About Gary Covert

As an advisor and coach to senior leaders, Gary helps leaders develop great teams, execute strategically, and innovate continuously.

If you are happy and you know it…

By |2020-07-13T15:38:58+00:00July 13th, 2020|

My wife recently sent out a cute little postcard to her travel clients. It featured a dinosaur whose arms were too short to clap, with the caption “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your…oh.” Everybody who has grown up in the US has heard this little children’s song. [...]


Applied Creativity for the Long Haul

By |2020-07-06T15:13:19+00:00July 5th, 2020|

Is your "Good Idea Machine" ready for what's coming? Many leaders are observing that the move of offices to remote work has been remarkably smooth, with little to no impact on productivity. It is why many leaders are not in a hurry to take any risks about the move back [...]


Open for Ideas: don’t just SAY, it SHOW it

By |2020-07-02T23:02:35+00:00July 2nd, 2020|

How well do you SHOW openness to ideas? The many leaders I talk to will say that they are in the market for new ideas. AT THE SAME TIME  many of the people I talk to in organizations, will say that they feel that their opinions don’t really matter that [...]


Keep the Observing and Sharing Habit

By |2020-07-01T15:28:33+00:00July 1st, 2020|

As part of her training to become an assassin, Arya Stark in the Game of Thrones series  (remember the simpler era of fantasy dragons and “white walkers”?) was tasked with always reporting three new things she had learned to her teacher. Observing and sharing what is going on in the [...]


Wait, what? My Wine can get Flabby too??

By |2020-06-29T15:31:08+00:00June 29th, 2020|

“I think your wine went flabby.” That was the word we got from a wine expert when we were telling her about a special wine we finally opened and with which we had a poor experience. Kim had gotten the wine from a winery owner in France when she travelled [...]


Innovation IRR

By |2020-06-23T20:49:08+00:00June 23rd, 2020|

Innovation (whether the investment is in a formal innovation program, capital outlays for specific R&D, leadership training, or simply time and attention) is NOT free. There are costs involved. But what is the return? Obviously we get RESULTS from innovation (better market position, delighted customers, novel products, and better processes), [...]


The Future Self says “Thank You”

By |2020-06-23T19:47:39+00:00June 23rd, 2020|

We carve out time for things like exercise, cooking nutritious meals, reading, church, meditation, etc. mostly because they are good for our FUTURE SELVES. Out future selves are grateful that we do. Good habits do not happen by accident, they happen because of discipline and intention. #Leaders should exercise the [...]


The “Curse” of Interesting Times

By |2020-06-22T18:32:48+00:00June 22nd, 2020|

Anyone can make money when markets are great. The worst poker players still do well if they have all the best cards. The same can be said of leaders. It’s easy to look like a great leader when factors affecting business are predictable and the money is just rolling in. [...]


Innovation Requires DISCRETIONARY Effort

By |2020-06-18T18:22:17+00:00June 18th, 2020|

Leaders need to remember that leading innovation is mostly an exercise in leading discretionary effort. There are some positions where innovation is the main part of the job. These positions are usually limited to R&D, tech or IT roles. For the rest of the organization, innovation is not an overt [...]


Don’t be “Robotic”

By |2020-06-17T22:49:21+00:00June 17th, 2020|

To protect websites and other digital assets, reCAPTCHA makes people prove they are not a robot by answering questions about random pictures. But how do leaders protect against people feeling that the organization is robotic and doesn’t care about their input? Most leaders DO want input from the team, but [...]


Lessons in Innovation from…Songland

By |2020-06-15T22:04:56+00:00June 15th, 2020|

Songland is a popular TV show with a twist. If you haven’t seen the show, here’s how it works: Four songwriters perform an original song in front of a guest artist (usually big-name entertainers and songwriters like Lady A, Florida Georgia Line, and Bebe Rexha) and three of the music [...]



By |2020-06-08T16:51:54+00:00June 8th, 2020|

From pandemic to protests, it has been a volatile couple of weeks. In a recent WSJ/NBC poll, a startling 80% of Americans feel that the country is spiraling out of control. In their book, Lifestorming, Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith highlight the dynamic between internal control and external control. The [...]


Team Success Factors

By |2020-06-01T15:39:11+00:00June 1st, 2020|

The pandemic has affected businesses very differently. Some are doing great. Some are facing enormous challenges. For some, it is a mixed bag. But for the leaders that I talk to, they all have one thing in common: they do not feel that their teams are living up to their [...]


