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03.30.07

President and CEO = Head of Support

I appreciated Umpqua president and CEO Ray Davis' comment in his book, Leading for Growth concerning the true function of a leader:
If you’re a president or CEO or senior vice president, no doubt you worked hard to earn that position. And yes, your title gives you a certain amount of authority. But it doesn’t tell you what is really important—it doesn’t tell you what your job really is.

My title is president and CEO, and that’s the title I use when I’m out in public representing the company or when I’m on the phone talking about our quarterly results with Wall Street analysts. But when I’m talking to our people, I tell them to scratch out “President and CEO” on my business card and write in “Head of Support,” which is my real title in their eyes.
Leading for Growth
In practical terms:
Because things are moving so quickly, I can’t assume that the tools and support that worked yesterday will be sufficient today. I’m out there all the time, asking, “What is it you need?” It’s a constant. It’s the only way we can keep up with our own growth.
Davis says that support goes beyond just training and tools. The standard fare usually doesn’t get at what people need in a specific way in order to meet your goals. So you always need to be asking people directly what they need. This may mean you need to give different things to different people. The idea that you shouldn’t make individual exceptions “I think is dead wrong…. When people are exceptional, you must make exceptions for them.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:31 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership

03.28.07

Blind Spots: The Strategies for Clear Sight

Blind Spots
What are blind spots? Claudia Shelton, author of Blind Spots: Achieve Success by Seeing What You Can't See, explains that they “are patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving we often do unconsciously that can negatively influence our relationships with other people. They often show up when we are under stress and overuse our greatest strengths. So why are blind spots a big deal? Blind Spots can become possible problems in our working processes and relationship and if left unchecked, they can become serious obstacles to our progress.

Shelton has developed a plan to help us develop what she terms Clear Sight by first recognizing our blind spots and then turning them into strengths. This book is an excellent tool to help you to see yourself differently and thereby increase your self-awareness. What you don’t see is holding you back. She presents five strategies for turning each of the five most common blind spots into strengths. Here is an overview:

Identify Your Strengths
Not being clear about your strengths is a major blind spot. It can undercut your confidence and reduce your energy and vitality. Your strengths are the anchor of your self-confidence.

Check Old Habits
Old habit blind spots are often developed in adolescence when they prove successful in helping us reach our adolescent goals. Blind spots may keep us from realizing that these old habits are not part of who we are; they are just habits that do not serve today’s goal. They block us from developing a clear sense of who we are. Old habits are hard to recognize because they are so familiar to us and so comfortable.

Address Stress
We may be experiencing stress that we believe others can’t see. They do see it and it interferes with our goals and relationships. Importantly she cautions, “Constant unchecked stress can make us inflexible, overusing our strengths, increasing our blind spots, and undercutting our relationship every day.” We most often negatively express the stress we feel by criticism, anger and mood swings.

Tune Your Radar
We need to be aware of the nonverbal cues we send out, as well as recognize the non-verbal cues others are sending. When we communicate conflicting non-verbal signals, we lose influence. “When our radar is tuned, we synchronize what we say with how we say it in a way that has positive impact.”

Connect With Others
Our integrity and trustworthiness are often perceived by our ability to connect with other people effectively. “Connection is more than just information sharing….To connect, we need to be able to bring ourselves into the present moment.”

Shelton provides techniques to help you with the principles outlined here. She suggests however, that you focus on only one or two at a time as more than that can become a bit overwhelming.

A Blind Spots Profile and a Blind Spots 360° questionnaire and Workbook are available for purchase on the WhatsMyBlindSpot web site. The tool helps individuals to recognize their strengths—and the potential blind spots that can appear when those strengths are overused. in advance so they can stay working from their strengths. It can be done free (short version) or for $34.99 (long version with early warning signs for blind spots and plans of attack to turn them into strengths) by going to the WhatsMyBlindSpot web site.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:58 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Personal Development

03.26.07

5 Leadership Lessons: Getting Unstuck

5 Leadership Lessons
Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler is an interesting look at a chronic human problem: not being able to see the forest for the trees. There are times when we get stuck and find ourselves stewing in our own juices.

