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Expand Your Mind: the MIX

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

There’s a lot of talk about “thought leaders,” but it seems that a lot of what is presented as new are old ideas redressed in current language.

That’s not always bad, because there is an enormous amount of classic management and leadership information that works but is ignored because it sounds old-fashioned.

Change the language and voilà—people listen.

The MIX, AKA, Management Innovation Exchange, is different.

I read through a number of them preparatory to posting my own hack on Option Sanity™ and found some truly original ideas; if leadership is your thing start by checking out the eight finalists in the leadership category.

Sure, not all were original and some was based on common worker wisdom, but presented in this forum won it more credibility than it probably had—after all, if management listened to workers they wouldn’t need nearly as many consultants.

I hope you’ll bookmark the site, share it with your network, contribute yourself and treat it as the resource it is. The search function works well, so dig in, tweak as needed and put the ideas and approaches you find to work in your organization.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

Expand Your Mind: Debunking Leadership

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

I love it when several news items come together in perfect synergy as happened this week.

It started Thursday when I read a marvelous post from Jim Stroup at Managing Leadership that elegantly blew a hole in the myth that leadership is always a positive and constructive force.

The conviction this week of Galleon’s Raj Rajaratnam, long lauded as a brilliant leader who epitomizes today’s leadership definition of ‘influence’, perfectly proves Jim’s point.

A link in Jim’s post led me to an article in BNET questioning even the need for and value of ‘heroic’ leaders.

And that was confirmed by none other than Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte, who says that leadership needs to be “flat” and permeate the entire organization, not just positional roles.

Different publishing dates, different sources and different authors, but all dovetailing perfectly to drive home the point that “leadership” is passé.

Image credit:  MykReeve on flickr

There is NO “I” in Leader

Monday, October 18th, 2010

 Mario Gomez, 59, is the oldest and the ninth of thirty-three miners The whole world followed the 69 day struggle to rescue the Chilean miners and what they accomplished underground prior to and during the rescue. They are safe now, but their team attitude is just as strong.

The daughter of one of them says the men have agreed to share all their earnings from interviews media appearances movies or books. A fellow miner close to many of the men says they’ve hired an accountant to keep track of their income, and to distribute it equally. He says they’re going to be very close to the chest, and “will speak together as a group.”

The media presents it as one leader and 32 followers, but it doesn’t seem that the miners see it that way.

People love to quote the adage “there is no “I” in team” when somebody’s ego gets out of hand; perhaps a new adage is needed that states “there is no “I” in leader.”

Of course, someone will argue that there is an ‘i’ in leadership, which is true, but when ‘i’ becomes ‘I’ it changes leadership to leadershit.

Flickr image credit: Hugo Infante/Government Of Chile

Ducks in a Row: Initiative, NOT Leadership

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

ducks_in_a_rowLeadership is all the rage, people go to classes for it, attend conferences about it, read books and blogs, discuss it and obsess about it.

Every person in the leadership industry says over and over that leadership means caring—primarily about people.

But as Bret Simmons points out in Too Busy To Care, knowing about leadership doesn’t mean you will lead when a sudden opportunity opens up—especially if it is inconvenient. I really respect Brett for being so honest, even as to whether it will change.

I recognize that I need to behave differently, and I give intellectual assent to the fact that I want to behave differently, but I honestly don’t know that I will.

There is no aspect of leadership that has value unless it goes hand-in-glove with initiative; in other words, if leadership is yin, then initiative is yang.

Here’s a suggestion for you, skip the culture of leadership and build a culture of initiative—being careful not to kill it.

The funny thing about doing this is that by focusing on initiative, on being willing to take time instead of walking by, you and your people will become stronger leaders without even trying.

(Note: I kept this post short so you will have time to read all three links.)

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

Expand Your Mind: Leaders to Copy

Saturday, March 27th, 2010


Leadership is one of those things that everybody talks about, lots of people write about and some do it. My preference is to focus on those who have performed as leaders.

Although leadership doesn’t always equate to being in the top position, the links today refer to positional leaders who do a superb job leading.

