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12.29.06

Why Are Leaders in Such Short Supply?

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, authors of Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? wrote: Given the hunger for leadership, why are leaders in such short supply? We think there are two fundamental reasons.

First, organizations desire leaders but structure themselves in ways that kill leadership. Too many organizations—in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors—are machines that destroy leadership. They encourage either conformists or role players with an impoverished sense of who they are and what they stand for. Neither makes for effective leaders.

Second, our understanding of leadership is blinkered. The main body of leadership literature focuses on the characteristics of leaders. The underlying assumption is that leadership is something we do to other people. But we believe leadership should be seen as something we do with other people. Leadership should always be viewed as a relationship between the leader and the led.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:43 AM
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12.27.06

Reactions to Gerald Ford's Death

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age… His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country.''
—Betty Ford, in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage, Calif.


"I was deeply saddened this evening when I heard of Jerry Fords death. Ronnie and I always considered him a dear friend and close political ally. His accomplishments and devotion to our country are vast, and even long after he left the Presidency he made it a point to speak out on issues important to us all."
—Former first lady Nancy Reagan


"He had to bring our country back and make it whole again and he did it with dignity, he did it with great, great skill and sensitivity."
—Alexander Haig, Mr. Ford's former chief-of-staff


"Throughout his career, as a naval officer, congressman, vice president and president, Gerald Ford embodied the best values of a great generation: decency, integrity, and devotion to duty. Thirty-two years ago, he assumed the nation's highest office during the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. In that troubled era, America needed strength, wisdom, and good judgment, and those qualities came to us in the person of Gerald R. Ford. … I was proud to know President Ford, and to have served in the White House as his chief of staff. He was a dear friend and mentor to me until this very day."
—Vice President Cheney


"President Ford is one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known. A man of highest integrity, his life-long dedication to helping others touched the lives of countless people. An outstanding statesman, he wisely chose the path of healing during a deeply divisive time in our nation's history. He frequently rose above politics by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship and seeking common ground on issues critical to our nation."
—President Jimmy Carter


"President Ford was a great man, a great leader and perhaps Michigan's greatest son. He served his country with distinction for his entire adult life. He will be remembered as a president who kept America together during one if its greatest crises. He and his wife Betty have demonstrated great courage and the highest values throughout their lives. He will be missed."
—Jane Abraham, co-chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party


"Gerald Ford and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we forged a wonderful friendship as we served Michigan together in the House of Representatives. When his nation called on him to serve his country ... he rose up and held the country together. It will certainly be his legacy. I will remember him fondly and I will miss him dearly."
—U.S. Rep. John Dingell


"He became president of the United States during a trying time and immediately began the difficult process of healing a nation torn apart by scandal. He will be remembered for leading with integrity and character. He brought West Michigan values with him to Washington and maintained them throughout his rise from congressman… to vice president and president."
—U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra


Gerald Ford

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:30 AM
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12.26.06

Former President Gerald R. Ford Dies Today at 93

Gerald Ford
Former president Gerald R. Ford died at 6:45 p.m. today at age 93. He was 38th (1974-77) and only unelected president in America's history. He was also the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93.

From her husband's office in Rancho Mirage, Mrs. Betty Ford announced in a brief statement, "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age. His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

President Ford epitomized servant-leadership. He did what was best for those he led no matter what the cost might have been for him politically. He believed in the importance of leading by example. He spent his career serving his country and healed his country. He was the right man at the right time. He was a humble, honest man and a great leader.

"The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his personal character and the honorable conduct of his administration," President Bush said in a statement tonight. "We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th president will always have a special place in our nation's memory."

"During a time of disquiet and uncertainty, Ford, through his inherent decency, almost single-handedly restored the faith of the American people in their government" wrote Mark Updegrove in Second Acts.

President Ford closed his autobiography, A Time To Heal, upon leaving the White House in 1978 with these words, “My thoughts went back to the morning of August 1, 1974, when I received that first phone call from Al Haig. And I remembered how cloudy it had been in Washington that day. Now I looked out the window of the plane. The sun was shining brightly. I couldn’t see a cloud anywhere, and I felt glad about that.”

