Leading Blog


Under New Management

Under New Management

It is hard to let go of the thinking behind some of the management tools we still use today. Designed for types of work that are no longer prevalent, these systems were designed for another time.

David Burkus reports on a number of seemingly radical management ideas in Under New Management. He stresses that we look for the practices that are limiting employees’ potential and eliminating them. He questions best practices like:

Banning or limiting access to e-mail actually improves productivity. “Researchers believe that limiting email decreases stress and increases productivity because it cuts back on multitasking and distraction.” Consideration should also be given to limiting email to normal working hours.

the customer always come first? Putting employees first may be the best way to serve the needs of the customer. “Profits are driven by customer loyalty, customer loyalty is driven by employee satisfaction, and employee satisfaction is driven by putting employees first.”

As an artifact of the industrial age when managers needed to ensure that all shifts were covered, strict vacation policies were a necessity. But as industrial work gives way to knowledge work more liberal vacation policies often increase engagement and performance. “When you give employees trust and freedom to act responsibly, you don’t need nearly as many policies.” Trust allows employees to focus on performance. In one study, being trusted increased levels of oxytocin (the bonding hormone that creates a feeling of well-being) in the brain which in turn triggers more generous and trusting responses. “Trust breeds more trustworthy behavior.” Burkus also discusses the value of sabbaticals and pre-cations.

People don’t feel comfortable talking about salary. Should how much employees are paid be public knowledge? Some research says yes. “When people know where they stand, and know how to move up in the range, they’re more motivated to work to improve their performance and improve their standing.” But while it can improve perceptions of fairness and feelings of engagement there are obvious drawbacks.

Without non-compete agreements organizations have little incentive to invest in employees or innovative research since they could easily leave and take their knowledge to a rival company. But research has demonstrated that non-compete agreements create a “brain drain” from those states that enforce them. For companies in stats without non-competes, when an employee leaves one firm for another, both companies benefit. Not only do both companies gain new knowledge but new connections between employees in both firms are created. “In effect, departing employees have a cross-pollinating effect on the ideas of both organizations.”

Burkus makes a case for ditching performance appraisals, paying people to quit, bringing in teams to the make hiring decisions, ever changing org charts, and closing open offices.

He also tackles the question: Are managers necessary? Although some reseach suggests that employees are more productive and engaged when they, and not their manager, control their destiny, these are not really mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Burkus concludes, “To benefit from the motivating power of autonomy, leaders don’t need to give up total control and fire all the managers, but every leader does need to consider how their current structure might be limiting the perception of freedom and blocking the organization from its peak potential.”

Under New Management gives leaders much to think about. Read the research and the stories of those doing it and you decide.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:27 PM
| Comments (0) | Management


First Look: Leadership Books for July 2016

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

  Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow by Steve Lehto
  The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman
  Hooked: Why cute sells...and other marketing magic that we just can't resist by Patrick Fagan
  High-Hanging Fruit: Build Something Great by Going Where No One Else Will by Mark Rampolla
  Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yaeger

Preston Tucker Effective Manager Hooked 64 Shots Pathways to Possibility

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book."
— Austin Phelps

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:43 PM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: June 2016 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from June 2016 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:55 PM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Why the Rules of the Entrepreneurial Game Are Changing

Steve Case

THERE WAS A TIME when AOL was how most Americans got online. Co-founded by Steve Case, American Online at its peak handled nearly half of U.S. Internet traffic and was the first Internet IPO. From his unique vantage point, Case shares his playbook for the future in The Third Wave.

Case believes we are now entering the Third Wave of the Internet. The First Wave was building the Internet. The Second Wave was building on top of the Internet. And the Third Wave is integrating the Internet in seamless and pervasive ways throughout our lives.

Third Wave

Leading on the Third Wave of the Internet

The Third Wave is about leveraging partnerships. Entrepreneurs of the Third Wave will spend a great deal of time focused on things other than tech as they work to connecting the Internet to everything else. It will be a matter of connecting ideas to create context.

“The entrepreneurs of this era are going to challenge the biggest industries in the world, and those that most affect our daily lives. They will reimagine our healthcare system and retool our education system. They will create products and services that make our food safer and our commute to work easier. The Third Wave of the Internet will be defined not by the Internet of Things; it will be defined by the Internet of Everything. We are entering a new phase of technological evolution, a phase where the Internet will be fully integrated into every part of our lives… As the third wave gains momentum, every industry leader in every economic sector is at risk of being disrupted.”

