Leading Blog



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
| Comments (0) | Leadership

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
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development , Positive Leadership

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
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development , Personal Development

06.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2017

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

  Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win by Chris Kuenne and John Danner
  Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin
  Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don't Agree with or Like or Trust by Adam Kahane
  The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible by Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern
  One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell with C. W. Goodyear

Built for Growth Lead Yourself First Collaborating with the Enemy Mathematical Corporation Leadership Gap

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 08:50 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

05.31.17

LeadershipNow 140: May 2017 Compilation

twitter

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

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:16 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

05.26.17

Lifestorming: Creating the Life You Want

Sam Zell

T
WO OF THE TOP top coaches of our time, Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith, have come together to write a book about how to grow into possibility—your unique possibility.

Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life presents life as a journey without a “there.” An evolutionary journey through life. The goal for each of us is to take on life and enjoy it immensely by developing the required character and engaging in it enormously.

As we go through life, “people skills are usually the key differentiators of success.” It is imperative that we work on ourselves. We begin by understanding where we are and then where we want to be. “The fundamental work of changing our behavior for the better is ultimately our own responsibility.”

Going it alone is not easy and not the most effective way to implement major changes. We need a coach—or someone in our life that can act as a coach—because we need accountability and frankly, all too often, we don’t know what it is we really need to change.

Replace Poor Behaviors

When thinking about change, our strategy needs to be not to change poor behavior but to replace it. We cling to poor behaviors because we get something from it. Even in the midst of painful consequences we can find some comfort in reproducing old ways of thinking. So, we need to find a positive, constructive behavior to replace the negative behavior that is currently generating the reward we seek without all of the collateral damage.. “We often engage in behavior for no other reason than that we’ve never examined alternatives.”

Challenge Your Beliefs

If we can get to the beliefs behind our actions we can better regulate our behaviors. It’s important to remember too, that “we aren’t in a snapshot; we’re part of a film. We deal with what is today, knowing that it shouldn’t necessarily be what is tomorrow.”

Beliefs form attitudes which in turn create behaviors. “Attitudes are the connectors—the synapses—between beliefs and behavior, a self-comforting way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically reflected in a person’s behavior.” Everything we do comes from how we look at life—our personal reality.

Remaining Faithful to Our Growth Plan

We need to create a support system and we are responsible for creating our own support system. As a journey, we need to understand that behavior is more important than victories. “If you engage in consistently correct behavior, you’ll be successful.” Seek excellence, not perfection. “Once you’re content with excellence, you’ll improve daily and will act daily with alacrity and intent.” And learn when to fold and when to hold. “There is a time when you cannot change things, they will not get better on their own, and you need to take a sharp right turn to escape your predicament.” They caution: “If we don’t accept the things we can’t change, we’ll forever be stressed and unhealthy.”

A growth journey is not always easy and there will be obstacles. “Achieving success does not immediately or automatically make life easier. Instead, it usually creates new challenges—often ones we didn’t anticipate.”

“We know that whatever fate delivers, we have some agency—even if it’s only in how we react.” We need to stay in control of ourselves and only take prudent risks. For example, don’t gamble with finances, time, health, or relationships.

As we grow, a spirit of generosity will help us to keep from backsliding. A scarcity mindset weakens and limits us. We must expand our view. “We have to think differently and think bigger. Instead of extrapolating from where we are today and looking at arithmetic growth, we must paint a picture of the future and decide how to achieve it through geometric growth. Our journey is a moving target.”

Lifestorming addresses the pitfalls of growth and the traps we fall into—like the need to be right. You will find a complete and effective plan to guide you on your own growth journey. The authors also share their own personal stories for encouragement. Lifestorming pack years of experience into one book.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:25 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

05.19.17

9 Key Principles for Business & Life from Sam Zell

Sam Zell

B
ILLIONAIRE investor Sam Zell has put down on paper an account of the principles that guide how he does business in Am I Being Too Subtle?

He doesn’t claim to be self-made. He credits his parents with handing down to him values that have served him well in life. He is the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Poland in 1939 to avoid the Holocaust. “My parents were very disciplined and very focused on work and achievement, and they led by example.” His parents “never dumbed down the conversation for the kids.” Lessons were taught through examples and stories.

His parents provided Zell with a different perspective than his friends. They were given a bigger-picture orientation. As a result, he was “more comfortable standing apart” than he was trying to fit in. It was to be a defining characteristic of his life. “Conventional wisdom,” Zell writes, “is nothing more to me but a reference point.” But he notes, you can’t create your own playbook “unless you understand the rules of the game and play well within the lines. As long as you know where everyone else is, you can play the game.”

Below are nine of Zell’s key philosophies for how he approaches business and life:

1. Be Ready to Pivot
I never hesitate to pursue a new endeavor just because I haven’t done something similar before. I just use what I’ve learned that might cross over. I see myself as a frontline player, and that means being able to envision where demand is going to be, or where it won’t be—not just in the next five years but in the next twenty or thirty years. It means not sticking to assumptions that limit your opportunity. The fact is, I am eclectic, and the fun of my life is being able to gain access in new arenas.

2. Keep it Simple
I stay true to the fundamental truths: the laws of supply and demand; liquidity equals value; limited competition; long-term relationships. They offer a framework through which I view potential opportunity. Problem solving is my passion. Breaking issues down to their barest elements, simplifying them. Finding the fulcrum. It’s something anyone can learn to do. After that, experience makes the difference—doing it again and again until it becomes distinctive. Experience builds discipline and insight that sometimes allows you to see over the abyss before you step into thin air. It’s being risk aware. It is a matter of organizing your thinking.

