Leading Blog


Blowing Past Our Limits


INTER OLYMPIC gold medalist Picabo Street said, “To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.”

We do not come to our potential without struggle. Most of life is not under our control, but that’s where our opportunity lies.

Courage can push us beyond our imagined limits. Courage leads to the persistence required to practice consistently to a desired end.

The most common fear leader's face is the fear of failure. You will face moments when you want to back down because everything inside of you says, “Don’t take the risk.” It is in those moments that your decision to hold back or jump will determine the defining moments of your life. When we look back over our lives, the extraordinary moments, the turning points in our lives required pushing through the fear. Our potential is just beyond our fear.

Courage requires clarity, energy, direction, and action. Courage means taking the first step into the unknown that begins the process to a positive, desired end. When we demonstrate courage, we open the doors to other virtues like humility, kindness, patience, and persistence. All require courage.

Courage is contagious. Billy Graham said, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” If we, as Street said, have the courage to blow past our own limits and step into a new place, we will encourage others to do the same. People feel our courage and will, in time model courage in their own lives. We owe it to those we lead to face uncertainty and the accompanying risks and blow past them.

What courageous action should you take today?

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This post is adapted from the LeadershipNow newsletter: Lead:ology February 2018. Take a moment to add yourself to the e-mail list.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:18 AM
| Comments (0) | Elements of Leadership


Key Tips for Bridging the Generational Divide in the Workplace

Generational Divide

ILLENNIALS NOW MAKE UP the largest percentage of the workforce. As workers, they’re characterized as brazen, fearless and unwilling to take “no” for an answer. Their assuredness and technological expertise have radically changed office dynamics. Top-down, command-and-control leadership styles are outdated and ineffective with this modern-day workforce.

The clash of perspectives, with the Boomer generation craving the comfort of a hierarchical organization and Millennials demanding inclusion and collaboration, impacts the bottom line. Millennials will abandon any job if the culture their manager has created is unworkable for them. If it means more than six jobs in ten years, so be it. But such turnover is costly. Research shows the average cost of employee turnover is about 20 percent of the employee’s annual salary. Other costs of not adapting leadership styles for your younger employees are harder to quantify, including lost knowledge, relationships, opportunities, and more.

Transforming from an entrenched and unworkable generational disconnect into a dynamic organization able to face 21st century challenges collaboratively requires key actions, including:

1. Reassess attitudes toward junior employees.

Boomers and Millennials have distinct differences in how they act and how they want to be regarded in the workplace. These differences are potentially lethal to your business, particularly when leaders aren’t prepared to make the most of the talent and innovation the young employees bring. Strategies that move managers, supervisors and executives away from being simply directors to become “people developers”—coaches, motivators and listeners—will serve in providing the collaborative culture Millennials crave. And management will realize that all generations in the organization respond better to relational leadership opposed to directives and demands.

2. Realign workplace expectations.

Boomers remain in the mindset that junior employees have to pay their dues and show respect, just as they had to do. But Millennials expect their supervisors to understand the amazing life experiences and skills they bring. They value autonomy, flexibility and opportunity to express their opinion. Leaders are challenged to clearly communicate expectations and standards and allow the young employees to take ownership of their work. This means treating them as owners, not renters. Treating them like renters allows them to do the minimum amount of work and expect others to fix any problems. Owners, on the other hand, have skin in the game and own their part of the overall results.

3. Capitalize on new skills.

Millennials bring a specific set of game-changing technological skills to the workplace, yet Boomers often have no idea what these tools are, what they do or how they’re changing the business landscape. In the multi-generational workplace, a useful approach for capitalizing on Millennials’ skills is to employ “reverse mentoring.” Instead of the usual older-to-younger employee mentoring, the junior employee mentors the senior employee. Reverse mentoring helps close the technological knowledge gap, empowers high-potential employees and drives understanding and empathy between generations.

