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Archive for April, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: the road to forever

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: paparutzi

road_to_forever.jpg

Be sure to visit my other WW: together we can fix it

 

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Wordless Wednesday: together we can fix it

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Check out my other WW: the road to forever

Leader/Manager = Leadager

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Nick McCormick’s comment left on George Ambler’s Leaders vs. Managers….. Are they really different? did a great job summing up my feelings on this perpetual controversy.

George cites Warren Bennis’ statement “There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important. To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in a direction, course, action, opinion. The distinction is crucial”

In part Nick said, “To be sure, for a person to be a good manager, s/he must have many leadership traits. I like your last comment which references leading first then managing. Good leaders are good managers and vice versa….Leadership and management are very tightly intertwined. Ignoring characteristics of one is done at the expense of the other.”

I believe that they’re more than just intertwined, I believe the combination is what facilitates the adjectives ‘good’, ‘mediocre’, ‘bad’ and various shades in-between when people discuss those for whom they work.

George uses the following checklist from Bennis’ On Becoming A Leader to critique his own performance.

opinion.jpgBeing a bit of a heretic I thought that starting tomorrow it would be interesting to critique one or two items a day in light of today’s modern workforce and I sincerely hope that many of you will weigh in with your own thoughts.

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: quil

Wal-Mart, sustainability and people

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Image credit:Brave New Films

Yet another article on Wal-Mart’s commitment to sustainability. Now, I’m not knocking what they’re doing, but I do wonder if Wal-Mart’s sustainability efforts will ever be extended to their workforce.

Of course, according to Northeast corporate affairs representative Steve Restivo it is, “”Another component, and the one, frankly, that I’m most proud of, is the Personal Sustainability Program for our associates.” At the Portsmouth store, employees are taking part in three programs — stopping smoking, losing weight and changing to CFL bulbs in their homes.”

It really is too bad that sustainability doesn’t extend to equality in the workplace, health insurance, full-time employment and decent wages, but maybe the shopping public won’t support that.

What do you think? Are Wal-Mart’s efforts ground-breaking or damage control?

Are you a leader or a meader?

Monday, April 28th, 2008

see_the_light.jpgThere’s a common thread that runs through leadership teachings starting at least 2500 years ago with Lao Tzu, who said,

The superior leader gets things done with very little motion. He imparts instruction not through many words but through a few deeds. He keeps informed about everything but interferes hardly at all. He is a catalyst, and though things would not get done well if he weren’t there, when they succeed he takes no credit. And because he takes no credit, credit never leaves him.

and

As for the best leaders,
the people do not notice their existence…
When the best leader’s work is done,
the people say, “We did it ourselves!”
To lead the people, walk behind them

Fast forward to 1987 and you have The 5 Practices of leadership from The Leadership Challenge,

  • Model the Way
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Challenge the Process
  • Enable Others to Act
  • Encourage the Heart

Today the hot terms are thought leadership and servant leadership.

The thread that runs through all this is that leadership is all about ‘them’, not about ‘me’—another reason that ‘politician’ and ‘leader’ are an oxymoron.

The other common thread is that leadership isn’t about what you do.

Leadership is about your MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™); it’s who you are.

Leadership is open to all, no matter what you do, at work or personally, you have opportunities to lead.

So the real question isn’t do you practice leadership, it’s are you a leader or a meader?

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: .:Axle:.

 

Quotable quotes: authors' view of money

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: patyvo

Ah, money. Once you have it what to do with it. So many ideas, so little time. What are your famous favorites?

money.jpg“Sex is like money; only too much is enough.” –John Updike, Piet Hanema, in Couples, ch. 5, 1968 (Too bad that too much of the former is no guarantee of enough of the latter.)

“Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth.” –Rita Mae Brown (Considering people’s penchant for breaking stupid laws it might even work.)

“Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.” –Dorothy Parker, In Writers at Work, 1956 (Me too:)

Your comments—priceless

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Evaluating leadership info

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: NASA
cosmic_leader.jpgReviewing The Offsite Thursday and sharing the Lao Tzu quotes drove home the point that the best leadership advice is classic. Because it’s been around for so long each generation of leadership gurus and commentators usually discuss previous teachings in different ways using modern language.

As with most MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) related stuff, leadership information starts out simple (the best things usually are), and as it spreads it’s rewritten and reinterpreted to give it a fresh look and originality.

The problem is that this often adds density and opacity, since many pundits prefer multi-syllabic words and convoluted descriptions that require expert interpretation that result in consulting/coaching fees.