3. Keep Your Eyes (and Mind) Wide Open
I rely on a macro perspective to identify opportunities and make better decisions. I am always questioning, always calculating the implications of broader events. If there’s one consistent theme, it’s that I’m always on the lookout for anomalies or disruptions in an industry, in a market, or in a particular company. Recognizing the psychology of market extremes can lead to attractive points of entry. Any event or pattern out of the ordinary is like a beacon telling me some interesting new opportunity may be emerging. If you’re a seeker of information and a serious observer, it’s all there to be learned. But with today’s access to an overwhelming amount of information, most of it drivel, you have to focus on what’s meaningful.

4. Be the Lead Dog
In my businesses, I like to be the lead dog, to control the “scenery” in every industry I enter. It means not being less than number two in any industry, and referable being number one. If you’re not the lead dog, you spend your whole life responding to others.

5. Do the Right Thing
When you’re in it for the distance, you do it right. Ethics are a cornerstone. I have always known that success for me would be guided by principles. For that reason, there are some deal I just won’t do. Everything I do is predicated on the assumption that there’s another deal. And the way you get to the next deal is to lay it straight. Sometimes my team argues with me—they can’t believe we’re leaving money on the table. But I want to create an environment where everyone wants to keep playing.

6. Shem Tov – A Good Reputation
In everything I do, I’m consistent, and I’m never tempted to something that’s at odds with my name. In business, people always want to know who you are—in other words, will you do what you say, will you make a reliable partner? Reputation is your most important asset.

7. Prize Loyalty
I believe loyalty defines your character. Do you stick with your friend, colleague, or partner when it’s not easy? Do you consider their circumstances as much as you consider your own? As you can imagine, for someone in my position, loyalty and trust are priceless commodities. And they go both ways.

8. Obey the Eleventh Commandment
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ego and pride have their places, but when they are not self-regulated, they can be detrimental, if not debilitating. But for me the Eleventh Commandment implies something more. Simply put, it’s being the first person to laugh at yourself. To me, the Eleventh Commandment acknowledges that we’re all human beings who inhabit the world and are given the gift of participating in the wonders around us—as long as we don’t set ourselves apart from them.

9. Go All In
The minute you acknowledge that a problem is insurmountable, you fail. If you just assume there is a way through to the other side, you’ll usually find it, and you will unleash your creativity to do so. I equate this fundamental truth with an entrepreneurial mind-set. It’s tenacity, optimism, drive, and conviction all rolled into one. It’s commitment to get it done, see it through, make it work. In my world, I call that being an owner.

Zell advocates an owner/entrepreneurial mindset in business and life. “An owner is consumed with making the most out of what he already has. He’s all in. An entrepreneur is always looking for a new opportunity. He’s always reaching.” As he tells his grandkids, “Your responsibility is to maximize the skills you were given. But whatever you decide to do, invest everything you have in it—excel. What I’ve done is not the example I wanted to set; it’s the way I’ve done it that I hope you emulate, through focus, effort, and commitment.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:29 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Leadership Development

05.11.17

Be a Spark!

Spark

T
O CO-AUTHORS Angie Morgan, Courtney and Sean Lynch, to be a Spark is to be a leader. “You must recognize yourself as a leader. Know the pathway to leadership development and commit yourself to it. You’re not chosen to be a leader. You choose to lead.” When you behave like a leader you become a Spark.

Sparks initiate action and create the conditions for success for themselves and others.

Knowing the pathway to leadership development is a personal development job. In SPARK: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success, they offer seven essential behaviors that every leader needs to develop. None of us are born leaders. These behaviors are not innate and take time to develop.

Character:

By gaining awareness of what you truly value, you can think and act in ways that allow you to direct your life and have influence over others. Leading with your own values is the gateway to leading others.

Credibility:

Credibility is the foundation of your leadership style. It forms the basis of trust. If people can’t trust you, you can’t lead them.

Accountability:

Sparks resist the powerful, human instinct to place blame. They seek to identify how their own actions, or inactions, have contributed to the situations in which they find themselves in.

Act with Intent:

By having a clear vision and making choices consistent with it, take actions that lead themselves — and others — towards it. Sparks differentiate themselves by having the discipline and the fortitude to execute, even when they aren’t sure what to do next.

Be of Service:

Sparks are always aware of others’ needs and take action to meet them. This outward focus strengthens relationships and creates camaraderie and connection. When people feel cared for because you’re serving them, they begin to feel safe and experience your commitment to them. They focus less on themselves and more on the team.

Confidence:

Your confidence level will determine the level of results you experience. Sparks don’t leave their confidence to chance. They consciously manage their internal thought process to achieve a level of steadiness as their sense of confidence rises. We can control our confidence.

Consistency:

Sparks set a high standard for consistency in their everyday work. To achieve it, they first need to understand the value of readiness, know what perseverance really means, and have the courage to “own” their time. Consistency is about being a “sometimes person” or an “always person.”

