Leading Blog



09.01.15

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2015

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram
  Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner by Robert Steven Kaplan
  H3 Leadership: Stay Hungry. Be Humble. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick
  The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age by Joseph Burgo

5 Gears Leadership BS Really Need to Lead H3 Leadership Narcissist You Know

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“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”
— Edmund Burke


Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:01 AM
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08.31.15

LeadershipNow 140: August 2015 Compilation

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twitter Here are a selection of tweets from August 2015 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:34 AM
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08.28.15

Fairness is Overrated

Fairness is Overrated
Fairness is Overrated is a solid leadership primer on what it takes to create a healthy culture day-in and day-out. Tim Stevens comes from a Church leadership perspective. However, his 52 principles are applicable anywhere because people are people with the same issues—only the peer pressure changes (unfortunately).

The 52 principles are organized around four key areas: Be a leader worth following, Find the right people, Build a healthy culture and Lead confidently through a crisis.

Stevens begins with “live a life with margins” and ends with the “five stages of failure.” Living a life with margin structured in not only helps all of the other leadership principles discussed here but it helps you move through the five stages of failure faster. So it’s a foundational principle.

A leader worth following has integrity. It’s about character. Knowing yourself and disconnecting is an important way to maintain integrity. You need to build space for what’s important.

Finding the right people—finding and developing leaders—is the most important thing his did as an executive pastor. “Here is what I believe to my core: the success of leaders will rise or fall based on the decisions they make about the people around them.”

When hiring people Stevens recommends not going solo. Get others involved. Chemistry is more important than skills, experience, or education. Use social media to “get to know” the people you are considering. Look for how they treat people they disagree with. Hiring too quickly leads to problems. Pay well. “You don’t want staff to join because of money. You don’t want staff to stay because of money. You don’t want staff to leave because of money.”

If you have a healthy culture, people are waiting in line to join your organization. A healthy culture is led by a leader who is not insecure about others succeeding. Gossip is not tolerated. Employees do life together; it’s not just a job.

In a healthy culture a leader turns over authority to others. Let your leaders lead. “No organization, church, government, or company can have a healthy culture and be run by a dictator, monarch, or single personality.” You need a strong team running the organization.

What Stevens is talking about here is humility. A toxic culture cannot be changed without it.

Leading confidently through a crisis means trusting the people you have in place to figure it out. A confident leader is not one that says, “I can figure it out” but one that says, “We can figure it out.” Having a great team in place is critical here. If you have found the right people and developed a healthy culture, then it becomes easier to lead confidently in a crisis.

These 52 principles are easier to implement if you have people who will speak truth to you. Again, humility is key here.

There is a lot to be considered in this book. It is well-written (a bit of a page turner) and you will want to go back again and again to see how you measure up.

And by the way, fairness is overrated. “Don’t confuse fairness with justice. Justice is about doing what is right. Fairness means everyone gets exactly the same thing.” It's about priorities.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:03 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership , Management

08.26.15

What Are Your Hidden Strengths?

Your strengths will get you in the door, but to make progress you are going to have to become more of who you are and draw on your hidden strengths.

Hidden strengths are not weaknesses. They are capacities you have that have yet to be recognized, developed and utilized. They become your Learned Strengths.

Your strengths and weaknesses need to be managed. Strengths need to be managed so that they are not overused or overbearing. Weaknesses need to be managed so that they don’t derail you. Often they can be delegated. But the area between the two—your hidden strengths—not only provide a deep pool of strengths to draw on but they will help you to smooth out your rough edges and bring into balance your natural strengths.

Hidden Strengths
Hidden Strengths, authors Thuy and Milo Sindell have identified 28 skills in four categories and made available a free Hidden Strengths Assessment at HiddenStrengths.com. The four categories are: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading the Organization, and Leading Implementation.

