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07.31.12

LeadershipNow 140: July 2012 Compilation

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twitter Here are a selection of tweets from July 2012 that you might have missed: See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:47 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

07.30.12

Influencing Up

Leadership
If you’re trying to make a significant contribution you will have to influence people you can’t control. In other words, you will need to influence up.

Often we get in our own way when trying to influence. In Influencing Up, authors Allan Cohen and David Bradford we have to overcome these barriers:
  • The assumptions you hold about how hard to push
  • An unwillingness to raise a tough issue or have a difficult conversation with your boss
  • A combative tone that provokes the exact reactions you dislike
  • Fear of being turned down
  • Inability to let go of your own concerns long enough to remember to give something valuable to get cooperation
  • Any problems you might have dealing with authority
Cohn and Bradford deal with all of these issues. Beside any self-examination you will need to do, you will need courage to deal with two influencing up issues:

First, the impact of large power differentials. Obviously, the greater the power differential between you and the powerful person, the more difficult influence becomes.
Unfortunately, this kind of large power gap tends to produce dysfunctional behavior for people on both sides of the equation. Relatively high-power people tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue others’, whereas those with less authority tend to overestimate higher-level individuals’ power and underestimate their own.
Second, becoming a partner with high-powered people. Partner does not necessarily mean equals. It’s a matter of “joining with” not just “reporting to” and taking responsibility for developing the partnership. To do that you need a clear understanding of your boss’s world.

Characteristics of this partnership are:
  • both partners are committed to the organizational goals and the success of the other,
  • you must be motivated by the desire to help and not just personal advancement,
  • you need to be proactive (a leader in your own right),
  • both partners must be honest and transparent, and free to offer honest feedback giving each other the benefit of the doubt,
  • and you must accept the differences between you and your partner.
Just as leaders should ask themselves, “Why am I doing that?” so should junior partners ask themselves, “Why aren’t I doing that?” Not all bosses of course, are interested in the idea of influencing up and this is one area where the partnering mind-set really helps.
You need to carefully examine the interests, power, knowledge, and agendas of every relevant individual, group, or organizational stakeholder—and determine who influences others. Although you might not be able to sway a powerful person, he or she might respond to someone else’s argument. Who has those connections? This complete analysis is critical for selling ideas or proposals, gaining backing for projects, neutralizing resistance, or otherwise making a difference.
Building on the model they first presented in their book Influence Without Authority, Cohen and Bradford deal with challenges of power differentials and partnering and how to overcome them in a step-by-step, straightforward way.

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As long as you don’t inadvertently give away your power, are willing to do your homework, and act with reasonable courage, you can increase your influence with a variety of high-power people.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:42 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Followership , Leadership , Personal Development

07.27.12

The Titleless Leader

Leading without a title is about taking personal responsibility. We—the world—is in desperate need of people who will choose to lead whenever and wherever they can. In The Titleless Leader, Nan Russell describes where we are:
Everything isn’t alright in our workplaces. People are frustrated, angry, disillusioned, tired, and afraid. Not to mention skeptical, cynical, and distrustful. And those plaques touting people as the most important asset should be taken down. They’re a hypocritical reminder of last century’s failed promise. Not everywhere, of course, but in far too many organizations.
But we have a choice.
We can continue the de-motivating spiral of self-indulgent, unaligned leaders, or we can decide to create tomorrow’s workplaces through a new kind of leadership. It’s the kind that doesn’t come with a title. It’s not determined by rank, responsibilities, or position. No one needs to appoint you, promote you, or nominate you. You decide.
What Russell is talking about here is a different kind of leadership that starts with what all good leadership begins with: self-discipline. It is taking responsibility for the outcomes in your area. It’s setting an example of behaviors that are aligned with values.

Leadership
For Russell, titleless leadership is based on four cornerstones:

Self-Alignment: Behavioral integrity. People remember what you are.

Possibility Seeds: Encourages and nurtures others. Titleless leaders plant possibility seeds “not because there’s a mentoring- or succession-planning program, but because they’re operating with a better together approach.”

