Leading Blog



03.03.15

The 5 Habits of Mind that Self-Made Billionaires Possess

Self-Made Billionaire Effect
Self-made billionaires think differently than most of us do.

Most of us think like what authors John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen call Performers because their success is tracked through performance. They excel at optimizing within known systems. They strive to excel in well-defined areas, and are important to any organization – in fact, they are important to the self-made billionaire.

Self-made billionaires have what the authors call the Producer mind-set. They thrive in uncertainty. Producers are critical to any company looking to create massive value because they redefine what’s possible, rather than simply meeting preexisting goals and standards. Combining sound judgment with imaginative vision, Producers think up entirely new products, services, strategies, and business models.

For The Self-Made Billionaire Effect, they interviewed 120 billionaires and found that they had in common five habits of mind. What is interesting is that most organizations weed out the very people that they need to create massive value. Imagine what Atari might have achieved if Steve Jobs had stayed there to develop the first mass market personal computer.

Self-made billionaires are able to integrate ideas and actions that most individuals and organizations keep separate or even hold in direct tension to one another. Self-made billionaires effectively operate in a world of dualities—they seamlessly hold on to multiple ideas, multiple perspectives, and multiple scales. Here are the five critical dualities that they observed with additional thoughts on each:

Empathetic Imagination
Producers billion-dollar ideas come through the marriage of extreme empathy for the customer’s needs and wants, and an imaginative mind-set that allows him or her to come up with and explore new, untested ideas.
Focusing on the competencies of today is exactly what causes companies to get stuck in the markets they serve and the products they deliver now, with little eye for the shifts and innovation they will need for tomorrow. Sometimes it takes a slight twist in perspective to see opportunities through a different lens.

Steve Case said that his experience at Williams College—a top liberal arts college—was a kind of laboratory for imaginative thinking. “Liberal arts education is important particularly in a world that’s changing rapidly, because there is a lot of fluidity. There’s the melding of different perspectives, having a sense of things and having a sense of how to learn about things and to look for connections.”

Patient Urgency
Producers urgently prepare to seize an opportunity but patiently wait for that opportunity to fully emerge.
Producers are willing to operate simultaneously at multiple speeds and time frames.

Patient time spent waiting for an idea to mature is not the same as idle time. They’ll wait for the time to be right, but they will prepare relentlessly so that they are ready to jump on the opportunity when it arrives.

They don’t go off track planning for the next stage before they have capitalized on the present.

Inventive Execution
Producers approach execution of their ideas with the same integrative, inventive mind-set they applied to come up with a billion-dollar idea in the first place. Inventive freedom allows them to design aspects of the customer experience that outsiders consider fixed, thus unlocking new value.
Producers frequently operate in markets that require them to rethink the fundamentals of product or business design in order to deliver at scale.

Taking a Relative View of Risk
Self-made billionaires are not huge risk takers. Their perceptions of risks are relative: they are far less concerned about losing what they have than of not being part of a bigger future.
What Producers are not willing to risk is the chance to capture an opportunity. This dynamic creates a critical duality between the right kind of risk and the resilience needed to do it all over again when the original plan doesn’t work out.

They invest bog, but they often have a parallel spring of income or safe source of cash they can count on to keep them solvent while they work the more exciting high-stakes opportunities.

Leadership Partnership
Producer overwhelmingly do not go it alone. Creating billions in value requires both a master Producer, who can bring together divergent ideas and resources into a blockbuster product design, and a virtuoso Performer, who can apply his or her creative acumen to optimizing the potential of that design.
Creating billions in value requires both: the Producer’s ability to bring together divergent ideas and resources into a blockbuster concept and inventive design, and the Performer’s ability to follow through on details needed to make the business work.

Why don’t organizations hold on to extraordinarily talented people? These Producers?

