LeadershipNow 140: April 2009 Compilation
Here are a selection of tweets from April 2009:
Three Good Habits For Life and Investing From Jim RogersA Gift to My Children: A Fathers’ Lesson for Life and Investing. Using examples from his life, this inspiring book makes a good quick read for anyone. Here is a good example from a chapter that offers three good habits for life and investing:
Be a Self-Starter. When Rogers was young he got a job with Mr. Booker, a local home builder. “At first, I couldn’t even hammer a nail straight, and the men on the job weren’t shy about pointing this out. But when we were awaiting deliveries of building materials or had nothing to do, I’d gather up the scrap lumber or sweep up the sawdust or whatever else I could find. ‘Say what you want,’ the contractor told them, ‘but this kid never stops. He has the right attitude, he has the proper approach, and I want him working for me.’ Eventually I did learn to drive nails as quickly as anyone, dig foundations, install roofs, and all the other skills necessary to do the job. If it weren’t for my work ethic, I might never have gotten the chance.”
Attention To Details Is What Separates Success From Failure. “In investing, as in life, the small details often spell the difference between success and failure. So you must be attentive! However trivial it may seem, you must research and check each and every piece of information you need to make a decision. Leave no questions or nagging feelings of uncertainty uninvestigated. The most common reason why people do not succeed is that their research is faulty or limited to the confines of what is immediately available. Only through meticulous research will you obtain the knowledge necessary for success. It requires abundant work and diligence, but the effort will give you a distinct advantage over your competitors.”
Live Your Life With a Dream. “When you begin something, you may not always have a concrete picture or vision of he future. But if you continue to be passionate and work hard at what you truly love to do, then you will eventually find that dream. Which may morph into yet another dream. And another.”
What Games Do You Play?
“A lack of knowledge about games allows them to thrive” say Mauricio Goldstein and Phillip Read in their book, Games At Work: How to Recognize and Reduce Office Politics. “The more you know the better able you’ll be to limit their damage and turn the energy of your people in more productive directions.”
You might have played or been involved in some of these common games they mention:
The authors give managers the tools to “diagnose” the games that people play in their company. Using a three step process entitled AIM—Awareness, Identification, Mitigation—with specific examples from global companies that illustrate both the games and their solutions, Goldstein and Read provide a clear outline for managers to address and end the games people play in organizations. They also present five principles to keep in mind:
To game is human. Your goal is to have fewer and less.
Games flourish during times of high anxiety. Companies need anxiety to fuel performance, however this anxiety and stress needs to be channeled into productive rather than manipulative behaviors.
Your company’s games are not comparable to another company’s games. Different organizations have different game ecologies.
Minimizing game playing starts at home. As soon as you deny that you play or facilitate games, you’ve limited your options for dealing with them. Recognizing this tendency in yourself helps you deal with these issues at a personal level.
Dialogue is a natural antidote to games. Don’t embark on a course of “gamocide” – that is. Don’t create programs and policies to punish game playing. This will serve only to create more games. Speaking openly and honestly discourages game playing.
5 Leadership Lessons: Ultimate Leadership - Leading in Context
An important concept in helping you to synthesize all of the leadership material you find is presented in Ultimate Leadership by Russell Palmer. The central idea is that there are basic principles of leadership that all effective leaders apply regardless of their personal leadership style, but they often need to be applied in a very different manner depending on the circumstances and the constituent groups involved.
Success or failure can often depend on modifying leadership styles to suit a different context.
General P.X. Kelly: "Listen carefully to the principles of leadership we will teach you here at Quantico, but always apply them within the framework of your own personality. A successful leader never languishes in the comfort of a swivel chair. The most important of all troop-leading steps, yet the one most often neglected, is the last – to supervise. And you supervise by being out with and devoting the bulk of your time to our most important product – people. You can always catch up on what you thought was essential paperwork during the evenings or on weekends, but once neglected, you will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to catch up on people."
When they have to lead partners and peers who have relatively narrow specializations, leaders need a broad view. One of the problems in today’s society is that we develop more and more people with narrowly specialized knowledge. The best subject from an educational standpoint for a leader is the study of history. Reading biographies is also particularly helpful.
Too often we view failure and adversity as the absence of success, whereas in reality they are just stations along the way that have to be passed through in order to reach your goals. That is why I believe tenacity and resilience are among the most important attributes of leaders, and never more so than when leading change. It’s critical that you understand what success is, in the eyes of your followers, if you are going to bridge their aspirations with your and cause real change.
