Leading Blog



11.19.14

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership

Rules of Leadership
Michael Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas have reviewed the writings of the Classical philosophers and selected ten ideas that will positively impact our leadership effectiveness in The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership. Not surprisingly, the philosophies of classic figures remain relevant in today's workplace.

Early on the authors suggest that the raw material of leadership is not latent in just about everyone and rightly discredit the idea that it “just takes a nudge to trigger its unfolding.” Further, they say that the “special qualities of genuine leadership are remarkably complex and rare.” It is true that good leaders are not as common as they need to be and that we do confuse administration with actual leadership as they suggest, but the potential is there in each one of us. The problem is that it remains latent in many of us. We choose not to do the work necessary and instead assume reading “Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Cat” is enough to unlock our potential.

The authors do expose the real culprit at the end of the book: “Achieving the rank of genuine leader is a daunting task that most will find prohibitively challenging.” In short, “leadership requires a special form of courage: the courage to fashion a code of conduct governed by principled conviction.”

Genuine leadership is not complex but it is difficult because it requires that we do the inner-work on a continual basis. And that is a lot to commit to. It’s lifelong. And what we want to do is to check it off and mark it as good enough. Sustainable leadership requires a radical life-long commitment to rule one of leadership: Know Thyself.

Rule 1: “Know Thyself.” –Thales
This is an intimidating task and one that many leaders never really get around to. It never seems as important as the task at hand. The larger issue though is that we all possess a “powerful tendency to obscure, distort, and fictionalize on behalf of a fabricated reality.” The authors note that “Knowing Thyself means bringing a fresh transparency to our hidden motives and identities.” They suggest that a would-be leader commit to “an agenda of spirited self-indictment.”

Rule 2: “Office Shows the Person.” –Pittacus
Giving a person power reveals their inner qualities. “Specifically, power discloses whether or not a person has disposed f the psychological deficiencies that negate the possibility of real leadership.”

Rule 3: “Nurture Community at the Workplace.” –Plato
Plato insisted that “there is no greater evil than discord and faction and no greater good than the bonds of communal sentiment.” The idea that if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. “Foster a cultre of cooperation and collaboration by defying the myth of the exceptional individual, and by explaining the corporate gains of working together.”

Rule 4: “Do Not Waste Energy on Things You Cannot Change.” –Aristophanes
The Athenian playwright Aristophanes wrote in his play titled Peace, “Never will you make the crab to walk straight.” Some things we cannot change. “Leaders must assume a posture of flexible response.”

Rule 5: “Always Embrace the Truth.” –Antisthenes
Antisthenes wrote, “There are only two people who will tell you the truth about yourself—an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.” “Honest assessment is an essential requirement of effective leadership.” The problem is that the higher up the ladder you go, the less likely you will receive complete and accurate information.” Seek the truth. Hire a heretic.

Rule 6: “Let Competition Reveal Talent.” –Hesiod
Hesiod suggested that competition that releases selfishness is destructive, but competition that releases ingenuity and creative is a constructive use of competition. Strife than is not the byproduct, but inner excellence and personal development.

Rule 7: “Live Life by a Higher Code.” –Aristotle
Aristotle wrote of the “magnanimous man” or the “great-souled” person. He is referring to a person that lives by a higher or more rigorous code than the average person. But not in a vain way. “When it comes to the great-souled individual, personal honor, not ego, is the ultimate priority and concern.”

Rule 8: “Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye.” –The Skeptics
“Leaders should never assume that the information they receive is unsoiled by hidden agendas or political agendas.” The problem though is even more personal than that. Socrates reminded us that “we must be vigilant against the conceits of wisdom [and] that we are all strongly inclined to assume we understand things that in truth we fail to genuinely comprehend.”

Rule 9: “Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity.” –Sophocles
In the play Philoctetes by Sophocles, one of the two central characters believes that the ends justify the means; “one should not allow moral concerns to impede the necessities of practical achievement.” In the face of this seductive idea, the other main character, Neoptolemus, responds, “I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” It’s easy to rationalize wrong behavior.

Rule 10: “Character Is Destiny.” –Heraclitus
Our character or our moral essence determines the course of our lives. While we can’t control the world around us, “Heraclitus was correct to insist that we are, to a very great extent, the authors of both our own blessings and our own burdens.” “A well formed character,” write the authors, “is the priceless reward paid to those who have done the hard work of coming to know themselves.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:24 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership Development , Personal Development

11.17.14

Do you have Moxie?

Leadership
Leaders with moxie are leaders that have what it takes to lead others in tough circumstances. They are tough on the outside but soft on the inside. When knocked down they know how to get back up and they can bring others with them because they are likeable.

John Baldoni, author of MOXIE, says that “Leadership post-crash is not really any different from leadership pre-crash, except for one thing: resilience.” Leaders with moxie have four key attributes:

Fire. They have a passion for what they do and have a need to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Drive. They have ambition and want others to share in it.

