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Seize Your Leadership Day: A Reason to Think

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

seize_your_dayI spent over an hour going through my article collection and found nothing that seems worth sharing; I seem to have used up all the good stuff on this week’s Saturday Odd Bits, check them out, especially if you’re interested in Microsoft, and be sure to subscribe via RSS or EMAIL while you’re there.

Then I remembered one item I’ve been meaning to share with you and this particular weekend seems like an appropriate time to do it.

You may have seen it, since it’s been making the round of the Internet, but even so, I still want to share it with you.

It’s called If the World Were a Village of 100 People

If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:

  • The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacific
  • 51 would be male, 49 would be female
  • 82 would be non-white; 18 white
  • 67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian
  • 80 would live in substandard housing
  • 67 would be unable to read
  • 50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
  • 33 would be without access to a safe water supply
  • 39 would lack access to improved sanitation
  • 24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
  • 7 people would have access to the Internet
  • 1 would have a college education
  • 1 would have HIV
  • 2 would be near birth; 1 near death
  • 5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens
  • 33 would be receiving—and attempting to live on—only 3% of the income of “the village”

Most stats about global conditions involve large numbers and are wrapped up in scholarly or, worse yet, political language that makes your eyes glaze over.

Seeing it reduced to just 100 makes it easy to grasp the implications of what’s going on.

Think about them with an open mind sans ideology and share your thoughts.

It’s a discussion that needs to happen—everywhere.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Schumpeter and Schultz

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

seize_your_dayLet us start with a question. Do you read Schumpeter in The Economist? Most of the time I really like what he says, but every now and then I disagree.

A good example of this is The cult of the faceless boss; I don’t agree that a CEO has to be flamboyant, maniacal, egotisticical and overbearing to be brilliant.

Whereas I found The three habits…of highly irritating management gurus to be right on and which has a comment that was too good not to quote here.

I’m thinking of titling my new management tome: “How I Learned My Five Most Effective Management Habits in Kindergarten, While Winning Friends and Influencing People by Using a Twelve Step Program, and All Inspired by Sun Tzu and Genghis Khan.”

Speaking of overbearing and egotistical what do you think of this CEO? One can only hope that he’s been canned—better yet, he should become a patient in his own facility.

Finally, Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche, sums up the two necessities for success, “People buy other people and corporate culture,” something that made Zappos what it is, but that many executives forget.

Leadership Turn is ending; its last day is December 29. I’ve enjoyed writing it and our interaction since August 16, 2007; LT may end, but I’ll keep going at my other blog.

Your favorite features will continue, along with my take on corporate culture, motivation and my quirky, somewhat jaundiced, view of leadership. Please join me at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: What To Do and Not Do

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

seize_your_dayThree great interviews sharing what to do and one commentary on the opposite.

Do you long for simplicity, especially in software? Jason Fried built his company 37Signals because he hates complexity. Read more about his attitudes in Inc’s excellent article, you may be surprised.

Next is the story of and an interview with Steve Chang, co-founder and chairman of Trend Micro. Learn why two failed startups didn’t dampen his entrepreneurial fire and what drives him to innovate.

I love this interview with William D. Green, chairman and C.E.O. of Accenture. He tells his first training seminar as a manager where he was told the 68 (no joke) things he needed to do to be successful; Green decided there were just the three Cs.

The first is competence — just being good at what you do, whatever it is, and focusing on the job you have, not on the job you think you want to have. The second one is confidence. People want to know what you think. So you have to have enough desirable self-confidence to articulate a point of view. The third thing is caring. Nothing today is about one individual. This is all about the team, and in the end, this is about giving a damn about your customers, your company, the people around you, and recognizing that the people around you are the ones who make you look good.

I don’t follow sports, but Wally Bock’s offers a comprehensive commentary on the amazing unprofessionalism of Brian Kelly, whose actions are a case study on the fastest way to trash your people. But I wonder how many people will actually find them offensive or just shrug and say no big deal.

Finally, the ongoing sex scandals of the Catholic Church have offered up some of best examples of how leaders dance around the truth, never really admitting their errors even when they claim to be sorry. Cardinal Egan is a Church leader who has danced for decades before his house of cards comes crashing down, but even now he hasn’t stopped dancing—or blowing smoke. When will those in power understand that an apology means nothing when the deed is diluted, denied or rationalized.

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December Leadership Development Carnival

Monday, December 7th, 2009

leadership-development-carnivalMark Stelzner at Inflexion Point is host for the December Leadership Development Carnival and he’s done it with such flair and good imagery that it’s silly for me to try and improve his snowstorm analogy.