A chapter is devoted to each of these seven behaviors and conclude with practical suggestions on how to develop these qualities not only within yourself, but how to inspires others to begin their own Spark journey.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:26 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development

05.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2017

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

  Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life by Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith
  The EQ Leader: Instilling Passion, Creating Shared Goals, and Building Meaningful Organizations through Emotional Intelligence by Steven J. Stein
  One Minute Mentoring: How to Find and Work With a Mentor--And Why You'll Benefit from Being One by Ken Blanchard and Claire Diaz-Ortiz
  The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation by David Robertson with Kent Lineback
  The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness by Lolly Daskal

Lifestorming The EQ Leader One Minute Mentoring Power of Little Ideas Leadership Gap

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


Leadership ClassicThe Leadership ChallengeThe Leadership Challenge, Sixth Edition
by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner


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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"Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.”
— Bell Hooks


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:58 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

04.30.17

LeadershipNow 140: April 2017 Compilation

twitter

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

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:48 PM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

04.28.17

4 Ways to Avoid False Humility

False Humility

H
UMILITY IS A CHOICE. When you meet a humble person you know you will be accepted, respected and listened to. They won’t try to manipulate you, control you, criticize you or try to impress you. They are safe.

When we haven’t conquered our pride putting on false humility might seem like the shortcut to the benefits of being a truly humble person. We’ve all met these kinds of people. False humility is nothing but arrogance.

In Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success, Pat Williams, author and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, suggests four ways we can avoid the mask of false humility.

1. Take time to reflect on the person you are—and the person you want to be.

If we are genuinely humble, we are keenly aware of the disparity between who we are and who we aspire to be. We recognize that we have not already arrived, in terms of our character, integrity, and accomplishments. We are works in progress.

We need to remember that it’s easy over time to become someone we really don’t want to be. Williams cites Stanford professor Roderick Kramer:
When I ask respondents to explain why they think the process of experiencing great success will not change them in any fundamental way, they typically say something along the lines of, “Because I know what kind of person I am”….It is as if in finding success they will become merely bigger and better versions of what they are now. They can’t even imagine that they could ever fall from grace. And that, of course, guarantees that some of them will.

2. Ask a few trusted friends to be brutally honest with you.

We all need people in our lives who will hold up a mirror and show us who we truly are so we won’t be walking around with the moral equivalent of spinach in our teeth. Truth is a powerful antidote to self-deception and false humility. If you always have people in your life who will tell you the truth for your own good, and if you humbly need their wise counsel, they will save you from a multitude of self-inflicted wounds.

3. Immediately and humbly admit your faults and failures.

In other words, apologize without delay. Anyone who tries to achieve anything is bound to make mistakes. The greater your goals, the bigger your potential blunders. Our natural tendency is to deny our failings and shortcomings. We don’t like to admit that we’ve messed up. We prefer to protect our pride and our egos.

If you want to recover from a moral failure or a lapse in judgment, the key is o apologize fully, specifically, and humbly. Don’t try to get away with a non-apology apology. Be sincere. Take your lumps. Learn your lessons.

4. Be honestly humble and humbly honest.

Don’t inflate your resume—but don’t deflate it either. It’s perfectly wise and acceptable to own yur achievements and state your qualifications. Just don’t brag or take more credit than you’ve earned.

There’s never any need for false modesty. False modesty tends to break down authentic humility because it becomes hard to know where your real humility leaves off and your phony humility begins. Yu become so accustomed to devaluing your own talent, accomplishments, and self-worth that you actually lose confidence in yourself. Yu stop speaking up, stop advocating for what you believe, stop pursuing your own goals. In short, you start believing your own self-depreciating falsehoods.

Genuine humility is the best policy. False modesty comes from ego and pride. As Canadian humorist Eric Nicol observed, “I am keenly aware of the need to avoid false modesty. Which, like false teeth, can make you talk funny.”

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Adapted from Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success by Pat Williams with Jim Denney

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Of Related Interest:
  Humility Casts a Wide Net
  Humility Is a Core Quality Found In Great Leaders
  Footwashing for Leaders

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:16 AM
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04.26.17

Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less

Stretch

I
N HIS BOOK Stretch, Scott Sonenshein dispels the notion that having more resources = getting better results and replaces it with the conviction that a better use of resources = getting better results.

We are under more pressure than ever to do more. The idea that we can stretch and do more with what we already have begins to remove us from the dehumanizing rat race for resources that is impossible to win. Chasing limits us. Stretch liberates.

Especially in uncertain times, “stretching equips us with the abilities to adapt and change when facing a less predictable set of circumstances.”

One of the reasons we chase instead of stretch is because fail to see how we might see a resources beyond its traditional use. It’s also easy to assume that if we just had more money we could spend our way out of our problems. It’s often easier to acquire things than to think about how to use those same resources in more productive ways. “The problem is that chasers become so fixated on acquiring resources that they lose sight of what those resources will do for them” so we end up squandering them.

We need to place more focus on what we already have. “Stretchers find beauty and richness in places where others struggle to see anything of value. Too often, we understand, interact with, and use things at face value, locking ourselves into conventions that limit possibilities.” Our creativity is sparked by constraints. Filmmaker Robert Rodrigues comments:
The creative person with limitless imagination and no money can make a better film than the talentless mogul with the limitless checkbook every time. Take advantage of your disadvantages, feature the few assets you may have, and work harder than anyone else around you.
Outsiders can often stretch by seeing possibilities that we can’t because we are the expert or just too close to the issue. “Breadth of experiences helps people stretch.” The well rounded often outperform those who are deeply focused on a single thing especially when trying to solve complex problems. It makes a case for a liberal arts education.

We need to repeatedly go outside ourselves. “Temporary departures from our small worlds can come from short bursts of new activities such as reading about another field, finding a hobby, or having conversations with people from different backgrounds.”

Stretching is not about being a cheapskate. There is a difference between frugal and cheap.

A Stretching Roadmap

In summary, here are a dozen ways Sonenshein suggests to help get us into the stretching habit.

