Leading Blog



08.18.17

4 Things Solitude Will Do for You

Solitude

W
E LIVE in an age of noise. Getting some time for yourself is a challenge. But if we are going to lead effectively, we need white space. We need solitude.

I know none of us have any extra time, but there is overwhelming evidence that taking a time-out to simply think is foundational to your success.

Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin explore some solid reasons why you must make the time to think in Lead Yourself First.

When we say solitude we mean a “subjective state of mind, in which the mind, isolated from input from other minds, works through a problem on its own.” There is no particular structure to it—place, time, or length—but it must focus the mind. It’s scheduled white space—a commitment you make to yourself simply because your leadership begins with who you are—not what you do.

So let’s look at four things solitude will do for you.

Clarity

Clarity is about what is true. What is signal and what is noise? Solitude facilitates that distillation process. It helps you to eliminate or deliberately deemphasize all distractions. That alone will help you to make the time to think. Clarity and focus go hand-in-hand. That kind of focused attention is often best done alone.

Intuition complements analytical thought. When we get stuck, “intuition can provide clarity when analytical thinking cannot.” The challenge is accessing it. Accessing intuition requires “a deeper form of solitude: an absence of inputs not only from other minds, but also from one’s own.”

Clarity is important for decision-making but it is also critical for understanding who you are—strengths and weaknesses. It helps to connect you with your core values and understand your place from that perspective.

Creativity

Solitude opens the path to creativity. Solitude isn’t always the shortest distance to the goal. Joey Reiman, CEO of the consulting firm BrightHouse, credits their success to their “longer, incubation pace.” On one project he says, “If we had moved at a faster, business pace, we never would have excavated that original brand identity and then generalized it into a new ethos.”

Dena Braeger, mother of six in El Paso, offered this insight into information overload:
People make such an effort to copy what other people do, because we have so much access to information. I’m surrounded by people on Pinterest. I’ll be dammed if I make something on Pinterest. You’ll see things like these cupcakes that look amazing. And people copy them. But on the inside their phony, because the person didn’t create it themselves. We’re getting more of everything, but less of what is authentically ourselves. If we spent more time alone, creating something that might not look as amazing but is more authentic, we’d value ourselves more.

Creativity is doing something differently than the norm. Solitude allows us to get away from the inertia of our environment and connect to new possibilities.

Emotional Balance

Emotional balance requires you to respond rather than react. General James Mattis finds a lack of reflection the single biggest problem facing leaders. “The leader who neglects to step out of the sweep of events, to contemplate from whence they come and where they might go. Finds himself merely blown from one thing to another. But the leader who steps outside events is a leader who can change them.”

Solitude allows you to reflect on what is making you emotional and provide clarity on the issue. Often what you are emotional about is more of a distraction than an issue. Again Dena Braeger, the West Point graduate and mother of six in El Paso, said, “When I’m practicing solitude regularly, I self-correct so much better. I’m more focused on what’s important, and I let things go that aren’t important.”

Instead of allowing our emotions to adversely affect our leadership, it is wise to move away and deal with them in private. Our emotions will find an outlet somewhere. And that is best alone than in decisions made through unfiltered emotions that affect those around us.

Moral Courage

We’ve all seen them: leaders who take themselves too seriously—who believe their own press release. And it’s all too easy for any of us to fall prey to self-admiration. “Honest reflation can deflate these pretentions.” Reflection can pave the way to humility.

Solitude allows you to slow down and be clear and firmly convicted of your values and beliefs. “Leaders who are well anchored in what they believe are going to be more effective,” says Doug Conant, the former CEO and president of the Campbell Soup Company. When those criticisms come along that are design to enforce conformity, it is easier to weather the storm when you know that what you are doing is the right thing to do for the right reasons. It is the power to rise above.

Reclaiming Solitude

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says that “The biggest mistake I’ve made in my career to date is believing that solitude is a luxury. I could chart the ups and downs of my quality of life personally and professionally and the amount of time I spend in solitude.” As important as it is, it is easy to let it slip away without even realizing it. We are continuously bombarded by pressures—both personal and social—not to stop and reflect but if we lose our solitude, we will lose who we are.

You don’t have to go off to a mountaintop or sit at the seashore. It can be a closed room, the library, a park bench, and even a waiting room.

We have a responsibility to seek out periods of solitude. We owe it to ourselves and those we lead.
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Of Related Interest:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1
  Does Your Leadership Have “White Space?”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:05 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership , Personal Development

08.16.17

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Relationships

Arcement

K
NOWING how to work with and relate to people is an imperative. Relationship building is critical for anyone wishing to rise to any position of leadership. The guidelines for achievement are many. Here are five ideas you might be able to start using today:
  1. Avoid becoming an antagonist. Antagonism doesn’t build friends. It is acceptable to disagree on an issue. But reaching the level of adversary builds resistance to you and your ideas. Learn to disagree in a professional manner. You can have strong support for your belief without antagonizing. (A little patience goes a long way here). It may be surprising to you that the strategy works more often than not. And, in the long term, it enhances your ability to influence.

  2. Always thank anyone who helps, even in the slightest way. Even small events deserve a sincere round of thanks. People appreciate appreciation and “thank you” does exactly that. This is especially important for the people that work under your leadership. Never miss an opportunity to express sincere thanks for a job well done. Go the extra mile and send a hand written note expressing your appreciation. Doing so separates you from others who are not as considerate and appreciative for the help of others. Stand Out! Write!

  3. Treat everyone you meet well. What I’m saying here is have a genuine respect for those you meet. Starting from that position moves the relationship in a positive direction. Business owners (leaders) need to greet customers in this manner. Doing so is the first step to creating an atmosphere for long-term customer relations. Showing respect builds trust of the leader. Couple that with a genuine desire to serve and you make leadership a successful practice.

  4. Build your speaking skills and you will build your people skills. Words are powerful tools. Become masters of conversation and you enhance your ability to lead. Delivering messages with great clarity and understanding builds followers, a necessary component of leadership. Delivering words with passion and believability can influence, another important quality of a leader. But, let’s not forget another important part of communication, listening. Learn how to speak well and give equal importance to learning how to listen well.

  5. Conflict is more likely to get resolved with calmness than with any other method. Staying calm disarms conflict. Echoing their emotions is a catalyst for a fight. It’s difficult to argue with or fight calmness.

    A manager once approached me in an agitated manner. I had scheduled a safety training for his department. I assumed, as a new safety manager, that I just scheduled training and people attended. My mistake was not checking with him to verify if my proposed schedule worked for his employees. Instead of arguing or disagreeing, I realized I had made a mistake and apologized. He stopped in his tracks. And, with a confused look on his face, lost his hostility and words. I told him I would work with him to reschedule this training. In the future, I would work with him when offering other training. This calm approach disarmed him and he walked away without a word.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Billy Arcement, MEd—The Leadership Strategist. He is a professional speaker, consultant, executive coach, and author of three books and over 300 published articles. He provides leadership solutions that improve performance. See SearchingForSuccess.com to learn about his services and contact information.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:14 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

08.14.17

How to Harness the Power of Your Intuition

Hunch

T
HE SECRET to the visionaries we celebrate is that they made connections that others overlooked. They saw their hunches as opportunities. They are smart people to be sure, but their A-ha moments come from “their prolonged practice of being curious, empathetic and imaginative.” It is possible to be intentional about this process—to harness your creativity and imagination and seek out opportunities to create and serve.