Using the Many Muscles of Innovation Leadership

By |2020-05-19T16:46:24+00:00May 19th, 2020|

Top trainers today (whether their clients are NFL athletes or actors getting ready for a movie superhero role) put a lot of emphasis on compound movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.) over isolating movements (biceps curls, leg extensions, etc.). The reason is that compound movements (movements that use complimentary sets [...]


Boosting Innovation Through High Touch + High Tech

By |2020-05-07T21:09:24+00:00May 7th, 2020|

There are two key considerations when optimizing the environments in which your organizations innovate.  Innovation environments need to be both high touch and high tech. High touch innovation environments are characterized by an engaged network of teams and leaders working together on ideas and bringing them to fruition. High tech [...]


WFH Success Factors

By |2020-05-04T17:54:27+00:00May 4th, 2020|

What traits are likely to be most important for effective remote work? It’s an important question given the likely adoption of more and more remote work by organizations. Dr. Dan Harrison (CEO of Harrison Assessments) has been doing some thinking on the subject and is encouraging leaders to consider traits [...]


Hard-won Gains

By |2020-04-27T22:09:30+00:00April 27th, 2020|

It is a lot easier to stay in shape than to get in shape. And it is ridiculously easy to get out of shape. Nobody needs to hire a trainer to make them sit on the couch and over-eat. When astronauts go to space, they dedicate valuable time to exercise [...]


An Innovation Lesson from the Pool Guy

By |2020-04-20T16:00:18+00:00April 20th, 2020|

I recently had a pool professional come and work on my pool. The water had gotten out of whack and it was suggested (confirmed with a second opinion) that the pool was overdue to be dumped, refilled, and started again. The pool guy’s job was to get the pump set [...]


Doors of Opportunity

By |2020-04-14T17:47:39+00:00April 14th, 2020|

These have been times of unprecedented changes, even for dogs. When we moved, our dog Candy went without a doggie door for two months. (We weren’t sure about the risk from coyotes etc and did not want to chance it.) Now she has her own door again, but is  confused [...]


Today’s Innovation Essentials

By |2020-04-12T17:36:28+00:00April 12th, 2020|

Everybody is being encouraged to innovate these days, but what should a leader actually do right now? I would suggest leaders assess and address today’s three essential innovation areas: leader mindset, team beliefs around innovation, and structure. These three areas are essential to innovation and are at risk to have [...]


Accelerate or Hesitate?

By |2020-03-23T20:40:34+00:00March 23rd, 2020|

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Many of our assumptions about how this year will play out have been jettisoned. But while all the protocols to contain the coronavirus (like social distancing and restricted travel) have created great hardship, there is also great opportunity. Sales of home office [...]


A Dozen or So Key Actions to Take in the Short-term

By |2020-03-17T15:23:58+00:00March 17th, 2020|

While I am always preaching the value of leaders thinking about the long-term, there are several things leaders can do in the short-term to keep their organizations working the best they can today—and be better prepared for tomorrow. Be mindful that not all workers are used to working from home. [...]


Two Thoughts for Turbulent Times

By |2020-03-15T22:44:05+00:00March 15th, 2020|

The news has been disturbing and many of you are making changes at work while adapting to new changes at home. Below are two thoughts that we should all keep in mind in the next couple weeks. Maintain your performance-enhancing disciplines. These include things like scheduling regular breaks for eating [...]


Physician heal thyself.

By |2020-03-11T15:05:16+00:00March 11th, 2020|

If the corona virus has reduced your business travel, here’s a suggestion for how to utilize that alone time… 1)Write down 20 pieces of great advice a high performer should do to be dramatically more effective in next 30 days. 2) Pick the top two. 3) Take your own medicine [...]


The LIMFACs Slowing your Idea Roll: Squelchers and Free Spirits

By |2020-03-10T21:37:53+00:00March 10th, 2020|

Maybe it was just the group I rode bicycles with, but they called the slowest person on the group ride the “LIMFAC.” It was short for “limiting factor.” The group as a courtesy did not want to leave the last person behind, but the faster people were aware of the [...]


5 Steps to Intensively Boost Innovation

By |2020-03-09T20:44:28+00:00March 9th, 2020|

Getting better at anything requires discipline and innovation is no exception. One of the best ways leaders can instill innovation discipline is through an Innovation Intensive. Let’s take a look at what it is, why it matters, and the steps required to make it a success. What exactly is an [...]


Over-steering. Are you a Sully or Schettino?