For example, education will be more personal, more individualized, and more data driven. “Education innovators were often too focused on technology in the First Wave, and too much on content in the Second Wave. The winners in the Third Wave will leverage technology and focus on great content, but also understand the importance of context and community.”

Case believes that if you are to start a successful company in the Third Wave it’s going to come down to partnership, policy, and perseverance.

Can You Work with Others?

Your partnership skills may very well be the determining factor in the success or failure of your product. Partnerships help to bring credibility, momentum and a sense of inevitability.

Can You Work with the Lawmakers?

The government is a key force in the Third Wave. Third Wave entrepreneurs will need to figure out how to work with governments. “No matter how good an idea, a Third Wave company that lacks clear strategy for policy is a dangerous gamble for investors. It is not that success is impossible; but the odds make it a difficult bet.”

Are You Adaptable?

Of course perseverance is critical in nearly everything of any importance. But Third Wave entrepreneurs will need to have a special kind of perseverance in a changing world to manage tensions. “The winners of the Third Wave will be those who chase big-impact ideas with a sense of urgency—but also methodically and diplomatically. It requires a fresh perspective and the ability to look a new paradigms without being burdened by legacy dogma.” He adds, “Third Wave entrepreneurs must find a way, then, to bring both viewpoints to bear—the nuanced perspective of the defending incumbent and the relentlessly disruptive mind-set of an entrepreneur on the attack.”

In the Third Wave innovation can happen almost anywhere—anywhere there are experts in the field your are trying to disrupt. “During the Third Wave, though products will be tech-enabled, they won’t be tech-centric. They’ll use apps, but the product won’t be an app. And so the benefit derived from being surrounded by the tech world won’t be as high. Instead, being surrounded by experts in the industry you’re trying to disrupt may reap the biggest dividends.”

Case makes a distinction between “startups” and “small business” especially where policy is concerned. While startups are businesses that can scale quickly and disrupt an existing category, small businesses are focused on steady growth in the long term. More to the point: “The difference between the two is reflected both in the kinds of problems they are trying to solve and in their effect on the broader economy. Indeed, it is not small businesses but new business startups that account for nearly all of the net new job creation in the United States.”

Collaboration is Key

On a final note, Case reiterates: “Entrepreneurs as ‘Soloists’ will be replaced by orchestras playing a stronger, more credible tune. If you want to go far in the Third Wave, you must go together.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:49 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Government


First Look: Leadership Books for June 2016

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

  That's Not How We Do It Here! A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall--and Can Rise Again by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
  The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
  The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves by The Arbinger Institute
  64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World by Kevin Roberts
  Pathways to Possibility: Transforming Our Relationship with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World by Rosamund Stone Zander

Not How We Do It The Inevitable Outward Mindset 64 Shots Pathways to Possibility

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade."
— Anthony Trollope

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:56 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: May 2016 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from May 2016 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:22 PM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Robert Gates on the Essentials of Leading Change

Robert Gates

IN A TIME when change is not just inevitable, but must be encouraged and led, Robert Gates’ A Passion for Leadership is a must read.

Gates has led and continues to lead in a wide variety of organizations and organizational cultures. His collected wisdom serves to inspire us to lead others where they don’t often want to go and improve people’s lives. In addition to serving on numerous corporate boards, he has served as a United States secretary of defense, a director of the CIA, served eight presidents, served as president of Texas A&M University, and is currently the chancellor of the College of William and Mary and president of the Boy Scouts of America.

The one feature of the institutions with strong cultures he has led has been a strong sense of family. He describes it as a “commitment to taking care of one another at all times but especially in adversity or times of need.” All great cultures do have this sense of family.

At the same time, it is easy then to become insular and tolerate long-standing but inappropriate practices and behaviors because they are a tradition. It is important to define what traditions must be defended and those that must be changed to enable future success. “A good leader,” writes Gates, “must keep coming up with new perspectives, new ideas, new improvements. Only a committed leader can keep an organization—a bureaucracy—on its toes, continuously adapting, innovating, improving.”