Once you have identified your hidden strengths you can identify areas to focus on developing that would nullify a weakness or contribute to your success without directly attacking areas where you struggle. For example, Barry lacked emotional control and it was hurting his leadership capacity. He did have hidden strengths in the areas of resilience and flexibility. So instead of attacking his weakness, he developed his resilience and flexibility. In doing so he did not get so fired up that he lost control of his emotions. The authors note that “if he prepared ahead of time for meetings by formulating his ideas and alternatives, it make him more flexible when he listened to others’ ideas, and everyone would feel heard and understood.”

You are more than what naturally comes to you. There is much more that can be developed. “With awareness and dedication, you can leverage these Hidden Strengths to continually reach new levels of performance and success.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:54 PM
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08.01.15

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2015

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin
  Unthinkable: The Culture and Politics of Getting Innovation Wrong by Tom Hopkins
  Louder than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice by Todd Henry
  Leading Continuous Change: Navigating Churn in the Real World by Bill Pasmore
  Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Humans Are Underrated Unthinkable Louder than Words Leading Continuous Change Rising Strong

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


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“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries.”
— Descartes


Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:28 AM
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07.31.15

LeadershipNow 140: July 2015 Compilation

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twitter Here are a selection of tweets from July 2015 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:43 AM
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07.24.15

You Can’t Lead If You’re in the Weeds

Leading Forum
Leaders work on a spectrum of effectiveness and the continuum varies with the ups and downs of your work’s natural rhythms. When you are in a good place, with available margin to deal with your load, you take a balanced approach to meeting your demands, use your strengths wisely, and sustain the capacity to manage well against the challenges of the day. Let’s call this the Performance Zone, which is the place you need to be.

As you confront our day-to-day demands from this place, you are more likely to be: response-driven, multidimensional, flexible, proactive, and engaged. However, when your margin runs low and the inverse equation of shrinking resources and increasing demands stresses our capacity to the breaking point, the strain can tilt you away from the Performance Zone and push you out into the weeds toward the Danger Zone. In this overwhelmed place, it’s easy to get into a reactionary mode where priorities get blurred by the fatigue of doing more with less.

The bottom line is that you can’t lead if you’re lost. To know whether your demands are pushing you out of the Performance Zone, consider each of the following questions and answer with either “Yes” or “No” depending on whether the statement is true for you:
  1. Have the demands on you increased over the past several months?
  2. Are they likely to stay elevated and/or continue rising?
  3. If your demands have increased, have you gained enough additional time, energy, resources, and focus to adequately address them?
If you answered “Yes,” “Yes,” and “No” to these questions then you are tilting toward the Danger Zone and at risk of getting stuck in what I call The Manager’s Dilemma. To know if you’re already stuck in the dilemma's grip, listen to the way you talk about your own work. The emergence of paradoxical statements like the following is the first sign that the manager’s dilemma is settling into your atmosphere:
  • "I can’t afford to relax because things are too busy right now."
  • "With so many deadlines and demands, some priorities will have to be sacrificed."
  • "It’s too crazy now; I’ll focus better once things settle down."
From the outside looking in, you can see how backward statements like these actually are. If a friend said something like this to you, it would be easy to point out the flaw in their logic and show them how the undoubtedly counterproductive behaviors stemming from these attitudes will leave them more deeply entrenched in their dilemma. However, when it comes to our own situations, we’re too close to and too tangled up in them to maintain this level of objectivity.

When we are stuck in our own dilemmas, we somehow start believing that this is how work has to be. Over time, the cumulative effect of this way of thinking and working leaves us feeling like there is truly no way out. What was easy is now difficult. What was enjoyable is now unsatisfying. What used to give us a sense of purpose now seems unimportant.

The good news is that you can get yourself out of the weeds and back on track – even when you cannot change the responsibilities you face. It turns out that the dilemma’s triggers are swinging doors and within each one there is an alternative path that acts as an escape hatch. To exit the dilemma, you have to go out the way you came in:
  1. It turns us around and distorts our values and goals, so determine your line of sight to focus on the right priorities.
  2. It spins our wheels, causing extra effort with less effectiveness, so distinguish your contribution to make a deeper impact.
  3. It punctures leaks in our already fragile time, energy, resources, and focus, so plug the leaks to restore your capacity.
  4. It limits our ability to use everyday obstacles for good, so convert your challenges to fuel and turn the tables on the dilemma.
Together, these four drivers and related responses can change the way you work.