Hunch by Bernadette Jiwa, is an invitation to pay attention to your hunches, reawaken skills you’ve neglected or forgotten, and develop new capabilities you need.

Hard data has its place, but it only describes a part of reality. “The more we defer to hard data alone to shine a light on the truth, the more we neglect opportunities to nurture inherent curiosity, develop emotional intelligence and cultivate imagination.”
We are in danger of becoming a generation of plugged-in, look-it-uppers who are more ready to take things at face value and less willing to inquire or explore. More satisfied with proof and less open to discovery. More inclined to consume rather than create. More fearful of uncertainty than open to possibility.
There is a tension to be managed here. The tension between certainty and uncertainty. From our uncertainty, we need to learn to ask the right questions. Our answers are no better than our questions.

Groundbreaking ideas are only groundbreaking because they solve a problem. An idea in search of a problem is irrelevant.

Hunch Equals

A hunch, says Jiwa, “is a combination of insight and foresight, brought about by understanding what is and questioning what could be.” It is informed by “our expertise, past experiences and the practice of noticing patterns and anomalies in the world around us.”

A hunch happens at the intersection of Curiosity, Empathy, and Imagination.

Hunch Birth

Curiosity
Interest + Attention: Learn to see problems and discern which ones are worth solving. Curiosity stems from caring to know what you don’t know. Hunger for the novel. We have never had the opportunity to look for more answers and yet we have forgotten the importance of stopping to question. Spend 15 minutes to sit and observe. Records what you see. Notice frustrations. What’s wrong and how could it be fixed?

Empathy
Worldview + Understanding: Understand how it feels to be the person with the problem. Empathy is feeling with someone not for them. It is an undervalued and largely untapped resource. Figure out what is important to people. What are they trying to do but can’t?

Imagination
Context + Experience: Build on what is already understood in order to connect ideas and describe new possibilities for the future. Give yourself permission to imagine. Challenge assumptions. Examine a product that you really love. What works for you? What doesn’t? Give yourself permission to be bored. Do a mundane physical task. Research has proven that we’re more creative following he execution of a boring task that doesn’t require us to use our imagination.

We are shaped and influenced by our environments and that is our choice. What is shaping you? “Moments of insight are shaped by the experiences that lead up to them, and we cannot ever know the true impact of the thousands of experiences and encounters that made each of us who we are—or how they influence the judgements we will go on to make.” Genius is where you look for it. Begin.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:24 AM
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08.11.17

Leadership Lessons from a 19th Century Genius

William James

W
ILLIAM JAMES, one of the great thinkers of the late 19th century and the father of modern American psychology, has much to offer the modern executive. Here is just a small sample of how James’s insights have helped me in my career:

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

Much of the time we should spend listening is spent preparing a response instead. As we progress through our careers, keeping a truly open mind becomes increasingly difficult. Real problem solving comes when we allow the experience of others room to inform our thinking.

I know that my own obstinacy has sometimes prevented me from seeing a better way forward. Some years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to hire an exceptionally talented individual. There was no open position that aligned with the individual. But make no mistake, this was a true talent and a good person. Rather than crafting a role that made sense, I tried to force a fit. At the time it seemed like the right approach – we had an opening that this person could fill, and over time we could have expanded the role. Instead, I let short-term tactical thinking cloud my execution.

I have also found that remembering your own frustration when others are not open to your input helps you put aside your own prejudged ideas aside to allow others to contribute.

“When you [decide] to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”

Some may be more familiar with the more recent formulation of Rush’s Neil Peart: “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” The point is that putting off decisions, no matter how big or small, has impact. This is not to suggest that all decisions should be made on the spot without properly assessing data and input. But too often the trap of always seeking more, or letting the quixotic quest for perfection prevent the implementation of the good, turns a “no” decision into the decision. Rarely is the no decision the right decision.

I can think of a time when I allowed myself to delay making a decision that I knew needed to be made. I had done the needed analysis and knew what the right call was, but because it was an exceptionally tough – and impactful – call to make I put it off longer than I should have. I needed to make a staffing change that would significantly shift responsibilities away from one person. This was someone who had made a positive impact but who had, over time, become less effective in his role. The change would be difficult for him personally and financially, and carried with it some risk of fallout in other areas of the organization. Ultimately the call got made and proved to be the right one, but the delay had a cost.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

I think most people wrestle with the question of whether what they are doing is truly meaningful. Call it the legacy question.

I have been blessed with the ability to provide for my family, and am proud of the hard work I have done in my career. But I am most proud of the times I have been able to assist someone else in their development – both professionally and at times personally. I’m particularly proud of the success of one person whom I “inherited” when I took over an established team some years ago. It became clear to me that he was not realizing his full potential – mainly because he had not received enough guidance or support in order to be successful. He was very responsive to being challenged, to see beyond the tactical aspects of his role and embrace a more strategic one. As a result, he transitioned from being a capable contributor to a leader. He needed strong backing initially to help counter some very strong personalities who carried more senior titles. But he prevailed.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”

As the demands on our time increase, the temptation to multi-task grows. One of the basic tenets of product management is that it is better to solve one problem completely than address multiple ones partially. This holds true beyond the realm of the product manager. Multi-tasking sounds positive. It conveys business, which is often equated to importance, and suggests competence. Time slicing does not sound nearly so positive. It communicates that only a fraction of our time and attention is being devoted to a task. Multi-tasking and time slicing are, in fact, one and the same.

There are so many approaches to task prioritization. Find the one that works best for you. Resisting multi-tasking is an everyday challenge. Don’t give in. This is a lesson I need to relearn whenever I catch myself giving in to the temptation to time slice.

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

Not everything requires your attention. There are decisions we must make and problems we must address. But teams exist to share that workload. Trust your teams to execute.

One of the most self-aware people I have worked with builds teams with people who are strong in areas he is not. One of the benefits of this approach is that he knows he can rely on his team to address challenges and attack opportunities that he cannot. An honest accounting of our own strengths and weaknesses is a difficult, but beneficial task. Getting input from others we trust can be of great value.

Knowing what to overlook also means knowing what not to overlook. I have learned that the number one thing not to overlook is attitude. The presence of a negative attitude has persistent harmful effects. Understanding and addressing the causes of a poor attitude can work wonders to overcome this. But there are times when negativity outweighs whatever contributions a person makes—and he has to be removed in order to preserve the organization.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Mike Tierney. He is CEO of Veriato, which provides employee monitoring and behavior analytics software for companies of all sizes and industries in more that 110 countries around the world. Mike leads the execution of Veriato’s strategic direction, and heads up the Marketing group. He has a diverse background covering sales, operations, marketing, and product management. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikejtierney

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:14 AM
| Comments (0) | General Business

08.09.17

What Kind of Innovator Are You?

Innovation Code

I
N EVERYTHING WE DO, we bring with it our personal view of the world. That is both our biggest asset and contribution and our biggest obstacle. We can easily get caught up in trying to make things be the way we think they should be from our perspective. It’s what leads to most of our issues.

When it comes to innovation, it is no different. Jeff DeGraff writes in The Innovation Code, “Your dominant worldview is your biggest strength—the quality that makes you stand out from other people.” He adds, “On the other hand, your dominate worldview is holding you back. Your defining quality is also your greatest weakness. The problem is that our dominate worldviews overpower all other points of view.” And it distorts reality as we miss the bigger picture.