Gates recognizes that we need leaders at all levels in an organization that are able to mobilize the willing and bring about productive change. More often than not those leaders are there, they just need to be liberated by the person at the top in an organizational culture of leadership. Not surprisingly, he identifies listening as the most critical thing a new leader can do. “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

CIA director Bill Casey gave him some good advice early on. “Bill advised me not to focus on what I disagreed with but to see if there were one or two kernels of information or wisdom worth seizing on—finding a little wheat amid all the chaff. Just because 95 percent of what someone says is nuts, he would say, laughing, doesn’t mean you should ignore the 5 percent that might be useful. (He was always handing me pamphlets or books to read, warning, ‘This guy is crazy, but there’s an interesting idea on page x.’)”
To be an effective leader, one must demonstrate from the start an understanding of and respect for the role and views of the career employees in an organization and be clear that the new boss intends to make them participants and partners in reforming the place. This is the best possible preparation of the bureaucratic battlefield.
And that doesn’t mean just rearranging the organizational chart. “The main target is how people do their work, not where.”

Gates offers from experience, strategies, techniques, and principles for implementing change. He includes many examples from the organizations he has served.

Leading change is hard work and can’t be done from on-high. Gates cautions that while micro-knowledge is necessary, micromanagement is not. “For a leader to get the big things right depends a great deal on knowing the little things, especially when implementing difficult and controversial change. Without micro-knowledge, you are the prisoner of your bureaucracy and your staff, and they will play you like a cheap fiddle.”

Fundamentally, leadership is always about people. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts from Gates on leading:

☙ You can be the toughest, most demanding leader on the planet and still treat people with respect and dignity.

☙ A self-confident leader doesn’t cast such a large shadow that no one else can grow.

☙ Leaders who think they don’t need frank, critical advice every day are usually doomed.

☙ To change bureaucracies effectively, a leader must first make his people proud and eager to excel.

☙ Formal education can make someone a good manager, but it cannot make a leader, because leadership is more about the heart then the head.

☙ Core to leadership is the ability to relate to people—to empathize, understand, inspire, and motivate.

☙ If you fundamentally don’t like or respect most people, or if you think you are superior to others, chances are you won’t be much of a leader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:56 PM
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Balancing the 3 Boxes

3 boxes

ULTIMATELY our future is not in linear—incremental—improvements. It is in nonlinear—nonconforming, breakthrough—change. But the future is built now and that’s the problem. What should we be doing now to insure we have a future?

Dartmouth professor Vijay Govindarajan writes, “As much as we might pay lip service to the fact that the future will differ dramatically from the past, we often behave as though it will be exactly the same.” There is a tension between and what we have to do now to continue on as an entity and what we need to be doing now to create our future along with the things that we are doing that get in our way of doing any of it. How do we create the future while managing the present?

Vijay Govindarajan has incorporated good principles for managing change into a framework he calls The Three Box Solution. It is a method to simultaneously meet the performance demands of your current business—one that is still thriving—while dramatically reinventing it for the future. It’s about managing preservation, destruction and creation.

In each Box there is a function that needs to be performed to lead a sustainable business:

Box 1: The Present Box – Manage the present core business at peak efficiency and profitability.

Box 2: The Past Box – Selectively forget the traps of the past by identifying and divesting businesses and abandoning practices, ideas, and attitudes that have lost relevance in a changed environment and would otherwise interfere with your focus on inventing the future.

Box 3: The Future Box – Generate nonlinear, breakthrough ideas and convert them, through experimentation, into new products and businesses. It’s not about predicting the future btu it is about being prepared for circumstances you can not control.

The Three-Box Solution requires an ability to think and act simultaneously in multiple time frames. Each requires different leadership and you must maintain balance across the 3 boxes. It’s a balance.

Most businesses focus on Box 1 – preservation. And understandably so: the rewards are immediate, it is a known quantity and the risks are relatively low. Here’s the challenge:
The greater your success in Box 1, the more difficulties you are likely to face in conceiving and executing breakthrough Box 3 strategies. This “success trap” typically arises not from willful intention but from the overwhelming power of success that the past has brought. The most pernicious effect of the success trap is that it encourages a business to suppose it already know what it needs to know in order to succeed in the future.
Boxes 2 and 3 are about creating the future. In Box 1 there is a value in sticking to what you have been good at, but in Box 3 you throw it out. The idea is to be building the future continuously instead of waiting until you are forced to do something. By then it is generally too late.

Boxes 2 and 3 are easy to ignore because “when you neglect the future today, you don’t see the damage today.”

Box 2 is especially difficult because it is hard to give up on the assumptions that got you where you are today. (Even if they are not working for you, to be frank.) Our resistance to selectively give up the past is arrogance. It reflects a desire to control our world. But it changes and we must strategically change with it. Box 2 issues limit our futures. They are obstacles to Box 3. “It is harder for an organization to admit to itself that it’s time to stop doing something than to know when it’s time to invent something new” in part, because we have so much invested in the past. It becomes an emotional issue.