Information about the memorial contributions and how you can send a message of condolence to the Ford family can be found at www.GeraldFordMemorial.com
Gerald Ford


Quotes by Gerald Ford:

  Remarks upon granting a pardon to former President Richard Nixon, September 8, 1974: “As we are a nation under God, so I am sworn to uphold our laws with the help of God. And I have sought such guidance and searched my own conscience with special diligence to determine the right thing for me to do with respect to my predecessor in this place, Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family. Theirs is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”

  Bicentennial Remarks at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1976: “As we continue our American adventure…all our heroes and heroines of war and peace send us this single, urgent message: though prosperity is a good thing, though compassionate charity is a good thing, though institutional reform is a good thing, a nation survives only so long as the spirit of sacrifice and self-discipline is strong within its people. Independence has to be defended as well as declared; freedom is always worth fighting for; and liberty ultimately belongs only to those willing to suffer for it.”

  Bicentennial Remarks at Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1976: “The world is ever conscious of what Americans are doing, for better or for worse, because the United States today remains that most successful realization of humanity’s universal hope. The world may or may not follow, but we lead because our whole history says we must. Liberty is for all men and women as a matter of equal and unalienable right. The establishment of justice and peace abroad will in large measure depend upon the peace and justice we create here in our own country, for we still show the way.”

  Remarks at his final State of the Union speech, January 12, 1978: “My fellow Americans, I once asked you for your prayers, and now I give you mine. May God guide this wonderful country, its people and those they have chosen to lead them. May our third century be illuminated by liberty and blessed with brotherhood so that we and all who come after us may be the humble servants of thy peace.”

  Remarks upon receiving the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, May 21, 2001: “I have always believed that most people are mostly good, most of the time. I have never mistaken moderation for weakness, nor civility for surrender. As far as I'm concerned, there are no enemies in politics--just temporary opponents who might vote with you on the next Roll Call. . . . The ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take, but the risks you take. In the short run, some risks prove overwhelming. Political courage can be self-defeating. But the greatest defeat of all would be to live without courage, for that would hardly be living at all.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:00 PM
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12.25.06

Best Leadership Books of 2006

Best Leadership Books of 2006
Our selection for the best leadership books of 2006 are listed below. The books listed below—in no particular order—we believe, have added something unique or a useful restating of important insights that we all need to be reminded of as we develop our leadership skills.

It's true, as Michael Silverblatt wrote, "The art (as opposed to the technology) of reading requires that you develop a beautiful tolerance for incomprehension. The greatest books are the books that you come to understand more deeply with time, with age, with rereading." Because we only see what we believe, it's through time, experience and personal growth, that we are able to draw insight and connections we didn't see before.

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John C. Maxwell

Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? What It Takes to Be an Authentic Leader by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones

Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

A Leader's Legacy by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs

Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win by William C. Taylor and Polly G. LaBarre

Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson

Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies by Nikos Mourkogiannis

Great Leadership: What It Is and What It Takes in a Complex World by Anthony Bell

Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature by Joseph Badaracco, Jr.

Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work by David Rock

2006bestbookpick

In 2006 at least three biographies were released that are worthy of mention:

The Defining Moment : FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

Joe Wilson and the Creation of Xerox by Charles D. Ellis

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 AM
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12.22.06

What Drives Our Leadership Impact

“Where others see hierarchies, the new leaders see connections” writes Emmanuel Gobillot in his book, The Connected Leader. What differentiates a connected leader is the way in which they impact and influence those around them and this is largely determined by the way in which they view good leadership. More than even our individual skill-set, how we see the role of leadership greatly determines the impact we have on others and the success we will have as leaders.