Our stuck feeling comes from our inability to get our thinking moving again. Sometimes we get hit so hard that it is hard to get our mind off of the point of impact and instead focus on our response. The decision to get on with it, frees us to rally our resources and broaden our repertoire of responses. We will, with the proper outlook, grow to a higher capacity to handle the next crisis that life throws at us.

Bulter offers these thoughts:

1  “When we are at am impasse, we often cannot even sense this flow [the connection we feel to the energy in our life] — or to see how close we are to a dynamic dislodging that would place us back into the energy of the moving current….When we have run aground, we sometimes fail to realize that his is a necessary crisis; without it we cannot grow, change, and — eventually — live more fully in a larger world.”

2  “Self-images often seem to have lives of their own, separate from our daily reality, and they exert a powerful presence that affects decisions and distorts perceptions. These distortions lead us away from the ability to pursue the work and the relationship that hold the greatest promise for fulfillment.” These self-images keep us suck.

3  “The problem with any mental model is that it is always operating on information from the past. In contrast, true vision is never an arrangement or rearrangement of solutions that have worked in previous circumstances, but springs from the immediacy of today….Life is always breaking our mental model…A life shock momentarily awakens something I us, and for a moment we are fully alive, with no model at all. We all want this, to be touched directly by life itself.”

4  “When we are at an impasse, we need new information, especially information about what is missing rather than a summary of what is already there.”

5  Getting unstuck ultimately comes down to a choice. Our lives do not change without action. “The only way forward is to bring our whole person into the tension of the choice. The temptation when experiencing the tensions of a difficult choice is to seek a quick compromise, to find some middle ground that seems to offer some of the best of the conflicting pole. This rarely works and rarely satisfies.”
Getting Unstuck


Butler offers some practical ways to get ourselves thinking again through practicing free attention and some healthy ways of looking at crisis in our life. His One Hundred Jobs Exercise presented in this book, is aimed at helping us to reexamine our outmoded mental models and identify essential work and life themes that will bring us back to our place (authentic) where we can offer our contribution.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Change , Five Lessons

03.25.07

Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer for Kids Ages 10 to 14

Weekend Supplement

The folks at Gallup have developed a Strengths Finder for kids ages 10-14 called the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. It is an instrument designed to help young people discover and develop the unique talents within them.

They explain: "The Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer is designed to help make a lifelong impact on youth based on decades of research. As a parent, it can be a challenge to identify your child's innate talents. This tool can enhance your insights into your child's discovery and growth process. It can help you understand your child's unique perspective of the world. And, it can help shed insight on what are his or her greatest talents—natural patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior—and how to build on those tendencies for success."

Strengths FinderIn my own experience, this is a helpful tool to help you to understand and encourage your child. I recommend having them take it once a year at this point in their life. The cost is $25 (online version) or $35 (printed version) and you get the following:

First, youth get access to the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer assessment—a Web-based program made up of items the participant rates based on how much each specific statement relates to him or her.

Immediately, an individual can print a Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report based on his or her responses. This customized report reveals a person's top three themes—descriptions of his or her areas of natural talent. Also included in the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report are action items for youth and adults. Action items are just that—ways to put talents into action.

Finally, two Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer guides—full of even more activities and ideas to help youth focus on what's best about them—are available:
  • Youth Workbook
  • Parent Guide

leadership blog

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:50 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Weekend Supplement

03.23.07

The Well-Differentiated Leader

USS Cole
Recently U.S. Navy Cdr. Kirk S. Lippold spoke about leadership at Highland School in Virginia. You may remember that he was the commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen in October of 2000. Lippold said, "When you talk about leadership, for a lot of people, it boils down to one word, and that is integrity. If you have the integrity to do what's right regardless of the circumstances and the situation, you are a leader in your own right, because so many people today fail or waiver on that one key trait.

"As commander, you provide the crew with the command philosophy, then you give them goals and guidelines to get there. By that philosophy, you start with the foundation of integrity, but it is also good work ethic, taking care of your fellow sailors, making sure that you look out for each other, not just for the time you are there on the ship, but when you are on liberty.”