Just Say NoStretching
Just say no to more resources. Ask: “If I only didn’t have these resources, I could…” “By saying no to more resources, we’re saying yes to an entirely new outlook on working and living.”

Find a Sleeping Beauty
It’s easy to miss what is right before us. Again an outsider can help here. “In the world beyond fairy tales, a lot of resources lie dormant. If we look hard enough, we’ll find resources all around us waiting to be activated. We just need to awaken them to benefit from more than we thought we had, allowing us to solve different problems and pursue promising opportunities that otherwise might be impossible.”

Go Explore
Dedicate time every week to reading something different, educate yourself outside of your industry, take lunch with someone new, or spend time with outsiders. Leave your comfort zone.

Take a Break (and Pay Less Attention)
Consider rotating between difficult work and mindless work. “Mindless work recharges our batteries, readies us to do more down the road, and lets our mind wander to find new connections among our resources.” Take a walk to find new connections. Consider putting yourself on the clock to provide a mandatory beginning and ending to your work.

Pick New Neighbors
“Whom we spend time with shapes a lot of our behavior.” You don’t need to change zip codes. “Instead, identify one stretcher you admire and already know. Commit to spending at least one hour with him or her once a month.”

Appreciate
“When people are grateful, they expand how they think about resources, often in ways that try to help others.” Also, by appreciating what we have, it makes it easier to say no to tempting things we lack but really don’t need.

Shop Your Closet
Use what you have. “Many of the best known inventions came from existing products. Play-Doh started as a wallpaper cleaning compound that became obsolete with the rise of vinyl wallpaper in the 1950s; the corkscrew came from a military tool to remove bullets; and Pyrex came from material from train lantern glass the wife of a scientist at Corning Glass Work experimented with to bake a cake.”

Plan Backward
Think improvisation. Without a plan is often difficult to get started. But “jazz music replaces a plan with improvisation, teaching us to act and respond more spontaneously. Once we get moving, we free ourselves from worrying about plotting and following a plan and focus on observing and learning from our actions.”

Scramble the Back Row
To remove chess players from entrenched thinking, Bobby Fischer suggested randomly scrambling the back row. “If we find ourselves too regularly on autopilot, it might be time to scramble our back rows. There’s comfort in habits, but it’s critical to avoid being complacent with how things are, closing off the possibility of imagining how things might be better.”

Make Midyear Resolutions
“Why wait until the beginning of the year to make a pledge. The midyear resolutions also allow us to take stock of how we did with our New Year’s resolutions and set additional goals from a presumably clearer head space.”

Break it Down
If we can break down our resources to their smallest components, then it becomes easier to see the hidden potential.

Turn Treasure into Trash
Keep a benefits diary to records unexpected benefits from you key events, activities, or experiences. “Once we find a hidden benefit in something, we can turn it into a treasure.

Stretch is a very well done book. Good and relevant examples give power to the points he is making. By chasing resources we really limit our potential. Stretching brings out our best.

Equals

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Quote 
In Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less - and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, you will learn to rethink what you need to succeed, and do more with what you already have. Scott Sonenshein examines why some people and organizations succeed with so little while others fail with so much.


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Of Related Interest:
  A Beautiful Constraint
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:55 PM
| Comments (0) | Management , Personal Development , Problem Solving

04.24.17

The Reciprocity Advantage

Reciprocity Advantage

G
IVE TO GROW. Partner for greater value for more players.

In The Reciprocity Advantage, authors Bob Johansen and Karl Ronn state that the next competitive advantage will be reciprocity advantage. Reciprocity and advantage will spark new business models for innovation and growth.

Most business is transactional but “reciprocity is the practice of exchanging with others for mutual benefit. In a reciprocity-based model, I give you something, and at some later point in time, I trust that I will learn how to get even more value back in return.” It’s what the authors call “smart giving.” “The reason for giving assets away isn’t just about doing good—it’s an important part of an ongoing value exchange spread over time where partners commit to looking out for each other as part of a shared vision.”

While the principles they lay out apply both organizationally and individually, they note that reciprocity advantage must be done on a large scale to make a significant difference.

“A reciprocity advantage is a chance to do good while also doing very well. A reciprocity advantage is delicate to achieve and maintain. Go too wide, and you’re a philanthropist. Go too narrow, and you’ll be back doing transactions.”

Reciprocity ModelFour Steps to Reciprocity Advantage:

1. Uncover Your Right-of-Way
Your right-of-way is the space within which you can create your reciprocity advantage. Uncovering you own right-of-way involves understanding that every company is really in three businesses: Product, Service, and Experience. Which of your assets have value for others and could also help you create complementary business growth? Essentially, what underutilized assets could you give away now that would yield greater value later. The first step is to reassess your strengths to find those underutilized assets. Access to these assets is the right-of-way that will be the basis for your new partnerships.

You begin by defining your core business. This is where you will find the right-of-way assets you can share. Not all should be shared. You must do this inventory and then decide later what to keep and what to share.

Then reinvent your business as a service. The rights-of-way that your core needs to survive disruption are not to be shared. This would hurt your business. Instead, invest to prevent long-term obsolescence.

Finally, redefine your business as an experience. Having attained clarity on what you do as a service, focus on the users of your service. What are you being hired to do? By looking for services that people want but don’t yet have, you will find new ways to complement your core business. The rights-of-way that enable this are the core of the new reciprocity business.