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Manage’s Dilemma
Jesse Sostrin is the author of The Manager’s Dilemma. He writes and speaks at the intersection of individual and organizational success. Follow him @jessesostrin.
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:57 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

07.20.15

Is it Time to Disrupt You?

“I was presenting myself to the world as an out-of-shape, intimidated middle-aged man. That needed to change,” writes Jay Samit.

Disruption can be a powerful and positive force. If we are to work with and take advantage of the disruptions in the world around us, we must be willing to disrupt ourselves.

Leadership
All disruption, says Samit in Disrupt You!, begins with introspection. After an early failure he began a process of self-disruption. “I analyzed all the pieces that came together to form my identity. I began to define what unique experiences and knowledge I had that would set me apart from my peers. I thought about the way I made decisions, how I processed and responded to information, how I approached problems. I thought about the way I presented myself to the world and how I communicated my abilities to potential business partners and clients. And I thought about how I was sending my time and energy. If I was going to find opportunities to make a name for myself in the world, I was going to have to change something in my approach.”

This a lot to tackle, but it is a process we all need to face. It can be very difficult to confront our assumptions about ourselves and the world around us to create a reimagined self. It is difficult to upend what we have built—our identity and approach—in exchange for a better future. It’s unknown. We are often more comfortable with what we have always done—even if it is not working for us—than we are moving into unchartered territory.

Like any business we also have a value chain—our identities. Any or all of these links may need to be disrupted. You might think of research and development as the way we interpret the world. Where do I thrive? What kind of people do I work with best? What do I believe about myself that might not be true?

Production and design are the ways in which you respond to problems. Do I tackle problems with an open mind, thinking holistically? Your reactions to disruptions in your environment will depend on your mind-set.

The next link relates to how you market and sell your potential. Not what you have done, but what you can do. Success says Samit, is about defining your future. About his own marketing and sales links he writes:
We market and sell ourselves in the ways we present ourselves to the world, which are based on what we see as our personal strengths or limitations. We distribute ourselves in the ways we choose to spend our time and where we focus our energies. When viewed from this framework, the process of self-transformation becomes approachable: you need only analyze each link in your internal value chain and find the single link that’s holding you back. Then make changes to that link to disrupt yourself.
Finally, distribution is how we spend your time and where we direct our focus. Do I devote my time and energy to achieving my dreams, or am I surfing the Internet every evening? Our time and energy is a valuable resource, we must distribute it wisely.

Self-disruption is about making deliberate choices rather than running on autopilot. It’s about making preemptive moves rather than just being a pawn in a game.

Samit provides Disruptor’s Map in each of these areas to help you begin disrupting yourself before you are disrupted. Consider where you are and where you want to be. And don’t forget to ask yourself what you want to do along the way personally and professionally. Both are critical areas to consider.

Self-disruption can prepare us for the future and the disruptions it will bring.

Every disruption brings about opportunities. By analyzing the value chain you can find new ways to capture value. “The real challenge,” says Samit, “is for each of us to determine where we feel we can make the most impact.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:17 AM
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07.14.15

Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals

Achievement Habit
Bernard Roth, one of the founders of the multi-disciplinary d.school at Stanford University, has written a book titled, The Achievement Habit. However, it is much more than the title might let on.

It’s about how you can achieve your goals more fully and faster by expanding your limited view of reality. It’s about design thinking applied to every aspect of your life. It’s about assisting us to break through the walls that are mostly of our own making.

You Give Everything Its Meaning

Roth begins by reminding us that nothing has any meaning except for the meaning that we give it. “Stop labeling things in their usual way. Make the familiar into the unfamiliar, and the result can be amazing and delightful, as opposed to dull, nonfunctional, and ordinary.” Along these same lines, this applies to our need to be right. “Next time you find yourself playing right and wrong, remember: You give everything in your life its meaning, so you can choose to end the game. It does not matter how right you are or how wrong they are; you lose just by playing.” You have the power to change your attitude and therefore, how you will play the game.

