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01.29.09

Out of Context: What Will Leaders of the Future Look Like

The leaders of the future will be known for …
  • Less for what they say and more for what they deliver
  • Less by their title and position and more by their expertise and competence
  • Less by what they control and more by what they shape
  • Less by goals they set and more by mind-sets they build
  • Both for great personal credibility and for exceptional organizational capabilities
—Dave Ulrich
The Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:05 PM
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12.18.08

Out of Context: Preparing Young People for Leadership and Effective Citizenship

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The competencies for both leadership and for active and informed citizenship overlap. Unfortunately, we are doing very little to prepare people for either. Mike Summers, vice president for Global Talent Management for Dell Computers, shared the following with Tony Wagner in The Global Achievement Gap:

“Kids just out of school have an amazing lack of preparedness in general leadership skills and collaborative skills. They lack the ability to influence versus direct and command.” “In other words,” Wagner writes, “the only kind of leadership young people have experienced is one that relies on obedience versus the kind of reasoning and persuasion that is the new leadership style demanded by businesses organized in teams and networks.”

Summers continues, “Students have a naiveté about how work gets done in the corporate environment. They have a predisposition toward believing that everything is clearly outlined, and then people give directions, and then other people execute until there’s a new set of directions. They don’t understand the complexities of an organization – that boundaries are fluid, that rarely does one group have everything they need to get a job done. How do you solve a problem when people who own what you need are outside your organization or don’t report to you. or the total solution requires a consortium of different people? How do you influence things that are out of your direct control?”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:42 AM
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12.11.08

Out of Context: The Leadership of Admiral Nelson

Admiral Lord Nelson
"For much of the past two hundred years [Nelson] has been a model of what a leader ought to be.

"What made Nelson a leader whose “immortal memory” we toast? In an understandable desire to construct an objective and measurable account of the competencies required of a leader there is a modern tendency to gloss over the more subtle, moral, and relational aspects of leadership. Recent research, however, by the Exeter University Centre for Leadership Studies reveals that actual practitioners of the art of leadership in various fields put a greater emphasis on the visionary and relational dimensions of leadership than the text books.

"In times of danger unless there are people who have a lively sense of what is worth living and dying for then our freedom to live at peace as a society is at risk.

'But at such times of decision leaders need to make contact with foundational convictions and with a sense of calling which comes from going deep within oneself. This is the source of healthy self confidence and the ability to master fear and to encourage people in the most extreme circumstances. Any education system which hopes to produce effective leaders and followers must take the formation of these foundational convictions very seriously.

"We live at a strange time when the periodic table and anything that can be quantified and reduced to a mathematical truth is regarded as an accurate description of reality but the Beatitudes and the teachings of the world’s wisdom traditions are seen as little more than the debatable opinions of dead sages.

Trafalgar
"Nelson’s sense of personal and individual call was developed within a tradition which also understands growth in the spiritual life as growth in love of neighbour. Nelson spared no pains to stand by and serve his shipmates. He exhibited an infectious trust in people which called out the best in them and engaged them not only to Nelson’s person but enrolled them in the cause in which he believed. This was not only true for the “band of brothers” who captained the ships of his fleet. People of all ranks in the little world which a ship constitutes became responsible leaders in their turn.

"A sense of calling, a connection with foundational convictions derived from his belief in God who nerves his worshipers for struggle but also enjoins justice and humanity, a profound sense of the relational element in all great human enterprises - these are Nelson’s contributions to a time when we are once more facing people with fire in their minds, when we need more than efficient regulation and inspection, when we must not neglect the vital work of building up trust and a sense of common purpose among all the citizens of this country."

—Bishop of London
Excerpts from the Sermon at St. Paul's on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, October 23, 2005

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:46 PM
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11.27.08

Out of Context: You’re Biggest Competitor is Your Own View of Your Future

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"You have to compete in the future dimension without destabilizing competition in the present and without subverting the core values that have sustained your business in the past. That’s part of doing business in the three dimensions of time.