Let’s start with an interview with Kip Tindell, chief executive of the Container Store, who talks about the principles underlying the culture, communications, hiring execs and a very interesting concept called the size of your wake.

Most people’s wake is much, much, much larger than they can ever imagine. We all can’t imagine that we have as much impact on the people and the world around us as we really do.

Next is David Hauser, co-founder and CTO of Grasshopper, a virtual phone system specifically for entrepreneurs. Started when he was still in school it reached profitability quickly; like most entrepreneurs Hauser wears many hats, including the company’s culture.

When we started we did not clearly articulate the values at all and that was a big mistake and today we talk about it all the time.

Now meet Jay Goltzm who owns five small businesses in Chicago and writes about the two things he does to keep his happy employees happy. He

  1. treats them well, and
  2. fires the unhappy ones.

If you read books on great companies, they usually leave out a dirty little secret. It doesn’t make for good public relations — like talking about how you “empower people” or how your “greatest assets” are your people. Both of these well-worn clichés are true. What is also true is that it’s hard to build a great company with the wrong people.

And in response to a few of the comments he clarifies what he meant.

Instead of unhappy, I probably should have said disrespectful (to others, not me), incompetent, unreasonable, undependable, irresponsible, unproductive, dysfunctional (I did say that one), angry, whiny or mean — and beyond a manager’s ability to repair.

Last, but certainly not least is Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop and managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, who is known for, among other things, his irreverent approach to himself. It’s on full display in this interview about learning to manage and lead.

When I finally got a management position, I found out how hard it is to lead and manage people. The warm, fuzzy stuff is hard. The quantitative stuff is easy…

Image credit: pedroCarvalho on flickr

Quotable Quotes: In Honor of Super Bowl XLIV

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

who-datToday is Super Bowl XLIV, so I thought it only appropriate to offer up some quotes relevant to more than just football—in other words, super quotes.

As you know, sports are often a metaphor for business and other parts of life.

I agree with Knute Rockne’s comment that “one man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it,” only I’d apply it to “leadership.”

Jock Sutherland said, Speed is not your fastest, but your slowest man. No back can run faster than his interference.” This harks back to the weakest link theory and is true in business and in life.

Darrell Royal’s words are as true for entrepreneurs and they are for any sport, The only place you can win a football game is on the field, the only place you can lose it is in your hearts.”

I thought it would be nice to end on a lighter vein.

Small errors can make your team focus too much on the words and not enough on their meaning as Bill Peterson should have realized when, while giving a pep talk, he said, “Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.”

Then there are the questions asked in all seriousness, only to bring forth hilarious laughter or shocked silence; as these two examples show.

Before Super Bowl XVIII, Julie Brown asked Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, “What are you going to wear in the game on Sunday?”

Then there was the reporter who didn’t just put his foot in his mouth, but his entire leg when he asked

Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, “How long have you been a black quarterback?” (Super Bowl XXII)

Sadly, while the questions were preserved, the responses were not.

Finally, there is Duane Thomas’ question, the one could have been asked every year for the last 44, “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

Only one thing left to say—GO SAINTS!

Image credit: scott*eric on flickr

Wordless Wednesday: Solutions

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


Image credit: jenjoaquin on flickr

Leadership and Life

Monday, January 18th, 2010

bowl-of-cherriesThe most overused and abused words in almost any language are ‘lead’ and its close cousins ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’.

People are constantly exhorted to “step up and be leaders” and to “cultivate leadership skills” and therein lies my difficulty.

I googled a number of places and here is a partial list of leadership traits; I’m sure you can add many more.

  1. Adaptability
  2. Authenticity
  3. Commitment
  4. Communication
  5. Conscientiousness
  6. Decisiveness
  7. Emotional stability
  8. Empathy
  1. Energy
  2. Enthusiasm
  3. Honesty
  4. Integrity
  5. Judgment
  6. Loyalty
  7. Self-assurance
  8. Warmth

Do you see the same problem I see?

Ignoring how they are interpreted, these are the traits that allow people to be decent human beings, no matter what they do in life.