Resilience. They have known defeat and it doesn’t scare them. They know how to pick themselves up after a fall.

Street Smarts. They know how the world works and what makes people tick.

Baldoni breaks moxie down into five characteristics that you can practice and develop to be a leader that demonstrates moxie. Each characteristic is brought to life through the examples of leaders who have demonstrated it in their own life and leadership.

The first is Mindfulness. “A mindful leader knows the situation as well as his capabilities and those of the people around him.” aware if his situation but at the same time focused on what could be done to improve it. Mindfulness “prepares leaders to focus on the present as well as prepare for the future”— to be aware of your situation but at the same time focused on what could be done to improve it.

opportunitySecond is Opportunity. “An opportunistic leader looks for ways to make things better. She is motivated by a desire to make a positive difference.” That means a willingness to see beyond the immediate problem and see the possibilities over the horizon.

Third is X-Factor. “A leader with the X-Factor has what we call ‘the right stuff of leadership.’ She radiates character and uses her ambition to focus on the right goals. She has the persevering spirit that radiates resolve. Leaders with the X-Factor are humble, and their humility attracts others to them.” The X-Factor is those things that allow you to do what you do well: character, beliefs and talent. These can all be examined and improved. In addition, look for opportunities to improve through more training and consider taking on responsibilities that stretch you.

Fourth is Innovation. “An innovative leader knows that life is not lived in a linear fashion. Sometimes you need to take risks. That means thinking differently, doing differently, and rewarding others who do the same.” Leaders with moxie aren’t content with the status quo. They are tuned to the future. A “forward-themed outlook is not merely one of observation, it is one of application….That gives rise to innovation.”

Fifth is Engagement. “Persons with moxie seek to engage with the wider community around them. They are focused on making a positive difference in their teams and in their organizations.” Leaders must work through others. “Engagement is an essential part of extending the leadership self in order to make a positive difference.”

All of us can demonstrate moxie when the going gets tough. Preparing and developing yourself now sets you up to make better decisions when you do get knocked down.

Moxie is full of great stories and examples making it immediately relatable and practical. It is structured so that you can thoughtfully and tactically look at each of these areas to see where you can better prepare yourself. Baldoni also provides an appendix that works as a handbook to guide you in this. Questions, examples, additional thoughts and action steps help you access where you are at and what you might need to do next.

Moxie is not just about your work life, it also impacts every other aspect of your life and positively influences the lives of those you touch.

Of Related Interest:
  The Leader’s Pocket Guide
  Lead With Purpose
  Lead Your Boss
  Lead By Example

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:50 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

11.07.14

How to Pull Yourself Back from the Brink of Your Caffeine-Driven, Smart Phone-Addicted Life

Leading Forum
This is a post by Scott Eblin. Scott is is the co-founder and president of The Eblin Group. He is the author of The Next Level and Overworked and Overwhelmed.

On a summer Sunday night four years ago, I found myself standing in front of a roomful of about 80 corporate managers who probably didn’t want to be there. They had just finished the first week of a high-profile leadership development program in one of the world’s largest companies and week two was scheduled to start at 7:30 am the next morning. They were polite but understandably restless. I was there as a guest speaker brought in to share some of what I’d learned from working with several hundred other leaders in their company.

Since high-achieving people usually like to compare themselves to their peers, I asked if they’d like to see the summary results of hundreds of leadership behavior self-assessments completed by those other leaders. Of course they said yes. Starting with the highest assessed behaviors, everyone could quickly identify with commitment to behaviors like making timely decisions, being clear about priorities and accepting accountability for results. Then we took a look at the lowest assessed behaviors like pacing myself, taking regular time to step back and giving others my full presence and attention. There were nods and murmurs of recognition. I summed it up for the group with the headline, “Leaders in your company are so busy doing stuff that they probably don’t see what needs to be done.

Then the room erupted. Not in anger but in vociferous agreement. “Yeah, that’s exactly it!” one person exclaimed. “Yeah, another agreed, they expect us to be corporate warriors, answer e-mails at 2:00 in the morning and get by on four hours of sleep a night.” Several people at once said, “We can’t keep this up.”

Overworked and Overwhelmed
The conversation I led that evening was the beginning of work and a thought process that led to my new book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. One of the things I’ve noticed in my work as an executive coach and speaker over the past four or five years is that most of the executives, managers and professionals I work with are trying to work harder every year. The demands of a “do more with less” culture and a 24/7, smart phone enabled operating environment have left too many people teetering on the brink of a caffeine-addicted, sleep-deprived, stressed-out existence. The impact of all of that on short-term productivity and happiness and long-term health and well being is devastating.