So the place we want to come to is knowing what gift or perspective we bring to the table and then learn to combine it with the gifts of others to create a positive tension that promote sustainable and scalable growth.

First, we need to get to know ourselves. DeGraff describes four basic worldviews or approaches to innovation: the Artist, the Engineer, the Athlete, and the Sage.

The Artist
The Artist loves radical innovation. “Their core competency is imagination. They thrive in situations riddled with uncertainty and doubt—contexts that peers might avoid—because they are great experimenters. They want organic growth—things not acquired but built. These people are revolutionaries. They are dreamers—expressive, clever, optimistic, charismatic, and quick on their feet. This is the high-risk, high-reward innovation approach.”

The Engineer
The Engineer constantly improves everything. They seek efficiency and quality and depend on processes. “They are systematic, disciplined team members. They embrace reliability as they work to eliminate deviance. They love to take preexisting ideas and products and make them into something bigger—something reproducible, global, universal. What they seek is efficiency. They strive for incremental innovations. They want quality—foolproof systems that can make a lot out of something already proven to be great. This is a slow-moving, low-risk kind of growth.”

The Athlete
The Athlete competes to develop the best innovation. “Athletes are forceful leaders who are driven by profit and speed. They are masters at image—enhancement and deal-making. They thrive in high-pressure environments with quantifiable results. What they seek is power. They reach it by looking at everything that comes their way as a challenge, an opportunity to do something bigger and better than anyone who’s done it before. They win the immediate round but fail to see the long game. Too eager for the instant victory, they don’t have the patience to build the kind of community and culture that sustain durable growth. For this reason, every Athlete needs a Sage. The killer instinct of an Athlete and the social intelligence of a Sage is a dynamite combination.”

The Sage
The Sage innovates through collaboration. “Sages are facilitators that put everyone they meet at ease. They attract people and bring them together, creating a family atmosphere and collaborative spirit. Their charisma lies in their reserve, their willing ness to let people speak. Sages thrive on building a culture—defining the lager character and vision of the people they unite. They are the fundamental source of knowledge for the groups and teams they lead. They are the people who first develop the crucial competencies and capabilities that endure for years or even lifetimes.”

DeGraff provides each type with more in depth characteristics and examples. He lays out the strengths and weakness of each and what do about it, including how to work with each of the other types.

What kind of innovator are you? DeGraff has created an online assessment.

Here’s the thing. When you bring these four types together it can get messy. But it can be constructive. “The key,” says DeGraff, “is not to strike a balance but to know when you need more or less of each approach.” If we know the strengths and weakness of our type, then we can know what types we need to surround ourselves with to complete the picture and to find an approach that will work. Knowing the kinds of innovators you need to bring to a project is all about knowing all of things you can’t do (well) yourself.

Not surprisingly, different stages of organizational growth require more of one type over another. “At their onset, groups need more Artists and Athletes. Artists will give a young company a creative edge, while Athletes come up with a playbook. As it starts to grow, the organization has to get the right people and community involved and develop the best customer relationships. This is when the company needs Sages. Finally, when the organization gets really big, it needs structure, processes, and hierarchy—the gifts of Engineers.” When it matures, the organization needs to reinvent itself. “Instead of maintaining the same ratio of different kinds of thinkers, the organization needs to incorporate more Artists or Athletes or Sages or Engineers, whichever form will add more variance to the current situation.”

Organizational Growth Cycle

“When you combine the radical, visionary thinking of the Artist and the methodical, practical thinking of the Engineer, you get innovation that’s both revolutionary and manageable, highly ambitious but without high risk. When you combine the cutthroat, results-oriented attitude of the Athlete with the conscientious, values-oriented attitude of the Sage, you get innovation that’s both a good investment and good for the world.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:18 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation

08.07.17

Employees Do Care – and How that Helps your Bottom Line

Decide to Profit

O
FTENTIMES managers and executives push for organizational change and growth, yet their businesses continue to suffer from profit loss, lack of productivity, a decline in employee morale, and frustration. Why? Is it due to employee ineptitude or apathy? Managers sending the wrong message? The answer to both questions is a resounding “no.” Employees do care about the bottom line, and managers are correct in their message. Both groups understand what is important and why it is important – but struggle around HOW to improve their company’s bottom line. There are two solutions:

1. Create a behavioral culture of continuous improvement

Managers and executives must promote a culture of continuous “improvement” as opposed to a culture of continuous “growth.” And there is a reason for that distinction. In my experience, many companies view “growth” as increased top-line revenue or sales, additional product lines, or entry into new markets, for example. Growth is typically more of a step event, as opposed to improvement, which is embedded and incremental. In my opinion, none of these are the true indicators of success. Success is only possible when you can do all of these things AND increase profit.

In order to develop a culture of continuous improvement there are two primary areas of focus: behavioral changes and a clear system to enable ideas for change. What happens within organizations as they push for change and growth? For one, behaviors change. Where once a handful of individuals made key decisions, these decisions are now spread across numerous departments and individuals at all levels of the organization. Agility and flexibility are replaced by process and a mind-numbing disconnect from business goals. Innovation and creativity are supplanted by overhead creep, loss of productivity, and poor business decisions. Managers and executives need to own these impacts and make some changes. To make this happen I recommend the following:
  1. Acknowledge the difficulties. Cultural change is difficult as it forces established habits, hierarchies, processes and people to think and behave in unfamiliar ways. The knowledge that these difficulties exist is the first step to overcome them.
  2. Overcome the difficulties. Overcoming hurdles to organizational change requires a unified effort and message from management, as well as the identification, empowerment and support of several key change agents.
  3. Make it stick. Ensuring the sustainability of cultural change requires the ongoing measurement and assessment of your business performance, behaviors and employee attitudes.


2. Provide a process for employee-owned, sound and innovative business decisions that are tied to sustainable growth and profit.

Decide to Profit: 9 Steps to a Better Bottom Line was written specifically in order to provide a step-by-step guide that aligns both employees and managers around connecting all ideas and decisions that affect change to the financial goals of your company. Employees have a clear system that links decisions to the financial performance of their organization. Managers have a ready tool to shape their organizational culture and business outcomes. With this system, both leaders and employees can adapt and change through external transformations in the marketplace and increasingly tough competition, and ultimately, maintain net profit.

The 9 Steps enable both employees and managers to avoid common decision-making mistakes and taps directly into the fact that your employees DO care about your bottom line. The book also provides checklists and tools to foster a creative and idea-driven culture within your organization, and, ultimately, easy to understand and implement guidelines to ensure a financially sound future. The chapters outline each of the steps, its application, checklists, critical questions to ask, and easy-to-use forms for managers and employees. Imbedded within each step are checks and balances and a process for accountability so that managers and employees can remain in sync in both their thinking and actions.