Of course, the interpretation is colored by ideology and MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™), sometimes so highly colored that a person on the ‘other side’ won’t recognize them—politics and religion are two areas where this is most obvious—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

If you prefer to see developing these and other ‘leadership traits’ as laying the basis for your emerging as a leader that’s fine, as long as the development isn’t contingent on your advancement to a certain position.

Ever wonder if there is one trait beyond all others that leaders of all kinds have and is obvious in every situation?

Join me Thursday for the answer.

Image credit: lepiaf.geo on flickr

January Leadership Development Carnival

Monday, January 4th, 2010

leadership-development-carnivalHere’s a great way to start a new year and a new decade. Dan McCarthy is hosting The January 3rd Leadership Development Carnival: Best of 2009 Edition, with 50 fabulous posts from a variety of savvy folks.

My two favorites are John Hunter’s The CEO is Only One Person and Mark Stelzner’s Common Sense is Not So Common, but there are a lot more that are worth your time.

Only one thing left to say—enjoy!

Let’s start off with Mary Jo Asmus with Encouraging Pure Possibility, from her Aspire blog.
Use these powerful coaching questions and you’ll turn a negative conversation into one about possibilities!

Next up is Art Petty presenting Leadership Caffeine-The Cure for Tired Leader Syndrome (TLS) posted at Management Excellence. In this important public service announcement, Art discovered a new ailment – Tired Leader Syndrome! Fortunately, Dr. Petty has the cure. While you’re at it, check out Art’s new Building Better Leaders offering – very cool.

Wally Bock presents Can leadership be taught? posted at Three Star Leadership Blog. Wally is spot on with his answer, and the comments he received are worth reading too.

Here’s more excellant leadership coaching advice from Steve Roesler, presenting Leadership: You’ll Know Them When They Know You posted at All Things Workplace. This one made me pause and reflect.

Becky Robinson paused to reflect on her birthday, and offers this inspiration for the new year, Happy Birthday to Me! – Mountain State University LeaderTalk posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk.

Bret Simmons stirred the pot with Engagement Soup posted at Bret L. Simmons – Positive Organizational Behavior. Are you really measuring employee engagement? Find out.

“Encouraging talent mobility, which is a key way to build better leaders, takes more than using standard incentives such as money.” Amy Wilson presents When will we get serious about Talent Mobility? posted at TalentedApps, the hosts of next month’s Carnival.

And here’s the host of last month’s Carnival, Mark Stelzner, with Common Sense is Not So Common, posted at Inflexion Point. Good advice here from Mark – never, ever yank the pants off your VP. Read Mark’s hysterical post to find out more.

Tanmay Vora has been a regular Carnival contributor and a Twitter advocate for Great Leadership. Here’s his best from 2009, GIVING is GROWING – Generosity and Leadership, posted at QAspire. More great advice to start the year – on the importance of giving. Ok, I’m in!

Another blogger I got to know in 2009 is Jennifer V. Miller. Here’s Praising Mastery | The People Equation posted at The People Equation. After reading this, I’ll bet you’ll become a regular too.

Who else could get a Presidential audience at the Kennedy Center shouting, “Bruuuce!”? From the spring of 2009, Scott Eblin shares some thought on what leaders can learn from the Boss, Kennedy Center honoree, Bruce Springsteen. Scott Eblin presents What Leaders Can Learn from Springsteen posted at Next Level Blog.

Here’s the remarkable Kevin Eikenberry, from Leadership Learning (and host of the “Best of Leadership Blogs” contest), with Leadership Lessons Everyday.

Miki Saxon has been a regular contributor to the Carnival and just loves to disagree with me. (-:
Here’s another gem from Miki’s MAPping Company Success: What you do shows how everybody leads, manages and sells all the time.

Even leaders need a little refresh every now and then – Lisa Rosendahl presents Exit A Funk and Seize The Day posted at Lisa Rosendahl. Thanks, Lisa, we needed that!