Although the weather outside may be frightful, this Carnival’s writers are so delightful. So stoke the fire, grab a blanket and get ready to curl up with some of the best leadership writing from the past thirty days. Cozy yet? Good… let’s jump right in. Leadership Whiteout The good thing about a whiteout is that you have no choice but to stop and pay attention:

Surviving The Blizzard 2009 has been anything but easy:

Plowing Through We often have no choice but to push forward:

Finding Snowflakes Let’s face it, some employees/leaders may be more unique than others:

Brain Freeze Sure it’s cold, but that’s really no excuse:

Good stuff. Mark asks, “What issues would you like this crowd to tackle in 2010?” Let me know and I’ll pass on your comments or post them at Mark’s site.Your comments—priceless Don’t miss a post, subscribe via RSS or EMAILImage credit: Great Leadership

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Lemons to Lemonade

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

seize_your_dayI like stories of people who make lemonade out of the lemons that life hands out, not just the major rising from adversity kind, but the small triumphs. I thought I’d share some recent ones with you.I’ve written several posts about Mark Sanford’s excessive hypocrisy, but what about Jenny Sanford? Considering the lemon she married she is doing just fine.Lemons often go together with love, but is falling in love with your cousin still the lemon it once was? Apparently not, and before you start thinking about genetically messed up kids, remember that we’re not talking about generations of interbreeding, just the occasional accident of birth and love.Guys have little blue pills to deal with the lemons they often receive as they get closer to the sunset, but what about women? They actually have a higher rate of those lemons than guys do, but no one has bothered coming up with a little pink pill for them. But there is help, Virginia, and it’s not Santa Clause.Finally, there is the NY Times weekly lemon to lemonade love story. I make a point of reading them for the lift they give—here is the most recent.(PS If you need a culture fix today you can find it here.)Your comments—priceless Don’t miss a post, subscribe via RSS or EMAILImage credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Critical Culture

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

seize_your_dayWhen I remember all the years I spent convincing executives that culture wasn’t an idea propagated by consultants with an eye to their bottom line I have to laugh—otherwise I’d probably cry.

These days, culture is on the front page and front line of everybody’s’ mind, credited or blamed for company success and failure.

Take Goldman Sachs (please!) and its ‘culture of sharing’, which is good, except it doesn’t seem to extend to shareholders, and the coming bonuses are as obscene as always.

Google is a touchstone for any conversation about corporate culture. Inside The Mind Of Google is a multi-part, in-depth look at the company starting December 3 on CNBC. Get ready for it by taking this quiz and find our how much you know about Google.

Companies know that hiring an executive, or merging companies, that aren’t at least culturally synergistic is often a road to disaster, so organizational psychologists are finding ways to scientifically evaluate the fit; of course, as soon as the tools are developed people will find new ways to game the system.

And then there’s Asana, a startup that has a “…grand vision of de-Dilbertizing corporate culture by creating technology that enables a workplace to function with greater efficiency and a minimum of miscommunication. But as the article points out, technical solutions don’t neutralize pointy-haired bosses.

Finally, take a look at what happens when you don’t just add windows, but actually move the entire office outside.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Bad Leadership

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

seize_your_dayThere is a dangerous assumption out there that ‘leaders’ are chuck full of positive traits and on the side of the angels, but I’m here to tell you that it ain’t necessarily so. Just as leaders come in all shapes, colors and sizes they come with a wide variety of traits, not all of them positive. But it seems as if succession is tough all over.

Italian police have caught the Sicilian Mafia’s number two, the latest in a string of top-level arrests that has given the crime group that once terrified Italy problems with rebuilding its leadership.

The hero CEO who will save the company easily morphs into the imperial CEO. An intelligent, thoughtful opinion piece by Ho Kwon Ping in Singapore considers the dangers of this happening and assumes it will continue in the US—and it probably will.

The leadership of any company is critical to the success of its mission — but no one individual is mission-critical.

Yesterday I wrote Real Leaders are Fair, which means applying rules equally, but that rarely happens, especially when a government is involved and ours is no different. Consider the non-application of a federal law backed by a presidential proclamation that prohibits corrupt foreign officials and their families from receiving American visas. But business interests always seem to trump fairness.

“Of course it’s because of oil,” said John Bennett, the United States ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1991 to 1994, adding that Washington has turned a blind eye to the Obiangs’ corruption and repression because of its dependence on the country for natural resources. He noted that officials of Zimbabwe are barred from the United States.

Finally, on a lighter note, I found the answer given by Ask the Coach to this question to be classic.

Q: I am having a difficult time leading my team. The team members will not follow my instructions, which I am sure would make our project much more successful. What am I doing wrong?