In order for the 9 Steps to work effectively, the culture of the organization implementing them must reflect an ongoing and continuous curiosity, which ties directly back to the first recommendation. Culture and process are inextricably linked. Complacency and surrender can kill this curiosity, and creating this type of culture can be extremely difficult especially if historically your people and processes are imbedded. Within the 9 Steps (Steps 1-8), a process is imbedded that allows alignment between employees and management that is focused on the right decisions for the right reasons: to ultimately make money. Step 9 is designed to ensure that your people and your ways of thinking are always asking questions, always challenging yourselves, never accepting the as-is, and ensuring that whether you fail or succeed at change or innovation does not quell the desire to constantly come up with new and better solutions. And Step 9 has a built-in feedback loop that continuously brings you back to Step 1 and so on. So between cultural behaviors and a straightforward internal process that ties directly to the financial success of your organization, leaders can provide both the tools and inspiration for success.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Dorriah Rogers, Ph.D. She is the author of Decide to Profit: 9 Steps to a Better Bottom Line. As the CEO of Paradyne Consulting Works, she shares her last twelve years of consulting and research for numerous Fortune 500 companies, large government entities, and the US military. She provides a step-by-step guide to avoid common decision-making mistakes, how to foster a creative and idea-driven culture within organizations to ensure a financially sound future.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:24 AM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Management

08.03.17

How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust

Collaborating With the Enemy

I
N Collaborating with the Enemy, Adam Kahane shares a joke he heard while working in Cape Town, South Africa that exemplifies the stalemate we feel when trying to work with people who just can’t see it our way:
Faced with our country’s overwhelming problems, we have two options: a practical option and a miraculous option. The practical option is for all of us to get down on our knees and pray for a band of angels to come down from heaven and solve our problems for us. The miraculous option is that we work things through together.
If we (and they) choose to collaborate, how do you work with people you don’t trust, who have incompatible agendas, and histories of dislike? What do you do when you need to come together to solve a problem but they can’t see it your way?

Part of the issue is we come into the collaboration with the idea that we can control the process; we can get people to make the changes we need them to make. When a situation with others becomes hopeless or dire, we double-down and try to find a way to convince them, even force them to change in order to bring them into alignment with our thinking. Underlying this approach is the belief that I/we know what is best and it is my duty to make them change for their own good.

When faced with others different form us we tend to label them as enemies. We demonize and vilify them. Call them names even.
Our enemfying, which feels exciting and satisfying, even righteous and heroic, usually obscures rather than clarifies he reality of the challenges we face. It amplifies conflicts; it narrows the space for problem solving and creativity; and it distracts us, with unrealizable dreams of decisive victory, from the real work we need to do.
We need a better approach and mindset. Kahane introduces an idea called stretch collaboration. We need to shift our thinking in three ways:

The first shift is instead of focusing on a narrow focus over the good and harmony of the team, we should embrace the conflict and connection within and beyond the team. In short, we have to affirm the legitimacy of every perspective of the group. Each participant brings a perspective that they care about and by acknowledging all we can form a more complete picture.

The second shift deals with the process. Instead of insisting on one right view of the problem, the solution, and the plan, we need to move toward experimenting systematically with different perspectives and possibilities. We learn together. We think through the issues and solutions together to see what could work. The idea is to cocreate new options as we—together—work through the issues.

The final shift requires us to see ourselves as part of the whole and as one orchestrating the collaboration. We are a participant as much as everyone else. We tend to overlook ourselves as part of the problem. Bill Tobert once told Kahane that “if you’re not part of the problem, then you cannot be part of the solution.” Ego is always an issue. “When we are faced with a challenging situation, we focus our attention first and foremost on what other people are doing or not doing or out to be doing.” Kahane adds, “Blaming others is a common and lazy way to avoid doing our own work.”

These shifts require us to move outside ourselves. “Self-centeredness means that we arrogantly overestimate the correctness and value of our own perspectives and actions, and we underestimate those of others.”

Keep in mind, “Your enemies can be your greatest teachers.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:57 PM
| Comments (0) | Communication , Problem Solving

08.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2017

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

  The Innovation Code: The Creative Power of Constructive Conflict by Jeff DeGraff and Staney DeGraff
  The Mood Elevator: Take Charge of Your Feelings, Become a Better You by Larry Senn
  The Code of Trust: An American Counterintelligence Expert's Five Rules to Lead and Succeed by Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth
  The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership by Ron Edmondson
  Total Focus: Make Better Decisions Under Pressure by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Innovation Code Mood Elevator Code of Trust Mythical Leader Total Focus

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273
discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
— Marcus Tullius Cicero


Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:27 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

07.31.17

LeadershipNow 140: July 2017 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from July 2017 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:17 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

07.14.17

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned by Walking the Camino de Santiago

Victor Prince

T
HE Camino de Santiago is a network of ancient hiking paths that all lead to a shrine to St. James in northwest Spain. I first walked that trail – 435 miles over 29 days – in 2013 and have returned twice since. My passion for discovering new hiking trails was what drew me to the Camino, but the lessons from the Camino are what keep me going back. Here are five of those lessons that have helped me become a better leader.

1. Welcome Help
When you walk for a month, you inevitably get lost. In one little village, three older gentlemen sitting in a shady spot outside the little café jumped and pointed me in the right direction when I took a wrong turn. I realized that they were sitting there specifically to help direct lost hikers. It was their pastime. That experience taught me that welcoming help from others was not just about the specific piece of help I received when I asked. It also made the person helping me feel good and be invested in my success. Ever since the Camino, I have vowed to be more welcoming of help from others, at work and beyond.

2. Learn from the Past
When I decided to walk the Camino, I eagerly jumped into the planning. I plotted out a 29 day itinerary that optimized my distances per day and found a bed I could reserve each night. That exercise took days, tapped my analytical skills, and resulted in a large spreadsheet that I was proud to show off. That is until I realized that I had recreated the same itinerary that several guidebooks had already figured out. People have been walking the Camino for over 1000 years. Instead of taking a step back to see what I could have learned from others who went before me, I plunged right into the task. Since the Camino, I am more thoughtful when I start a new project to look for lessons from the past.

3. Think About the Future
Any trail that has remained popular for over 1000 years can teach us how to build longevity in our organization. One thing behind the Camino’s longevity is the ethos of the hikers who walk it to leave it better than they found it. Hikers generally don’t litter on the trail and pitch in where they can to keep the churches, hostels and facilities along the trail in good shape for hikers to follow. That same ethos is important for leaders. Leaders need to think about their successors as they make decisions in their jobs. Their goal should be to leave their role and team in a better position than they inherited it.

4. Don’t Judge Others
People from many different backgrounds from all over the world hike the Camino. Everyone dresses in much the same way while walking, giving few clues from their outward appearance about their background. Hikers learn to reserve judgment about others. Instead of silently critiquing others, hikers support each other as they go through the same difficult challenge of walking across a country. They may not know how or why another person got on the trail, but they know the shared challenges they are facing and simply focus on those.

5. Stretch Yourself
Walking across a country sounded like a crazy thing to do before I did it. By doing it, I gained self-confidence to do other bold things. Walking the Camino emboldened me to check off a goal that I had long thought was beyond my abilities – writing a book. While I was walking the Camino, I thought a lot about my career and the leadership lessons I had learned. I decided to write a book about those insights. That book, Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results (Career Press), was named a Top 20 Leadership Book of 2016. This week, my third book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain (AMACOM) comes out.

I recommend hiking the Camino to anyone who can. The combination of the physical challenge, the alone time for introspection, and the opportunity to meet people from around the world is a wonderful means of self-improvement. If you can’t walk the Camino, search for other experiences that provide those three elements.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Victor Prince. He is a leadership consultant, speaker, and managing director of the consulting firm DiscoveredLOGIC. He has 20+ years of experience in corporate and government leadership, including positions as COO of the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, strategy consultant with Bain & Company, and marketing executive with Capital One. He holds an MBA in finance from the Wharton School. Prince can be reached at www.victorprince.com.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:53 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development

07.10.17

The Mathematical Corporation

Mathematical Corporation

Y
OU WILL SOON be able to give over almost half of your cognitive work to the machine. This is not to say that you will lose control, but rather, it points to the fact that the human role will become even more critical.