What he is referring to is similar to an idea Edwin Friedman presents in A Failure of Nerve. It’s what Friedman has termed the well-differentiated leader. It is similar to what is most commonly termed authentic leadership, but I like the way it is articulated here. The well-differentiated leader is not “an autocrat who tells others what to do or orders them around, although any leader who defines himself or herself clearly may be perceived that way by those who are not taking responsibility for their own emotional being and destiny.”
A Failure of Nerve
By the well-differentiated leader “I mean someone who has clarity about his or her own life goals, and, therefore, someone who is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about. I mean someone who can separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious, and sometimes challenging presence. I mean someone who can manage his or her own reactivity to the automatic reactivity of others, and therefore be able to take stands at the risk of displeasing. It is not as though some leaders can do this and some cannot. No one does this easily, and most leaders, I have learned, can improve their capacity.

Two key concepts here are self-knowledge and self-control. What Friedman spurns is a highly anxious risk-avoided, someone who is more concerned with good feelings than with progress, someone whose life revolves around the axis of consensus. He calls this a failure of nerve. Friedman writes, “It is the integrity of the leader that promotes the integrity or prevents the dis-integr-ation of the system he or she is leading.” It was Lippold’s understanding that “you have the integrity to do what's right regardless of the circumstances and the situation” that enabled he and his men to get through the attack. It points again to the fact that leadership is really a character process and not an intellectual one.

Previously: Friedman - If You Are a Leader, Expect Sabotage

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership

03.21.07

Charles Koch on Decision Making

sabotage
Charles Koch finally published the ideas he applied and named Market-Based Management (MBM) in his book The Science of Success. While there is no such thing as the science of success (it is a comforting idea), this book presents a lot of ideas that are worth taking a look at for possible application elsewhere. I did appreciate his viewpoint on decision making:
Proximity to a problem or process does not determine who is in the best position to make a decision. In a world characterized by knowledge-driven rapid change, top-down decision-making is commonly criticized as being highly inefficient. It is true that centralized command-and-control business management suffers from many of the same problems seen in centrally planned economies. Those with local knowledge are often in a better position to solve the problem at hand. The ideas and creative energy of all employees should be leveraged, but universally decentralized decision-making has its own problems. Some decisions, if made at the local level, can be unprofitable because a broader perspective is required.

The mindless application of either approach—universally centralized or completely decentralized decision rights—is not the answer. For example, decisions about how to gain optimum throughput from a refinery at any given time probably are best made by people on site. On the other hand, people further removed, but with broader knowledge, may be better positioned to make a decision on what the most profitable product mix will be in five years. Decisions should be made by those with the best knowledge, taking comparative advantage into account.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:43 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Problem Solving

03.19.07

Looking for Leaders

Recently someone was lamenting to me the lack of new leaders in their organization. I replied that perhaps they weren’t really looking for leaders. Maybe they were looking for leaders in all the wrong places. We commonly look for what looks like leadership. We look for people who stand out (self-promoters). We look for clones (people who are just like us). We look for the smartest person in the room (technically competent). We look for people who did a good job for us (promote as a reward). Sometimes we get lucky—often we don’t.

Ram Charan begins his fine contribution, Know-How, with, “What gets in the way of finding people who can perform is the appearance of leadership. All too often I see people being chosen for leadership jobs on the basis of superficial personal traits and characteristics.” He lists some of the trappings that are often mistaken for leadership:
The seduction of raw intelligence: “He’s extremely bright, incisive, and very analytical. I just feel in my gut he can do the job.”
A commanding presence and great communication skills: “That presentation was awesome. How she ever boiled down all that data onto the PowerPoints is beyond me. She certainly had the committee in the palm of her hand. Mark my words, she’s going to the top.”
The power of a bold vision: “What a picture he painted of where we are going, moving foreword.”
The notion of a born leader: “The people in the unit love her. Such a morale builder and motivator!”
As Charan points out, these attributes are just a small piece of the leadership pie. We need to look deeper.
True North


While there may be a shortage of leaders, “there is no shortage of people with the capacity for leadership” as Bill George points out in True North.  “The problem is that we have a wrongheaded notion of what constitutes a leader, driven by an obsession with leaders at the top. That misguided standard often results in the wrong people attaining critical leadership roles. … We frequently choose leaders for their charisma instead of their character, their style rather than substance, and their image instead of integrity.”

He adds, “There are leaders throughout organizations, just waiting for opportunities to lead. In too many organizations, however, people do not feel empowered to lead, nor are they rewarded for doing so.”

