Leading Blog



09.22.17

5 Leadership Literacies You Will Need in the Future

Leadership Literacies

F
UTURIST Bob Johansen tells us in The New Leadership Literacies, that over the next ten years the world will become explosively more connected. Anything that can be distributed will. To help prepare leaders for the future, he offers a list of five new leadership literacies. He encourages us to expand on them, to draw our own insights and create actions to improve our leadership in the decade ahead.

Looking Backward from the Future

The present is too noisy to give us much in the way of insight. While most forecasters try to find a trend in the present noise, Johansen says we need to look ten years into the future and then looking backward from the future. “Looking long is using foresight to provoke insight and action.”

Looking back from the future provides more clarity than the other way around. “The best way to lead in a disruptive world is to be very clear where you’re going, tell a great story about it, and then be very flexible about how you bring that future to life.”

Although Johansen claims that anyone can do this, there isn’t much to explain just how that is done. The suggestion is to see through the noise now to a future that others cannot see to get clarity and dilemma flipping which is to turn unsolvable problems into opportunities.

Nevertheless, he does offer some good general advice. The future rewards clarity, but punishes certainty. Having clarity and being certain are two different things. Clarity is simple. Certainty is simplistic. “Clarity is usually expressed in stories, while certainty is usually expressed in rules. Rigid rules can get leaders into a lot of trouble in the VUCA world, while stories encourage people to engage.”

We can get stuck in the present and the issues of the day. “Sometimes, focusing on the future can help people move beyond the polarities of the present.” Looking back from the future gets us out of the present day noise.

Voluntary Fear Engagement

Gaming allows the user to engage in risky or unknown situations in a low-risk, even fun way. A good game has a good story and allows you to be in the story—interact within the story.

The most successful games are multi-player games. Gaming communities learn from each other and together.

Johansen believes that “gaming will become the most powerful learning medium in history.” The military, for example, uses simulations to train soldiers. Business needs to learn how to do the same. “Gaming, simulation, role-playing, improvisational theater, immersive travel, and similar experiences can help leaders create safe zones to practice their own leadership.”

Gaming allows for immersive learning. “The whole point of gameful engagement is to immerse yourself in a realistic but mock fearful environment and learn how to thrive, or at least push through it.” Gaming combined with gaming communities will allow users to learn in low-risk immersive experiences that allow them to prepare and practice.

Shape-Shifting Organizations

Shape-shifting organizations are those that have no center, grow from the edges, cannot be controlled, and where hierarchies come and go. “The best organizations will be characterized by partnerships of mutual benefit.” Not surprisingly, Johansen believes we are moving toward a future of distributed authority. That is to say, leadership is distributed and varied. Hierarchies are formed where they are needed and disbanded when the job is done. “Shape-shifting organizations grow from the edges, and it is at the edges where diversity and innovation thrive.”

Leadership Literacies

Being There Even When You Are Not

In shape-shifting organizations, leaders will need to have their presence felt no matter where they are. They will need to find more and varied points of contact. “Mixed-reality experiences will be able to be shared across distances. The best leaders will have vivid shared work and life experiences with the people they lead.” Additionally, “leaders will have to shift from thinking about physical proximity to attentional proximity.

Johansen believes that “the centerpiece of virtual presence will be vivid audio” over video.

Creating and Sustaining Positive Energy

“If leaders are going to thrive in a future of extreme disruption, they must not only manage their own energy, they must encourage, model, and reward positive energy in others.” Good health and fitness play a big part in that scenario. “Extreme fitness—physical, mental and even spiritual (though not necessarily religious)—will be required for most leadership roles.”

What Leaders Need to Do

Leaders must make a disrupted world more hopeful. Being dealers in hope if key. “Globally, a large number of people will be lacking in hope and unable to achieve a sense of meaning in their lives—and they will be very connected through digital media.” That hole needs to be filled with a positive hope and shared meaning. “A world of continuous disruption will be too much for many people to process—and many people will be susceptible to simplistic and dangerous calls to action.”

Fear is created by a lack of exposure. Leaders will need to be exposed to more globally and be willing to learn from a wide variety of sources. Johansen cautions: “It’s one thing to believe you’re right and have clarity about a future direction. It’s quite another to believe everybody else is wrong. Clarity can degrade into certainty.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:51 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership

09.18.17

How to Bypass Ego-Driven Drama

No Ego

T
HE WORLD IS full of drama. Rather than deal with reality in a constructive way, we engage in drama. It’s easier than working on what we need to deal with. It makes us feel like we are doing something. We like it, and we bring it to work.