2. Find the Best Partners
Partnerships are hard. So don’t form one unless you by doing so you are doing something that you could never do alone. In a VUCA World, partnerships are hedges against risk, but they will also be more attractive ways to innovate and grow scale. The best partners will demonstrate their worth by looking out for one another, thereby protecting themselves over time.

3. Learn by Experimenting
Prototype, listen, learn. Give away assets intelligently in order to learn how to create value in new ways. The goal is experiment to learn in an open, low-cost, and repetative way that allows for time to discover which questions to ask. How can you and your partners learn how to make money in new ways within your right-of-way?

4. Scale It
Creating your reciprocity advantage will allow you to make a big difference for a long time. Reciprocity is good, but massively scalable reciprocity is growth that reshapes industries. This requires designing for scale from the beginning. You will know your reciprocity advantage is ready to scale when your service or product meets three criteria—it’s desirable, viable, and ownable.

So, how will you know if your idea is desirable, viable and ownable?

The authors have created a score card to direct your development efforts. Each of the three areas is divided into two opposing measures:

Is it desirable? To scale it must be transformational and intuitive. Is it viable? To be viable it must be affordable and structurally attractive. Is it ownable? It needs to be feasible at your intended scale and have a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

The breakthrough occurs when you resolve the three pairs of opposing forces. When you have all six parts working for you, run! Your idea is now no longer risky. Until then use keep experimenting cheaply.

The authors conclude, “We believe that givers will be much better at creating reciprocity advantage for their companies and for themselves.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:22 PM
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04.19.17

Ego Free Leadership

Ego Free Leadership

E
GO IS A CONSTANT preoccupation with our self-worth.
Each of us has beliefs and fears about our value, and they cause defensive and/or self-promotional behaviors when under stress. Whether in a meeting, a presentation, or a relationship, part of our attention—sometimes all of it—is preoccupied by our view of our self. Are we competent? Respected? Intelligent? Liked? Attractive? Included? Each of us has a set of criteria we unconsciously judge ourselves against. When we measure up, we feel pride, even superiority. When we don’t, we feel uncomfortable, stressed, often afraid.
Ego Free Leadership is co-written by executive coach Shayne Hughes, president of Learning as Leadership and Brandon Black the retired CEO of Encore Capital Group. The book tracks Black’s journey from acknowledging to changing the destructive elements of his ego. Once he committed to change, the transformation began in his team and throughout the culture of the Encore organization. Quite effectively, Hughes and Black go back and forth sharing their perspectives on the unfolding transformation. Naturally, it’s not a step-by-step prescription, but it is instructive to see the process because we all share similar issues and thinking.

They begin by debunking the "ego is good" myth. Our egos limit us as we try to protect it in various ways. “Our ego can’t stand failure, incompetence, or weakness, so it avoids what is truly challenging us.

When we feel at the mercy of what is happening around us we react often distorting reality. “We read criticism, abandonment, judgment, competitiveness, and aggression into a situation where it may not exist.” We seek to fix what we believe is causing our distress resorting to learned behaviors that really don’t serve us well.

Anytime we know intellectually what to do, but our actual behavior is inconsistent or in contradiction, it is a sign we are being short-circuited by our egosystem. These behavioral derailers come in many forms: conflict avoidance, procrastination, defensiveness, people pleasing, shutting down, being argumentative, just to name a few. Upon examination, these ingrained knee-jerk reactions invariably prove to be predictable and recurrent.” It’s not just the way we are, it’s the way we have learned to be. In order to defuse our reactive behaviors we need to identify the underlying triggers that created our behaviors in the first place.

Here are some insights from Ego Free Leadership:

Intellectually it’s easy to decide that learning, growing, or creating authentic relationships is more important than not appearing incompetent, failing, or being hurt. Unfortunately, this is not how we feel at a visceral level, or we wouldn’t be continuously repeating these dysfunctional behaviors. Transformation comes when we consciously connect with goals not tied to our self-worth and use this emotional clarity to inspire action in the present moment.

The theoretical importance of having authentic, transparent conversations isn’t in question: it’s rather the practical difficulty of doing so when there isn’t emotional safety in the relationship.

For our ego, the sensation of being right is like electricity to a lightbulb. It fuels us with energy and vigor. We sit straighter, our voice sharpens, and our language hardens. We face an issue or a conflict, and we see the answer clearly. With this certainty comes a feeling of power and righteousness, as captivating as a drug rush. This is the way it is. Being right sweeps us so automatically into an aggressive mental stance that any collateral damage seems just a necessary evil.

Our egosystem and brain can convince us of anything, regardless of its veracity. We can make—I myself have done it countless times—any number of important decisions with profound conviction, only to realize later it wasn’t really what we wanted or was based on incorrect perceptions. (“…clearly distinguishing between the facts I had collected and my conclusions about them.”)

In each case, people experienced their frustration as true, when in fact they were unconsciously focusing on the negative in others. Worse when we do this, our mindset and behaviors actually influence others to be less than their best selves, either because they don’t feel safe or because we simply don’t allow them to participate. We limit their potential.

As the authors admit no organization (or individual) can be completely ego-free, but we can manage it better. In every situation we have a choice. We can either give in to our ego or break free of the limits it imposes on us. They recommend:

  1. Notice the moments in your life when you experience a pinch. It might be an event or something someone says or does.
  2. Instead of reacting, search for what is triggered in you. What is that visceral discomfort you’re trying to numb or you’re blaming others for? How is your sense of self-worth threatened?
  3. Look outward and consider what vulnerabilities other might be feeling behind the veneer of strength or indifference. Empathize with how they feel in danger.
  4. Take the risk of disclosing how you feel vulnerable. Share your ego threat, not your mind chatter. Model a context of safety.