Here’s the thing: while we can all get behind these attitudes of mind, organizationally we don’t generally reward these traits. We recognize and reward Performers. They get the raises and promotions largely because their easy to recognize. They fit in; they can hit the ground running. Producers on the other hand don’t always fit because they think differently from those around them. “The ideas they propose move against the standard approach you are following, and that friction is what you need to achieve breakthrough value.” That makes us uncomfortable. As a result we tend to drive Producers away or cause them to just give up.

need both types, but when looking for new employees we need to look for more people whose background hints at looking at things differently. People who have started something new. People with the raw imagination to see something new and the fortitude necessary to work through the difficulty of execution.

“The key imperative for management is to differentiate between opportunities that need a Performer and those that need a Producer. Look at areas of achievement for the business and at who did the work. When it is a Producer, recognize that and give that Producer her next Producer-appropriate challenge.”

As leaders we need to accept both Producers and Performers and reject neither. We need to find and support positive deviance while promoting for systematic improvement.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:30 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management , Personal Development

03.01.15

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2015

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

  Changing Your Company from the Inside Out: A Guide for Social Intrapreneurs by Gerald F. Davis and Christopher J. White
  Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention by Ben Parr
  Road to Power: How GM's Mary Barra Shattered the Glass Ceiling by Laura Colby
  Becoming Your Best: Bringing Your Best Self to Work by Harry M. Kraemer
  Peter Drucker's Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today's Leaders by Peter F. Drucker, Joan Snyder Kuhl and Frances Hesselbein

Changing Your Company Captivology Road to Power Becoming Your Best Five Most Important Questions

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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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“We read to know we are not alone.”
— C.S. Lewis


Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:38 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books

02.28.15

LeadershipNow 140: February 2015 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from February 2015 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:49 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

02.27.15

How to Grow Your Ability to Detect Change Early

Anticipate
Leaders anticipate. It’s what they do. It’s the vision thing.

But how do you increase your personal visionary capacity? How do we look ahead and anticipate the future and turn it into a compelling story that ignites our followers?

Rob-Jan de Jong assures us in Anticipate that “We all can work consciously and continuously to grow our ability to anticipate, improve our game of looking ahead, have more remarkable insights, and become more inspirational in how we speak about the future.”

He divides the process into four parts: Visionary Content (generating the ingredients that go into a powerful vision), Visionary Practices (developing the ability to see change early and connect the dots), Visionary Self (mindsets and attitudes that allow you to become more visionary), and finally Visionary Communication (the ability to verbalize and communicate your vision powerfully).

A good vision must be rational but it also has to connect emotionally. Two key components of a vision that gets results are unconventionality and a connection to a noble cause.

So often, where we get stuck is having a strong sensitivity to the world around us so that we can respond in an appropriate manner. Part two was useful in this regard.

Seeing into the future is a function of noticing – open-mindedness, listening, playfulness – and then being able to connect the dots or understanding the implications of the changing realities you see.

The author introduces a method he calls FuturePriming. It is increasing your awareness and picking up on seemingly hidden, peripheral signals. The way it works is to begin to create FutureFacts which are manifestations of a possible changing reality.

FutureFactsThe process involves engaging your imagination to a current trend and creating a possible “headline” three to five years out. For example, based on current science a possible FutureFact or headline might be “DNA Profile Taken into Account in Health Insurance Pricing.” this kind of headline is a concrete, telling headline you will remember, and will start to serve you as a prompt when you hear or read about something that’s mildly similar.
You engage your imagination by entertaining unconventional, possibly disruptive, future events.

What matters in future thinking is to see and contemplate the impact of changes while you can still adapt and act, before the window of opportunity closes.
FuturePriming is a very interesting approach to developing your awareness and to help you to become more sensitive to the seemingly random events you see happening in the world around you.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:18 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Vision

02.19.15

6 Skills You Need to Win the Long Game

Winning the Long Game
Brian Dodd says he doesn’t like meetings but he loves strategy sessions because they are about movement and focus on accomplishment, not activity. They “make you glad you are a leader.” I presume he would agree with authors Steven Krupp and Paul Schoemaker. They say the number one business challenge for winning the long game is for leaders to become more strategic.