Our impact is the result of a number of factors. Using the iceberg metaphor, above the waterline for all to see, are skills and knowledge. Gobillot writes, “Skills and knowledge are important because they give the leader the ability to take part in the game. On their own, they do not differentiate between average and superior performance…. But it is below the waterline that the real differentiators lie. …Below the waterline, the drivers of impact can be found. Performance will differ depending on how people see their role. If doctors believe that their primary role is solving problems, their behavior is likely to be different from that of surgeons who see their roles as healers.” We need to examine our beliefs if we are to change our impact and effectiveness with those around us.
chart

Often we see the "smartest person in the room" or "the leader of all leaders" mind-set to thinking about leadership. With this mentality we won't have the necessary ability to work well with other leaders and developing community. As Jean Lipman-Blumen wrote in Connective Leadership, "leaders cannot just issue orders; instead, they have to join forces, persuade, and negotiate to resolve conflicts." Your ability to do this is largely determined by the "below the waterline" type factors.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:14 AM
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12.20.06

The Go Point

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
—Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

go point Yet, within those constraints, argues Michael Useem, we have the opportunity to make our own destiny. We all make decisions all the time. Some decisions are in consequential, but often we are called upon to make consequential decisions—those that affect other people. Some people are very good at consistently reaching good decisions in a timely way. Yet, it is surprising how many people are just not great at knowing when to pull the trigger, and how to pull it when they do. The Go Point seeks to address that concern. By taking us into the moment when decisions were made, both good and bad, Useem digs out the principles that emerge from these experiences. From these examples, he constructs templates of fifty principles and tools we can bear in mind when faced with similar types of decisions. He advises us to identify the five or ten lessons that are most salient for the decisions that we most frequently face and then concentrate on just those.

The underlying point in this book is that decision making is a learned skill. You've got to make decisions and then look back on them and mine what lessons you can in order to improve your next decision.

Whether it's a long term decision or a split second decision, there is a point when you have to force yourself to make it. That moment is the go point. He writes, “The go point is not always a matter of getting to yes….Rather, the go point is that instant when the choice gets made, whether no or yes, and the commitment moves from consideration to action. How you jump at that moment can make a vast difference, not only for yourself but also for all around you."

Below is a template for looking at some of the most commonly encountered problems in reaching a decision.

ProblemToolIllustration
Unfamiliar responsibilitiesAppraise the pastLui Chuanzhi built a leading global computer maker by recurrently reviewing the past week’s major decisions
Inexperienced gutEducate your instinctsFlight simulators help NASA astronauts train their intuition so they can decide instinctively
Analysis paralysisThe 70 percent solutionThe Marine Corps trains officers to make decisions when they are 70 percent confident of the outcome
Rush to JudgmentPreserve optionalityU.S. treasury secretary Robert Rubin and Scottish Power CEO Ian Russell both delayed major decisions as long as possible to reduce complexity and uncertainty
Anxiety overloadLook at the clockWhen other dials are whirling on their instrument panels, Navy pilots control themselves by studying the steady hands of the clock
Wiley adversaryClone your opponentNew England Patriots coach Bill Belichick assigned a backup quarterback to mimic the Colt’s Peyton Manning
Repeated failureRestrategize and restaffThe Royal Geographic Society’s Himalayan Committee changed plans and replaced leadership for its triumphant 1953 assault on Mt. Everest

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:49 AM
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12.18.06

5 Things Leadership is Not

Greg Morris, asks us in his book, In Pursuit of Leadership, to consider five things leadership is not:
  1. Leadership is not a position. Leadership comes from personal influence, not a job title.
  2. Leadership is not building a personality cult. Leadership is not surrounding yourself with “yes men.”
  3. Leadership is not being indispensable. While it may give you strokes to feel needed, it is not leadership. Some leaders build followers, while true leaders build other leaders.
  4. Leadership is not about blaming others. Leadership is first and foremost about being honest and responsible for the decisions you make or fail to make.
  5. Leadership is not privilege. Authentic leaders will not use their position for their own advantage or comfort and should not ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.
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He adds, “The reality of true leadership is that your rights actually DECREASE as you rise in the organization, while your responsibilities INCREASE. This suggests that leadership involves not power or prestige but servanthood.”