Companies who can effectively bridge the generation gap through leadership strategies that harness the potential of Millennials will create a competitive advantage. After all, the young employees are yearning for personal value in their work and the opportunity to contribute to something that matters. The alternative is that the manager—and the organization—become irrelevant.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Kelly Riggs and Robby Riggs. Kelly Riggs is an author, speaker and business performance coach for executives and companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kelly is a former sales executive and two-time national Salesperson of the Year with well over two decades of executive management and training experience. Robby Riggs is a corporate consultant specializing in strategic transformation initiatives and driving successful change in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100s. Their new book, Counter Mentor Leadership: How to Unlock the Potential of the 4-Generation Workplace, offers practical, actionable advice that improves workplace culture and enables organizations to bridge the generational divide. Learn more at CounterMentors.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:30 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Leadership


The Little Kindnesses Matter


RESIDENT WILLIAM MCKINLEY would often informally invite confidants to the White House to review the day's business or discuss the problems of the days ahead. Charles Dawes was often one such guest. In Portrait of an American: Charles G. Dawes (1953) by Bascom Timmons, he quotes from Dawes diary about one such gathering:
He was considering the appointment of a minister to a foreign country. There were two candidates. The President outlined their qualifications, which seemed almost identical. Both were able, experienced, honest, and competent. Each was equally entitled to preference from a political standpoint. Then he told this little story, an incident apparently so unimportant that, except for its consequences, it never would have been told, an incident so trivial that the ordinary man would have forgotten it. But McKinley was not an ordinary man.

The President said that, years before, when he was a member of the House of Representatives, he boarded a streetcar on Pennsylvania Avenue one stormy night, and took the last seat in the car, next to the rear door. An old and bent washerwoman, dripping wet, entered, carrying a heavy basket. She walked to the other end of the car and stood in the aisle. No one offered her a seat, tired and forlorn as she looked. One of the candidates whom the President was considering—he did not name him to us—was sitting in the seat near which she was standing. He was reading a newspaper, which he shifted so as not to seem to see her, and retained his seat. Representative McKinley arose, walked down the aisle, picked up the basket of washing, and led the old lady back to his seat, which he gave her. The present candidate did not look up from his newspaper. He did not see McKinley or what he had done.

This was the story. The candidate never knew what we then knew, that this little act of selfishness, or rather this little omission of an act of consideration for others, had deprived him of that which would have crowned his ambition of perhaps a lifetime.
Dawes relates this lesson:
We never know what determines one's career in life. Indeed, it may be these little forgotten deeds, accumulated, are the more important factors; for it is they which must, in many cases, provide us with the opportunity to do the greater deeds, and we unconscious of it. Why comes this reward in life? Why that disappointment or failure? We cannot know with certainty. This we can know, however, and this story illustrates it: There is no act of kindliness, however small, which may not help us in life; and there is no act of unkindness, however trivial, which may not hurt us. More than that: The habitual doing of kindness always adds to our happiness, for kindness done is duty performed. Unkindness always breeds an unhappy spirit, for unkindness is duty neglected.
Malcolm Forbes once said, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:01 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders , Leadership Development


3 Strategies to Prepare Your Millennials for Their Leadership Roles


ANY EXPERIENCED LEADERS predict a skill and experience crisis at the management level due to the vast numbers of retiring Baby Boomers. They may have cause for concern. Estimates from multiple sources project that Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce as early as 2025. The question you need to answer is, “Do you have Millennial leaders who are ready to take over and fill the voids left by your experienced Baby Boomers?”

Consider these three action steps as you prioritize Millennial leadership development.

1. Boost Accountability by Strengthening Character

A lack of determination and resilience, low accountability and, a know-it-all attitude were some of the character concerns raised by 270 business owners and CEO’s who participated in our Millennial Survey.

Our sales force development work also indicates that 60% of sales professionals often play the blame-game. They adamantly inform management that the reason they aren’t hitting their numbers is due to the economy, the competition, the weaknesses of their company, or a combination of all of these. This externalized perspective is futile. It robs the complainer of their growth potential. How can we be proactive in developing strong character in our up-and-coming leaders?

Take action:
  • Mentor emerging leaders on character-based issues. This includes taking personal responsibility, developing determination, knowing how to do what is right over what is easy, being trustworthy in all areas of life, and being accountable for their choices.
  • If your up-and-coming leader is playing this game of externalization, challenge him or her to think more constructively. When they focus on leveraging their internal skills, strengths, and resources, finding creative solutions becomes easier.

2. Build Confidence by Leveraging Strengths

Some Millennials believe they possess an unlimited well of knowledge just because they are able to find the answer to just about any question on Google or YouTube. This phenomenon is validated by research.