Cy Wakeman writes in No Ego, that we spend way too much time in the workplace dealing with drama caused by our egos. Ego driven behaviors include:
  • Dealing with hurt feelings, misinterpretation, or speculation
  • Dealing with employee hearsay or gossip
  • Handling defensiveness and/or resistance to feedback
  • Dealing with employees who vent or complain
  • Addressing employees who tattle on or judge others
  • Addressing employees who compare their situations with others

Venting

When we are frustrated, hurt, or angry, we vent. “Venting is the ego’s way of avoiding self-reflection.” As Wakeman points out, venting doesn't solve anything and only creates more negativity, which as we know, deteriorates our ability to think rationally. “Venting leaves people stuck in ego. It stunts growth and kills accountability.” If we encourage venting, we are preventing people from learning and growing into the person they need to become.

To diffuse venting and bypass the ego, we need to move people into a different frame of mind: self-reflection. Self-reflection allows for accountability. And accountability allows people to amplify their strengths. Better all the way around.

Ego-Bypass Questions

Wakeman suggests bringing people back to reality by asking some ego-bypass questions:

• What do you know for sure?
• What would be most helpful in this situation?
• What could you do next that would add value?
• What could you do right now to help?
• Would you rather be right or happy?
• What is helpful in this situation—your expertise or your opinion?
• How could we make this work?

People who love their drama will not appreciate this approach. “Reality, self-reflection, and accountability make the ego very nervous. It doesn’t want to venture outside its comfort zone, so it will cling to the old and look for every possible way to torpedo change.” Ego resists things like “Mental flexibility, self-reflection, taking full accountability, forgiveness, letting go and moving on.”

Check Your Own Ego

This isn’t tough love, says Wakeman. “Reality is rough. Leadership is love.” If you are going to work to diminish the drama in your workplace, there are a few things Wakeman recommends we keep in mind.

• Be gentle. You want to wake people up, but not by violently shaking them up.
• Work with those willing to make the call.
• Summon up all the compassion you can. We are all human.
• Forgive others early and often.

And most importantly: Check your own ego before you attempt to engage another’s.

Here are some takeaways from No Ego:
  • Professionals give others the benefit of the doubt—they assume noble intent.
  • Your circumstances are not the reason you can’t succeed; they are the reality in which you must succeed.
  • Engagement without accountability creates entitlement.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:40 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Management

09.06.17

The Potential Principle: How Good Could You Be?

Potential Principle

Y
OU KNOW HOW GOOD you are, but do you know how good you could be?

This is a case where it’s easy to think that good is good enough and get comfortable. Most of us live below our potential. As a result, we miss out on opportunities and therefore live below our true potential and hinder our ability to contribute to others.

The Potential Principle by Mark Sanborn is about how we can become better – even better than our best selves. It’s not about perfect. It’s about better.

So you might ask, “Better at what?” Sanborn presents a program to get you on the road to better. First, you need to figure out just what you want to improve.

What Do You Want to Improve?

Your journey toward better can be organized into four areas: Performing, Learning, Reflecting, and Thinking.

Improvement happens by not only things you initiate like interactive, collaborative activities but also by responding to what you hear, observe, learn as represented by the vertical line. Improvement also takes place in both our inner (things going on inside us) and our outer (things going with others) worlds as represented by the horizontal line. It’s about the inner world of being versus the outer world of performing.

Potential Matrix

Performing

The top right quadrant is the most familiar to us. “It’s where most of us consciously spend each day doing things: the observable world of initiating, acting, and producing.” It’s what people expect of us when we show up – results. It takes deliberate practice. Performance improvement is not a straight line. There are plateaus. Also, keep in mind the FIT model: Frequency, Intensity, and Technique. How often you practice, the intensity you bring to it and the techniques you use, make all the difference.

Learning

Learning involves the acquisition of new ideas that we put into practice. If we approach life humbly, we will be enriched by what we do not know. Intentional curiosity keeps us growing. “Develop a learning agenda.” Identify what you must or need to learn and then make the time and find the resources to do it.

Reflecting

Reflecting is the inner world of responding. This is an underappreciated value in our instant, tech driven world. It’s about waiting and listening. “Epiphanies—that is, clarity and deeper understanding about yourself and how to improve your life—happen through introspection.” It’s easy to think that we have no time for this and focus on the outer world of doing, but, says Sanborn, “the inner world informs the outer world, and that for the majority of us, going within to understand motivations, hopes fears, and dreams offers some of the greatest leverage to improving every area of our lives.”

Thinking

Think about thinking. “Thinking is about proactively contemplating the world around you. It’s the source of vision, dreams, plans, and strategies. It uses external input and creates connections and directions.” Make the time to think about what you need to learn and unlearn. Focus your thinking and write it down. “Some of the biggest payoffs from thinking will occur when you review notes of previous thinking sessions and add to or modify what you came up with.