In Pursuit of Leadership is an interesting analysis of the life of Moses—a man nearly all of us are familiar with—in terms of his leadership and the path he took to get there. He points out that the accomplishments that Moses is known for “materialized in the final third of his life…. The first eighty years of Moses’ life molded him into a man that God could trust and use. There is no shortcut to spiritual preparation and leadership training. Only through the crucible of life can patience, discipline, character and maturity be developed.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:21 AM
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12.15.06

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

disney
Walt Disney is arguably one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth-century. (The Atlantic listed him at number 26 in their recent listing of influential Americans.) He died 40 years ago today at age 65 in Los Angeles.

Steven Watts writes in The Magic Kingdom, "Walt Disney operated not only as an entertainer but as a historical mediator. His creations helped Americans come to terms with the unsettling transformations of the twentieth century. This role was unintentional but decisive. Disney entertainment projects were consistently nourished by connections to mainstream American culture — its aesthetics, political ideology, social structures, economic framework, moral principles — as it took shape from the late 1920s through the late 1960s.”

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The new biography of Disney by Neal Gabler is the best portrait of Disney to date. With unprecedented access to Disney family achieves, Gabler tells a story of a man that would not be deterred from his many disappointments and failures to fulfill his dreams and in the end, decidedly alter the American consciousness. Unfortunately for Disney, his dreams didn’t always bring him personal happiness.

Disney once remarked, "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

Gabler concludes that of all Disney’s contributions, his greatest is that “he demonstrated how one could assert one’s will on the world at the very time when everything seemed to be growing beyond control and beyond comprehension. In sum, Walt Disney had been not so much a master of fun or irreverence or innocence or even wholesomeness. He had been a master of order.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:06 AM
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12.13.06

Who Will Succeed or Fail in the Corner Office?

Carol Hymowitz asked in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “which CEOs have the skills to survive the New Year’s challenges?” In her article she writes:
The true test of enduring leadership success is how well business leaders handle setbacks and failures. They can advance by outperforming others, but they can't always be in control.

"Given the collision of pressures and challenges in business today, you'll never be on top all the time," says Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of the Yale School of Management. The real test, he adds, is who survives a challenge to a chief's business model or reputation.

Executives have a better chance of survival if they address problems directly, admit their mistakes and build alliances to make changes. They must seek advice from others but also feel secure enough to make decisive plans.

A leader’s communication flexibility and consistency is important in this regard. Leaders are not only expected to influence their direct reports, Gene Klan writes in his new book, Building Character, but “are also expected to influence their superiors, board members, peer, customers, clients, suppliers, the news media, community officials, political leaders, government regulators, negotiators, environmental authorities, special interest groups, Wall Street Analysts, and any number of other stakeholders…. [E]ach group requires different tactics to be influenced and led both effectively and positively. Leaders need flexibility and many different skills to communicate credibly and interact with all these parties for maximum results.”
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Consistency is a matter of character. “For leaders,” Klan continues, “consistency means always reflecting the same basic principles in practice. It means that one’s behaviors conform and agree with one’s past words and actions regardless of pressure, criticism, and advice to do otherwise. It means maintaining the habitual positive behaviors that are key to winning trust and respect and achieving effectiveness overall. It means being seen and known as a pillar of dependability and reliability, not changing or wavering based on opinion polls, internal disapprovals, or external condemnations."

"Consistency also implies that a leader’s behaviors and character are not compartmentalized between work and personal life. You are who you are, and that doesn’t change when you arrive at the office or at your own front door. Your character is such that you find consistent standards for behavior in any context. Responsibilities, stresses, and personalities may vary, but your character does not. All the politically correct arguments to the contrary do not change that reality. Behaviors reflect a leader’s character regardless of the context. In every context, your character will be noticed and judged.” It is these leaders that have to best chance of surviving the challenges that lie ahead in the coming year.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:52 AM
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12.11.06

Leadership Challenges

Alex Andarakis
The Dubai based ITP Business Magazine published an article this last weekend by Alex Andarakis, CEO of Middle East drinks giant Aujan, relating some of the challenges of leadership we face today. Returning from a recent forum at the London Business School, he came away with the following lessons and issues:

  Strong and successful companies understand that leadership is not the exclusive domain of the chief executive or board of directors. Rather, leadership is a key requirement across all levels within an organisation.