Because of all they’re trying to do and pay attention to many of the leaders and professionals I work with are in a chronic state of fight or flight. Their stress hormones and blood pressure are too high and their immune and digestive systems don’t operate at healthy levels. In the short run, all of that leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor decision making, lack of focus and generally poor health. In the long run, it leads to broken relationships, premature aging and early death.

The point I’m trying to make in Overworked and Overwhelmed is it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple, relatively easy steps you can take to pull your life from the brink. That’s where the mindfulness alternative comes in. Over the past few years, mindfulness has gotten more and more attention in the mainstream media – it's even made the cover of Time magazine. The picture that a lot of people get in their minds when they hear the word mindfulness is of blissed out people sitting cross legged while they meditate and chant. That’s one way to do it, but it’s not something that most stressed out professionals are going to do.

What I’m presenting in my book is what I’ve learned about how the basics of mindfulness can be used and applied by just about anyone who needs to get out of chronic fight or flight. We all know what fight or flight is – it’s supposed to be the emergency response system controlled by your body’s sympathetic nervous system. It’s a big problem when the fight or flight response gets stuck in the on position and becomes chronic. That’s where another system that all of us have but few of us have heard of comes into play. It’s called your rest and digest response and is controlled by your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. You can think of it as fight or flight being the gas pedal and rest and digest as the brakes. We need to exercise both throughout the day to be healthy, happy and effective. Fortunately, there are simple, easy to do routines that we can learn from the practice of mindfulness that can help even the most overworked and overwhelmed people activate their rest and digest response. I summarize a lot of those routines in my book and offer a simple one-page framework called the Life GPS® that helps make it easy to follow through on the routines that help you show up at your best.

The Life GPS® asks for your answers to three questions:
  • How am I when I’m at my best?
  • What are the routines – physical, mental, relational and spiritual – that will help me show up at my best?
  • What outcomes do I hope to see in the three big arenas of life – home, work and community – if I regularly show up at my best?
Based on my work with hundreds of leaders, I can tell you that getting clear about your Life GPS® and following through on it can help you step back from the brink and make a huge difference in the quality of your life and for the people you care most about. It doesn’t require perfection in either discipline or execution. It just requires the willingness to take some small initial steps and repeating them until they’ve become healthy habits.

It’s never too late to pull yourself back from the brink and reclaim your life. Now is a great time to get started. My goal with Overworked and Overwhelmed is to help you do that.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:37 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

11.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2014

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

  Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner by Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn
  Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
  The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders by M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
  Seven Disciplines of A Leader by Jeff Wolf
  Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top by Bo Burlingham

Fail Better Napoleon Golden Rules Seven Disciplines Finish Big

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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“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
— Groucho Marx


Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:33 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books

10.31.14

LeadershipNow 140: October 2014 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from October 2014 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:56 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

10.28.14

The Power of Noticing

Harvard professor Max Bazerman believes in the power of noticing. Sometimes we get so focused on what is right in front of us that we miss the critical information that would help us to make better decisions.

Noticing
The Power of Noticing guides us through what happens when our focus can prevent us from seeing the critical information we need to make better decisions. Focusing too narrowly on the information in front of us is common too us all. Where we would never do it in certain situations we can easily do it in others.

Loyalty creates “blinders to full awareness and action.” Personality cults end badly for this very reason. “When we have a vested self-interest in a situation, we have difficulty approaching that situation without bias, no matter how well-calibrated we believe our moral compass to be. We want to think the best of our kids and spouses, and we’re disinclined to speak against those with influence in our offices and our occupations.” And so we don’t speak up when we should or we miss the kind of information we need to make the best decision.

“Through our silence and complacency we accept and promote corruption.” When we don’t take the time to notice growing issues or simply chose to ignore them, corrupt systems develop around us.

Sometimes we don’t get the information we need or fail to see the obvious because of misdirection. Thinking logically helps us to avoid this kind of decision-making trap. “When you start to stray from logic, and another person is involved, whether she is a negotiator, marketer, or politician, it is time to put yourself in the shoes of the other party, understand her motives, and adapt accordingly.”

We are also unlikely to notice gradual changes. It is easy to miss or more likely to accept changes in ethical behavior until it’s too late because of this slippery slope effect. “Too often executives have engaged in unacceptable behavior not because they intend to defraud but simply to justify the mess that they got into.”

There are more obvious things we don’t notice or rather do notice but our human nature gets the best of us. Things that are “too good to be true” require investigation. Bazerman explains why penny auctions are nothing but gambling. The house always wins. “Thinking one step ahead allows you to identify when to be trusting and when to be cynical.”

It is wise to think through the indirect effects of your organizational policies and goals. What is the possible downside? What might it cause people to do unintentionally?

“Focusing is important, but sometimes noticing is better—at least when you are making critical decisions.”
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Of Related Interest:
  First Class Noticer

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:53 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Problem Solving



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