomes to get the result we are looking for.

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By |August 15th, 2017|Communicate, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Influencing Outcomes: 3 Ways to Get the Ending You Want

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Stage Magic: 3 Ways to Amplify Your Leadership Message

Getting our leadership message across to the team can be a challenge. But as leaders, we can forget that by virtue of our position, we are up on a stage.

And like the stage occupied by actors and musicians, there are some great tools available to us, if we’re smart about how we use them.

All that became clear after a brief encounter with a singer a while ago, who showed me that you don’t need to be big to get your leadership message across clear and strong.

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By |August 8th, 2017|Communicate, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Stage Magic: 3 Ways to Amplify Your Leadership Message

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The Secret to Growing Good Tomatoes (and People)

 

 

 
Of plants, tomatoes seemed the most human… – John Updike
If what John Updike says of tomatoes is true, my neighbor is reminding me of an important lesson about working with people.

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By |August 3rd, 2017|Learn Concepts, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on The Secret to Growing Good Tomatoes (and People)

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Pulling Together: What it Takes to Build Group Cohesion

When you all pull together, it pulls you all together.
What happens if you have two groups of people who don’t like working together?  How do you get them to function as one?  In a strange experiment over 60 years ago that evokes images of Lord of the Flies, a researcher discovered one very effective way to accomplish this.

Today we’ll talk about what happened, and how we can apply what he learned to improve our own group cohesion.

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By |August 1st, 2017|Learn Concepts, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Pulling Together: What it Takes to Build Group Cohesion

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Building Bridges: How Leaders Grow Loyalty

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
– Sun Tzu, Art of War
How do you grow loyalty?  Consider this story.

A marketing specialist was given her first major assignment to test market a new product.  She worked on the project diligently, giving it her best effort.

But when the results came in, she realized that she had made an error in setting up the test.  It would have to be done over again.

The problem was that there was no time to talk with her boss about it before the meeting when she was to report her findings.

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By |July 27th, 2017|Learn Concepts, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Building Bridges: How Leaders Grow Loyalty

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Book Notes – Blue Ocean Strategy: How Leaders Drive Change

Leadership is about influencing people in a specific direction, but sometimes that direction needs to change.

A book I just read provides a great framework to figure out when you need to change, and what strategic direction to head.

But more importantly, it also provides several effective tools to help us drive change when the time comes, and that’s what made this book a winner for me.  Read on, if you are interested in driving change in your organization.

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By |July 25th, 2017|Book Notes, Plan, RapidStart Leadership Blog, Written Blog|Comments Off on Book Notes – Blue Ocean Strategy: How Leaders Drive Change

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