By |2020-03-08T17:15:58+00:00March 8th, 2020|

Any week of headlines will be full of dire warnings. The last several weeks have been particularly alarming with all the news and speculation surrounding the corona virus. While the risks appear real to some very vulnerable populations, the response in many cases has been of over-reaction. What has been [...]


12 Beliefs that Negatively Impact Innovation

By |2020-03-05T14:26:57+00:00March 5th, 2020|

If culture is a set of common beliefs that determine behavior, then we want to pay careful attention to the beliefs that are helping or hindering innovation within our organizations. Below are twelve common ones I encounter. Look through the list and see if those or others might be at [...]


5 Better Ways to Look for Innovation Ideas

By |2020-03-03T21:43:13+00:00March 3rd, 2020|

Are you looking for opportunity in all the wrong places? We just moved and I keep expecting things to be in their old places (like under a sink) when they are now in new places (like in a closet). If this recent corona virus experience has taught us anything is [...]


Threats to Success: On Competition, Cannibals, and Crows

By |2020-02-24T22:35:51+00:00February 24th, 2020|

Don’t just wonder who moved your cheese, keep and eye on who might eat your lunch. Competitors are always looking to eat our lunch. It is a tough world out there, however you define it. That’s why leaders are so concerned with changes in market share and sales volume. But [...]


How to Have Conversations that Lead to Better Innovation

By |2020-02-19T16:30:07+00:00February 19th, 2020|

“Hey boss, I’ve got a great idea.” This phrase should be music to a leader’s ears, but often the value of the moment is fumbled away and can be handled better than with a simple no or "go for it." These moments are opportunities for exploration and to make sure [...]


Intelligent Improvements

By |2020-02-18T21:12:13+00:00February 18th, 2020|

There’s a million things a person could do when they move into a new place. We can remodel a bathroom. We can get new drapes. We can plant new landscaping. The options can be bewildering. The same is true for our options at work. There are a million things we [...]


Is your Organization Bounce Back Ready?

By |2020-02-18T14:05:16+00:00February 18th, 2020|

Those that recover from setbacks seem to be the ones that have the best capacity to start with. Those who were in shape prior to a hip or knee replacement get their mobility back quicker. Those who had prolonged periods of inactivity will likely take more time to get the [...]


Maintaining the Positive Habits of Moving

By |2020-02-10T22:29:21+00:00February 10th, 2020|

We have found a new house and I am currently surrounded by moving boxes in anticipation of moving day. Nobody likes to move, but the process of moving is an excellent reminder of key habits that can improve individual and leader performance. These include the following: Hold on loosely. Do [...]


Golden Ages

By |2020-01-27T15:33:32+00:00January 27th, 2020|

In the not so distant past, discount airlines really were bargains. Today, while $99 fares are still advertised, actually being able to book a cheap deal is a lot less common. Rideshares to date have been both cheaper and often a better quality ride than taxis. Those days may also [...]


Managing the Appetite for Change

By |2020-01-21T12:35:46+00:00January 21st, 2020|

When I was a kid, I’d notice that my dad would often have a random mint or piece of gum on the counter next to his keys and wallet. My kid brain did not understand why he hadn’t eaten it. (It’s candy!!) In this and in other ways I have [...]


The Pitfalls of Adaptability

By |2020-01-05T18:25:58+00:00January 5th, 2020|

A popular Marine motto is “improvise, adapt, overcome.” In work and life, people are often good at the first two and less so on the last. They contort and adapt to the situations at hand instead of taking on issues head on. People will talk themselves into a job that [...]


Leaders and the Mind-muscle Connection

By |2019-12-30T00:31:02+00:00December 30th, 2019|

Tis the season for fitness resolutions. Many people are hitting the gym to get more fit in the new year. While fitness goals can vary widely, many will say they want to get stronger and have more muscle. But even the people that are very consistent in getting to the [...]


5 Ways Small Thinking Kills Innovation Efforts

By |2019-12-18T17:38:50+00:00December 18th, 2019|

Amazing but true: Small thinking can emerge (like relentless weeds in a garden), even when the subject is as big as innovation. And when leaders think small, they cannot expect big results. Based on my observations of leaders (spanning a variety of industries), leaders can fall into the trap of [...]


Key Players

By |2019-12-08T18:52:17+00:00December 8th, 2019|

Key players matter. The Golden State Warriors are obviously struggling without their injured star, Stephen Curry. GE (once one of the bluest of the blue chip stocks) has lost nearly half a trillion in market value under less-than-stellar leadership post-Jack Welch. The best talent will often have an out-sized impact [...]