Sanborn explains each of these areas in more detail to help you develop the right mindset. Improvement in these four areas are key to improving consistently.

To be sure, each of us is more comfortable on one or two of these areas. If you are not spending enough time in an area, that will signal an area where you could improve. “Each area complements the others. If you are headed toward better, you’ll want to use each of the four areas identified. Doing so will help you reach your destination sooner and, perhaps more important, enrich the trip.”

Four Tools for Breakthrough Improvement

These four tools will help you “prevent complacency, create improvement, and bust through barriers” on your improvement journey.
  1. Disrupt Yourself (before someone else does)
    “Unwillingness to confront assumptions, challenge your thinking, and try new things is a roadblock to improvement.” It’s proactive rather than reactive. Ask disruptive questions like: “What is the most important lesson I’ve learned this past year? What am I doing out of habit that doesn’t serve me well?
  2. (re)Focus
    “Distraction impedes getting better.”
  3. Engage Others
    “Self-responsibility is the primary step toward a successful life. But engaging others and building mutually beneficial relationships will leverage everything you do.” Solicit advice, ideas, and counsel.
  4. Expand Your Capacity
    There’s room for more. Time x Effort = Capacity. “What one or two skills, if fully developed and consistently deployed, would make the biggest difference in your personal and professional improvement?”

The ideas you will find in The Potential Principle are not all new, but they are organized in such a way as to make them actionable. Sanborn has done a great job of laying the foundation and providing a blueprint for continuous improvement. All you need to do now is to put it into practice.

Quote 
It seems like common sense: Become the best, and then hit cruise control. Right? Nope. When you reach the top, it’s time to hit the accelerator because you’re just getting started.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:28 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership , Personal Development

09.04.17

Jeffrey Immelt's 7 Lessons on How to Lead Through Massive Changes

TITLE

J
EFFREY IMMELT took over General Electric from Jack Welch at a time of increasing instability. He says, "The task of the CEO has never been as difficult as it is today. In that vein, my story is one of progress versus perfection. The outcomes of my decisions will play out over decades, but we never feared taking big steps to create long-term value."

In an article from the September–October 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review, How I Remade GE, Jeffrey Immelt shares seven lessons he learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Be disciplined and focused. "You need a point of view. Your initiatives should be interconnected—and it's the leader's job to connect the dots for everyone in the organization."

A point of view can take you somewhere. It allows for others to get on board and contribute in ways that support that point of view. As leaders, we must communicate how each part contributes to the whole. Change should be holistic. It creates focus and passion.

Lesson 2: Be curious and reflective. "You have to go through a period of rewiring your brain—getting yourself to the point of profoundly believing that the world is changing and that the survival of your company depends on either anticipating the change or being in the vanguard of those reacting to it."

To drive lasting change, you must be firmly anchored in what they believe. With most change, you can expect criticism. Today more than ever, the sources of resistance are more numerous and varied. Knowing your own values and beliefs are the source of courage you will need to weather any pushback. You have to see change as vital—life or death. And you are focused on your core beliefs and values and communicate them clearly, you are less likely to be distorted from the primary objective.

Lesson Three: Get people to see the need for change as existential. "Every time we drove a big change, I treated it as if it were life or death. If you can instill that psychology in your management group, you can get transformation."

Our world is never static. We are often confronted with the need for change or slow death. It's change or die. But it has to be communicated to the point to where what you as the leader have come to understand, is understood by everyone in the organization or to those you wish to see change happen. The goal is to give up control to allow the change to be internalized in them.

Lesson Four: Be all in. "Half measures are death for big companies, because people can smell lack of commitment. When you undertake a transformation, you should be prepared to go all the way to the end. You've got to be all in. You've got to be willing to plop down money and people."

Where you focus your resources communicates a lot about what is important to you.

Lesson Five: Be resilient. "I subscribe to the words of the great philosopher Mike Tyson, who said, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.' It is so difficult to predict events. It is difficult to sustain transformation during tough times, but it's the only way to create a better future."

You need flexibility of action and resiliency of character. The kind of change Immelt is talking about here is not incremental change. It's deeper than that and you little control over outcomes. It means facing uncertainty and letting go of control and adapting to guide your organization to the primary objective. You have to take the long-view. Nothing will turn out exactly the way you plan it.

Lesson Six: Listen and act at the same time. "You need to allow new thoughts to constantly come in, and you need to be open to the reality that your organization will have to pivot when it learns something new, while still having the courage to push people forward."

Leaders must listen to those they lead if only because they firmly believe that their welfare is the goal. It's a sign of respect. And respect builds trust. When change is built on the needs of those you lead, it becomes their change too.

Lesson Seven: Embrace new kinds of talent, a new culture, and new ways of doing things.