  The role of leaders is to constantly, and with large amounts of passion, communicate and raise the profile of ‘meaning', articulating it in a manner that is easily understood and wholly relevant.

  Leaders inspire the imagination of a community of followers and believers. Leaders provide their teams and the individuals within them with the strength and motivation to create and maintain momentum throughout the journey of achieving the company’s vision, strategy and targets.

  We are increasingly impatient to achieve success: See how the traditional career of 47 hours a week, 47 weeks a year, for 47 years has been replaced by young professionals who put in 60 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 17 years.

  We are increasingly disconnected from any sense of community: Look at the breakdown of families and the disappearance of social clubs and associations.

  We are increasingly distrustful of authority: From Enron to WorldCom to Parmalat to Tyco, corporate scandal has slowly eroded trust.

  Leaders must drive significance, community, authenticity and trust. They must capture the hearts and minds of their staff – who invest a significant amount of their life in an organization, often at a great cost to their personal and family ties.

  Take this challenge: The next time you're sitting in a business class lounge, study the faces of the many gifted individuals around you, wearied from an endless tour of duty for their employers. They are more than just people being paid to do a job; they are individuals with families, friends, hopes and fears; all trying to understand how and what they do will make a difference to others in their community.

  Valuing the emotional dimension – and forging an emotional connection – is the key difference between good leaders and great leaders.

  Understanding oneself is of paramount importance. If self-knowledge is absent, how can you imagine that you will ever understand your organisation, community or even customers?

Issues such as the authority deficit and the decay of meaningful community will become even more obvious in the coming years as we struggle to deal with them. As we begin to discover the emerging problems related to these issues, we might find that we to reexamine our own attitudes concerning them before anything meaningful can be done to correct the situation.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:29 AM
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12.08.06

No Smoke‚ No Mirrors ... Straight Down the Middle

Robert W. Lane
Robert W. Lane, the current “chief steward” (as he refers to himself) of the 169-year-old John Deere Company, recently shared a few thoughts on integrity to the students at the Mendoza School of Business of the University of Notre Dame.
First, it is probably best to define what I mean when I say “integrity.” It means: “No smoke‚ no mirrors, no tricks … straight down the middle.” It means no exaggerations, no dissembling; just the “real deal.”

The John Deere way of describing integrity—“No smoke, no mirrors, no tricks … straight down the middle”—doesn’t apply only to customers, shareholders or employees. The phrase applies to how we work with our dealers, communities, suppliers, legislators, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, universities and research groups. The good thing about acting with integrity is that you can present a consistent face to all of your key audiences.

Many of you have some corporate experience. You have tested yourselves on the field of competition. You know the critical importance of passion, commitment, teamwork, perseverance and imagination. But without integrity—that moral compass to do what is right, not just what is expedient—these important traits lack a “bonding agent.” They require integrity to make them truly adhere to business goals.

Recent scandals at major corporations around the world make it easy to see what can go wrong if leaders act out of mere short-term self-interest rather than principled, long-term self-interest, which then contributes to the greater good.... Frankly, these recent situations are very disappointing.

In part, they are disappointing because the public is losing faith in business—when in fact it is business that can help lift and keep people out of poverty by providing good jobs as well as the continuous training required to keep employees’ skills and capabilities abreast with changing needs. It is business, through its taxes, that can help communities, even nations, build infrastructure and educate their populations. It is business, working with public officials, that can help create public policy that advances the human condition. But without people who believe in them, i.e., investors, employees, and legislators, businesses are hard-pressed to make the investments they need to build and grow. The ramifications of recent indiscretions and willful misdeeds run deep and hurt us all.