The only way to succeed in the marketplace today—the marketplace of individuals or products or services or ideas—is to know your own story and to follow it into the future. Define yourself by someone else’s benchmarks, immerse yourself in someone else’s possibilities, and you become the thing you define yourself by and immerse yourself in. Measure yourself against your own rate of change and you stay inside your own story. That way, when the other side ceases to exist, you still have a reason to go on.

External and lateral competition is the distraction. Internal and vertical competition is the game. The real battle is against yourself.

Look at competition as external and lateral, and you also can never stop defining yourself by the present moment. Do that and you can never escape from the present into the future. Fail to make that leap, and the changes you are required to make will always be reactive and degrading."
—Watts Wacker and Jim Taylor,
The Visionary’s Handbook: Nine Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:49 AM
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11.13.08

Out of Context: A World in Search of Leaders

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"We have also learned a great deal about the limitations and shortcomings of our financial system and about the frailties of the people running and abusing it. We must make sure that these lessons are put to good effect. The world will not be a hopeless mess as long as it is in a learning curve....There's one lesson to be learned above all others: There is no substitute for prudent, strong and courageous leadership. This is what the civilized world currently lacks and must find--soon."
—Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author,
"A World in Search of Leaders" in Forbes November 24, 2008

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:15 AM
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10.16.08

Out of Context: Success is in the Details

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"Success is found in much smaller portions than most people realize. A hundredth of a second here or sometimes a tenth of a second there can determine the fastest man in the world. At times we live our lives on a paper-thin edge that barely separates greatness from mediocrity and success from failure."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:23 AM
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09.18.08

Out of Context: Leading People Through Change

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"Unless leaders take time to surface and resolve individual concerns, they will be unable to generate and maintain the momentum necessary for the change to be successful. One of the primary reasons many change efforts fail is because leaders do not step back and look at the change process and the transitions that are required from the perspective of the individuals involved.
TDSept08


At any given time, different people are at different stages of concern relative to change. Predictably, they have information, personal, and implementation concerns at the front end of the change process.

If a leader is able to diagnose stages of concern, then the leader can respond by communicating the right information at the right time, and therefore reduce resistance. When resistance goes down, buy-in goes up."
—Merry Lee Olson
Compact Risk: Controlling the Perils of Change, T+D Magazine September 2008

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:17 AM
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09.04.08

Out of Context: A Person of Character

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Marvin Olasky writes in the American Leadership Tradition about the need for moral leadership:

Americans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries generally understood that if great Solomon’s reign could disintegrate, how much more readily could the tarnished lives of lesser leaders send their lands spiraling downward! Voters at first took into account the religious beliefs and sexual practices of prospective statesmen, generally electing men like Andrew Jackson and turning down those like Henry Clay when they went head-to-head. But the common sense of past generations has become uncommon.

Novelist Larry McMurtry wrote in 1975 that “one seldom, nowadays, hears anyone described as ‘a person of character.’ The concept goes with an ideal of maturity, discipline and integration that strongly implies repression: people of character, after all, cannot do just anything, and an ability to do just about anything with just about anyone—in the name, perhaps, of Human Potential—is certainly one of the most moderne abilities."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:41 AM
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08.14.08

Out of Context: The Lengthened Shadows of Leaders

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"A company doesn't fail to do anything. Individuals do, and when you probe a bit you usually find that failure lies not in a litany of strategic mistakes - though they may all be present in one form or another - but the real fault lies, as Shakespeare noted, in ourselves, the leaders of the business. Businesses are the product and the extension of the personal characteristics of its leaders - the lengthened shadows of the men and women who run them."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:10 AM
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07.17.08

Out of Context: The Power of Adversity

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"We are not meant, in the grand scheme of life, to be happy and comfortable. Rather we are meant to forge our characters on the anvil of adversity... Most of us experience monumental periods of adversity—to burn away our self-deception. These devastating setbacks propel us in our quest to become fully and creatively human. Sometimes we get stuck, so stuck, in fact, that only great pain will impel us to move. It's then that the power of adversity is revealed. But to see it requires a new way of looking at the world, a radical shifting of perspective.