A: What you’re doing wrong is very simple: you have simply forgotten that your team is more critical to the success of your project than you are.

Take a moment and read the whole post, I guarantee you’ll like what you learn.

And if you want more of my picks you’ll find them here.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Social Media: Smart, Stupid And Undecided

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

seize_your_daySocial media; stories about it are everywhere, but I find the most interesting are about what companies are doing and how its being used.

Let’s start with Twitter. Everybody has heard of Twitter, even people who have no idea what it is talk about it—like my friend’s great-granny. But it’s their smarts in innovation that is most impressive—they outsource it.

Twitter’s smart enough, or lucky enough, to say, ‘Gee, let’s not try to compete with our users in designing this stuff, let’s outsource design to them.’ –Eric von Hippel, head of the innovation and entrepreneurship group at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T.

If you run a business these days you’re probably using Facebook or thinking about it—I know I am. So I found this article in the NY Times of great interest, especially since it’s written for folks, not pros.

You need to be where your customers are and your prospective customers are, and with 300 million people on Facebook, and still growing, that’s increasingly where your audience is for a lot of products and services. –Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era” (Pearson Education, 2009).

Do you know the key ingredient that helps police nab the bad guys? Stupidity—theirs. It used to be that they flashed their loot around and bragged to their friends, not they flash their loot and brag on Facebook.

Maxi Sopo thought he had made an excellent decision when he ran away to Cancun to escape a Seattle fraud prosecution. He also thought it would be a great idea to add a former Justice Department official as a friend and gush about his exploits on Facebook.

I love it when stupid gets stupider.

Last is an item that falls in the smart or stupid category—you decide. It asks the question; at what point does a CEO’s Facebook sharing cross the boundary to TMI (too much information)?

Recently Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre, a $230 million company with more than 3,000 employees, got enmeshed in a bit of a 2009 corporate culture snafu. Conley’s not your average Harvard MBA pinstriped buttoned-down corporate chieftan. He’s an entrepreneur. He writes his own rules. So to him, it wasn’t so strange to post some pictures of himself at the Burning Man whatever-it-is in the dessert on his Facebook fan page. Or to tweet on Twitter about the demise of his 8 year long relationship.

When his employees got upset he wrote about it on BNET. Read both articles and share your thoughts in comments.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Leaders: Authentic And Otherwise

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

seize_your_dayWhat do you do when you are booted out of your business leadership position? Go into politics, of course.

Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard’s ex (to the great relief of people both internal and external) CEO is the latest to throw her hat in the ring, touting her corporate problem-solving skills; problem-making is more accurate.

So what do you do when you are booted out of your political position (or your term expires)? Go on the speaking circuit.

I realize that I may offend some of my readers, but to learn that George W. Bush is being paid $100K to speak for 40 minutes ($2500 per minute!) on “How to master the art of effective leadership” makes me ill. (Hat tip to Grant Lawrence at OEN for the heads up. I found his thoughts on the subject well worth reading.)

The next item is a great interview with Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, who, unlike her predecessor, recognizes that communication is the most critical action when leading an organization “with enormously distributed authority and many different sorts of constituencies, all of whom have a stake in that institution” and have no tolerance for any top-down management.

Authenticity is cited by many leadership gurus as absolutely necessary, but Professor Jim Heskett, my favorite Harvard voice, solicited reader responses to this question earlier this month, “Can the “masks of command” coexist with authentic leadership?” Beyond his summation be sure to scan through the comments for significant insights both pro and con.

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Seize Your Leadership Day: Leader Books And Stuff

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

seize_your_dayI have some great links for you today, but I only want you to read them if you hold tight to the Leadership Turn caveat while you do it.

In case you don’t remember, the caveat is that leadership information is useful to you whether you are still in school, a stay-at-home parent, a worker, middle manager, or the person in the corner office. Everyone leads at one time or another, so tweak the information to fit what you need at this moment.

First, some useful information from a book review called 7 Lessons for Navigating the Storm, the 7 actions listed can be implemented by anyone in or out of crisis.

Speaking of navigating, the Navel Leadership blog lists 11 Principles “To help you be, know, and do…,” I think you’ll like them.

Especially for my women readers, and anyone who plans on functioning in the now-and-future world, a write-up of two books, Women Lead and Remarkable Women. If you want to read them try your local library or Amazon.

Parents are the first leaders most of us follow—more or less. I wonder how a parent who yells handles similar frustrations at work. Because, like any other leader, the longer we are with them the more effort it takes to earn our trust and respect.

Finally, from Psychology Today, learn about the cheap psychological tricks used by bad leaders.”

Enjoy!

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