If you “ride the obedient horse of Box 1 all the way through Box 2 and into Box 3 without stopping to consider what needs to be forgotten, you end up stuck in your comfort zone.”

Box 1 must be performing or Box 3 concerns are much more difficult to deal with.

The 3-Box Solution is a daily operational balancing act.

For leaders it means:
  1. Avoiding the traps of the past
  2. Being alert to weak signals – emergent changes to technology, culture, markets, the economy, consumer tastes and behavior, and demographics
  3. Building the future every day
  4. Experimenting and learning – test the most critical assumptions as early and as inexpensively as possible
  5. Practicing planned opportunism – preparing for futures you cannot predict
  6. Investing in “the horse you can control.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:29 PM
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First Look: Leadership Books for May 2016

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

  Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  Fix It: Getting Accountability Right by Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  The Power of the Other: The Startling Effect Other People Have on You, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond—and What to do About It by Henry Cloud
  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz

Learning Leadership Fix It Power of the Other Grit Never Split the Difference

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."
— Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:33 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: April 2016 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from April 2016 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:03 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Making Sense of Speed, Agility and Innovation

Leading Forum
This is a post by Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky authors of Outmaneuver: OutThink, don’t OutSpend

Every executive knows that speed is important. Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard declared recently that “the future belongs to the fast.” But is speed enough? If you can simply accelerate the current activities, products and strategies that your business implements, will that help you win in the future?

Or what about being more “agile.” Agile was originally a software technique, meant to shorten software development times and make the development team more accountable to customer needs. From there, everyone is adopting the concept of “agile.” There’s agile marketing, introduced by thought leaders at CMG. Can agile help you win more? Of course. Is it, by itself, enough? Probably not.

Or, think about innovation. There’s probably no other topic that has the same level of emphasis across industries and geographies. Everyone knows innovation is important. But again, if you can innovate successfully, is that enough? Do any of these factors, by themselves, help your company win?

We believe that each of these factors is important, but left to themselves, implemented in a discrete fashion, without integration or coordination they won’t make a significant difference. But if you could create a framework in which each of these activities were a vital component leading to a completely new way to compete, then you’d see a significant impact on your revenues, profits and market share.

Maneuver Strategy

Fortunately, such an integrated framework exists. In our book OutManeuver we detail a new competitive strategy that leverages speed, agility, insight and innovation to win the most at the least possible cost. Maneuver stands in opposition to existing “attrition” strategy, where firms fight expensive battles over small differences in market share based on essentially similar products. Feature to feature competition fought over a fixed market leads to commoditization and price wars, ignoring differentiators like speed, agility and innovation that may open new markets or create new alternatives.

Maneuver, like attrition, is a military strategy that has been adapted to business competition, yet to date attrition has been the predominant business strategy. That’s because attrition requires less planning and less insight, and is often easier to implement initially, because it simply copies what competitors are doing and seeks to damage or destroy competitors. Maneuver, on the other hand, seeks to identify and win valuable but unoccupied markets, segments or channels, or, if attacking a competitor is required, discovering vulnerabilities that can be exploited at the least possible cost. Thus, while attrition requires little upfront thinking, it has a high cost of implementation, while maneuver requires more reconnaissance and intelligence and has a lower cost of execution.

The “what” and the “why”

In truth, factors like speed, agility and innovation aren’t all that valuable by themselves. They are enablers to a larger capability – maneuver strategy. Many corporations are focusing on the “how” – more speed, more agility and more innovation, without thinking about the “why.” Speed, agility and innovation aren’t required in an attrition strategy, but are definitely important in a maneuver strategy. But without the appropriate strategy, speed, agility and innovation may not pay off. OutManeuver develops the importance and applicability of maneuver strategy, and demonstrates how to use enablers like speed, agility, insight and innovation to win more at the least possible cost. So, the next time someone tells you that the “future belongs to the fast,” or that you must increase your innovation output, ask them about their strategy. If your corporate strategy is based on attrition, there’s little need for more speed or innovation, because attrition is an expensive but broad based battle against incumbents. Instead, you could assist with a rethinking of strategy, to introduce maneuver strategy and tactics, which will leverage speed, agility and innovation and reinforce new strategic thinking, to win more at less cost.