Look at the simplicity, ease of understanding and sheer beauty of yesterday’s three quotes describing leadership; feel how they resonate within your very fiber; then use them as a yardstick to measure the quality of modern texts.

Whose leadership description resonates with you?

Your comments—priceless

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6 steps to fair and flat compensation

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Image credit: asifthebes

Be sure to read yesterday’s post for background on ‘fair’.

When setting compensation, never forget that credentials are well known, promotions are public and salary news travels faster than naughty gossip, so secret is not an option.

Problems start when a person doing the same work and with a similar background as the person in the next cube gets X more dollars or a promotion for reasons that have nothing to do with skill, experience, attitude or actual work, but rather for charm, politics, or managerial whim.

This approach also works for companies with flat organizations, such as the one Phil Gerbyshak described over at Slacker Manager, where most people have the same title.

For convenience we’ll call them knowledge workers.

1. Department heads are responsible for establishing title categories, including the parameters for education, experience, skills, etc. The fineness is dependent on the size of your organization and the difference experience-wise between entry level and senior. For example,

  • Knowledge worker I
  • Knowledge worker ll
  • Knowledge workers lll
  • Senior knowledge worker
  • Principle
  • Fellow

2. Each category carries its own salary range, ideally a spread around $20K. Again, depending on your business it can be less, but rarely more.

3. Each category has different responsibilities with the actual work structured so your people enjoy solid challenges and opportunities to grow.

4. Working together, department heads and their managerial reports (if any) assign all current employees to the correct level.

5. The department head then meets with the entire department and explains the new system.

6. The department head and any other managers involved meet with their direct reports to explain to what category they’ve been assigned and why.

Here’s an example to help you visualize it.

Let’s say that you decide on a three-level structure in your department because the senior title is given only rarely.

You currently have two people who are Analyst l, range $40K-$60K,

  • Craig, who just graduated was hired at $48K; and
  • Julie at $55K, who has three years, two of them with you.

You have five people who are Analyst II, range $60K-$80K,

  • Trudy was recently promoted and is at $62K;
  • Jason, $68K, and Craig, $72K, both have been working for six years. Although Jim has an MBA, he started in sales, while Craig had three years’ experience in a specifically needed skill when he was hired;
  • Terry is making mid-seventies with five years of direct experience; and
  • Kim, at $80K and due for promotion to Analyst lll, has a Masters’ and 17 years of experience, 5 of them in directly in your field.

Along with keeping the structure transparent and honest, it’s imperative to be sure that every new hire clearly understands the structure and the career path it offers.

What compensation techniques do you use?

Are Politicians Leaders?

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Bridget from Biz Chicks Rule was surprised that I don’t consider politicians leaders since “they tell us their vision and lay a path of guidance to show how we’re going to get there?”

To me, the ability to articulate a vision and describe a path a leader does not make.

lao_tzu.jpgMy idea of a leader is about 2500 years old and comes from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.

As for the best leaders,
the people do not notice their existence…
When the best leader’s work is done,
the people say, “We did it ourselves!”
To lead the people, walk behind them.

Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.

The superior leader gets things done with very little motion. He imparts instruction not through many words but through a few deeds. He keeps informed about everything but interferes hardly at all. He is a catalyst, and though things would not get done well if he weren’t there, when they succeed he takes no credit. And because he takes no credit, credit never leaves him.

Do you know of a politician who fits these descriptions.

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: jensimon7

Book Review: The Offsite

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

the_offsite.jpgMuch of the best leadership advice is classic and often lays the groundwork for more modern interpretations. This isn’t always good, but it certainly works in The Offsite, which bills itself as A Leadership Challenge Fable.

In it, Robert H. Thompson presents the philosophy taught in Jim Kouzes’ and Barry Posner’s 1987 The Leadership Challenge, which defined the 5 Practices of Leadership as

  • Model the Way
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Challenge the Process
  • Enable Others to Act
  • Encourage the Heart

So why read Thompson’s book?

Because in a short 200 pages, Thompson takes you to a company’s offsite meeting, filled with people you know (including yourself), to help you to understand that everyone’s is/can/should be a leader.

It proves in a relatable way that leadership isn’t about position. And, most importantly, drives home the fact that it’s not what you do but how you think that counts—leadership isn’t a set of actions it’s who you are.

I highly recommend The Offsite for those at the start of their business lives as well as for those further along the path. It’s fun; it’s painless; and it will make a difference.

I hope you’ll share your opinions after you’ve read it.

Your comments—priceless

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