A mathematical corporation is one that takes advantage of machine intelligence by collaborating with it to achieve leading-edge results. It will require a shift in your thinking. “As a leader,” say Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern in The Mathematical Corporation, “you need to evolve your focus to excelling through imagination, creativity, reasoning, and problem structuring.”

Leading in the era of the mathematical corporation means learning to work with the machine to investigate mountains of data not by braking them down, but by keeping them together to mine insights never before imaginable. It means being able to distinguish what machines are good at doing from what people are good at doing. When people and machines are appropriately paired we can explore heretofore impossible strategies and execute incredible solutions.

Machines will not replace people but we will need to develop and capitalize on some uniquely human skills. “People will continue to be better than machines at many of the loftiest cognitive tasks, like asking questions to clarify a problem, composing experiments to test hypotheses, and drawing on truths in one discipline to elicit insights in another.”

Because of the machine’s ability to synthesize vast amounts of data, it would be wise to question your own judgements when machines offer a different conclusion from your own. Machines for example can recognize patterns better than we can. That said, “computers don’t know the cause of a pattern. They don’t have the human appetite to get to the bottom of the matter, and they don’t ask, ‘Just how does cause A lead to effect B?’ They learn, infer, and have high recall accuracy, but they don’t know the story of cause and effect. So, the task of taking a cause-and-effect understanding of a business system and crafting a strategy from it remains a people job.”

Getting the Questions Right

While Big Data adds complexity, it is only a problem if you don’t know how to mine it for value. The key skill for leaders is to be able to ask better questions than to offer solutions. Asking the right questions is critical. Poor questions lead to questionable insights. “That’s why as a leader, you need to remain at the tip of the process, seeing the world in a much broader and more differentiated way than others.”

Not only asking the right questions but removing our own biases from them, will bring us breakthrough insights and more nuanced answers. Another issue we will have to work through is not projecting our limitations and constraints on the machine. Although we have a mental model that we filter the world though, we must be careful not to constrain the machine—our questions—in the same way.

What About Intuition?

In the mathematical corporation, the role intuition will shift from judging reality to judging models. “No matter your feeling on intuition, its role is destined to shift to a smaller, if still critical position. As machine intelligence converts implicit understanding to exploit facts, replaces implicit assumptions with data-givens, counters biases with hard evidence, we have to admit the superiority of the cold facts encoded in 1s and 0s.” Often it will require a leap of faith on our part.

We will need to learn to ask bigger questions and questions that will lead us to better questions. The best machine collaborators will see this as a learning journey. “Conventional strategic planning practice calls for a relentless search for answers during a detailed analysis of context and a relentless analysis of the opportunity to find the right answer in one go. But when the answer is over the horizon, no amount of analysis of the landscape up front will reveal it. You need to go on a learning journey—sailing to the far shores to find the best answer.”

It requires a commitment to a cycle of questioning and learning, questioning and learning.

As digital technologies continue to develop and improve, leaders will need to become wise and discerning leaders of machines. Leaders will not only be expected to use this technology to their advantage to solve their own organizational issue but to help answers the questions that exist beyond their own walls.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:24 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership , Problem Solving , Thinking

07.05.17

The Bridge to Growth

Bridge To Growth

W
HAT’S MORE IMPORTANT, strategy or execution? I believe both are critical. But what if something else is just as important? There is a third ingredient to business success, one that many companies undervalue: servant leadership.

In today’s business climate, the cadence between strategy and execution is compressing, making the integration of the two more important than ever. Too many workers are being left out of this equation. More and more people are disconnected from their company’s goals, even though they still report being satisfied with their jobs. A Global Workforce Survey conducted by Towers Watson revealed that a mere 21 percent of workers feel engaged and truly committed to their company’s success and goals, even though 86 percent report liking their jobs. Is this reflective of a failure of leadership, a shift in the attitudes of today’s workers, or both?

Apparently, many people are settling for a job that satisfies their basic needs, yet denies them a motivating answer to two important questions: “How does my personal work connect to my company’s goals, and how can I help us achieve them?” In these cases, leaders have unfortunately failed to fully engage workers in either the development or execution of their company’s mission, goals, and ultimately its journey toward success or failure. Too often, workers are being over-managed and under-led. I believe this “commitment gap” represents the largest source of untapped potential to create economic value in our society today.

How can leaders tap into this gap and raise the performance bar? This question matters more now than it ever has. As our world becomes more socially connected, more women progress into leadership roles, and millennials seek more meaning and purpose in their work than previous generations did, the principles of servant leadership are becoming more relevant than ever before.

Based on my experience leading high performing teams over the last 36 years, I developed a blueprint of nine proven leadership principles I've used to improve the performance of several businesses by moving workforces from satisfactorily disengaged to enthusiastically committed to winning:

1. Grow leaders and difference-makers, not just followers.

2. Build and orchestrate synergistic, high performance teams more powerful than the sum of their parts.

3. Focus your organization on strategic priorities and simplify operations to accelerate progress.

4. Champion the people who purchase and use your products and services.

5. Cultivate a performance-based culture of innovation that unleashes the innate desire in the people you lead to solve, create, and contribute to winning.

6. Communicate relentlessly to give your workforce the context they need to sign up for and truly commit to achieving company goals.

7. See the world through the eyes of others, and your example will breed a healthier organization.

8. Be the model you want emulated. Operate transparently, deliver on your promises, and remain steadfastly focused on doing the right things.

9. Coach people to achieve more than they thought possible. They need a model of success more than they need a critic. Inspire your entire organization to step up by revealing what success looks like, catching people doing something well, and showing your gratitude publicly.

If you connect with these principles, I encourage you to check out my new book The Bridge to Growth. It's packed with useful tips and tools, and each leadership principle is articulated using real-world success models that bring the principles to life.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Jude Rake. He is a veteran CEO with a 35+ year track record of building businesses to create economic value, from well known consumer packaged goods companies such as The Clorox Company, PepsiCo, and SC Johnson, to smaller family owned and private equity backed businesses. He founded JDR Growth Partners to help other leaders achieve growth.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:03 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership

07.04.17

America Through the Eyes of the Founding Fathers

America Through the Eyes of the Founding Fathers

I
N A LETTER from the second president of the United States, John Adams, to the Officers of the first Brigade of the third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts dated October 11, 1798, Adams cautioned the country against hypocrisy—saying one thing and doing another.

But laws he believed, could not prevent this hypocrisy. No law, no constitution could save an immoral people. While the Founding Fathers believed in the necessary separation of Church and State, they believed no discussion of morals was possible without an agreed upon philosophy – a philosophy that superseded the logic of men. So Adams concluded that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

George Washington also said as much halfway through his Farewell Address of 1796. He stated: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.” He added, “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Both Adams and Washington are appealing to a morality that was eternal—beyond the customs of man. A morality that didn’t shift on convention.

John Adams wrote to the Massachusetts Militia:
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence.

But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world.

Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.
James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, believed that the governed were obliged to control itself. Furthermore, it was the responsibility of a virtuous people to select leaders that would reflect that ideal. Leaders that would be capable by virtue of their own character, to adapt these eternal morals that Adams often spoke of, to particular circumstances. Madison wrote:
But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks--no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:47 AM
| Comments (0) | Government , Leaders

07.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2017

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

  The Bridge to Growth: How Servant Leaders Achieve Better Results and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever by Jude Rake
  Designed Leadership by Moura Quayle
  Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity by Steve Greene
  Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M Jones
  The Little Black Book of Decision Making: Making Complex Decisions with Confidence in a Fast-Moving World by Michael Nicholas

Bridge to Growth Designed Leadership Love Leads Exactly What to Say Black Book of Decision Making

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273
discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
— Marcus Tullius Cicero


Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:15 PM
| Comments (0) | Books

06.30.17

LeadershipNow 140: June 2017 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from June 2017 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:52 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

06.28.17

4 Characteristics of Great Teams

4 Characteristics of Great Teams

T
HE AMERICA'S CUP is the world’s oldest international sporting trophy, first contested in 1851 when the schooner America crossed the Atlantic and beat 15 British yachts. The trophy became known as the America’s Cup for the winning yacht in 1851.

This year at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda, Team New Zealand beat the defending Oracle Team USA. What made their victory possible was a new team with a new approach.

Great Teams Serve Each Other

Team New Zealand operates as a team. Skipper Glenn Ashby said, “Everyone on this team is as important as the next guy. It’s a whole team policy where we have a belief in the collective power as a whole and not any one individual to get the job done.” A cyclor for New Zealand, Andy Maloney, added, "We pride ourselves on not everything being put into [skipper] Peter [Burling’s] or Glenn's hands. Whereas you see Jimmy Spithill and Tom Slingsby [of team Oracle] pretty much doing 99 percent of the work on the other boat.” When all members of the team serve each other through many small acts of service they balance out the whole team.

Great Teams Maintain Their Composure and Focus

Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton made an effort to stay behind the scenes. He also placed emphasis on the importance of the crew as a whole rather than individual team members. Team New Zealand believed they could win despite the odds and remain determined to do so despite the skeptics.

Great Teams Overcome Adversity

After their defeat four years ago, the New Zealand team was fractured and bitter. There was a lot of finger-pointing and some team members left. Skipper Glenn Ashby said, “It is very much a new team from 2013 across most departments and, as a result, we have a very healthy and fresh team culture.” They learned from 2013 and kept moving forward. They were able to tune out their critics.

Great Teams Innovate

Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton has said that the team almost folded due to lack of money. The board of directors came to the decision that they had no option but to shut the team down. Only a last minute influx of cash saved the team. But the lack of cash made them think and get creative with the resources they did have. They made a habit of doing things differently; operating at the margins. As a result, their innovations were a large part of their success.

Specifically, they employed a revolutionary "cycling" system to power the hydraulics needed to control the catamaran's foils, which lift it out of the water, and the vast "wing" sail which drives it along. Great teams can set aside their limitations and innovate.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:15 AM
| Comments (0) | Teamwork

06.26.17

What Sets Apart the Greatest Teams of All-Time?

Captain Class

S
AM WALKER revisits the popular idea of leadership. In The Captain Class, Walker describes what makes an elite captain by analyzing the leadership of sixteen of the most dominate teams in history. What he found is that each team had the same type of captain—a singular leader with an unconventional skill set that drove the team to achieve sustained, historic greatness.

Ironically, it wasn’t the Roy Keane’s or the Michael Jordan’s that made it happen. “The best leaders in sports history were not mesmerizing characters. They didn’t always make for great television. That’s what we’ve come to expect, however. So that’s what we continue to get.” And so teams choose the wrong people to lead them. They promote people with the wrong characteristics. It’s typically not the player with the highest market value. What it takes to lead is not always what it seems.

What Walker discovered are the Seven Traits of Elite Captains. They explain why captains of exceptional teams are so influential. And it explains why we often look for the wrong kinds of leaders to lead us.

1. Extreme Doggedness and Focus in Competition

Elite Captains just keep coming. They overcome a group dynamic known as social loafing. It’s what happens when a single person’s contribution to a team is not noticeable or unidentifiable. We put less effort in. An Elite Captain improves everyone else’s performance by leaving nothing in reserve themselves. Their willingness to give everything—all of the time—encourages the rest of the team to raise their effort level to match.

2. Aggressive Play That Tests the Limits of the Rules

Elite Captains play the edges. Walker identifies a “hostile” variety of aggression to do harm and an “instrumental” variety that is used in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. “While the captains of Tier One often did ugly things, they did so while operating within the fuzzy confines of the rules of sports. (Although you can try to parse aggressive behavior and justify some but not all, it does matter how you win. Contrary to the examples of a couple of Walker’s Captains, winning at any cost is not a sustainable value.)

3. A Willingness to Do Thankless Jobs in the Shadows

An Elite Captain serves. This finding is worth giving a little extra thought to. It is the person willing to carry the water that makes the best captain. “In fact, superior leadership is just as likely (if not more so) to come from the team’s rear quarters than to emanate from its frontline superstar.”

Walker relates the story of the San Antonio Spur’s Tim Duncan. Duncan suppressed his own skills (and salary) in order to promote the goals and values of the team. “By lowering himself, he was able to coax the maximum performance out of the players around him.”

Walker notes: “One of the great paradoxes of management is that the people who pursue leadership positions most ardently are often the wrong people for the job. They’re motivated by the prestige the role conveys rather than a desire to promote the goals and values of the organization.”

4. A Low-Key, Practical, and Democratic Communication Style

Effective teams talk to one another and the person that fosters that culture is the captain. “They engaged with their teams constantly—listening, observing, and inserting themselves into every meaningful moment. They didn’t think of communication as a form of theater. They saw it as an unbroken flow of interactions, a never-ending parade of boxing ears, delivering hugs, and wiping noses.”

5. Motivates Others with Passionate Nonverbal Displays

Jack Lambert of the Pittsburgh Steelers, went out of his way on the field “to project extreme passion and emotion.” This is distinct from verbal communication. Great captains project their feelings to have a strong impact on the thoughts, feelings and emotions of their teammates. Communication based on displays rather than words.

6. Strong Convictions and The Courage to Stand Apart

All of the Tier One captains stood up to management in some way in their careers. It served to bring the teammates closer together and cement their leadership. Some dissent is a good thing and captains should stand up for the team even at the risk of displeasing superiors. But they focus on task conflict and not personal conflict. “Tranquility isn’t more important than the truth—at least the kind that’s told by a captain who is known to be fiercely committed, who labors in the service of the team, and who avoids attacking people on a personal level.”

7. Ironclad Emotional Control

Elite Captains have a kill switch; they are able to mute their personal emotional tendencies. Emotion and enable and it can disable. The Elite Captains walled off “destructive emotions in order to serve the interests of the team. They developed a kill switch for negative emotions.”

What Does This Say About Leadership?

Walker says we overcomplicate things. “We’ve been so busy scanning the horizon for transformational knights in shining armor that we’ve ignored the likelier truth: there are hundreds upon thousands of potentially transformative leaders right in our midst. We just lack the ability to recognize them.”

