NINE CARDINAL RULES: Leadership Practices for Winning in the New Normal

Ensure your success by following NINE CARDINAL RULES, the leadership practices of supreme importance for winning in the New Normal.

NINE CARDINAL RULES_Leadership Practices for Winning in the New

In October 1991, there was a ‘perfect storm’ in the north Atlantic. This biological disaster was caused by warm air from a low-pressure system colliding with cool, dry air generated by a high-pressure system. The effect was compounded by tropical moisture delivered by a hurricane.

The storm was historic. A buoy off the coast of Nova Scotia reported a wave height of over 100 feet, the highest ever recorded in the province’s offshore waters. In the middle of the storm, a fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, sank, killing her crew of six. This tragedy inspired the book, The Perfect Storm, and later a movie starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Diane Lane.

The New Normal: A Perfect Storm

Welcome to the New Normal, a ‘perfect storm’ reshaping our world. Like the types of air described above, the forces illustrated below are large and powerful and moving in different directions. They have yet to reach peak intensity, but there is already a colossal collision. It is causing compounding complexity and rapid, often unpredictable, change.

New Normal_The Perfect Storm Leaders

Here is a succinct summary of the eleven forces illustrated above:

  • Economic Shocks — These come in a variety of forms. For example, a commodity, such as oil, skyrockets with rapid ripple effects and aftershocks.
  • Global Competition — It’s no longer predictable in time, place, or specifics. It’s growing geometrically and decreasing the lifespan of businesses.
  • Advancing Technology — It’s turbocharging communications, blurring geographic boundaries, and enabling instantaneous mobility of capital.
  • Disruptive Innovations — They can appear seemingly overnight and endanger a long-successful business or make an entire industry obsolete.
  • Political Paralysis — Politics have polarized and there are no winners. All sides reach for rhetorical extremes and nothing seems to gets done.
  • Cyber Threats — Cybercriminals are increasingly aggressive in their stealth strategies. In 2016, ransomware attacks increased by well over 100X.
  • Climate Change — Extreme weather is one of the many implications of climate change. One major magazine summed up the extreme weather escalation with an article entitled, “Weather Panic – This is the New Normal and We Are Hopelessly Unprepared.”
  • Terrorism — Violent extremism is on the rise with many channels for propaganda dissemination that exacerbate the psychological impact of any terrorist event.
  • Information Shelf Life — Information is now like a quickly perishable food. Use it or lose it—its shelf life is extremely short.
  • Trust, Loyalty, Confidence — These three social emotions are on an ever-deeper downward trajectory with many implications, none good.
  • New Business Models — While challenging, the New Normal has wide open windows of opportunity for new ways to deliver greater value at lower cost.

Consider the implications of this Perfect Storm for leadership practices. What does it mean for how leaders think, plan, and act?


While the New Normal has many implications for leaders, perhaps the most significant is TIME  Ray Kurzweil, who Forbes magazine called the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” says that we have entered the Age of Acceleration.

Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.

Think about it. What used to take months and years, now happens in days and hours. The time available to think, plan, and act is diminishing. What is the solution?

Winning In The New Normal

Over a decade ago, I saw the handwriting on the wall. Leadership practices based on a linear model of change were obsolete. With this in mind, I co-authored the book, Winning In FastTime®, with Colonel John Warden, the architect of the Desert Storm air campaign. This was one of the most successful campaigns in military history. It was a fast, low-cost victory in a complex, unpredictable environment. I found it contained valuable leadership practices for winning in the New Normal.

With these lessons as a starting point, my firm, GEO Group Strategic Services, has developed a Strategic Action System that consistently produces faster, better results than traditional approaches. Top leaders of many well-known, forward-leaning organizations in a variety of industries have confirmed its effectiveness.

GEO’s Stratgeic Action System has a singular purpose: to accelerate success in the New Normal.

The System has three components:

  • An Action Architecture for fast, effective group thinking, planning, and execution
  • A Collaboration System with a comprehensive toolkit in a secure online platform
  • Nine Cardinal Rules, supremely important leadership practices for the New Normal

For information about GEO’s Action Architecture and Collaboration System, contact GEO’s Managing Director, Joyce Reynolds-Sinclair (

~ Leland


Here are the Nine Cardinal Rules.

Click on the TEXT BELOW EACH RULE for related articles and videos.

Cardinal Rule #1 is THINK TOGETHER. This leadership practice recognizes that “The many are smarter than the few.” For smarter strategic thinking, tap the Collective Intelligence of a diverse group.

Cardinal Rule #2 is DECIDE DYNAMICALLY. This leadership practice emphasizes the importance of shifting your perspective and thinking differently when circumstances change.

Cardinal Rule #3 is EXPEDITE EXECUTION. This leadership practice recognizes that laggards lose. The MORE TIME you take to execute, the LOWER your probability of success.

Cardinal Rule #4 is UNLOCK TRUST. This leadership practice focuses on building high-trust relationships because high-trust organizations vastly outperform low trust ones.

Cardinal Rule #5 is CONNECT CONSCIOUSLY. This leadership practice is about connecting more deeply and effectively with your purpose, with others and with the world around you.

Cardinal Rule #6 is CULTIVATE CULTURE. This leadership practice focuses on embedding mental norms —  mindsets, values, and assumptions —  about how to behave and how to run our organization.

Cardinal Rule #7 is LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY. This leadership practice deals with ways to save time, increase efficiency, and expand participation in thinking, planning, executing.

Cardinal Rule #8 is LEARN RELENTLESSLY. This leadership practice focuses on avoiding the costs of falling behind by continuously expanding your knowledge and skills. It is about how to grow competence and confidence.

Cardinal Rule #9 is MASTER MINDFULNESS. This leadership practice is about being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment. A wealth of new research has confirmed its many benefits.


I am confident that following these Nine Cardinal Rules will make a significant difference in your success. If you’d like to know more about them, Let’s Connect.

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