The lessons and insights shared in Ego Free Leadership could have a profound effect on any reader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:16 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

04.14.17

Conflict without Casualties

Conflict without Casualties

C
ONFLICT is everywhere. Conflict at the most basic level is simply a gap between what we want and what we are experiencing at any given point in time.

Conflict is energy, and can be used in positive or negative ways. Negative conflict becomes drama, and it is costly to companies, teams and relationships at all levels. In fact, according to a Gallup Poll, negative conflict drains the U.S. economy by about $350 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted energy.

In Conflict without Casualties, author Nate Regier believes that the misuse of conflict energy is the biggest crisis facing our world, and that we haven’t even begun to harness the creative potential of conflict. When people embrace the fullest meaning of compassion as a process of “struggling with” others in creative conflict, they can transform lives, companies, and the world.

It is understandable that we try to avoid conflict considering all of the drama and negative fallout that always seems to accompany it. But Regier says if we use conflict correctly, we can use it to create. “Eliminating the casualties of conflict cannot happen by repressing the conflict and just ‘being nice.’ It happens by stewarding the energy inherent in conflict to make something positive, even amazing.” That seems like a tall order, but it makes sense.

Compassionate Accountability

The way forward is to practice Compassionate Accountability. Compassionate Accountability is a method for resisting the negative pull of drama—“I gotta win.” Negative conflict becomes drama. “Drama is the mismanaging of the energy of conflict. It diverts energy towards the pursuit of self-justification, one of the strongest human urges and the one that almost always gets us into trouble.” (Chapter 2 on drama is one of the clearest discussions of drama I’ve read.)

To be compassionate is to struggle alongside with others; to struggle with instead of against. “Compassion is the result of people taking ownership of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and choosing to spend the energy of conflict pursuing effective solutions that preserve the dignity of all involved. Compassion is more than care and concern for others. It’s about the willingness to get in the trenches and struggle together as an equal with others.

Compassion CycleCompassionate Accountability is based on three skills:

Openness
Openness is a state of non-judgmental receptivity to your own and others’ experiences. Openness is the healthy alternative to the Victim response that is a part of most drama. It also involves transparency, courage with self and others, self-awareness, empathy, confidence in one’s own adequacy, and a willingness to own and disclose emotions. Openness involves empathy (understanding others), validation (affirming others), and disclosure (sharing with others).

Resourcefulness
If Openness reveals the real issues, motives, and emotions in our lives, then resourcefulness is the ability to problem-solve to satisfy those motives and address the issues. When there’s conflict, Openness is where we discover and affirm how the gap between what we want and what we’re experiencing is affecting us. Resourcefulness is the ability to understand the gap and figure out what to do about it. It requires the abandonment of the ego in order to gather ideas and opinions, analyze what has worked in the past, and leverage personal strengths.

Persistence
Persistence is all about seeing things through with integrity, humility, and respect. It’s accountability. It means setting boundaries, reinforcing non-negotiables, and accepting responsibility for your own behaviors. “Compassion without accountability gets you nowhere. Accountability without compassion gets you alienated. Blending the two is the essence of leadership.”

These three skills are a process that starts at Open, moves to Resourceful, and finally to Persistence. They are three interdependent ways of feeling, thinking, and acting that work productively together.

When Regier’s model is placed inside the Drama Triangle (developed by Steven Karpman), the author creates a useful visual for understanding where we often end up if we don’t intentionally stay the Compassionate Accountability course.

Regier writes: “Drama inevitably pushes us into corners, where we cling to distorted worldviews that compel us to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Compassion, on the other hand, keeps us moving, searching, nimble, effective, and capable of adapting to change.” It also keep us from being mired inside our own head and thus limiting our responses and our ability to reframe the conflict. We get stuck.

drama


It would seem that if you stop at Persistence then you become stagnant and eventually irrelevant. A state of non-judgmental receptivity would seem to go hand-in-hand with progress, the inevitability of change, and the understanding of others. “As a species, human beings seem to have a very difficult time returning to Openness in order to keep the cycle going. We take up residence at Persistence, which inevitably morphs into Persecutor as we fight to protect what we’ve built and save ourselves from the consequences of our own creation.”

He adds, “Each point on the Compassion Cycle has a purpose. When that purpose is fulfilled, it’s time to move. Lingering after the purpose has been achieved is a recipe for stagnation and drama.”

If you want to end the drama in your life or organization then you have to replace it with something else. Compassionate Accountability is the cure. Regier concludes the book with a section devoted to implementing this concept into everything you do. A very useful user’s manual.


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:01 PM
| Comments (0) | Change , Communication , Personal Development

04.07.17

The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers

Stop Guessing

E
ASY PROBLEMS can often be solved by guessing. And we solve hundreds of these kinds of problems as we go throughout our week. The problem arises when we rely on our experience to guess at what might be wrong to try to solve hard problems—problems where the solution is obscured. The odds are against solving hard problems by guessing. And because we don’t apply the right approach to these problems they remain unsolved costing us time, money, and emotional wellbeing.

Naturally we like simple solutions. But a simple guess is not the same thing as a simple solution. A simple solution is easy to implement. But a simple guess that doesn’t get to the real issues is difficult, expensive, and wasteful to implement.

We need to stop guessing. “Every unsolved problem is bottlenecked by not understanding the root cause at a fundamental level.” In Stop Guessing, Nat Greene explains 9 behaviors that great problem-solvers use to solve hard problems. Here are his behavior summaries:

1. Stop Guessing
It’s natural for us to guess. The first thing you must do to start solving problems or keep from making them worse is to stop guessing.

