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09.30.09

LeadershipNow 140: September 2009 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from September 2009:
  • We tend to learn an enormous amount in the short term, quite a bit in the medium term and absolutely nothing in the long term.
  • RT @profkjmoore: An interview I did with Henry Mintzberg just came out on the Globe website: http://tinyurl.com/nnht5e // Insightful book
  • FT: Success can be a bad teacher. It's intoxicating; erodes self-awareness and fosters self-indulgence. http://ow.ly/rETr
  • RT @wallybock: My latest post at Momentor: "God is in the details" http://ow.ly/rBY8 Good advice
  • @hulmevision: @Bob_Wheeler Bob sent me this funny, charming, award- winning video http://bit.ly/GTw32 Good message about validation
  • Your leadership team has lost its mind when people at the table actually believe the org would be in worse shape if they were not there @perrynoble
  • RT @hulmevision: There are really only two ways of living: Give and Get. Get might work temporarily, Give works eternally.
  • It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on his not understanding it. ~Sinclair Lewis
  • Your most valuable currency is relationship, emotional capital, the ability to connect with others. ~Susan Scott in Fierce Leadership
  • RT @scottmckain: http://tinyurl.com/m4sadz One of BEST posts EVER how to establish your own character & style from TELLER of Penn & Teller
  • RT @sreardon: If you can watch this 7min motivational video and it doesn't get you choked up - check yer pulse http://twitzap.com/u/L44
  • We influence others. Who we are often depends on who we are with and who they are depends on who we are.
  • RT @AthletesArtist: "Anger is the feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind." Evan Esar
  • GRT Interview! RT @hulmevision: “successful forgiveness, . . . a real commitment to change is shown in word and deed.” http://bit.ly/3wte7N
  • Managing with the Brain in Mind http://ow.ly/pja4
  • RT JD's Corner http://cli.gs/yUrsJ The Character that Should Define Us
  • Let's not confuse what it means to be famous or great. Great is for others. Famous is for you. Erwin McManus
  • RT @MichaelHyatt: What’s holding you back from success? Could it be that all you lack is courage. Re-post: http://is.gd/Ark5
  • RT @paul_farrier "Looking back, my life seems like one long obstacle race, with me as the chief obstacle." Jack Paar
  • Find a repeatable formula RT @HarvardBiz: How Marvel Went from Bankruptcy to $4-B Buyout http://bit.ly/13Arpc
  • How to Escape Perfectionism http://ow.ly/nKuz
See more on twitter Twitter.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:08 AM
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09.22.09

Leading Views: PhD in Leadership, Short Course

Leading ViewsDee Hock is the founder and former CEO of the VISA and author of One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization. In Fast Company magazine he reduced leadership to its most basic relational (common sense) element. How often we forget this simple concept or are so unaware that we can’t get a fix on our own behavior.

"PhD in Leadership, Short Course: Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don't do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:52 AM
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09.16.09

The Application of Love Leadership

I wanted to share with you an excerpt from John Hope Bryant’s book Love Leadership. The subtitle – The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World – says it all. Bryant is the founder of Operation HOPE, a non-profit provider of economic tools and services that has as its long range objective to literally “drive itself out of business.”

Bryant says we have “lost our story line;” too focused on the me instead of the we, we have become indifferent. He describes the opportunity to lead he found, this way:
In inner cities today, you’ll often find a liquor store right next to a check casher, next to a pawn shop, next to a rent-to-own store, next to a payday lender. If misery loves company, then this is a pile-on. There’s simply a super-abundance of predatory businesses, and many people have lost hope. They are poor in spirit: they’re not skeptical—they’re cynical; they have low self-esteem and negative role models; their get-up-and-go has got up and went. So they go to the check-cashing service to forfeit their today, and go to the payday lender to forfeit their tomorrow. And because they don’t believe they’ll have a tomorrow, they go to the liquor store to forget about their yesterday.

In these communities, poor people spend roughly $10 billion each year on what I call ghettoized financial services—high-interest and high-fee check cashing, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, title lending, rent-to-own, and the like. I know of one individual who got a payday loan for $800; by the time he finished pay it off six years later, after rolling this payday loan over countless times, he had paid $15,000 in interest on that $800 loan. These businesses are in many cases short-term-oriented, purely transactional business models that add little value, and even deteriorate the customer base they purport to serve.

These businesses are ultimately led by one thing: fear. People are afraid to lift themselves up, to lead themselves out of their situation, to think for themselves. Bad capitalism preys mercilessly on these fears.