“Corporate trust is at an all time low. Leaders need to work toward creating a work environment that will allow healing to begin.” Sharlyn Lauby, a future host of the Carnival, presents Trust posted at HR Bartender. Stop by for beverage and some conversation.

Mike Henry, from the Lead Change Group, gives us Unique Difference. A great post and comments.

“In this “Best of 2009″ submission, see what you can learn from how Army Rangers school prepares elite troopers for the most challenging tasks. And see what you might learn about preparing your leaders to be able to handle any mission! Rangers Lead the Way!” Tom Magness presents Rangers Lead The Way posted at Leader Business. Gotta love Tom’s passion. (-:

From John Ingham: “My best leadership post from 2009? Not a very typical blog post but I like it as a case study of an organisation developing clarity about where it’s going and then aligning action behind this: Visa Europe: What do you want to be when you grow up.”

Erik Samdahl presents The Leadership Competencies That Matter Most in Today’s Trying Economic Times posted at i4cp.

From Mike Myatt: “A message that definitely needs to be heard!” – The Power of Listening | N2Growth Blog posted at N2Growth Blog. Mike, thanks for all of the Twitter support for Great Leadership!

“Leaders see what’s coming. They anticipate how their opponents will attack them and they use that knowledge when developing their plans in the first place.” Jason Seiden presents Success Tip: Expect to Get Punched posted at Seiden Leadership.

Here’s Janna Rust with DISC Styles: Are You a Tortoise or a Hare, from Purposeful Leadership.

Eric Pennington gives us Don’t be charmed by security, posted at Epic Living.

You may have gotten to know Aaron Windeler as a regular commentor at Great Leadership. Here he presents Leadership training that increases the bottom line posted at Scientific Management.

“Dan suggested we look for our 2009 “greatest hit”, which is a good idea. However I don’t know what criteria I would use to decide what that would be so I’ve elected to pick the topic that means the most to me, which is, leadership that results in performance rather than excuses for lack of performance. Happy New Year to all and a great 2010!” Bill Matthies presents Failure: “I Can Explain” posted at Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By.

“The management system is far more important than one person.” John Hunter presents The CEO is Only One Person posted at Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

From the cranky Wayne Turmel: “Dan, I think this is the most important Cranky show we’ve done in a couple of years. The world of work has changed and senior Leadership is caught like a deer in the headlights when it comes to remote working, changing the workplace and what it all means. I know you usually do blog posts but you’ve posted Cranky shows in the past and this one is important…..” Your Senior

Mgmt Doesn’t Get Remote Working John Blackwell.

Nick McCormick presents Managers, Do Your Job! posted at Joe and Wanda on Management.

Michael Ray Hopkin gives us The Price of Leadership, from Lead on Purpose. Good stuff, as always!

“My most popular post of 2009, with some great tips from communications expert Diana Booher!” – Jennifer McClure presents 6 Tips For Developing “Executive Presence” – Cincy Recruiter’s World posted at Cincy Recruiter’s World. Jennifer, where have you been, I miss your posts!

“Almost everyone in the team would want to become a leader, but there are very few who would actually have the characteristics to be a team leader.” – Nissim Ziv presents What Makes a Good Team Leader? How to Be a Good Team Leader? posted at Job Interview & Career Guide.

Mike King presents The Problem with Leadership | Learn This posted at Learn This.

Matt Paese , from Talent Management Intelligence, presents A Startling Shock of Insight. While you’re at it, check out DDI’s Top 10 2010 Talent Resolutions.

“Elective courses in ethics, responsibility and moderation in MBA programs follow scandal-plagued eras. No surprise they are back now.” -John Agno presents Disenchantment with MBAs Today posted at Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog.

GL Hoffman gives us Pushing on a Rope, from What Would Dad Say.

“I don’t write too much about leadership, but this post that was inspired by basketball coach and announcer Jeff Van Gundy seemed to resonate with my readers.” – Steve Boese presents The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy posted at Steve’s HR Technology. Steve, you should write about leadership more often.