Clarity is the antidote to anxiety.
How to Hit the Ground Running
If you could sit and learn from some of America’s best CEOs, you could discover the right steps to take to insure your success while avoiding many of the pitfalls that come from learning from one’s own experience. In Hit the Ground Running, Jason Jennings has made that possible. He has selected ten CEOs that created more economic value for their companies than all of the other CEOs of America’s top one thousand companies during the study period. They made the decisions that allowed them to achieve great results on issues we can all relate to by adhering to, sometimes counter-intuitive principles. From interviews and observation, Jennings has compiled these principles into ten lessons from each of these CEOs that if applied, will help you to hit the ground running.
Rule 1: Don’t Deceive Yourself—You Will Reap What You Sow Let the Golden Rule guide every decision. Richard Smucker says, “In matters of style, swim with the current but in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
Rule 2: Gain Belief Leaders gain belief by being authentic and humble, getting rid of regal trappings, proving their worthiness, asking others for belief, and surrounding themselves with others who are also trusted. "I need everyone to respect and support one another and work with each other. Everything else is B.S." says Fred Eppinger of the Hanover Group.
Rule 3: Ask for Help Howard Lance CEO of Harris Corporation “has a keen sense of humor and doesn’t have a problem generating a laugh even at his own expense.” He says, “Sometimes you have to take the veneer and let people see you for who you really are and share a chuckle or two.” To “hit the ground running" requires that you admit that you don’t have all the answers and engaged the assistance of others when assuming new duties.
Rule 4: Find, Keep, and Grow the Right People Ronald Sargent’s strategy at Staples is to promote from within, move people around, identify rising stars, make everyone an owner, communicate with your workers and make diversity your priority. Promoting from within “creates a career culture that encourages people to stay longer and stretch their skills.”
Rule 5: See Through the Fog Pat Hassey, CEO of Allegheny Technologies told Jennings, “It’s the job of the CEO to see through the fog and to be a destination expert. People want to know where the company is headed, what their future holds, the opportunities that exist for them, and what their role is going to be. And they don’t want to wait forever to find those things out.” (See page 97 for Hassey’s well thought out Team Rules that all team members have to agree to part of a Hassey-led team.)
Rule 6: Drive a Stake in the Ground Jennings writes, "Driving stakes into the ground allows a leader to provide a clear vision about what the company is, where it’s headed, and how it’s going to get there so it can hit the ground running. But it isn’t for the faint of heart. Once you’ve driven a stake in the ground you have to talk about it and promote it relentlessly.” Mike McCallister, CEO of Humana says, “The problem with most businesses is that instead of driving a stake in the ground, they stick a toe in the water and when it gets hard or boring they start thinking about it too much, begin questioning their decision and pull their toe out, changing things, and starting all over again.”
Rule 7: Simplify Everything "Oversimplify everything! Sit down and ask, `If I could start with a blank sheet of paper today and create the best answer, what would I do?'" says Jeff Lorberbaum, CEO of Mohawk Industries.
Rule 8: Be Accountable “Setting a personal example of accountability is where many leaders fall short,” writes Jennings. “Instead of starting by being accountable themselves, they use the threat of accountability as a tool to drive others.”
Rule 9: Cultivate a Fierce Sense of Urgency Keith Rattie, CEO of Questar says, “You must have a sense of urgency—if one doesn’t exist, the CEO’s job is to create one. The mind-set needs to be ‘We’re not as good as we know we have to be.’” Rattie adds that it will be time for him to leave when he loses the “sense of urgency and the belief that we have to be better tomorrow than we are today… it’ll be time to get somebody else in the chair who will bring a new pair of eyes and fresh thinking to the job.”
Rule 10: Be a Fish Out of Water The CEOs interviewed don’t fit the typical picture of what a CEO should be. They have been described as “humble, authentic, accessible, highly ethical, compassionate listeners and truly, believable committed to doing the right thing for all stakeholders.”
Jennings skillfully weaves the thoughts from these business leaders into coherent and practical lessons. You will find all kinds of great advice in this book, much of it delivered in an almost off-the-cuff manner that belies its value. But it makes this insightful and crisply written book great reading.