Throughout my journey from the inner city to my work as a social entrepreneur, I have had a front dash row seat for witnessing how fear destroys a community. But I would learn that there is another way to live and to do business. It would take almost 30 years for me to understand that the antidote to fear is love.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:34 PM
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09.14.09

Leading Clever People

Leadership
Clever people, according to Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, are highly talented individuals with the potential to create disproportionate amounts of value from the resources that the organization makes available to them. Distinct from those individuals that thrive on their own, clevers need organizations to produce remarkable results. And organizations need them. They can be the competitive difference. In Clever the authors write, "Without clever people, leaders cannot hope to succeed. Without good leadership, clevers can never realize their full potential."

Making the organization more valuable to the clevers requires a different approach from leaders. Leaders cannot be the ones that lead the charge up the mountain. "Rather they must identify the clever people with the potential to reach the summit, connect them with others, and help them get there.

In fact, successful leaders of clevers they interviewed don't even think of themselves as leaders. Instead they refer to their roles as a compass ("to give that compass, that direction"), as a magnet ("you have to be a magnetic field. You never touch anything."), as a bridge (bridging the technical side and the management side), or as a plug ("connecting clever people to the rest of the business ... many clever people have a blind spot here born of their own conviction that their way is definitely the right way.").

The paradox is that while they don't want to be led, they need leadership in order to achieve their potential and create value for society.

Clever helps you to identify who the clevers are and in a very practical manner, what a clever organization should look like. Nestlé demonstrates the importance of clarity in the clever organization—"clear about your priorities and efficient in delivering objectives." While they are keenly aware of those aspects of the business they should never change they have been able to change and continually innovate. That means avoiding the tendency to process people, an over-reliance on systemization, an addiction to efficiency, and the division of labor and the alienation of the workforce. These tendencies are an anathema to clevers.

The authors list several dos and don’ts for leading clevers:

DOsDON'Ts
Explain and persuadeTell people what to do
Use expertiseUse hierarchy
Give people space and resourcesAllow them to burn out
Tell them whatTell them how
Provide boundaries (agree on simple rules)Create bureaucracy
Give people timeInterfere
Give recognition (amplify their achievements)Give frequent feedback
Encourage failure and maximize learningTrain
Protect them from the rainExpose them to politics
Give real-world challenges with constraintsBuild an ivory tower
Talk straightUse bull or deceive
Create a galaxyRecruit a star
Conduct and connectTake all the credit as the leader


Of Related Interest:
  Leading for Creativity
  The Block of Wood That Became the First Sony Walkman

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:07 AM
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09.10.09

Why Unemployed College Grads Should Channel Their Inner Entrepreneur

Upstarts
Donna Fenn is the author of Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit from Their Success. She offers this perspective:

Last spring, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment among 18 to 25-year-olds was a staggering 16.1%. That was grim news for college grads, plenty of whom headed straight to grad school, or promptly moved their belongings into the family basement. If you are among this army of unemployed or underemployed young people, it's time you considered another option: start your own business.

In the middle of a recession? Absolutely. Lots of great companies were founded in lousy economies: Trader Joe's, Clif Bar, MTV and Wikipedia are among them. Typically there's an uptick in startup activity during recessions. Why? Resources are cheaper, there's an available talent pool, and big companies that are focused on keeping their heads above water often let quality and service go by the wayside. That all spells opportunity for smaller, innovative, and agile players. Besides, what have you got to lose? Probably not much right now. You're young and you probably don't have a mortgage and a family to support. And rumor has it that you don't mind sleeping on futons or eating lots of Ramen. So if you've got an idea percolating, here's how to get started:
  1. Choose partners wisely. Of the entrepreneurs I surveyed for my book, Upstarts, 64% had started companies with partners. There's a good reason for that. A partner will minimize your financial risk and instantly expand your knowledge base, provided you choose someone with skills complimentary to your own. Do not sign on with "mini-me!" Your partner should hold your feet to the fire, but also be supportive when things get tough. Sound like marriage? It is, but riskier. So lay out the terms of your partnership in writing with an attorney. Be sure to address what happens if one of you wants out. One more thing: note that these points about partners come before we even discuss your idea. Every venture capitalist worth his or her salt will tell you that the team is more important the idea. Even if you never plan to seek outside investors, remember this mantra: it's the team, stupid!
  2. Don't be a perfectionist. Launch your product or service fast and imperfectly, because the more time you spend planning and tweaking, the more time you give a competitor the chance to sneak up behind you and eat your lunch. And if you launch quickly, customers will typically help you adapt your product according to their own needs. When Sam Altman launched Loopt, a personal GPS-like mobile application, his first version was a flop with young women who demanded better privacy settings. The result: Altman took that customer feedback and used it to create a better version of Loopt -- one that customers felt invested in because they helped create it.
  3. Tap outside resources. They're more plentiful than you think. You might start with your alma mater. Miles Lasater and Mark Volchek, the Yale University-based founders of Higher One, a financial services company that focuses on the higher education market, did just that. They sent out a selective mailing to prominent Yale alumni simply seeking out sound advice and ended up getting a chunk of financing as well. Also, don't be afraid to ask people in your own industry for help; if they're in non-competitive markets, they may be surprisingly helpful. Brian Adams, the founder of Restoration Cleaners in Houston, assembled a peer group of 12 dry cleaners in different parts of the country to help him learn about the industry, thus shortening his leaning curve.
  4. Be a proud bootstrapper. It's wildly difficult to raise capital right now. No worries. Sure, you need some cash, but probably not as much as you think. If you have a good credit rating (and you had better!), apply for a line of credit before you actually need it; draw your vendors into your company vision and negotiate favorable terms with them; ask all partners to tap into their own savings so that everyone has skin in the game. Remember that having limited resources often forces you to make better decisions and to be financially disciplined from the get go. This will serve you well as you grow. My Upstarts! survey revealed that while approximately half of the companies that had received angel or venture funding were in the black, nearly 80% of the self-funded companies were profitable!
More information can be found at: UpstartsRock.com