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Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky are the authors of Outmaneuver: OutThink, don’t OutSpend. Phillips leads OVO Innovation, an innovation consulting company in Raleigh, NC. Verjovsky is a consultant, an entrepreneur, and a pioneer in the biodiesel market.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:58 PM
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Booknotes: Bob Benmosche - Good For the Money

Booknotes ☙ Bob Benmosche came out of retirement in August 2009 to lead American International Group’s turnaround. Although few doubted it was even possible, under his leadership, AIG repaid the $182.3 billion taxpayer bailout, with the government claiming a profit of more than $20 billion.

☙ His my-way-or-the-highway style worked well in this turnaround/crisis situation. He was just what AIG needed. A colorful and outspoken leader, his memoirs are full of colorful stories. Throughout his career he dedicated a great deal of time to leadership development throughout the organizations he led. Benmosche died of lung cancer on February 27, 2015 six months after he left AIG. Here are some quotes from his memoir, Good For the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America:

☙ Within any organization, leadership is indeed a shared responsibility. That idea must become part of the entire operation’s DNA. People must feel they have the freedom to do all kinds of things, including making mistakes, or they will never succeed.

☙ If it ain’t broke, break it and make it better.

Play the hand that’s dealt you. If there’s a less-than-perfect opportunity, but it’s the only one on the horizon, you grab it and make the best of it you can.

☙ If you have no choking chain of debt around your neck, you don’t have to be obligated to do things that don’t make sense. If you do not have that financial freedom, you find yourself trapped in life.

☙ Could the nation’s crisis been handled differently? But we needed to do something. But instead of just acting, and moving forward and fixing, we started to play the blame game. That’s where we failed. We failed by saying we’re going to create laws, we’re going to put people in jail, there should be a law against people who make bad judgments. If that happened the entire country would be in jail because all of us made mistakes in our lives. That’s the issue I have. It’s not with the actions the nation took; it was the blaming and the viciousness that went on after the actions were taken.

☙ I needed employees to stay with proper compensation. The expertise of those who understood the deals was crucial to undoing the damage.

☙ I understood the public’s anger. But there is a difference between appreciating the outrage and becoming captive of it. There was no way we were going to save this company if I dwelled on it. My responsibility was to rebuild, not atone. Bad business practices got us into the mess, but the country had to be reassured that good practices could get us out of it again.

☙ These bonuses are not rewards at all; they’re part of one’s normal compensation.

☙ Being yourself is never a mistake. Even if what you do is sometimes taken the wrong way.

☙ When you talk to people about what you’re doing, just tell them the truth. Don’t sugarcoat it. Tell it like it is. And if you manage to do what you’re saying you’re going to do, if you can pull that part off, it will pay off for you over and over.

☙ Sometimes, the most obvious observations simply need to be verbalized.

Leadership Vertigo
Buy at AMZN

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:53 PM
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The One Ingredient You Must Demonstrate in Your Leadership

Perry Noble suggests that there is one ingredient that would make a lot of leadership issues go away. In The Most Excellent Way to Lead, he turns to the advice of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul had a lot to say about leadership and rightly so. Leadership comes to us naturally but without some guidance it’s not just easy to get it wrong, it's highly probable. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he is discussing – in chapter 12 – how people should work together and points out that we all have roles but that none is more important or better than another. Just different.

And then at the end of chapter 12 he lists some of the roles needed in the church, but then he says in chapter 13 that no matter who you think you are or how gifted you think you are, if you can’t do it in love—outgoing concern for others—then you are nothing. Your leadership doesn't matter. You aren’t doing it right.

It sounds like Paul is just saying play nicer, but he’s talking about serving others in some of the most difficult ways possible.
“The most excellent way to lead is also the most difficult. It goes against our natural tendencies and the culture we live in, and it highlights the fact that leadership is ultimately about the leader.”
Paul is taking about being patient with others when your patience has run out.

Being kind when they don’t deserve it.

Being supportive of other people’s success and helpful when they stumble.

Looking out for the best interests of other’s before yourself.

Never keeping a tally of other people’s failures and wrong behaviors.

Always seeking the truth even when gossip is more believable.

Choosing to trust others when it would be easier to be suspicious of them.

Being optimistic even when circumstances compel you to do otherwise.

And never giving up on people even when you are discouraged.

Noble does a good job explaining each of these and more both on a personal level and organizationally. “The way we look at other people is important,” writes Noble, “and when we see them through the lens of love, our capacity to lead significantly increases.” Without love, as Simon Sinek has pointed out, “people are forced to spend too much time and energy protecting themselves from each other.”

Mark Sanborn adds, “when we allow love to define who we are as we work, we become irresistible leaders with a contagious passion for what we do.”