More Useful Quotes from Hit the Ground Running by Jason JenningsThese quotes are from Hit the Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders by Jason Jennings
Ronald Sargent CEO of Staples warns, “I think a leader has to do something big, new, and different within the first one hundred days and make sure that it’s properly communicated to everyone. If people don’t know what’s going on they’ll assume nothing is going on.”
“The three most important observations I made early on in my career,” says Pat Hassey of ATI, “were that most people are loyal and want to do a good job and be successful, that offering a sincere thank you goes a long way, and that a soft response is always better than a harsh one.” Hassey also remarked, “I promised I’d never let myself get into a position where I’d stop growing. Everybody has a question, an idea, and an opinion, and if you take the time to listen, you’ll end up with a better business. There’s no such thing as a dumb question or idea.”
Mike McCallister, CEO of Humana: "We try to treat all of our people like they are adults, which sounds like straightforward common sense, but it's amazing how many businesses don't."
Goodrich CEO Marshall Larson: “The one thing I did know is that if all leaders in the company thought like me and acted like me, we’d end up with groupthink and make on hell of a big mistake someday and march off the side of the cliff like lemmings.”
Goodrich CEO Marshall Larson: "Any CEO who thinks he can pull all the strings that make things happen is kidding himself.”
Newswire: How To Seize the Upside of the Downturn
The Making of a Leader: Jamie DimonThe House of Dimon by Patricia Crisafulli is full of praise for JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. When the financial crisis hit, Dimon was the only CEO ready to answer the call for help. As the book brings out, this can only come from preparation and his philosophy of “doing the right thing” no matter what the short-term cost.
His success has put him on a pedestal, which is not a comfortable place to be in this day and age. He told CNBC, “The pedestal is a terrible place to be…. I almost want to get knocked off the pedestal so I don’t have to hear this any more.” Too often, when we look at someone on a pedestal we make the mistake of assuming perfection and expect uninterrupted success. This is a mistake as it leaves no room for growth – theirs or ours. People find themselves on pedestals because they live lives of continual growth. When they make a mistake – as they eventually do – we like to discount everything that came before it and go off in search of a make-believe land where everything always comes out right. It doesn’t exist. If we do this we short-change ourselves and miss the appropriate lessons to apply in our own lives.
Dimon has been tried and tested and has succeeded. Fortunately this provides us with ample opportunity to glean valuable lessons in leadership and in running a business. His thinking and methodology has lessons we can all use to make our lives and leadership more effective. Here are some:
The Credit Crisis: “I think you’re going to be writing and learning from this for years: cases and books about different things from SIVs to accounting to the business purpose of CDO-squareds to regulatory rules to globalization to the balkanization of regulation…. Honestly, I think if you made a list today, you probably wouldn’t get half of them. We’re in the thick of it.”
Lessons Learned: “Experience and judgment—I don’t think they’re replaceable. You go to a lot of businesses—they don’t remember how bad things can get. It takes someone who has been there. We will never forget the aftermath of the housing bubble, but 40 years from now, believe me, someone is going to forget again somewhere.”
Dealing with the Downside: “Look where you could be wrong; admit when you’re wrong. To me it’s important to do that because I want everybody to do that, so that we actually make a better decision the next time.”
Buying Bear Stearns: “We weren’t looking to buy Bear Stearns. We wouldn’t have bought it on its own, but we were asked to look at it. We knew the financial system was extremely delicate and Lehman [Brothers bankruptcy] helped prove that.”
The Bear Stearns Negotiations: “The amazing story wasn’t the financial engineering. After I got the call from [Bear Stearns CEO] Alan Schwartz, I called [JPMorgan Investment Bank co-CEOs] Steve Black and Bill Winters, and then we had 50 or 100 people get dressed and come back to work. And by 12 hours later, there were 500 and 1,000 people working on it in every department: bond trading, equity, equity derivatives, all these areas—tax, legal, compliance, systems, ops [operations]—everyone doing their job. And that’s the amazing kind of thing: people acting that way—just trying to figure it out very quickly. That really enabled us to do [the Bear Stearns deal]. And then the comfort that when we bought the company we could actually manage all that.”
Loyalty: “If you walk into my office and say, ‘Jamie, I’m loyal to you,’ it makes me nervous. I want you to say, ‘I’M loyal to the company … or the principles … what we’re trying to build,’ not to the individual, and I think it’s a very important distinction.”
Risk Disclosure: “If you wouldn’t treat your mother that way, don’t treat the client that way. If this piece of paper tells the client how much risk they’re taking and you don’t want to give it to them, they’re probably taking on too much risk. Give them the paper.”