There is obviously a problem in the way that we approach leadership development. We are taking the path of least resistance. To put the right people in the right jobs and encourage their leadership potential, we must get to know them to see those things that really count. Our preconceived ideas of what a leader is, is just the thing that is getting in our way of finding great leaders. Our beliefs can set us up for selecting leaders that are dysfunctional.

Lists of leadership traits and characteristics can help to educate us, but leadership radiates from who we are. Leadership traits and characteristics are just part of the mix that defines who we really are—our character and attitudes. What else could we be doing to find true leaders?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:01 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership Development

03.16.07

Employees Who Quit, But Stay On

Engagement Is Not Enough
Are disengaged employees eroding your customer satisfaction, employee retention, productivity and profitability? Research has shown that the average employee engagement figures for the United States are: 30% Engaged, 54% NOT Engaged and 16% Actively Disengaged. Keith Ayers in his book, Engagement Is Not Enough, says that it is a leadership issue and the problem is critical. “Like a cancer, they spread their discontent and do their best to turn the engaged employees against you as well. Even if they don’t succeed, they will undermine the good work your engaged employees are doing by failing to complete their part of projects on time or lowering the overall quality of the job.”

According to the Gallup Organization, the problem usually begins in the first six months when an average of over 60% of employees switch off. This is basically due to the perceived realization that their expectations are not going to be met. They feel powerless to fix the situation and give up, but stick around at your expense. Ayers, warns us to avoid four primary obsessions that often result in managers unintentionally increasing the spread of the cancer of disengagement:

An obsession with financial results. “To drive myopically toward profit or achieving budget alone, ignoring the needs of employees, customers, and the culture and the values of the organization, is very costly to results.” How much more could you “achieve with passionate employees who go to extreme lengths every day to give their best performance?”

An obsession with control. “Control-based leaders assume that people cannot be trusted and send that message to their team. These autocrats are a liability to the organization, squashing natural enthusiasm, creativity, and ambition and driving away the most talented employees.”

An obsession with avoiding responsibility. “The number one cause of lack of engagement, poor employee performance, and staff turnover is the relationship the employee has with his or her immediate supervisor. If your team is not performing the way you want them to, first look at whether the leadership they are getting from you is what they need to be able to perform at their best.”

An obsession with logic. “Managers obsessed with logic and left-brained thinking are dismissive of feelings—they say that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. They do not believe engagement has anything to do with organizational performance or that people can be passionate about their work. Managers need to understand that emotional intelligence and right-brain thinking are critical skills to become successful leaders in the new global economy.”

Ayers offers a discussion of the leadership skills you will need to develop to create passionate employees. He correctly notes, “By now you may be thinking, ‘Don’t the employees have a responsibility to be engaged and perform at their best?’ And you’re right, they do. They should be engaged. But the reality is, in an average organization, 70 percent of them are not! Being right about what they should do won’t make them more engaged. Being effective as a leader will.”

According to The Conference Board, they reported that in looking at a cross section of studies, that all studies, all locations and all ages agreed that the direct relationship with one's manager is the strongest of all drivers. Not surprisingly then, they also reported that larger companies are more challenged to engage employees than are smaller companies.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:24 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership , Management , Motivation

03.14.07

If You Are a Leader, Expect Sabotage

A Failure of Nerve
Sabotage “is part and parcel of the systemic process of leadership” writes Edwin Friedman in A Failure of Nerve. “Sabotage is not merely something to be avoided or wished away; instead, it comes with the territory of leading, whether the territory is a family or an organization. And a leader’s capacity to recognize sabotage for what it is—that is, a systemic phenomenon connected to the shifting balances in the emotional processes of a relationship system and not to the institution’s specific issues, makeup, or goals—is the key to the kingdom.”

The “shifting balances in the emotional processes of a relationship system” just referred to, have a lot to do with people’s insecurities, people trying to measure up and just trying to merely hold on to what they have or where they are. It is a reaction that some people get to strong and clearly defined leadership. Knowing that this is part of the leadership process and not an unexpected turn of events is helpful in maintaining a leader’s authenticity.