This is how we get things done through others. This is how we develop others and allow them to flourish under our leadership. It’s how we build more leaders to carry on after we are gone.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
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First Look: Leadership Books for April 2016

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

  The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future by Steve Case
  Good for the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America by Bob Benmosche
  Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts by Daniel Shapiro
  The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni
  The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan

Third Wave Benmosche Nonnegotiable Team Player Under New Management

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:29 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: March 2016 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from March 2016 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


First Look: Leadership Books for March 2016

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

  Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff
  The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence Without Adding to Your Schedule by Matt Tenney and Tim Gard PhD
  The Art of Strategic Leadership: How to Guide Teams, Create Value, and Apply Techniques to Shape the Future by Steven J. Stowell and Stephanie S. Mead
  Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus

Google Bus Mindfulness Edge Strategic Leadership Smarter Faster Better Under New Management

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:26 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: February 2016 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from February 2016 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:52 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Originals or How Non-Conformists Move the World

THERE ARE SO FEW originals in life.

“We find surface ways of appearing original—donning a bow tie, wearing bright red shoes—without taking the risk of actually being original. When it comes to the powerful ideas in our heads and the core values in our hearts, we censor ourselves.”

Originals by Adam Grant—a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school—is about the people who choose to champion originality and move us forward. They are not that different from the rest of us, but in spite of inner doubts and a world geared toward uniformity, they press on and change the world.

For most of us we are not like the conceptual innovators that formulate a big idea early on in life and act on it. We are probably more like the experimental innovators that move through idea after idea, learning and evolving as they go. “While experimental innovation can require years or decades to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill.” writes Grant, “it becomes a more sustainable source of originality.”

Interestingly, it is not the child prodigies that go on to change the world. While they are rich in talent an ambition, they don’t learn to be original. “Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.” Most prodigies never make the leap to originality. “They apply their extraordinary abilities in ordinary ways, mastering their jobs without questioning defaults and without making waves.”

How Do We Get More Original Ideas?

If you want to do original work, do more work. “On average, creative geniuses weren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality.”

Quantity is the most predictable path to quality. Our most brilliant work will be found in the mass of our less brilliant work. It is important to mention also that originals expose themselves to influences far outside their official arena of expertise. Nobel Prize winners are “dramatically more likely to be involved in the arts than less accomplished scientists.” Notice more and look for connections.

How Do We Bridge the Gap between Insight and Action?

The best judges of creative ideas are fellow creators. Fellow creators are more open to original ideas. “The more expertise and experience people gain, the more entrenched they become in a particular way of viewing the world.”

Critical reviews are often viewed as better—more intelligent. “Prophets of doom and gloom appear wise and insightful.” Too much optimism comes across as salesmanship. No one wants to be sold. When you are trying to sell an original idea people are looking to reasons why it won’t work. Next time try presenting a candid discussion of your ideas weaknesses. In trying to sell investors on his company Babble, Rufus Griscom described the hurdles he faced in his own business. He came across not only as knowledgeable, but also honest and modest. “When I led with the factors that could kill the company, the response from the board was the exact opposite: oh, these things aren’t so bad.”

We often undercommunicate our ideas because we are so familiar with them that we think there is no need to repeat them. Our audience needs more exposure to accept them.

Developing Original Ideas

Procrastination can improve our creativity. In one example Grant notes, “It was only when they began thinking about the task and then deliberately procrastinated that they considered more remote possibilities and generated more creative ideas. Delaying progress enable them to spend more time considering different ways to accomplish it, rather than ‘seizing and freezing’ on one particular strategy.”

Being original doesn’t mean being first. “It just means being different and better.” When originals try to be first they tend to overstep. They move before the market can support their idea. They tend to take bigger risks and are prone to make impulsive decisions. “When you are the first to market, you have to make all of the mistakes yourself.” Those that follow can more easily learn from you mistakes and improve on your idea.

When presenting original ideas they can’t be seen as too radical or people will never accept them. When selling them you have to give people something to connect with. “Instead of assuming that others share our principles, or trying to convince them to adopt ours, we ought to present our values as a means of pursuing theirs. It’s hard to change other people’s ideals. It’s much easier to link our agendas to familiar values that people already hold.”