Leaders must become not merely leaders of followers, but leaders of leaders. Ultimately a leader has to love his or her followers as much as they love the change they want implemented. As leaders we are necessary, but alone, we are insufficient. To create an adaptable culture, you need adaptable leaders.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:13 AM
| Comments (0) | Change

09.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2017

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

  The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be by Mark Sanborn
  How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship by Annie McKee
  Creating Great Choices: A Leader's Guide to Integrative Thinking by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin
  Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
  The Four Dilemmas of the CEO: Mastering the make-or-break moments in every executive's career by Tom Biesinger, Ross Wall and Clifford Herbertson

Potential Principle How to Be Happy at Work Creating Great Choices Principles Four Dilemmas of the CEO

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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"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
— Mark Twain


Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:42 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

08.31.17

LeadershipNow 140: August 2017 Compilation

twitter

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

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:55 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

08.28.17

The Mood Elevator

Mood Elevator

W
E ALL have mood swings.

But once we accept the fact that moods aren’t something that happen to us, but are the result of our thinking, we can do something to control them—or at least manage them better.

Senn Delaney, Chairman and founder of Senn Delaney, wrote The Mood Elevator to help us take charge of our emotions and control our rides on the Mood Elevator.

Step one is understanding that the way we respond to outside events depends on what is happening inside our heads. “There may be events that stimulate our thoughts, but it is the thoughts that determine our moods.” Reality is reality; it’s what we make of it that makes a difference in our lives.
You will never let go of your moods completely, but knowing that hour thoughts are the source of those moods can provide a little added distance and help you remain in control. It’s a powerful first step to learning to ride up the Mood Elevator rather than feeling like a helpless victim of emotional forces you can’t control.

Why Does It Matter?

When we are down the Mood Elevator our thinking is closed. When we travel up the Mood Elevator our thinking improves and opens up. We can reconnect with our best self.
We all come into this world with the potential for mental and emotional health. Our natural state is to be loving, creative, trusting, forgiving, curious, happy, and desirous of warm, close relationships with others. Unfortunately, as we grow up most of us develop thought habits or beliefs that can mask or obscure our innate health. At some point we are hurt by someone, and we may become guarded and defensive. We are criticized for a mistake, and we may earn to make excuses and blame others, seeking to become less accountable so we don’t look bad.

Mood ElevatorWhen we are up the Mood Elevator it is easier to maintain our sense of perspective and keep our cool in times of difficulty, stress, or conflict. Traveling up the Mood Elevator we are more ready to access the sources of original ideas.

Unfortunately, we can become stuck so long on the lower floors of the Mood Elevator that we can begin to think that it’s normal. Recognize when you are staying on the lower-floor emotions. Although it doesn’t make us happy, we can actually grow comfortable with self-destructive patterns of thought, negative thinking and victimization. So we feed these thinking patterns and reinforce them with stories told to validate our perspective on life. Other people are often motivated by the same things we are. It’s just that their perspective is different than ours. It’s best for us if we let it go.

How to Move Up the Mood Elevator

The dividing line is curiosity because when something happens that threatens to pull you down to the lower floors, you can stop yourself and ask, “I wonder why they did that? It would be interesting to find out.” We tend to rush to the judgmental/blaming floor but with a curious perspective you can begin to move up to the higher floors.

Learn to interrupt your own mood patterns and typical responses. A good night’s sleep, exercise, deep breathing, positive self-talk, and even listen to your favorite music can all help in this regard.

Adapt an attitude of mild preference. Senn explains:
Living in mild preference doesn’t mean adopting a Pollyanna attitude. It does mean looking for positive steps you can take to solve problems when they arise—and refusing to wallow in the emotions of frustration and anger that problems can so easily generate. Living in mild preference does not mean having no standards or principles. It does mean being selective about how and when to apply your standards and principles—choosing your battels carefully, as the saying goes.

Naturally a sense of humor and humility help here. But at the top of the Mood Elevator you will find gratefulness. Senn calls it the overriding emotion. “It’s almost impossible to be grateful and at the same time be angry, depressed, irritated, or self-righteous.” Gratitude is a good way to maintain a healthy perspective on what’s happening in your life. “Focus on activities that will nourish your sense of gratitude and your appreciation for the blessings you’ve already been granted.”.

A few other important thoughts to help us manage our moods:
Recognize and honor separate realties we all live in. Be quick to understand other’s perspectives and slow to blame or criticize.

Remember that your thinking is unreliable in the lower mood states, so delay important conversations and decisions; don’t act on your unreliable thinking, and don’t take your lower mood state out on other people.

Have faith when you are down on the Mood Elevator, that this too shall pass.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:30 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

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
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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






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