Financial Discipline: “You’ve got to have disciplined reporting and a disciplined review of [what’s] reported. And then it’s got to be widely shared with smart people who also have experience and judgment. You will minimize problems. You’ll still have them, by the way, but they should hopefully be smaller and fewer.”
Being Prepared: “Always have a column called ‘worst ever’ and make sure you can survive under that.”
Life Priorities: “My children, my family—but especially the children I’m responsible for, even though they’re kind of on their own… They’re way up here. Right next to that is humanity. Honestly, we’re not all here just for ourselves.”
Marriage and Children: “I do think that the hardest things to do in life are marriage and kids. They are like complete secrets until you do it. We teach you everything, but we don’t teach you that… You’ve got to work [at] those things.”
Are You a Perfectionist or an Optimalist?
Perfectionism – the maladaptive and neurotic belief that you and/or your environment must be perfect and that work or output that is anything less than perfect is unacceptable – is not something that you are born with. It is developed. Contrary to the goal they seek, perfectionists are focused on failure.
There’s a difference between setting high standards that spur us on and seeking perfection that demoralizes us. In The Pursuit of Perfect, author Tal Ben-Shahar refers to the two approaches as perfectionism and optimalism. Most of us are a little of both. “We may be Optimalists in some areas of our lives and Perfectionists in others. For example, we may be quite forgiving of mistakes we or others make on the job but be thrown into despair when our expectations are not fully met in our relationships.” Consider these statements:
The key difference between the Perfectionist and the Optimalist is that the former essentially rejects reality while the latter accepts it.
Ben-Shahar discusses these ideas in detail and then shows how they apply to and play out in education, the workplace and in relationships. He offers exercise and meditation to help you reorient your thinking and move from perfectionist thinking to optimalist thinking.
It’s easy to see from his approach and the advice given in this book, why his Harvard course in “Positive Psychology,” is the most popular class in the university’s history. Read it. I’m certain you’ll benefit.
How do you know if you're a perfectionist? Psychology Today offers a self-test on their web site.
Newswire: What the French Revolution Can Teach America
10 Survival Tips from Donald TrumpWhat's happened to the economy has been likened to a tsunami as well as an implosion. When the undersea earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit in Indonesia in 2004, the world was stunned by the devastation that took place. It triggered earthquakes around the globe as far away as Alaska. It happened in a very short amount of time. This kind of event takes shape over a period of time and then erupts with incredible force. What happened this past year is similar in that respect -- it'd been brewing for some time. When it hit, it was like a tsunami which caused other economies to start crumbling as well. We are all familiar with that scenario. What we need to do now is deal with it.
The aftermath of a tsunami requires surveying the damage, picking up the pieces and moving on. Some people have bigger losses than others, but everyone has to keep going.
When it comes to implosion, it's more of a cave-in than a wipe-out, but equally potent. We saw the effects of an implosion watching the towers fall on 9/11. It's a domino effect. We won't sink because we can swim, but let's not go the way of dominos. Let's be smart and learn to think for ourselves in positioning ourselves for what comes next. Here are a few survival tips:
Think Like a Champion: Lessons From Donald TrumpTrump University.
Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education In Business and Life is a collection of short essays that illuminate Trump’s thinking and approach to business and life. He is reflective and as usual, candid.
What keeps Trump relevant is his passion for learning. He writes, “It’s important to remain open to new ideas and new information. Being a know-it-all is like shutting the door to great discoveries and opportunities. Keep your door open every day to something new and energizing.” It’s a theme he weaves throughout this book. Here are several lessons from Trump’s Think Like a Champion:
We don’t really create, but we assemble what has been created for us. Be a great assembler—no matter what your interests may be—and you’ll be on your way to inventiveness.
First Look: Leadership Books for April 2009Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.
Leading in Times of Crisis: Navigating Through Complexity, Diversity and Uncertainty to Save Your Business by David L. Dotlich, PhD, Peter C. Cairo, PhD and Stephen H. Rhinesmith
Leadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and Intuition by Dr. John Townsend
The Adversity Paradox: An Unconventional Guide to Achieving Uncommon Business Success by J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings
The Firefly Effect: Build Teams That Capture Creativity and Catapult Results by Kimberly Douglas
Inspire! Why Customers Come Back by James Champy
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