How to Build a Culture of Originality

Too many rules and they way we understand them can greatly affect our creativity. “In one study, parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for home work and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of less than one rule and tended to ‘place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules.’” Grant also adds:
If parents do believe in enforcing a lot of regulations, the way they explain them matters a great deal. New research shows that teenagers defy rules when they’re enforced in a controlling manner, by yelling or threatening punishment. When mothers enforce many rules but offer a clear rationale for why they’re important, teenagers are substantially less likely to break them, because they internalize them.
In this regard, nouns are better than verbs. It’s better to ask children to be helpers than ask them to help. It speaks to their identity. In the same way being told not to cheat is not as effective than saying “Please don’t be a cheater.”

Dealing with Groupthink

Cohesion in a group doesn’t cause groupthink. “There’s a fine line between having a strong culture and operating like a cult.” When organizational performance is down, leaders tend to search for people who share their perspective. When what they need to do is look for advice that challenges them. “If you’re going to build a strong culture, it’s paramount to make diversity one of your core values.” It’s what separates a strong culture from a cult.

You need a loyal opposition. You need a devil’s advocate. But here’s the thing, you need to find one, not assign one. “When people are designated to dissent, they are just playing a role. This causes two problems: They don’t argue forcefully or consistently enough for the minority viewpoint, and group members are less likely to take them seriously. But when it is authentic, it stimulates thought; it clarifies and it emboldens.”

To keep this process constructive, organizations must prioritize their values. This provides a framework for new ideas. “The more principles you have, the greater the odds that employees focus on different values or interpret the same values differently.”

In Originals, Grant utilizes new examples and counterintuitive research to inspire us to lead—to change the world. He concludes with 30 Actions for Impact for unleashing originality. A 15 question Originality Assessment can be found at adamgrant.net.

Adam Grant demonstrates how originality, can and should be taught and nurtured. Anyone can innovate if given the opportunity and the support. He provides practical tools to “unleash” the hidden creativity in all of us. However, not just for ourselves but also to build cultures of originality both at home and at work.

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Of Related Interest:
  Are You a Giver or a Taker?
  Hacking the Creative Process
  Be a Coach, Not a Critic
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:37 PM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation


10 Ways You Earn Respect

Truth Trust Tenacity
One of the critical lessons I’ve learned in life - and it extends beyond the workplace - is the importance of respect. This may seem old-fashioned or trite in the days of, “I got mine, go get yours,” but if you treat people right, you will get the results you want. This is especially true in business. Respect still matters!

Great leaders appreciate every job that is done well; it doesn’t matter whether it’s in the C-suite or the mailroom. Great leaders also understand that respect isn’t an entitlement linked to a particular job title. They need to respect others before others will respect them.

So, how do you earn respect in business? Here are 10 ways:
  1. Lead by example. Embody the qualities and traits you expect from the people you lead and people you deal with. You want your workers and peers to be honest, so be honest yourself in all your business dealings. If you want your employees to be hardworking, set that example and quit taking long lunches or leaving the office early all the time. Model the traits you want others to show, such as integrity, kindness, creativity, inventiveness and industriousness.
  2. Be humble. Don’t expect anyone to care about where you went to college or your past successes. Plenty of businesspeople went to top universities and graduated with honors, and plenty more win awards and honors from chambers of commerce all the time. Braggarts are boring and turn people off. Get over yourself and do it quickly. Avoid self-promotion and publicity stunts. They are obvious and obnoxious and can damage your reputation.
  3. Show your commitment every single day. Work alongside the people you lead. Work longer and harder than they do. Get in the trenches and get your hands dirty once in a while. If you manage a warehouse, manufacturing plant or factory, make it a point on a regular basis to get off the phone, get out of your office and visit the production floor. Talk to the employees, get to know their names so you can address them personally, ask them how things are going, and pitch in if needed. Ask them if there are any glitches that need correcting.
  4. Help people succeed and advance. Promote your staff. Help your employees gain exposure and give them opportunities for development and advancement. Great leaders let their teams shine and are confident enough not to need the spotlight.
  5. Be a teacher or mentor. People always have other work or educational opportunities regardless of the economy and will leave your business unless they see an investment is being made in their future. Focus on those people who are bright, hardworking, dedicated, reliable and creative, and have skill sets that you don’t, or those who show potential. Mentor them at work or support programs that allow them to earn a new skill certification or degree.
  6. Strike a balance between delegating and being hands-on. An excessive delegator is opting out of responsibility, but keeping too tight control of everything deflates employees and tells them that you don’t value or trust their judgment. Find the middle ground.
  7. Encourage creativity. Take chances to come up with new ideas. Teach people how to take calculated risks, and then let them test their wings. Don’t punish failure. Learn from mistakes. A leader has to create a setting where there is a full vetting of ideas, where everyone is expected to provide suggestions, and where nothing is necessarily wrong.
  8. Share your expectations of others. People want to know what is expected of them so they can work to meet or exceed expectations. Help your employees succeed by letting them know what’s expected of them.
  9. Reward success. If it’s a small business, thank those who do a good job with a personal handwritten note, a lunch out or a small gift card. Large businesses should have an employee reward or recognition program to acknowledge employee successes on a regular basis. People want to be acknowledged for a job well done and will appreciate being called out for respect in front of their peers.
  10. Build coalitions and maintain civility in all business dealings. The “divide and conquer” approach doesn’t work in the private sector or in government. Nothing gets done! Civility and compromise are essential. Lots of people think that if you compromise, you’re weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leaders who compromise come across as caring leaders who are able to put others before themselves and who go out of their way to spend time understanding a differing point of view, even if they don’t act on it. Incivility impedes productivity - and profits.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Ritch K. Eich. He is the former Chief of Public Affairs for Blue Shield of CA and is a Captain, U.S. Naval Reserve (Ret.). He is the author of three books: “Truth, Trust + Tenacity: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders” (2015); “Leadership Requires Extra Innings: Lessons on Leading from a Life in the Trenches” (2013); “Real Leaders Don’t Boss: Inspire, Motivate and Earn Respect from Employees and Watch Your Organization Soar” (2012).