An effective leader should expect to be attacked as a result of their leadership. Some people will react negatively to what a leader stands for and then begin a campaign of sabotage in order to draw attention away from themselves or the mission. Friedman says “this is the moment when a leader is most likely to have a failure of nerve and experience a strong temptation to seek a quick fix.” This is the moment of truth. “A leader can never assume success because he or she has brought about a change. It is only after having first brought about a change and then subsequently endured the subsequent sabotage that the leader can feel truly successful.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:42 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership

03.12.07

The Strategy Paradox

The Strategy Paradox
The Strategy Paradox is about managing risk. It provides a vocabulary and set of frameworks to help us begin to embrace our ignorance about the future and deal with it.

The strategy paradox lies in the fact that the characteristics that we typically associate with success are also systematically associated with total failure. That is, the strategies with the greatest possibility of success also have the greatest possibility of failure. Author Michael Raynor, says that resolving this paradox requires a new way of thinking about strategy and uncertainty.

In his research he found that strategies normally associated with success look very much the same as strategies that in fact lead to failure as well. What was interesting is that while successful and failed strategies look the same, strategies that lead to mediocre financial performance look very different from strategies associated with both successful and failed strategies. This leads us to the conclusion that the opposite of success is not failure, but mediocrity. So to assume that we are safe with a compelling vision, commitment and a clear focus—all defining elements of successful strategies—is misguided as these elements are also systematically connected with some of the greatest strategic disasters. The real issue is that these elements must be based on an accurate view of the future, and not surprisingly even the best minds often get this wrong. Naturally, the further out you go the greater the degree of strategic uncertainty.

One of the reasons the future is difficult to predict is because it is random. In other words, the past isn’t always a good indicator of the future. Randomness enters in your analysis because at some point you have to confine it. You have to leave some data out, thus reducing your accuracy. To avoid this “we find ourselves compelled to build a theory of everything in order to predict anything.” Not practical—analysis paralysis.

Another issue is cause and effect. Accurately determining why something happened before—initial conditions—is a judgment call. Even if we are correct, recreating those conditions exactly is not generally doable. (See The Halo Effect.)

What are we to do? Raynor suggests implementing what he calls strategic flexibility and using what he calls requisite uncertainty to allocate responsibility for managing uncertainty vertically through an organization. That is, calibrating the focus of each level of the hierarchy to the uncertainties it faces.

For instance, Board members should be looking ten or more years out and asking, “What is the appropriate level of strategic risk for a firm to take? What resources should be devoted to mitigating risk? What sacrifices in performance are acceptable in exchange for lower strategic risk?” CEOs looking out five to ten years, should ask, “What strategic uncertainties does the company face? What strategic options are needed to cope with those uncertainties? In other words, it falls to the CEO, and the rest of the senior team, to find ways to create the strategic risk profile the board has mandated for the firm.

Moving down the hierarchy, operational divisions dealing a time horizon of two to five years should ask, “What commitments should we make in order to achieve our performance targets? For these folks, it’s no longer about mitigating strategic risks, but making strategic commitments. And then managers with a short term time of horizon of 3 months to a year should ask, “How can we best execute the commitments that have been made in order to achieve our performance targets? There are no strategic choices to make at this level, because the time horizons are too short.

What is useful about this book is that it is not just for CEOs. As just shown, people at all levels in an organization deal with a certain amount of uncertainty. Regardless of the timeframe they are dealing with or looking at, the tools outlined here are valuable for managing that risk.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:16 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , General Business

03.09.07

Our Strengths Are Not to Be Indulged, But Managed

In Marcus Buckingham’s latest book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, he presents three myths that we need to deal with in order to make the most of our strengths. The first myth is, “As you grow, your personality changes.” The truth Buckingham says is, “As you grow, you become more of who you already are.” As it is presented, there could be some confusion. There are a few issues that need to be considered.

Go Put Your Strengths to Work Myth 1

Go Put Your Strengths to Work TRUTH 1

There is personality, there is behavior and there are attitudes. Although they are dependent on each other and intertwined, they are not all the same thing. In any discussion about any one of them, we have to be careful what we are talking about.

We all have traits that become more apparent as we grow and develop. These traits and talents—strengths—do not change over our lifetime. On the other hand, our behavior and attitudes can be altered, overhauled, modified, transformed or ignored. A scrooge can become generous. An approach that says, “Hey, that’s just the way I am” is a recipe for self-destruction.