In Winning the Long Game they write that “In times of crisis and change, when people are confused about what to do, ordinary leadership must rise to the level of strategic leadership.” The trick is to deliver short-term results while securing long-term viability. Especially in uncertain times, “companies must tilt more toward strategic leadership than toward operational excellence.”

Strategic leaders need two perspectives: outside in and future back. Outside in means that a “strategic leader starts with the external marketplace when addressing problems, without getting wrapped up by internal organizational issues.” Future back means that when playing the long game strategic leaders use their long-term vision to guide their short-term decisions in a flexible way.

Strategic leadership If strategic leaders are to thrive and play the long game they need six elements critical for effective strategic leadership: Anticipate, Challenge, Interpret, Decide, Align and Learn. Mastering just a few of these skills is not enough. “The more uncertain the environment becomes, the more a leader needs these six disciplines in combination because they possess self-reinforcing qualities when deployed as an interdependent leadership system.”

Anticipate: Strategic leaders are constantly vigilant, honing their ability to anticipate by scanning the environment for signals of change. They develop and maintain an external mindset. How quickly do you spot ambiguous threats and opportunities on the periphery of your business? (Chapter 1: Elon Musk)
“Once a company becomes the master of its own universe, seeing new developments in adjacent markets becomes harder.

The paradox is that the more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in winning the long game.”
Challenge: Strategic leaders question the status quo. Pope Francis is listening to new voices and deliberately bypassing old channels of communication. Open a window to let in fresh air and look in the mirror. Are you comfortable with conflicting views and differences in opinion? How often do you question your own and other people’s assumptions? (Chapter 2: Sir Richard Branson, Pope Francis)
Opening the window is the practice of promulgating outside perspectives to see complex issues in context. Looking in the mirror is the practice of deep self-reflection, whereby leaders confront outmoded beliefs, faulty assumptions, and stubbornness in themselves and others.”
Interpret: Strategic leaders amplify signals and connect multiple data points in new and insightful ways to make sense of complex, ambiguous situations. Can you pick up on signals to distinguish anomalies from leading indicators of change? What are you not seeing or hearing? We begin by recognizing the facts and then “re-cognizing,” or rethinking, them to expose their hidden implications. (Chapter 3: Charles O. Holliday Jr.)
“Leaders get blindsided not so much because they aren’t receiving signals but because they aren’t exploring alternative interpretations, or they get locked into one piece of the puzzle.”
Decide: Strategic leaders seek multiple options to ensure flexible decision-making. They don’t get prematurely locked into simplistic yes/no choices. How often and how quickly must you make tough calls with incomplete information? (Chapter 4: Angela Merkel, Laurence Golborne)
“Exploring options means having the wisdom, cool-headedness, and perspective to consider all of the alternatives available. Showing courage means demonstrating the fortitude to commit to the right solution and, if that solution proves ineffective, critically stepping back to reconsider.”
Align: Strategic leaders engage stakeholders to understand change readiness, manage differences and create buy-in. They are adept at finding common ground. This requires active outreach. Good communication is key. Do you regularly engage your managers’ direct reports in decisions that affect their work? Where do you stand with the people you need to influence? (Chapter 5: Alex Ferguson)
“There is an interconnectedness now in problems—and this changes the issues. You need to have more people involved with the decision making, leaving the leader less in control of the situation.”
Learn: Strategic leaders continuously reflect on successes and failures to improve performance and decision-making. I like this chapter title: My Gift Was Not Knowing. It sums it up well. A quarter of a century after the publication of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, “the learning organization still does not have much of a foothold in the business world, despite skyrocketing uncertainty.” When was the last time you admitted you were wrong—in public? (Chapter 6: Reed Hastings, Sara Blakely)
“Leaders must make their moves when the future is still ambiguous. If an organization is continually learning, then everyone is primed for change and ready to move in a different direction each day.”
What kind of strategic thinker are you? You can assess your current capabilities at Decision Strategies International

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:27 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Problem Solving , Thinking , Vision



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