We are often swayed by the force of a person’s personality or talent, but real leadership is not readily found on a resume. It’s found in the day-in and day-out activities that reveal who they are.
The truth is that leadership is a ceaseless burden. It’s not something people should do for the self-reflected glory, or even because they have oodles of charisma or surpassing talent. It’s something they should do because they have the humility and fortitude to set aside the credit, and their own gratification and well-being, for the team—not just in pressure-packed moments but in every minute of every day.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:00 AM
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06.20.17

Humility is the New Smart: Are You Ready?

Humility is the New Smart

S
MART used to be a quantity game. “I know more than you. I get more things right.” But Ed Hess and Katherine Ludwig say that in the new Smart Machine Age, that’s losing game. The new smart is about quality. Specifically, the quality of your thinking, your listening, and your relating and collaborative skills.

Are you ready?

The Smart Machine Age (SMA) will revolutionize how most of us live and work. In Humility is the New Smart, the authors state that “smart technologies will become ubiquitous, invading and changing many aspects of our professional and personal lives and in many ways challenging our fundamental beliefs about success, opportunity, and the American Dream.” This means that the “number and types of available jobs and required skills will turn our lives and our children’s lives upside down.”

New skills will be needed. Uniquely human skills. Those skills, while uniquely human, are not what we are typically trained to do and require a deal of messy personal development. We will need to become better thinkers, listeners, relators, and collaborators, while working to overcome our culture of obsessive individualism in order to thrive in the SMA. Humility is the mindset that will make all of this possible.
Most of today’s adults have had no formal training in how to think, how to listen, how to learn and experiment through inquiry, how to emotionally engage, how to manage emotions, how to collaborate, or how to embrace mistakes as learning opportunities.

In short, say the authors, we need to acquire and continually develop four fundamental NewSmart behaviors:

Quieting Ego

Quieting Ego has always been the challenge for us humans. As they observe, “Even if we don’t consider ourselves part of the ‘big me’ cultural phenomenon, for many of us to feel good about ourselves we have to constantly be ‘right,’ self-enhance, self-promote, and conceal our weaknesses, all of which drive ego defensiveness and failure intolerance that impedes higher-level thinking and relating.” This tendency negatively affects our behavior, thinking, and ability to relate to and engage with others.

Managing Self—Thinking and Emotions

We need to get above ourselves to see ourselves impartially. We all struggle “to self-regulate our basic humanity—our biases, fears, insecurities, and natural fight-flee-or-freeze response to stress and anxiety.” We need to be willing to treat all of our “beliefs (not values) as hypotheses subject to stress tests and modification by better data.”

Negative emotions cause narrow-mindedness. Positive emotions on the other hand, have been scientifically linked to “broader attention, open-mindedness, deeper focus, and more flexible thinking, all of which underlie creativity and innovative thinking.”

Reflective Listening

Because we are limited by our own thinking, we need to listen to others to “open our minds and, push past our biases and mental models, and mitigate self-absorption in order to collaborate and build better relationships.” The problem is “we’re just too wired to confirm what we already believe, and we feel too comfortable having a cohesive simple story of how our world works.” Listening to others helps to quiet our ego.

Otherness

To create these new behaviors and mindsets, it should become obvious that we need to enlist the help of others. “We can’t think, innovate, or relate at our best alone.” As Barbara Fredrickson observed, “nobody reaches his or her full potential in isolation.” Jane Dutton out it this way: “It seems to be another fact that no man can come to know himself except as the outcome of disclosing himself to another.”

The NewSmart Organization

Optimal human performance in the SMA will require an emphasis on the emotional aspects of critical thinking, creativity, innovation and engaging with others. “The work environment must be designed to reduce fears, insecurities, and other negative emotions.

To do this it means “providing people a feeling of being respected, held in positive regard, and listened to. It means creating opportunities for people to connect and build trust. “It means allocating time and designing work environments that bring people together to relate about nonwork matters.” Finally, it means getting to know employees and helping them to get the “right training or opportunities to develop and provide feedback.”

The NewSmart organization needs to be a safe place to learn. “Feeling safe means that you feel that your boss your employer, and your colleagues will do you no harm as you try to learn.”

The New Smart

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Of Related Interest:
  Learn or Die

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:28 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development , Positive Leadership

06.09.17

9 Things Positive Leaders Do

9ThingsPositiveLeadersDo

J
ON GORDON is a prolific writer. He has written at least a dozen books on leadership that I am aware of. The Power of Positive Leadership summarizes much of his thinking and provides a great introduction to all of his other work. As a result, it is full of good practices and thinking.

Positive leadership is grounded in reality. We must confront the negativity we come across, but we shouldn’t dwell on it. We deal with it and move on. It is because we will have to overcome negativity, adversity and problems that we should be positive. “Positive leadership is not about fake positivity. It is the real stuff that makes great leaders great.” Positive leaders focus on solutions.

Gordon cites psychologist Barbara Fredrickson’s research that finds that “people who experience more positive emotions than negative ones are more likely to see the bigger picture, build relationships, and thrive in their work and career, whereas people who experience mostly negative emotions are more likely to have a narrower perspective and tend to focus more on problems.” Positivity doesn’t guarantee you will succeed, but it makes it much more likely. A positive mindset reveals possibilities and gives you the courage to take the actions required to move past negative situations.

Gordon explains nine things positive leaders do. Nine actions that will enhance your leadership capabilities and positively impact all of your relationship—your family, your friends and your team.

1. Positive Leaders Drive Positive Cultures

Culture is everything. A positive leader lives the culture because it is an extension of who they are. “They understand that every day there are forces seeking to sabotage their culture and success, and so they work relentlessly to keep it strong.”

“When you create a culture worth fighting for and invest in your people to the degree that they want to fight for your culture and for each other, your organization will have grit and strength to overcome the challenges you face and become an unstoppable and positive force.”

2. Positive Leaders Create and Share a Positive Vision

Former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company Alan Mulally, said, “Positive leadership—conveying the idea that there is always a way forward—is so important because that is what you are here for—to figure out how to move the organization forward.”

Positive leaders see and create a brighter and better future. They see “what’s possible and then takes the next steps to rally and unite people to create it. Every invention, project, creation, and transformation starts with an idea, an imagination, and a vision of what’s possible.”

A positive leader needs a telescope and a microscope. The telescope helps to keep your eyes on the big picture. The microscope helps the leader to focus in on what needs to be accomplished in the short term to realize the vision in the telescope. “If you only have a telescope, then you’ll be thinking about your vision all the time and dreaming about the future but not taking the necessary steps to realize it. If you only have a microscope, then you’ll be working hard every day but set-backs and challenges will likely frustrate and discourage you because you’ll lose sight of the big picture.”

3. Positive Leaders Lead with Optimism, Positivity, and Belief

“Ultimately, being a positive leader is all about leading with faith in a world filled with cynicism, negativity, and fear.” We all face this battle between faith and fear. A leader’s job is to fill your people with faith.

How respond to our world depends on the stories we tell ourselves. When you face adversity you can tell a positive story and then work to create a positive outcome. It’s always your state of mind and your thinking that produces how you feel and respond. When you see that the world has no power over you, you will lead more powerfully in the world.”

4. Positive Leaders Confront, Transform, and Remove Negativity

“Positive leadership is not just about feeding the positive, but also about weeding out the negative.” You must address negativity. Develop a culture where negativity is not acceptable. People will either change or leave.