Soul Courage: Step-up and offer your best self. Push outside your comfort zone to do the right thing.

and Winning Philosophies: It’s only when we’re all winning that we truly all win. Focus on group wins and not the politics of individual wins.

The Titleless Leader is a handbook of behaviors and thinking to help you lead from where you are. Certainly, they’re not easy and require some change in perspective, but they will create more meaning and value in your workplace and more importantly, in your life.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:58 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

07.25.12

If It's Important, Be There

In Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, authors Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden make the point that organizations with contented employees understand that one of the most fundamental precepts in the whole workplace arena is that “the person who started for them this morning is as close to a ‘model employee’ as they’re ever going to get.” So the best companies do something about it. They are fanatical about training people not only with skills they need, but they also carefully train them in the organization’s traditions, values, and philosophies.

But this is the part (too) many leaders just don’t get:

“People want to know that the training course they’re taking the time to sit through is as important to senior management as it is supposed to be to them.” How do you communicate that? “This often requires senior management to ride along with them—not in their own condensed mini-versions, but alongside everyone else.”

Catlette and Hadden go on to say, “There should be no executive parking spaces when it comes to training. Managers must participate enthusiastically and, more important, be able to demonstrate the skills they expect everyone else to learn.”

The message is clear. If it’s important to you, it will be important to them. It’s quite common to hear, “If this is so important, where are they?” Without the visible support of the leadership, commitment to the training is compromised. Leaders need to visibly communicate: “This is important—so important that I went through it before you did. I’m using it, and now I want and expect you to do the same. That’s why I’m here."

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:49 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Education , General Business , Human Resources , Leadership Development

07.20.12

Success is Oftentimes Wrongly Associated with External Gains

Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl present a valuable commentary on success in Team Turnarounds. The thoughts here have a direct application to leadership. Why we do what we do. Something to think about over the weekend.
Success is oftentimes wrongly associated with external gains, such as social standing, a high profile, an influential job title, a trophy that proves one team is better than its opponent, or a car that symbolizes wealth. But success is actually something much more personal, reflecting an internal commitment to specific values, characteristics and belief.

Success comes from helping others, from being the best you can be through fair and considerate participation, from a commitment to honesty and integrity, and from giving everything you have to achieving a specific goal. In this sense, success varies from person to person, and although more external measures of success do exist, they become much less important to the individual striving to attain a personal ideal.

Of Related Interest:
  How to Turn Your Team Around in Six Stages

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:17 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership

07.18.12

How to Turn Your Team Around in Six Stages

How do you transform a losing climate into one that fosters collaboration, innovation, and productivity?

Leadership
Losing is not necessary or permanent, but to turn it around you need a leader who can see the truth, identify where things that have gone wrong, and broadcast the reality of possible in spite of what’s actually happening. A turnaround is really a change in culture—changing the culture of the team or organization.

In Team Turnarounds, authors Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl present a six-stage Team Turnaround Process. While many of the examples are from sport franchises—Colts, Eagles, Steelers—and the people they interviewed there, they also include turnaround stories of Domino’s pizza, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark Broadway show, and the state of Michigan.

Each stage contains specific developmental milestones—principles that leaders and their teams typically master before proceeding to the next stage:

Stage I: Leading Past Losing
Stage I is an investigation into why your organization is losing. “Throughout this stage, you are building a clear case for why changes need to occur and for what those changes should be.” It begins with a belief that what is wrong can be made right. “The leader has to observe the team, learn where the failures lie, and then expose them.” It’s getting the dysfunction out in the open. Teams in Stage I also lack role clarity and without it, “team members lose focus and motivation and are left to wallow in mediocrity.”
The funny thing about truth is that people often want to embrace it. They may not want to hear it, but once it’s spoken, everyone’s shoulders drop in relief. Finally, someone has noticed that the organization has been skating by. Finally, someone is willing to confront the ugly reality. Finally, someone is putting the success of the group above everything else.
What most often holds us back are the excuses we hold on to.

Stage II: Committing to Growth
Once you know what’s wrong you can shift the team’s focus to what’s possible. “The team at stage II needs a vision for where it’s going, clear values to guide it, and a decisive plan of action that’s chock-full of specific and attainable goals.” Values provide the structure for how the team will move forward. “Team members have to move past the mediocrity they’ve embraced in the past.”