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:51 PM
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5 Leadership Lessons: What if the Rules to Winning Were Different than You Thought?


WHAT IF GIVING VALUE beat extracting value every time? What is seeing others succeed was the greatest reward?

It is a Remarkable! culture that does that every time.

A Remarkable! culture is one where people believe the best in one another, want the best for one another, and expect the best from one another.

5 Leadership Lessons
In this business fable—Remarkable!—authors Randy Ross and David Salyers present how to build a workplace culture that inspires your team members to bring the best of who they are to the table every day, creating an environment that maximizes value creation in every endeavor. It requires shifting into “growth gear.” Importantly, they point out that if we want something to change, we need to add fresh oil—humility. “Where there is defensiveness and resistance, people pull away from one another and erect emotional barriers. When authenticity and humility are present, unity is often the result.”

1  If you have an engagement problem, then you have a clutch problem. The clutch is the mechanism that provides for the engagement of two or more components to produce motion. A clutch situation is any encounter that requires the engagement of two or more people to create progress. The clutch, as you well know, provides the linkage between the engine and the transmission, which ultimately provides power to the drive shaft. When the clutch is engaged, the power produced by the engine is harnesses and transferred to the drive shaft to produce motion. If the clutch is disengaged, then the engine continues to produce power, but it’s uncoupled from the drive shaft, rendering it incapable of turning wheels and garnering traction. You literally cannot “get things into gear” when the clutch is malfunctioning.

2  As human beings we are designed to create value in life. There are essentially two approaches to life: one seeks to extract value from every endeavor, and the other seeks to create and bring value to every endeavor. We want our presence to make a positive difference. We want to be appreciated and affirmed for our work. We want to leave a lasting legacy. But this desire to bring value can often become twisted into a drive to achieve. Some people think life is defined and measured by pay scale and material possessions. But that’s a perversion of a natural longing for significance that comes through creating value. A sense of satisfaction and significance comes from understanding who you are and how you can best bring value to every relationship and every endeavor in life.

3  For any company, a primary consideration should always be, “How do we structure our organization to allow everyone to think and act like owners?” Taking ownership for your actions and seeking to strengthen relationships in everything you do make a world of difference. The emphasis shifts to doing what’s right and what will bring the most value to life. It becomes less about comparison and more about contribution. It becomes less about competition and more about collaboration.

4  To move out of a focus on the self] you must focus on bringing the greatest value to everyone whom the decision may impact. Such a decision-making process is others-focused. Also, we must focus on long-term value generation versus the immediate benefits of any decision. The clutch question is what is the superior choice? The superior choice is always the one that creates the greatest value.

5  What we need to do to reach our full potential is allow our values to drive our business. We need to define, articulate, and embody our values. When I say “values,” I’m referring to how people evaluate certain aspects of the world around them. Values are shaped by how much importance an individual places on certain elements in a decision-making process. [For instance, if you have to make a choice between safety and timeliness, your decision shows what you place more value on.] The problem is that many companies do not clarify what is of greater importance.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:56 AM
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