According to University of Chicago economics professors Rajan and Zingales, the public and its beliefs matter. In their book, Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists, they point to the anti-market reaction during the Great Depression, noting it “was made possible because the public was all too willing to believe that the market was fatally flawed.” What will happen to today’s free market systems if the public broadly believes the same thing?

Now is the time for Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists, as Rajan and Zingales suggest in their book title. These authors believe that, and I quote: “The greatest danger for the market democracy today is … suppressing competition under the excuse of reducing risk.” They recognize a role for government in developing appropriate infrastructure that allows markets to work efficiently. They caution against a hands-off policy that ultimately could limit access to a privileged few.

If the response to scandals becomes a set of increased regulatory restraints, businesses can be put at a distinct disadvantage. An already fragile free-market system becomes even more vulnerable. Rajan and Zingales caution, as do I, that today all businesses should pay much greater heed to the delicate balance of the free market/regulatory environment, be eternally vigilant against complacency and “closed clubs,” and carefully work to build greater trust, transparency and expanded competition. We must bend over backwards to ensure we not only say the right things, but we do the right things.

Somehow, word needs to get out that many companies are well run by people with high integrity. But don’t just take this statement from me as gospel. People just like you need to question people like me. Learn what you can about individual companies—how they are managed, their behaviors and results. Find out for yourself that the state of business is not as bleak as some would have you believe. That kind of inquisitive and demanding mind-set can help to further restore faith in the world of business.

If we have a “fine sense of our obligations,” business can—as it delivers long-term, sustained performance—contribute to human flourishing. If we do what we say we will do—no smoke, no mirrors, no tricks … straight down the middle—we can help restore faith in free markets. If we act out of principled, long-term self-interest rather than mere short-term self-interest, we can contribute to the greater good and we can all leave the world better for our being here than when we entered it.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:30 AM
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12.06.06

The Era of Professional Management is Dead

Jeffrey Immeldt
About a month ago Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric Company, visited the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Speaking to the students, he stated, "The era of professional management is dead. The future is growth leadership."

The Darden School news release states:

To prepare, he advised Darden students to gain expertise in six key areas:
  • Be a fearless globalist and explore new opportunities wherever they exist.
  • View leadership from the perspective of innovation and product management
  • Simplify. "Doing things simply is a lot harder than doing them in a complicated way," he said. But simplification saves time and increases efficiency, while allowing for the free flow of ideas.
  • Be a salesman. In the digital age companies will sell fewer things to more people, Immelt said. Guessing correctly what those things will be and determining how to sell them will be a hallmark of the successful executive.
  • Like people (be a good student of organizational behavior). This helps maintain loyalty, while giving talented individuals a reason to stay at the company. "Convince them your vision is their vision," Immelt said.
  • Build trust. "Take care of your workforce," the executive said.

The Darden School Dean, Robert F. Bruner added some comments of Immelt’s talk on his blog:
To be a growth leader is to stimulate organic growth of a firm through close acquaintance with the needs of the customer. Thus, “domain knowledge” is important—the knowledge that can help you decide what to sell, to whom, and where to make it. Jack Welch believed in the theory of the “best available athlete,” the generalist who could be transferred successfully from turbines, to medical devices, and to TV production. Immelt believes that higher competition requires a closer knowledge of the customer than the best athlete model allows.

Robert Bruner
On the same post Bruner is also left some impressions of Immelt that are worth reading.