Reasons Are Excuses

And then there are all the reasons we have for why something is or isn’t happening. They’re really just excuses prettied up says Roth. He was chronically late until he decided to stop coming up with reasons and deal with the real issue. Here’s the key point: We use reasons “to hide shortcomings from ourselves. When we stop using reasons to justify ourselves, we increase our chances of changing behavior, gaining a realistic self-image, and living a more satisfying and productive life.” In other words, we take responsibility for our life.

We often get stuck because we are working on the wrong issue. We have some faulty assumptions. “Experience has shown me that one of the main causes of losing sleep over a problem is that we think we are dealing with a question when in fact we are dealing with an answer (a solution) that turns out not to be a good fit to our actual problem.” Letting go of the problem is often the best solution. Roth shows you how to rework your question to find the actual issue.

At the d.school there is a bias toward action. Failure is part of the expected result. In reaching our goals we also need to watch our language because it influences the way we see things (and the way others see us too). The word but creates conflict. Using the word and opens up the conversation. Change “I have to” to “I want to.” It clarifies the fact that we have a choice in the matter.

Don’t Interrupt

Here’s a ego taxing communication tip: Don’t interrupt. “Many people interrupt because they have something that they are afraid they might forget or that it will not be relevant later. The best thing to do is to let it go. If it is still appropriate at the end, say it then. If it gets lost and remains unspoken—no matter how brilliant it would have been—the world will not notice.”

Flat Organization

Roth describes the flat organization of the d.school over the last forty years. Why and how it works. With a common goal and purpose, I think what Roth describes is possible: “We operated by consensus and negotiation, almost never voting on anything. There was almost no acrimony, and people treated each other with respect, collegiality, and a spirit of shared purpose and commitment.” “We were all in charge, and we wanted to make it work.” If you can overcome your biases, “you might find a management structure that strongly supports what you want to accomplish.”

Many more topics from designing work spaces to self-image are discussed. All of it valuable. Each concept is followed by a “Your Turn” section to give you tools and techniques to apply these ideas to your own situation.
When you hold yourself in high esteem and keep a positive outlook on your future, other will usually follow suit. By choosing the meaning we give to people and things in our environment, ultimately we control our own experiences, not matter what work we are doing.


Quote 
The Achievement Habit is a book about life. How to design your life and leadership through design thinking. Stop wishing, start doing, and take command of your life.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:44 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Creativity & Innovation , Personal Development

07.10.15

Are You Running at Full Power?

Only about 10% of us are running at full power!

Power Score
Power Score is designed to help you determine why you might not be performing at your best.

Your Power Score (P x W x R) is based on three questions you should be asking yourself and your team:

Do we have the right priorities?
Do we have the right who?
Do we have the right relationships?

“The key to great leadership is to have the right priorities, the right people on your team, and the right relationships that achieve results.”

Interestingly, their research found that where most leaders were weakest related to the who and then priorities. The relationship factor was the strongest factor by far.

To score high on the Priorities factor, the priorities connect with the mission (the why), they are the right ones (will they get you what you want), and they are clear (focused).

To score high on the Who factor means hiring the right people onto your team and matching them to the right priorities. Have we diagnosed our team to understand its strengths and risks? (Can they accomplish the priorities?) Have we deployed the right people against the right priorities? (Remove underperformers, move people around, hire to fill out the team.) Have we developed our team? (Set people up for success.)

To score high on the Relationships factor means building relationship that function well together and achieve results. Is communication coordinated within and beyond the team? (Communicating with the right people at the right times.) Is our team committed to the mission and to one another? (Emotionally invested in their work.) Does our team feel challenged to accomplish something bigger than themselves? (Feedback and mutual accountability. A challenged team will remain a committed one.)

The book provides a questionnaire to help you and your team determine your own power score. You will also find instructions to have a follow-up power conversation. By having a power conversation with your team and rating each of these areas you can discover areas where you can improve and increase your power score.

Power Score

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Of Related Interest:
  I Hired Your Resume. But Unfortunately What I Got Was You!

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:49 AM
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