The walls of your adversity might seem too high to scale. Never mind. Don't look up and don't look down. Look straight ahead, find that first foothold, and climb. Soon that wall will become merely a stepping stone to the next phase of your life—and (surprise!) your next adversity. At that time recall the concept of sweat equity and realize that when you leverage your learning from adversity past and present there is no failure and no wasted time."
—Al Weatherhead and Fred Feldman, The Power of Adversity

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:19 AM
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06.05.08

Out of Context: Building Meaning Into Your Life

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"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like an answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of you affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can out them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure—as the world measures success or failure—is of less account."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:53 AM
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05.15.08

Out of Context: More Isn't Better. Better Is Better

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Most presentations aren’t better for being longer, most conference calls aren’t better for being extended, most meetings aren’t more productive because you spent more time in the room. It’s just that in this age of super-sizing everything from hamburgers to automobiles, we’ve become addicted to the idea that more is better. I am here to ask you to join my revolution, to tattoo on your brain, if not your backside, that “More isn’t better. Better is better.”
—Frances Cole Jones,
How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Presenting Your Ideas, Persuading Your Audience, and Perfecting Your Image

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:05 AM
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05.07.08

Out of Context: Great Followership Is Harder Than Leadership

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"It’s no surprise that books on leadership, promising to revel the secrets of countless football coaches and historical figures as disparate as Moses and Attila the Hun, outnumber those on followership several thousand to one. After all, leadership is the prize that ambitious men and women have struggled and even died for at least since Alexander the Great. Whether the field is politics, business, science, or the arts, leaders are at the center of the action, the envied if not enviable stars whose lives seem to burn a little brighter than our own. We aspire to their power and its perquisites even as we take unseemly pleasure when one of them stumbles and falls. Indeed, the moment when each of us realizes he or she is mostly a follower, not a leader, is a genuine developmental milestone; who forgets that painful leap over the line of demarcation between the boundless fantasies of childhood and the sober reality of an adulthood in which we will never quite become the god we hoped to be?"
—Warren Bennis, The Art of Followership

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:50 AM
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04.02.08

Out of Context: Work-Family Conflict

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"There is no such thing as a firewall between personal issues and work productivity. That’s because we can't have two brains we can interchange depending on whether we are in our office or in our bedroom. Stress in the workplace affects family life, causing more stress in the family. More stress in the family causes more stress at work, which in turn gets brought home again. It’s a deadly, self-feeding spiral, and researchers call it “work-family conflict.” So you may have the most wonderful feelings about autonomy at work, and you may have tremendous problem-solving opportunities with your colleagues. But if your home life is a wreck, you can still suffer the negative effects of stress, and so can your employer."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:32 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | NeuroLeadership , Out of Context

02.28.08

Out of Context: Gaius Petronius Arbiter on Reorganizing

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"We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized…. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."
—Attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter (Titus Petronius Niger)

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:10 AM
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02.14.08

Out of Context: Managing Paradox

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The more turbulent the times, the more complex the world, the more paradoxes there are. We can and should, reduce the starkness of some of the contradictions, minimize the inconsistencies, understand the puzzles in the paradoxes, but we cannot make them disappear, or solve them completely, or escape from them.

Paradox has to be accepted, coped with, and made sense of, in life, in work, in the community, and among nations.