Stage III: Changing Behaviors In stage III, “your team members will learn to carry themselves as winners…. Leaders in stage III have to focus on providing their teams with insights into how and what they need to change while also providing the motivation to do it.” This is probably the hardest stage and requires a consistent example.

Stage IV: Embracing Adversity
A team in stage IV accept and embrace challenges as a way to show their stuff. “Setbacks and obstacles should be welcomed because you’re excited to prove that you’re better than you once were.” Of course, resilience is essential.
Challenges are moments of growth—times for you to refine yourself, make yourself better, and believe with even more confidence that you’re on the right path. The resilience and the willingness to take on adversity that come with stage IV will prepare your team for the even larger challenges presented in stage V.

Stage V: Achieving Success
Stage V is a moment of victory. A time to reflect on the victory and the reality of having to continue moving forward. You must continually redefine what success means for you and your team. You must work to stay fresh. In stage V you will adapt. The focus is on “defining who you are and adapting to where you want to go.”
We think of life, our efforts, our aspirations, as something like a movie, as if we work toward the one big goal, give everything we have to a single crowning achievement, and when it’s complete, the credits roll. We become so fixated on the effort to achieve that we sometimes lose sight of what we’re doing and how it relates to the bigger picture. We sometimes forget that there aren’t any credits, and that there’s no stop to the action after we hold up the trophy. Life keeps rolling even after our big wins.

Stage VI: Nurturing a Culture of Excellence
Success doesn’t last forever. Eventually other setbacks will occur. Stage VI is about bracing for those times by developing a winning culture that is both lasting and enduring. At stage VI an organization “needs to concentrate on continual learning and innovation. Culture, continual learning, and innovation are ever present throughout the Team Turnaround Process but are often overshadowed by more prominent themes during the first five stages.”
When teams win, they can become complacent. Success feels good and builds confidence, but it can also breed sloppy habits, overconfidence, and eventual performance decline.
The book concludes with the Team Turnaround Workbook. The exercises for each stage will help you and your team work through the Team Turnaround Process.

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The Team Turnaround Process is a useful keep-in-mind as it helps you to better understand where you are, fosters patience and helps you to be in the present while maintaining the big picture when executing a turnaround.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:10 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Management , Teamwork

07.11.12

Having an Informed Faith

Whether developing an organization or (especially) an individual, having an informed faith is essential. We value seeing things as they are—seeing reality. But potential is as much as part of reality as cold hard facts. Being able to see where an organization or an individual could go is vital for any leader.

The authors of Higher Ambition put it this way: it’s the “ability to envision and believe in a company’s potential and to understand, within an environment often characterized by confusion, crisis, and underperformance, the real possibilities of success.”

This is even harder to do when applying this idea to developing people. It’s easier to give up on people than to take the time to help them over their hurdles.

To see what is and to see what could be. The combination is essential for leadership. They add, “On the one hand, these executives see the reality with clarity. This keeps them from being easily deluded or distracted, builds the confidence and trust of those around them that they ‘get it,’ and motivates them to make difficult decisions about which activities to pursue and which to jettison, as well as which people to retain and which to encourage into other endeavors. But they also see the potential with real excitement and enthusiasm.

“As Roger Dickhout, co-founder and CEO of Pineridge Group, put it: ‘It’s believing in the potential of what you want to be, as opposed to describing what you are. That intention attracts opportunities to you.’”

Make potential part of your reality.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:26 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Leadership Development

07.10.12

Leading Views: Four Leadership Imperatives

Leading Views In The Performance Pipeline author Stephen Drotter describes a pipeline model that helps leaders at all levels address four leadership imperatives. The Performance Pipeline model focuses attention on each layer's results and on the interconnectedness of the layers.

Leaders at every level need to think more broadly, find new methods, provide greater clarity, and enable sharper focus. These must become the guiding ideas for leaders at all levels. Delivering the right results at the right time in the right way has to be primary, and new tools and practices are required to do it. We must make a fundamental shift in our basic leadership practices if we are to succeed in this uncertain environment.