A positive leader is more positive than the negativity they face. Every negative situation is an opportunity the strengthen your positivity. Don’t allow complaining unless one or two possible solutions are brought forward also. “Complaining causes you and your team to focus on everything but being your best.”

5. Positive Leaders Create United and Connected Teams

“Positive leaders unite instead of divide. They are able to create unity, which is the difference between a great team and an average team.”

It starts at the top. “As a positive leader, you must be a unifier and connector who fosters relationship between others.”

“You can be the smartest person in the room but if you fail to connect with others you will fail as a leader.” Also, “You may not have the most talented people on your team, but if you are a connected team, you will outperform many talented teams who lack a close bond.”

6. Positive Leaders Build Great Relationships and Teams

People first follow who you are. “Leadership begins with love.” Love your people. Build relationships first. Too many leaders share rules before they have first built a relationship. I’ve had many leaders tell me,” writes Gordon, “that when they focus less on rules and invest more in their relationships they experience a dramatic increase in performance, morale, and engagement.”

Positive leaders are also positive communicators. They smile. They spread positive gossip. They listen and welcome ideas. They rely on positive non-verbal communication. They encourage.

7. Positive Leaders Pursue Excellence

Not satisfied with the status quo, positive leaders pursue excellence. “How can I get better to make the world better?”

Positive leaders are humble and never stop learning. Pablo Casals, one of the greatest cellists of all time, was asked why he continued to practice the cello at the age of 95. He said, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

Positive leaders ask daily: “What do I need to know that I don’t know?” and “What do I need to unlearn to learn?”

8. Positive Leaders Lead with Purpose

Purpose fuels positivity. “Hard work doesn’t make us tired. A lack of purpose is what makes us tired. We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.”

Have purpose driven goals. “The truth is that numbers and goals don’t drive people. People with a purpose drive the numbers and achieve goals.”

9. Positive Leaders Have Grit

“When we look at successful companies and organizations, we see their current success and prominence but what we don’t see is the leadership and grit that powered them through all the failure and moments of doubt, heartache, fear, and pain.”

Positive leaders embrace failure and trust the process. “Leadership is knowing the critics will criticize you while still saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done.”

Positive leadership is a choice. Through great stories, Gordon encourages you to make a positive difference as a leader.

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Of Related Interest:
  3 Ways to Be a Positive Leader
  Are You Having a No-Good, Very-Bad Day?
  10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Positive Leadership

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:58 AM
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06.05.17

How to Avoid Your Leadership Gap

Leadership Gap

T
HE GAP IN OUR LEADERSHIP arises as a result of the disconnect between how we think people are experiencing our leadership and how they are actually experiencing our leadership. And where we find that disconnect we limit or even derail our leadership potential.

In The Leadership Gap, Lolly Daskal addresses this gap—what it is, why it happens, and what we can do about it. The gap is always there but at some point it comes the surface to sabotage us. What if we don’t know what we think we know?
The problem is that one day, suddenly, what once worked so well to propel their rise stops working. And the very same traits that had worked for them actually start working against them.
It is at this point that we need to begin asking ourselves some questions. “What is the gap between who I am and who I want to be, and do I know what it is I still need to learn?” In short, “Who am I being?” We need to rethink how our behaviors are perceived by those around us. And when there is that gap between how we want to be perceived and how we are actually being perceived, we need to take action. “Learning to recognize your leadership gap is the factor that determines your greatness as a leader.” Sometimes we overuse a strength and sometimes we drift into the shadow side of our strengths. Either way, an understanding of what drives can give us the insight we need to avoid our leadership gaps.

Daskal invites us to look at who we are being and the instincts that drive our behaviors. The “shadow” you. She has developed seven leadership architypes to help us gain some clarity as to what drives our beliefs and therefore our behaviors. We aren’t necessarily one type as we tend to shift from one to another depending on the circumstances but “we tend to lean repeatedly toward the same archetype persona.”

The Seven Archetypes

rebelThe Rebel who is driven by confidence. “How can I push the envelope?” The gap is self-doubt. The gap architype is The Imposter who is so insecure they play havoc with their mind because they have self-doubt. The key to the Rebel’s success is confidence, but self-doubt that often accompanies great success, undermines their confidence and they act out of the imposter syndrome. They undermine their leadership thus keeping them from achieving greatness.

explorerThe Explorer who is fueled by intuition. “What can I discover?” The gap is manipulation. The gap architype is The Exploiter who manipulates every chance they get just so you will not know how powerless they really feel. The tendency for the Explorer is to use their intuition to manipulate others to gain control. Daskal notes, “Whereas intuition makes things better for others, manipulation is always about making things better for you.”

truthThe Truth Teller who embraces candor. “Where should I speak up?” The gap is suspicion. The gap architype is The Deceiver who is suspicious about everyone because they cannot trust themselves to speak the truth. Discovering the truth and then speaking up for what is right is never easy but when we find we have been deceived, we can become paranoid and suspicious of others undermining our influence. We can become a kind of victim that will not speak up when we need to because of our paranoia.

heroThe Hero who embodies courage. “Where is courage needed?” The gap is fear. The gap architype is The Bystander who is too fearful to be brave, too conservative to take a risk, and too cautious to take a stand. Once enabled by courage, they are now sidelined by fear. “Most of us not really afraid of being brave—we are afraid of what it takes to be brave. We are not really afraid of losing everything—we are afraid of what will happen when we have nothing.”

inventorThe Inventor who is brimming with integrity. “How can we make this better?” No matter what you do you will be “held accountable and responsible as people. Everything in business, leadership, and success is founded on the virtue of integrity—it is the force that leads the way.” The gap is corruption. The gap archetype is The Destroyer who is morally corrupt. While an Inventor puts their personal values into practice, if those values become corrupted, usually by forces such as ego, personal gain, or anger, they destroy the organization from within. The Destroyer advocates cutting corners, quick fixes and compromising quality and standards. “The Inventor maintains his or her integrity while thinking outside the box.”

navigatorThe Navigator who trusts and is trusted as they guide people to where they need to go. “How can we get to where we need to go?” The gap is arrogance. The gap architype is The Fixer who a chronic rescuer no one trusts They want to help too much, fix too much and rescue too much. “Navigators have a way of making the complicated simple, and the simple understandable. They inspire trust. But their ability and confidence to know where to go and become an arrogance that attempt to control others—to do for others what they need to be doing themselves.

knightThe Knight for whom loyalty is everything and will stand beside you and will serve you before they serve themselves. “How can I serve you?” The gap is self-serving. The gap architype is The Mercenary who is self -serving and put their own needs before those of the team, the business or the organization. Often the transition from serving to self-serving is subtle. “Loyal employees become disloyal one infraction at a time. Only after unfaithfulness shapes itself does the self-serving attitude emerge in a way it can be detected and deciphered.”

Daskal reminds us that understanding our weaknesses is our greatest strength. From these seven architypes we can see how each has powerful abilities and hidden impediments. By knowing the gaps we can get into we can better use our strengths to achieve our own leadership greatness.

Daskal explains each of these architypes in detail and importantly how we avoid these gaps. She describes what the positive looks like and what the negative looks like with examples for each.

The Leadership Gap provides the antidote for leading on autopilot. Daskal provides the insight into our behaviors and beliefs that can if not managed properly can derail even the most talented and successful leaders. Confronting and avoiding our leadership gaps is the key to attaining long-term leadership success.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:03 PM
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