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 PM
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09.09.09

7 Attributes of Alliance All-Stars

Steve Steinhilber says that “if alliances are not viewed as an integral part of your strategy, then you’re working with both hands tied behind your back…. You’ll need to develop alliance all-stars—no other investment is as important. Skimp in this area, and you’ll fall flat on your face.”

In Strategic Alliances, Steinhilber describes the life of the alliance leader as one of “limbo, with little official power and ambiguous roles. Their jobs can be lonely outposts in many cases. They must be the internal advocate, external promoter, chief relationship builder, and master of personal influence. Their job is to identify the strategic value proposition between the companies and, at the end of the day, to be able to cultivate sponsors on both sides.” The goal is to create a sense of dynamic tension.

This requires a special kind of leader. He has identified seven attributes to look for in alliance all-stars:
  1. Cross-functional experience. You need versatile leaders, with hard business know-how as well as softer general management capabilities.
  2. Ability to synthesize quickly. An alliance manager often has to take a complex series of activities and issues and make it simple for everyone to understand how to resolve an issue.
  3. Multimode communication skills. They must have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be comfortable working with all levels in both organizations.
  4. Strategically relevant knowledge. They must understand the unique context that both businesses operate in, their strengths and how to align them to the benefit of both organizations.
  5. Global experience and sensitivity. Leaders need experience working around the world and with other cultures and market environments.
  6. Ability to work in unstructured and ambiguous environments. In an unstructured environment, you need someone who is disciplined, can set clear priorities with the key stakeholders, and knows how to say “no.”
  7. Emotional balance and self-confidence. Look for people who have demonstrated their ability to handle constant setbacks and rejections.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:45 AM
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09.08.09

Leading Views: Why We Need Leaders

Leading ViewsPublic philosopher Tom Morris expresses something in True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence that speaks to the why of leadership:

"We all need help. We need guidance for our journeys through life. Even the most successful of us need reminders and fresh, crisp articulations of the truths we may only vaguely grasp that have, in one way or another, led us to whatever we have managed to accomplish. We need to rethink. We need to refocus. How can we get where we still need to go? And how can we best convey to others what it takes to get there together?"

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:32 AM
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09.07.09

What Is Your Platform?

Pat Williams
Pat Williams is the Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic, the NBA team he co-founded in 1987. In What Are You Living For? he lists four reasons for living our lives: to build character, for what we believe in, raising another generation, and our influence. He writes, “Through our influence, the very best part of us lives on even after we physically die.”

He lists seven practical ways you can invest your life in the lives of others:
  1. Be careful what you say.
  2. Be aware that others are watching your example.
  3. Use your accomplishments and your influence to inspire the next generation.
  4. Take advantage of every “moment of influence.”
  5. When you make a mistake admit it.
  6. Be generous with your time and resources.
  7. Make all of your decisions on the basis of ethics and integrity, not personal advantage.
There are people in your life that need your influence. We all have a platform to “speak-up” from and make a difference in someone’s life.
Dale Murphy (Major League Baseball All-Star and founder of I Won't Cheat Foundation) is a sports celebrity who seeks to leverage his achievements on the playing field into a positive influence on the lives of others, especially young people. People in the sports world who are conscious of their influence often speak of their “platform.” In the literal sense, a platform is an elevated stage from which a person can speak and be heard by the crowd below. A sports celebrity has a platform of fame, which he or she can use to influence fans, young people and society at large.