Robert Bruner himself is an interesting and articulate man. I especially appreciated his comments on “Getting a Life.” He writes, “High performance professionals must have a renewing life outside of the workspace. You can’t sustain a high rate of intensity without a break. This varies for everyone, of course. But the formula should include some kind of exercise, family or community-oriented engagement, and some strictly personal break time.” He shares what works for him in his own personal renewal program. Reading, cycling, food and wine, and foreign travel resonated with me.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:55 AM
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12.04.06

Leadership Agility

What is leadership agility? Like agile organizations—organizations that anticipate and respond to rapidly changing conditions by leveraging highly effective internal and external relationships—leadership agility is the ability to take wise and effective action amid complex, rapidly changing conditions.
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Leadership Agility is an interesting, thorough, and well-written book and one of the best on the topic. Authors Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs encouragingly tell us that their research “reveals a significant set of findings about the relationship between personal development and leadership effectiveness: As adults grow toward realizing their potential, they develop a constellation of mental and emotional capacities that happen to be the very capacities needed for agile leadership.”

Building on the pioneering work of Piaget and Erickson in mapping the stages of human development from infants to adulthood—the pre-conventional stages—the authors identify three more stages they call the conventional stages: Conformer, Expert and Achiever. And finally there are the post-conventional stages they call: Catalyst, Co-Creator and Synergist.
agileleadership5chart.gif - 32235 Bytes Some people, of course, may never move through all of the stages. Of the 600 managers they studied, most never move beyond the Achiever stage. They write, "Most top executives and administrators, state and national politicians, influential scientists, and other highly successful professionals have stabilized their development at [the Achiever] stage." Only about 10 percent of today’s managers operate at the post-conventional stages of adult development. What does it mean to be at one of the post-conventional stages?
Research has shown that people at these post-conventional stages are more deeply purposeful, more visionary in their thinking, and more resilient in responding to change and uncertainty. They’re more welcoming of diverse perspectives and have a greater capacity for resolving differences with other people. They’re also more self-aware, more attuned to their experience, more interested in feedback from others, and better at working through inner conflicts.
These stages are sequential and are not personality dependent. In other words, any one can be at any stage but you can move to another stage until you have mastered the one you are at. The question is, “How can we begin to move through these stages of development?” Simply put, you get there by practice—by putting the capacities and traits to work and learning to apply them in various situations.

Each stage represents the maturation to a certain point of four competencies and their respective mental and emotional capacities. They state that highly agile leaders orchestrate the four competencies so that they work in concert. They have developed the Leadership Agility Compass to graphically represent these competencies. All eight of the capacities contribute directly to your effectiveness as a leader.
agileleadershipchart

The outer circle on this graphic represents the tasks carried out using the four leadership agility competencies. The middle circle represents the four pairs of capacities that support these competencies.

The four mutually reinforcing competencies are:

Context-setting agility improves your ability to scan your environment, frame the initiatives you need to take, and clarify the outcomes you need to achieve. It entails stepping back and determining the best initiatives to take, given the changes taking place in your larger environment.

Stakeholder agility increases your ability to engage with key stakeholders in ways that build support for your initiative. It requires you to step back from your own views and objectives to consider the needs and perspectives of those who have a stake in your initiatives.

Creative agility enables you to transform the problems you encounter into the results you need. It involves stepping back from your habitual assumptions and developing optimal solutions to the often novel and complex issues you face.

Self-leadership agility is the ability to use your initiatives as opportunities to develop into the kind of leader you want to be. It entails stepping back; becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and experimenting with new and more effective approaches.

After laying this groundwork in far more detail, Leadership Agility provides real life stories to demonstrate what leadership looks like at that level and then clarifies what it takes to move to the next level. You will also learn how to become more effective in your current level of agility.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:02 AM
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12.01.06

Leadership Books: December 2006

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books being released in December. For a look a little further out see the Upcoming 2007 releases.

The Six Sigma Leader: Putting the Power of Business Excellence Into Everything You Do by Peter S. Pande
Simple Solutions: Harness the Power of Passion and Simplicity to Get the Results You Need by Thomas Schmitt and Arnold Perl
The Book of Hard Choices: How to Make the Right Decisions at Work and Keep Your Self-Respect by James A. Autry and Peter Roy
Paths to Power: How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership by Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria and Laura G. Singleton
Building Character: Strengthening the Heart of Good Leadership by Gene Klann

007145408X 0470048182 0767922581 1422101983 0787981516

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:53 AM
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