There are four key imperatives for leaders in our current environment:

The First Imperative: Every leader spends thirty minutes to one hour or more daily in uninterrupted thought.

The Second Imperative: Everyone must innovate as a natural and expected part of one’s daily routine.

The Third Imperative: Leaders must provide true role clarity and purpose for every employee.

The Fourth Imperative: Leaders must create an environment where sufficient focus is achievable.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:23 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leading Views

07.09.12

Top Companies are Guided by these Three Best Principles

Jim Shaffer, author of The Leadership Solution, believes that top companies are guided by these three best principles:

They value their people. Everyone says it but not everyone lives it. Consultant John Guaspari says, “Our people have to jump in because there isn’t time to wait for ‘the answer’ to come from on high. And even if time weren’t an issue, ‘on high’ doesn’t know ‘the answer.’ Those who actually do the work—our people—do. Here’s another thing we all know: Because our people are free moral agents, they will not robotically assent and bring their energy to bear on the situation. Before they do so, the task at hand must be energizing, otherwise, their tanks will eventually run dry.”

The CEO is the communication champion. “Open communication—linking people and what they do to the business doesn’t happen by accident,” says Shaffer. “It starts with leadership. It’s driven home with leadership.”

Irv Hockaday, former president and CEO of Hallmark adds, “A CEO’s primary responsibilities are to provide vision, to motivate employees, and to develop leaders. To do that requires communication—open, frequent, and flowing from both the top down and the bottom up. It’s the responsibility of the CEO not just to listen and communicate with employees but to foster an environment in which everyone else does the same.”

Communication is managed as a business process. Many business people think of communication as information dissemination to people rather than communication among people, “telling them what they need to know” versus creating clarity and building shared meaning. Shaffer says that while it must be managed as a business process, it spans all of the other business processes. It weaves its way throughout all of them.

Jack Welch says, “It’s not a speech… or a videotape. It’s not a plant newspaper. Real communication is an attitude, an environment. It’s the most interactive of all processes. It requires countless hours of eyeball-to-eyeball back and forth. It is a constant, interactive process aimed at creating consensus.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:22 AM
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07.06.12

Negativity Loops Destroy Intention

When the stakes are high, negative thinking is a no-brainer; it comes naturally to any of us. Living intentionally is the path to success, but what happens when our intentions are derailed? When things aren’t going as planned?

Kristi Hedges is an expert in executive presence. In The Power of Presence she describes presence as “how people move through the world.” It is how people perceive you over time. Negativity dramatically affects your ability to lead.

Negativity pulls us down and inward. Positivity pulls us up and outward.

Negative thoughts have two characteristics: they are permanent and universal. As in, “They are…” “It is…” and “I’m not.” Hedges says, “People who maintain optimistic thoughts gain resilience. When they have setbacks, they see the issue as temporary and specific, not permanent and pervasive.”

You have to learn to dispute your own negativity and turn it into optimism. Most of our pessimistic thoughts are just catastrophizing with little or no root in reality. Negative thoughts “Support inaction, excuse complacency, and take away our options for solutions. They destroy our game.”

When you find yourself in a stressful situation and caught in a downward negative spiral, Hedges recommends that you:
  • Stay vigilant and recognize when it’s purely pessimism and not constructive.
  • Learn to challenge your thoughts before, during, and after a stressful situation.
  • Find a pregame ritual—a repeatable process to get yourself in the zone of your intention—to get yourself into a positive frame of mind from the outset.
  • When you have a physical reaction in a stressful situation, accept that it is a normal response and use helpful strategies to work around it, including taking deep breaths, pausing, and simply acknowledging them. Instead of fighting and resisting a physical reaction, “learn to observe it and acknowledge it as purely a physical effect with no link to your ability to perform effectively.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:25 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

07.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2012

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

  There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance by Mark de Rond
  Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy
  Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations by Robert Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek
  Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams by Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl
  The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, Fifth Edition by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Team Resilience Triple Crown Leadership Team Turnarounds Leadership Challenge

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discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:56 AM
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