“This article got more views and discussions than any other single blog post all year – so a likely candidate for a Best of 2009 Carnival! The premise is that leaders need to be able to inspire hope in their teams. It doesn’t mean they forego vision or results, but they will accomplish so much more by also being a Hopeful Leader!” – Erin Schreyer presents The Hopeful Leader posted at Authentic Leadership. I can see why it got so many views – nice job, Erin! And thanks for all of your Twitter support, I really appceciate it.

Dr. Charles H. Polk presents Gone to Complacency, Every One: The Emergent Leader Crisis – Apex Thinking: Words from Dr. Charles H. Polk posted at Apex Thinking: Words from Dr. Charles H. Polk.

Tom Glover, a promsing new blogger, gives us What is Reflection, posted at Reflection Leadership.

Jane Perdue, the HR Goddess, presents Positive Influence, Positive Power posted at Life, Love & Leadership.

“With the New Year, I’d like to share a tip regarding being the new leader on the scene. Most often you are replacing a leader who is off to other pursuits, the leader leaving the situation may offer you some advice on those who need a heavy hand. Truth be told. Your future experiences with the team will be different from the other’s leaders. Your problem staff will be different from the other leaders. So when faced with this advise from a fellow leader, what do you do?” Elyse Nielsen presents Learning to Lead – Own Your Judgements posted at Anticlue.

Barry Zweibel presents Out-Loud Leadership posted at GottaGettaBLOG!.

Kevin Kim presents What is flat leadership? posted at hour9.

“In this article I want to discuss a few ideas which may help you to set goals more consciously and also introduce a practical way to actually get them achieved.” – Manager skill presents Achieving your goals posted at Manager skill.

Bob Lieberman presents The Wisdom Of Fallow posted at Cultivating Creativity – Developing Leaders for the Creative Economy.

Dean L. Forbes presents How to Always Make Good Decisions posted at Dean L. Forbes – Powerful Principles of Personal Growth.

Rose King presents 100 Lectures Every Leader Should Listen To posted at Online Classes.org.

Mike King presents The Problem with Leadership | Learn This posted at Learn This.

“Being a leader means having to critique your employees. Learn how to give constructive criticism to various types of individuals.” – Ralph Jean-Paul presents The Ultimate Guide to Giving and Taking Constructive Criticism posted at Potential 2 Success.

And finally, here’s the last act of the Carnival, at #50, my own The Cowardly Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Poor Performers. I’m not sure if it was my “best”, but it sure got a lotta hits, thanks to my friends at SmartBrief.

Image credit: Great Leadership

Leadership Needed—By 2015

Monday, December 21st, 2009

learning-leadershipHow do you feel when you read something presented as a unique insight into a subject and it turns out to be the same old tire stuff that you’ve seen for years?

That’s how I felt when I read The Coming Leadership Gap: What You Can Do About It by John Ryan, president of the Center for Creative Leadership.

I’ve been hearing the term ‘leadership gap’ for years, yet Ryan writes that his company just coined it.

Based on our [global] survey, there are four skills that executives all over the world believe will be most important just five years from now: leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment, and managing change.

Most important starting 2015?

Good grief, I haven’t done a survey, but I’d say those four skills have been important for decades hundreds of years, more actually.

I’m sure Attila the Hun found them critical when he conquered the known world. In fact, odds are that they were on the mind of the first Cro-Magnon clan chieftain when he fought his neighbor.

Pity our poor world when the people running global enterprise think they have five years before they need to master these skills.

One of the comments was especially perceptive; in part it said,

Various management gurus from the 1950’s have said the same thing over and over again. Yet despite this each generation of corporate leaders repeat the mistakes off their predecessors in that they fail to invest in leadership and management development. I believe the answer lies firstly in a change of mindset.John Coxon

Now we are getting somewhere.

It’s MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™); it’s always been MAP and it will always be MAP that is the problem—or the solution.

Before and after 2015 it will be the executives and managers who get it; who understand that these skills need to be embedded in the company’s DNA; they are not CEO skills, but core competency requirements to thrive in the 21st Century.

Image credit: hikingartist.com on flickr

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