2. Smell the Problem
Get out and walk around using your natural senses and tools available to you to develop a strong pattern of failure. Ask relevant, thought-provoking questions about the specific problem to guide you to collect information and look for very specific patterns, rather than shotgunning and looking at everything in the system.

3. Embrace You Ignorance
It’s what you don’t know that lies between you and the solution. Great problem-solvers not only admit their ignorance but also embrace it and ask questions others might find “stupid,” to shatter old assumptions about the problem.

4. Know What Problem you’re Solving
Often, people work on the wrong problem entirely by making some implicit assumption about what’s causing it. Great problem-solvers invest time upfront to make sure the problem they’re working on is well defined, measureable as a variable, and represents precisely what is wrong with the system or process.

5. Dig into the Fundamentals
This means learning how the process works, both by understanding the process itself and by understanding some of the fundamental science behind it. By focusing on what controls a problem, you’ll be able to limit your digging to the parts of the process and the science that are relevant, rather than trying to wrap your arms around the entire thing at once.

6. Don’t Rely on Experts
Utilizing subject-matter experts is crucial to understanding a complex system and its underlying functionality and science. Unfortunately, most people delegate responsibility for solving the problem to those subject-matter experts, rather than driving the problem-solving process themselves. Great problem-solvers always view experts as collaborators rather than saviors.

7. Believe in a Simple Solution
When confronting complex problems, it can be comforting to believe that the solution will be complex as well. But by not believing in a simple solution, people often give up long before they’ve gone through the rigor required to find the simple solution that lies at the root cause, to great cost and detriment. Great problem-solvers will have the belief and tenacity to keep solving until they’ve found the root cause.

8. Make Fact-Based Decisions
Avoid making opinion-based decisions: anything that relies on a vote, on authority, or on some subjective ranking system of what decision to make is one of these opinion-based decisions, and it leads problem-solvers astray.

9. Stay on Target
When problem-solvers dive deep into a problem, they too frequently seek to expand the number of possible root causes, so they can test them. Great problem-solvers measure the drivers that most immediately control the problem in order to determine whether those subvariables are in control, and in doing so are able to quickly eliminate most possible root causes and avenues of inquiry without having to dive deeper into them.

Greene digs deeper in to each of these in separate chapters. Strong problem-solving methods will discourage guessing, provide lots of structure to develop a pattern of failure, and guide you to understand how the process works. Begin problem solving and not solution-guessing.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:59 AM
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04.05.17

Radical Candor

Radical Candor

R
ADICAL CANDOR is a culture of guidance based on caring personally and challenging directly everyone you work with. The goal is to achieve collaboratively what you could never achieve individually, and to do that, you need to care about the people you’re working with.

The very heart of being a good boss is a good relationship, writes Kim Scott in Radical Candor. We need Radically Candid relationships with those we work with and because this is often scary and can be emotionally taxing, we resort to be ruinously empathetic or obnoxiously aggressive or manipulatively insincere.

Of course, establishing trust with each person that reports to you is fundamental to radical candor. Radical Candor happens when you put Care Personally and Challenge Directly together. Care Personally refers to the fact that to have a good relationship “you have to your whole self and care about each of the people who work for you as a human being. Challenge Directly “involves telling people when their work isn’t good enough—and when it is. Challenging people might seem the opposite of Care Personally, but “challenging people is often the best way to show them that you care when you’re the boss.”

Scott explains that she chose the word Radical “because so many of us are conditioned to avoid saying what we really think. This is partially adaptive social behavior; it helps us avoid conflict or embarrassment. But in a boss, that kind of avoidance is disastrous. She chose Candor because it is “necessary to communicate clearly enough so that there’s no room for interpretation, but also humbly.”
Caring Personally is about acknowledging that we are all people with lives and aspirations that extend beyond those related to our shared work. It’s about finding time for real conversations; about getting to know each other at a human level; about learning what’s important to people; about sharing with one another what makes us want to get out of bed in the morning and go to work—and what has the opposite effect.

Challenging others and encouraging them to challenge you helps build trusting relationships because it shows 1) you care enough to point out both the things that aren’t going well and those that are and that 2) you are willing to admit when you’re wrong and that you are committed to fixing mistakes that you or others have made.

Radical candor is not an invitation to be a jerk, or to nitpick, or to simply schmooze. (“A good rule of thumb for any relationship is to leave three unimportant things unsaid each day.”) What you say gets “measured at the listener’s ear, not at the speaker’s mouth.” Everything must be delivered in good faith.

Radical Candor Scott has created a framework to help you be more conscious of the kind of guidance you are getting, giving, and encouraging. There are two dimensions to good guidance: Care Personally and Challenge Directly. It is a way to gauge praise and criticism.

When you criticize someone without taking the time to show care, your guidance feels like Obnoxious Aggression. It’s what happens when you challenge but don’t care. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly. “When bosses belittle employees, embarrass them publically, or freeze them out, their behavior falls into this quadrant.” And keep this in mind: “Almost nothing will erode trust more quickly than using one’s insights into what make another person tick to hurt them.”

Manipulative Insincerity is what happens when you neither care nor challenge. It’s an attempt to push the other person’s emotional buttons in return for some personal gain. It’s praise that is non-specific and insincere or criticism that is neither clear nor kind.