You may not have the platform of a sports star. But there are people who look up to you, watch your life and listen to your words. Like it or not, my friend, you have a platform and you are responsible for your influence. How are you using your platform?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:50 AM
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09.04.09

How to Have More Productive Performance Appraisals

Leadership
Paul Falcone asks “Does the thought of conducting a performance appraisal for your employees make you cringe?” In Productive Performance Appraisals, Falcone and co-author Randi Sachs set out to make the process more comfortable for all involved. They say that performance appraisals are nothing more than an ongoing feedback system. It also “represents a system of ongoing engagement with your subordinates that creates for them an environment of job satisfaction and motivation” and it will also “help you build a culture that focuses on performance excellence."

The most important result is not the rating and encouragement of the employee, but the actual process itself. “By working together to analyze and evaluate the employee’s performance as well as his place within the department and the organization as a whole, and by setting goals for the near- and long-term future, you and your employee can strengthen your relationship and become a team of two adults working toward a common, agreed upon goal.”

Here are several tips:
  • Document, document, document. Keep a performance log on each and every employee and update it frequently. How often do we let this slide?
  • Treat monetary issues and promotions separately from performance appraisal discussions.
  • Get employees’ input before making decisions on reassignments or new tasks.
  • Learn how to give employees criticism without arousing hostility.
  • Avoid the word “attitude” in discussions and documentation and use terms like conduct and behavior instead.
  • Always follow up on areas on concern. Don’t look to continually find fault with the employee’s work—you made your point at the performance appraisal. Find out what they are doing right and encourage them to keep it up.
The section on common problems and effective solutions is especially helpful in developing a fresh approach to performance appraisals.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:17 AM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

09.02.09

The Court Jester and the Illumination of Blind Spots

Court Jester
On Twitter last month I wrote, “As a leader, if you are not encouraging candid feedback, you are just asking for trouble. Do you have a court jester?” It’s a valid question.

French politician Bernard Tapie wrote “If you haven’t got people around who’ll tell you when to take a running jump, you're not a proper boss.”

Manfred Ket de Vries has long advocated the need for a so-called “organizational fool.” He writes, “Leaders in all organizations need someone like this who is willing to speak out and tell the leader how it is. That is precisely the role of the fool.”

David Riveness has given us The Secret Life of the Corporate Jester that delves into the specific task of the Court Jester—the concept of jestership. Leaders most often don’t receive the unvarnished truth and most organizational cultures don’t encourage it. As a result blind spots in their thinking keeps them “from recognizing critical information, powerful choices, and clear paths to follow.” The lack of truth also creates a cycle of arrogance that feeds on itself.

The jester concept is a perspective we need to incorporate and encourage in those around us. The jester understands that “in organizations, flawed actions result from an incomplete awareness and understanding of organizational truth.”

Riveness suggests that the jester philosophy can be adopted in three distinct but complementary ways:
  • A philosophy an individual commits to in order to further his or her own abilities and growth: an internal jester. Something we all need to readdress. This is the best place to begin and will give you credibility when trying to work on the next two.
  • A philosophy an individual commits to in order to further another’s abilities and growth: an internal jester for others; to provide a voice when no one else will speak.
  • A philosophy committed to by a group of people in order to further the entire group’s abilities.
Jestership, Riveness writes, “could involve speaking your mind more often, speaking up for those that choose not to, challenging the status quo and illuminating the blind spots you uncover in more public ways. Remember to use your jester skills to perform all of the above with subtlety, creativity, and grace because this role can be very tricky—even dangerous if entered into haphazardly.”

Most people aren’t ready to have their blind spots uncovered, so begin with your own. The example you set, will in time, draw others to the jester philosophy.

The author’s web site can be found at CorporateJester.com

Related Interest:
  12 Keys to Greater Self-Awareness

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:52 PM
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09.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2009

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

  Managing by Henry Mintzberg
  True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy
  The Leap: How 3 Simple Changes Can Propel Your Career from Good to Great by Rick Smith
  Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders by Alan Deutschman
  Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis by Bill George

Managing True Compass The Leap Walk the Walk Seven Lessons

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
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