We have no chance of managing the paradoxes if we are not prepared to give up something, if we are not willing to bet on the future, and if we cannot find it in ourselves to take a risk with people. These are our pathways through the paradoxes if we have the will. The pursuit of our own short-term advantage, and the desire to win everything we can, will only perpetuate animosities, destroy alliances and partnerships, frustrate progress, and breed lawyers and the enforcement bureaucracy.
—Charles Handy, The Age of Paradox

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:05 AM
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02.07.08

Out of Context: Excellence

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Excellence, for example, stands for giving our best, on the field of play or in the professional arena. Our motto is “faster, higher, stronger.” Excellence is not just about winning. It is also about a state of mind and a behavior. Making progress against personal goals. Striving to be and do our best in our daily lives. It is about benefiting from the healthy combination of a strong body, mind and will.
—Jacques Rogge, President, International Olympic Committee,
Speech in Chicago, November 2, 2007

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:29 AM
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01.31.08

Out of Context: A Matter of Character

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"The issues that provoked the present crisis were not overly subtle. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and CEOs do not need a business ethicist to tell them right from wrong. What they need is the character to do the right thing, which is to say, the mettle to avoid the temptation to talk themselves out of their knowledge of right and wrong even if that knowledge lowers their profit margins."
Gordon Marino, Wall Street Journal July 30, 2002

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
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01.24.08

Out of Context: Information Overload

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“Everyone spoke of an information overload, but what there was in fact was a non-information overload.”
—Richard Saul Wurman, What-If, Could-Be: An Historic Fable of the Future

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:44 AM
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12.20.07

Out of Context: Democracy

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“The people are always said to know best. But the fact that democracies do not like sacrifices, do not listen to bad news nor wish to think about bad possibilities in the future, do not want their comfort or profits interfered with, should be accepted with apprehension, not complacence. Why is it evident that democracy and liberal values will prevail? The evidence is very limited, the historical experience with modern democracy brief, of a little more than two centuries. We do not know the future of democracy."
—William Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations: Civilizations and the Furies of Nationalism

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:56 AM
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12.06.07

Out of Context: Self-Gratification

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“A society in which self-gratification is the norm is also a society in which there are no longer any criteria for making moral judgments. One feels entitled to have what one wants, whether or not one is worthy. Thus, moral judgments become dispensable. There is no need to differentiate between ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’
—Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:01 AM
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11.29.07

Out of Context: Everyone is a Leader

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• "Leadership is how you interact with everyone, including yourself. Leaders are quite visible within large and small business. We tend to think of them as business owners, CEO, and managers at all levels. Traditionally, leadership also extends into politics and other global affairs. However, parents, therapists and health care providers, solopreneurs, sport coaches, consultants, mentors, partners in relationship, teachers, authors, and others who interact with people on a regular basis are all leaders. Everyone is a leader either by choice or default.

"If you don’t think of yourself as a leader, then you’re limited in your thinking. Leading is the way we help move people into action, including ourselves. The question is not whether you are a leader, but how well you lead."
—Bruce D. Schneider, Energy Leadership

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:18 AM
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11.22.07

Out of Context: Quotes on the Art of Leadership

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• "Businesses need to change their thinking about leadership as the pinnacle of success for everyone and stop doling out leadership jobs as rewards for people who perform very well but simply are not leaders."
—Ram Charan, Leaders At All Levels

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:30 PM
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11.15.07

Out of Context: Quotes on the Art of Leadership

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• "Jealousy and envy are often about comparing our insides to someone else's outsides—a symptom of our externally focused world."
—Christine Comaford-Lynch, Rules for Renegades

• "The ability to think better will soon become the most significant competative advantage companies and individuals can claim. Thinking better is what it's all about."
—Tim Hurson, Thinking Better

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:52 AM
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11.08.07

Out of Context: Gary Hamel on the Post-Managerial Society

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“We have for many decades been living in a “post-industrial” society. I believe we are now on the verge of a “post-managerial” society, perhaps even a “post-organizational” society. Before you start hyper-ventilating, let me assure you that this doesn’t mean a future without managers. Just as the coming of the knowledge economy didn’t herald the death of heavy industry, a “post-managerial” economy won’t be entirely free of executives, supervisors, administrators and overseers. But it does imply a future in which the “work of management” is less and less the responsibility of “managers.” To be sure, activities will still need to be coordinated, individual efforts aligned, relationships nurtured, objectives decided upon, and knowledge disseminated. But increasingly, this work will be distributed out to those on the periphery.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:10 AM
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