Ruinous Empathy is what happens when you care but don’t challenge. “When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along, they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where ‘being nice’ is prioritized at the expense of critiquing, and therefore, improving actual performance.” It is praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.

You may think Radical Candor would never work on your organization’s or team’s culture. And it probably won’t unless you first invest in the people you work with and show them that you care personally. But here’s the big hurdle: Start by explaining the idea and then asking people to be Radically Candid with you. Why you first?
First, it’s the best way to show that you are aware that you are often wrong, and that you want to hear about it when you are; you want to be challenged. Second, you’ll learn a lot—few people scrutinize you as closely as do those who report to you. Third, the more firsthand experience you have with how it feels to receive criticism, the better idea you’ll have of how your own guidance lands for others. Fourth, asking for criticism is a great way to build trust and strengthen your relationships. (Important: “If a person is bold enough to criticize you, do not critique their criticism.”)

Scott carefully details ways to create a climate in which Radically Candid relationships can flourish. She provides many (most first-hand) examples of what worked and what didn’t work.

From her experiences at Apple and Google, she observed that “a boss’s ability to achieve results had a lot more to do with listening and seeking to understand than it did with telling people what to do; more to do with debating than directing; more to do with pushing people to decide than with being the decider; more to do with persuading than with giving orders; more to do with learning than with knowing.”

And there’s an app: Candor Coach. This app will show you how quick, frequent, face-to-face conversations can help you build a culture of Radical Candor. It will start by teaching you to ask for and give feedback. It will help you track the conversations you’re having with each person on your team so that you can see where you need to improve.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:32 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Management , Positive Leadership

04.03.17

Are You Living an Adult Story?

Adult Story

I
N The Leadership Gap, Lolly Daskal makes clear to us that “if we want to continue to have a positive impact on the world and make a difference, we must constantly rethink the instincts that drive us.” Leaders need to question “who they are being while they are leading.”

This need for leaders to rethink who they are gets to the heart of what Rosamund Stone Zander describes in Pathways to Possibility. Often, our growth requires that we live a new story. We are not “trained to think of ourselves as governed by stories made up by younger iterations of ourselves, frozen in time.

We need to rewrite the stories to reflect life as it is now. “I believe that when we become aware of patterns in our behavior, when we learn to identify and rewrite the stories that give us our identities, we will gain passage, at any age, into a new phase of adulthood. In this territory of maturity, where old fear-based pattern no longer hold us back, we will, I wager, do what we now think of as remarkable, even magical, things.”

We all have a point of view about how life should go and they are often illogical. But when they are we produce reasons for why we do and think like we do even if it has no basis on our current reality. They hold us back. What children’s stories have in common is survival anxiety. We are living a story made up by a child when we are frightened about the future, are ready to run, feel the need to control others, act out of insecurity, and are unable to take criticism of any kind.

The stores we tell ourselves are generally adopted unknowingly from the environment in which we grew up and are not under the control of the reasoning mind. To move forward, we have to uncover the story and tell a new one. Zander repeatedly states that new habits are formed in an environment of love.

How do you know if you are living in a story crafted by the mind of a child?

You are being captured by the child in you if you are certain that your views are true, and you make no attempt to question them.

When you are frequently anxious that things will go wrong, or are living your life cautiously. Fear and anxiety are the underlying emotions in the child’s view of the world because for a child it is all about survival.

You are living in a child apart if you are regularly concerned with what others think of you.

When you assume that things will repeat. It makes you approach the future with resistance, be overly cautious, and close down to life.

You are expressing a child part when you are convinced that you have absolute needs and you are further convinced that your needs and desire will never change.

In short, a child’s stories are I-centered, concrete, fear-based, scarcity-minded, identity-bound, personal through and through, and indisputable—self-centered—my way.

When we are operating from the adult narrative:

We know we survived childhood and staying alive is no longer a present issue.

The mature mind is curious and devotes attention to what is not known.

The adult mind is open and flexible: willing to entertain new thoughts and feelings without the need to protect itself.

The adult mind is creative: on the lookout for opportunity and able to invent stories and move into contexts that will further our alignment with one another.

The adult mind is loving and compassionate. Defined by love, joy, appreciation, gratitude and wonder. Nothing appears as personal.

Zander relates three rules that coach Pete Carroll gave his players. Zander says that these three rule will help support the adoption of an adult story. “These three rules,” she writes, “almost guarantee that the person who follows them is saved from the distraction of survival instincts, such as possessiveness, entitlement, and winning over others, and feelings of helplessness, fear and rage when things don’t turn out the way he planned. Here are the three rules with Zander’s comments:

Rule 1: Protect the Team: A perfect instruction to remind a player that he is not, in fact, the center of the universe, and to encourage him in all matters related to the game to adopt and live into a story of collaboration.

Rule 2: No Negative Talk. No Whining and Complaining: This rule establishes that the game is played in a mode of possibility and not one of survival where players are out for themselves and can be weakened by a victim story. It requires that people be responsible for the effect of their words and their moods, which ensures that the team maintains energy.

Rule 3: Be Early: What powerful little words! What an amazing third rule! The player who lives by “be early” puts himself in charge of his life. If you decide to be early, you are always in charge; you will show up as a considerate person as well as a paragon of responsibility.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:11 PM
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04.01.17

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2017

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

  Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters by Anthony Tjan
  Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
  Conflict without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading with Compassionate Accountability by Nate Regier
  Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World by Jon Gordon

Time Talent Energy Leaders Made Here Conflict without Casualties Option B Positive Leadership

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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 book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."
— Franz Kafka


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:58 AM
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