Buckingham contends that "as you grow, you don't change into somebody else .... Personality tests confirm this. Much as we would like to believe that we change as we grow, if we take a personality test twice separated by many years, the results from the two tests are almost exactly the same." This is true. However, what we are, how we are perceived, how we relate to others, is determined by and large by how we see ourselves and our world, how we see or filter our experiences—our attitude—and how we act based on what we think—our behavior.

We may be competitive by nature—our personality—but we need not behave in such as way as to be obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate or demanding. We need not see everything as an opportunity to conquer. We can develop that trait or strength into an asset or we can let it rule our lives by letting it run amok to the point where we become the jerk that Bob Sutton describes in his book, The No Asshole Rule. If we allow it, our strength sabotages us and ends up holding us back from achieving our potential and from functioning well with others. Strengths must be managed, not indulged. The character we develop functions to monitor our strengths so that they serve us and don’t become a liability that holds us back.

With that in mind, Buckingham’s point is well taken. It is imperative that we know ourselves—our personality, our strengths—and not try to be something we are not. If we don’t, we diminish our effectiveness. Too often we head in a direction or a career path that does not compliment our innate strengths. These don’t change over our lifetime, and when we work with them rather than against them we can have more effective and fulfilling lives and be of greater service in any area that we chose to make our contribution.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:31 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Personal Development

03.08.07

Leader's Capacity to Sustain Change

Phil Marineau
Another important comment to come from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship report, Step Up: A Call for Business Leadership in Society comes from Levi Strauss & Co’s former CEO, Phil Marineau.
An important component of changes in management practice is building the capacity to sustain that change. This can be done within the company through, for example, the kinds of internal universities found at GE or BD. It can be done by influencing the curricula of business schools so that, for example, what they teach is more innovative in their approach to ethics. Marineau:

I don’t think business schools teach leadership [in a meaningful] way. They teach ethics as some sort of compliance course, rather than an integrated approach to, “This is how I’m going to interact with the marketplace, me personally and me as a business.” Business leaders have the capacity to make business not only a source for economic wealth, but also a force for social change.

What’s going to distinguish [a student] from the other person who had 800 on their GMAT scores and all A’s in college? Why is one person going to succeed versus another in terms of accomplishing their objectives? It’s going to be your ability to be a leader, simply defined as an agent of positive change. What’s going to contribute to your leadership? It’s going to be your ability to earn people’s trust.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:17 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Ethics

03.07.07

I Don’t Like My Strengths. Now What?

You’ve discovered your strengths and you don’t feel like they do much for you. “Wow. I’ve got inclusiveness. I’ll just put that on monster.com and watch the offers roll in. Right!?!” So you think, “Great. Now what do I do?” We all have similar and yet different combinations of strengths to build on. Granted some strengths may not seem as readily marketable in today’s workplace as others. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not of tremendous value in the right context. Finding that place is the key to your long term success.

Marcus Buckingham author of, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, responds to the question this way:
In many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, society tells us what’s valuable and what’s not—for example, that being strategic and future focused are tickets to the executive suite, whereas being a good wooer and craving significance for yourself get you not much of anything.

To make your greatest possible contribution, however, you’re going to have to look beyond society’s judgments.

All any of us can do is know ourselves well enough to identify where our greatest possible contributions lie, and then do our utmost to make those contributions real.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:11 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

03.06.07

CSR: A Return on Integrity

bcccc
How CEOs manage short-term business demands while balancing the challenges of societal issues requiring long-term solutions is the focus of an excellent report, Step Up: A Call for Business Leadership in Society, from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

The report provides the perspectives of 48 CEOs and senior executives representing 27 major multinational companies from a cross-section of industries who participated in lengthy interviews with Boston College researchers. The executives provide candid assessments about how expectations of their role are changing and the dilemmas that presents. Here are some highlights:

Perspectives vary greatly. GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said, "Profits are created by businesses that are doing things that ultimately have real societal benefits. And businesses have not done a good a job of describing that.” While Néstle Chairman and CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe warned companies to “be careful what language you’re using. Because when you say you should give something back, you are intrinsically saying that you have been exploiting society. I have nothing to give back to society; I have given to society before.”

Todd Thomson, Citigroup’s Chairman & CEO Global Wealth Management Division, I believe clearly laid out the issue, “Business managers should not be confused about what their objective is, what their purpose is. Their purpose is to create value for shareholders. The way to do that, however, I think is to understand all your stakeholders.”

While the majority of executives, did not want to turn their companies into social organizations, they did feel they have to take business’s role in society seriously. Asked to choose between five different opinions about the role of business in society, only six percent agreed with the proposition that the private search for profit advances the public good: that an executive’s duty is just to create wealth for investors. By contrast, over 50 percent believed that companies had a much more inclusive social purpose, while 15 percent felt companies should demonstrate the moral principles of capitalism.

Challenging other top executives, KPMG Chairman Mike Rake said, “We need chairmen and chief executives to be courageous and determined to take a longer term view on their business. They need to be leaders of the business in a sense that really engages their people, their stakeholders, their shareholders, their communities, in believing that what they’re doing is good for their business, good for their communities, and that these are inextricably intertwined.”

Tom McCoy of AMD, points out that, “as business leaders, sometimes we forget the simple things about life, about what's human and what isn't. And until we really get that right, we are condemned to continue in these periodic cycles of greed and untethering from social responsibility.”

The obligation would seem to be on management to create a more values-based company aligned with the values of the society in general. One executive commented, “The word that most people outside the U.S. use to describe an American business person is ruthless, and many of us take pride in the fact that we are a ruthless competitor. But the last time I looked it up in the Webster’s dictionary, ruthless wasn’t exactly a great word to be associated with. I think that the time has come for these things to move.”

Companies face what GE’s Heineman called “the fundamental tension at the core of capitalism: the question of how you have the right sort of performance with integrity.”

While there are all manner of small steps that could be taken to strengthen the business-society relationship, four important areas stand out as ones where progress offers enormous potential returns:

• Challenging the short-term perspective of the capital markets
• The respective roles of business and government in public policy
• Creating a soft landing to globalization
• Courageous leadership
bcccc report


None of these is an easy option, and they certainly do not represent a package of ideas that all executives would support. But moving the needle on any one will yield significant dividends. Ralph Shrader, Chairman & CEO Booz Allen Hamilton, concludes, “The corporation’s primary responsibility is to ensure its existence within an ethical and responsible framework. The idea of profit at any cost is something that is past its time.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:51 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Ethics

03.05.07

Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

Go Put Your Strengths to Work
Marcus Buckingham’s latest work, Go Put Your Strengths to Work begins by speculating on the source of the strengths movement. He speculates that perhaps for many it may have begun with Peters Drucker’s 1966 comment in The Effective Executive: “The effective executive builds on strengths—their own strengths, the strengths of superiors, colleagues, subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation.”

For me, it began in the early seventies when Jack McKinney—my Dad—began presenting his Know Yourself seminars in English-speaking countries around the world. A big part of his seminar was identifying and building on strengths and learning to manage them as the excessive use of strength becomes a weakness.

Whatever your introduction was to the strengths movement, Go Put Your Strengths to Work is an attempt build on the shoulders of giants to advance the current strengths movement from just identifying and labeling our strengths to learning how to actually put our strengths to work. This is the real point of the whole process. His practical system is very useful in helping you to do just that. The system is based on 6 steps:

1: Bust the Myths—So, What’s stopping you?
2: Get Clear—Do You Know What Your Strengths Are?
3: Free Your Strengths—How Do You Make the Most of What Strengthens You?
4: Stop Your Weaknesses—How Can You Cut Out What Weakens You?
5: Speak Up—How Do You Create Strong Teams?
6: Build Strong Habits—How Can You Make This Last Forever?

The process involves the careful observation of your work habits—using a guided questioning procedure—to turn the best of your job into the most of your job. Simply put, Buckingham defines your strengths as “those activities that make you feel strong.” Conversely, the best definition of weakness is any “activity that makes you feel weak.”

Of course, the system is backed by a web site—SimplyStrengths.com—accessed by using the now familiar code given with the purchase of the book. The release of the book is also backed by a nationwide tour by Marcus Buckingham beginning today. This event will also include a private showing of his short feature film entitled Trombone Player Wanted. You can get an invitation and a tour schedule on his website.

Related Interest:
StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Personal Development

Career Match: Discover Your Ideal Career

Career Match
AMACOM recently published a book—Career Match: Connecting Who You Are With What You'll Love to Do—that helps people discover their ideal work using a quick and easy to use system developed by Shoya Zichy based on the Myers-Briggs methodology. The self-assessment quiz is very simple yet quite accurate and highly revealing. After identifying your personality style, the book then walks you through the range of career choices best for you. It is a valuable tool not only for career and job changers, but to countless others seeking to choose a college major, find a first job, or even find new pursuits during retirement.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:57 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

03.04.07

Newswire: February 4, 2007 - Ethics

NewsWire
   You've adopted codes of ethics and conduct but apparently no one knows about it. Apparently they can only be found buried on intranet sites where employees have to proactively seek them out.
  • Survey Reveals Poor Ethics And Compliance Adherence
    TheLawyer.com
    The survey found that although 99 per cent of companies have codes of conduct or statements of values and principles, only 50 per cent ensured all employees were aware of the information contained in them.

    Additionally, fewer than one in 10 of the respondents expect budgets for compliance projects to increase significantly. More than half believe that conflicts with other business priorities are preventing companies from investing more time in tackling compliance and ethics issues. As a result, it's unlikely that companies will be able to attract suitable compliance lawyers to implementing effective ethics and compliance programmes.
* * *

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:15 PM
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03.03.07

President Clinton: The Final Days Video

Weekend Supplement

This video was recently sent to us ... 7 years later, but it's good enough to see again. It is from the 2000 White House Correspondents Dinner. This is President Clinton's critically acclaimed lame-duck video, in which a film crew documented how he spent his final days in office. Certainly it can be said that Clinton has a sense of humor.

From that speech:
Now, I know lately I haven't done a very good job at creating controversy, and I'm sorry for that. You all have so much less to report. I guess that's why you're covering and commenting on my mood -- my quiet, contemplative moments; my feelings during these final months in office. (Laughter.) In that case, you might be interested to know that a film crew has been following me around the White House, documenting my remaining time there.

This is a strange time in the life of any administration, but I think this short film will show that I have come to terms with it. [5:56min]


leadership blog

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:58 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Weekend Supplement

03.02.07

Ego Check: Self Check

9781419535352
There's a fine line between being confident and having an out-of-control ego and it has to be managed carefully. No of us is immune to overconfidence and that line is all too easy to cross. Here are four questions Mathew Hayward recommends to ask yourself as a sort of self ego check:

Why am I doing this? We need to understand where our pride is coming from. Our pride needs to be based on real achievements and emotions. “We all receive pleasure and pain from how others perceive and respond to us. When taken too far, however, that tendency gives others control over our pride. Playing to others’ aspirations and expectations makes us characters in their play. Be fore long we become inauthentic, rudderless, and self-destructive.”

Am I getting the right input into this decision? “Finding and working effectively with the right foils is a critical way of managing one’s pride and, therefore, of curbing false confidence and hubris. The right foils know when to tell us when we are wrong, and they enable us to step back, step in, and step aside.” He adds, “…the key to real and lasting success is to have the right relationships with a number of trusted managers.”

Am I seeing, seeking, using, and sharing material feedback? Are we kidding ourselves about our situation? The key here is to get and use the best available feedback.

Have I clarified the conditions in which I could be wrong? It is wise to face the potential consequences of our decisions and actions today before they have occurred. By managing what could go wrong, we can factor in the possibility that our actions are driven by false confidence, even if we don’t know it at the time.

This is probably a lot like preaching to the choir. If you’re ego is out of control, you’re no doubt certain that you’re already doing these things.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:05 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Personal Development

03.01.07

Leadership Books: March 2007

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

  Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham
  Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower by Zbigniew Brzezinski
  Leading for Growth: How Umpqua Bank Got Cool and Created a Culture of Greatness by Raymond P. Davis and Alan Shrader
  Seduced by Success: How the Best Companies Survive the 9 Traps of Winning by Robert J. Herbold
  True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George and Peter Sims

9780743261678 9780465002528 9780787986070 9780071481830 9780787987510

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
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