Yale doctoral candidate, Matt Fisher, and his colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil, conducted fascinating research on this topic. They asked people a series of questions that appeared to be general knowledge but were actually difficult to answer. Some of the participants had access to the internet and others not. They published their findings in an article, “The Internet Makes You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are.” [Interview] They came to the conclusion that head knowledge lacks the deep roots of real-life experience that provides the confidence to stand in any storm and press through any obstacle.

Take action:
  • Use an assessment to enable your emerging leader to discover his or her strengths. The insights gained will build confidence and aid productivity, performance, and engagement at work.
  • Support your Millennial leader with personal mentoring to gain confidence. They will develop the ability to turn perceived failures into stepping stones to move forward and achieve greater business results.

3. Maximize Collaboration by Aligning Core Purpose

I was inspired when I first learned about the process, Life’s Core Purpose, developed by Jeff Pelletier. It is a powerful mentoring tool to help your Millennial leader get a deeper understanding of where they can create win-win synergy. Their best synergy is when their vision and values align with the company’s vision and values. Life’s Core Purpose process invites leaders to serve at the intersection of their core competence and core passion by asking: “Is there something I am personally great at all the time at a core level? And, is there something I care deeply about all the time at a core level?” The goal is to apply what we do well to what we care about deeply so that performance can accelerate!

Take action:
  • Guide your emerging leader to figure out which aspects of his job energize him or her. This knowledge helps them to discover their core passion.
  • Present your Millennial leader with opportunities to make a positive contribution to their community and to the world. It will enable them to align their personal and professional goals, and you will be rewarded with a highly motivated, dedicated, and focused employee.

Will you be left high and dry when your Baby Boomers retire? If you are concerned about filling the voids left by your experienced Baby Boomers, it’s not too late. Step up and take action to implement real-world, rubber-meets-the-road leadership development strategies. Prioritize time to transfer skills, knowledge, and experience to boost accountability, build confidence, and maximize collaboration in your up-and-coming leader so that your business will thrive even after your last Baby Boomer has retired.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Danita Bye. She is a member of Forbes Coaches Council, is a leadership and sales development expert and author of the new book, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:18 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development


Creating Great Choices

Creating Great Choices

FTEN WHEN FACED with a problem we see only a single solution or perhaps none at all. When we get stuck we need to create new and better choices. Choices that solve the problem in a new, more successful way without the compromises we usually settle for.

If we understand that we all have different mental models—our view of how the world works—we use those various models to improve our own.

Once we see things in a certain way, it becomes very difficult to see things in a new way. Integrative thinking is a method to do just that. Roger Martin introduced the practice of integrative thinking in his book, The Opposable Mind. “The opposable mind is one that can use the tension between a set of ideas to create new and superior answers to challenging problems. This follow-up book, written by Martin and adjunct professor Jennifer Riel, Creating Great Choices, provides the methodology to do just that.

Martin finds that there are three elements missing from most decision-making processes: metacognition, empathy, and creativity.

When employed, metacognition allows us to understand better our own thinking and existing mental models that influence our decisions and the choices available to us. Empathy allows us to understand the thinking of others, which in turn illuminates the gaps in our own thinking and areas where we might connect with others. Finally, creativity provides the imaginative spark to create new and better choices rather than just accepting the options held in tension before us.

integrative thinking

Martin and Riel explain the integrative thinking process in four steps:

Articulate the Models

Step one is to Articulate the Models, that is “to frame the problem and tease out two opposing models for solving it.” What are the core elements of each model? The idea is to create a two-sided dilemma from a general problem like whether to use a centralized structure versus a decentralized structure or consumer needs versus shareholder expectations. Ultimately you will not choose between the two, but to use the two models or approaches to create a better choice. The outcome we will look for, won’t be a compromise between the two choices, but a choice that takes the best of both that will produce an outcome that is preferable to the existing ones.

Examine the Models

Step two is to Examine the Models. While holding them in tension, define the points of tension between the two models or approaches, illuminate the assumptions, and determine the cause-and-effect forces. As you look at the models, ask, what are the forces that drive the most important outcomes or the benefits we most value of each? How might we change how we think about the approach? What is similar? What is different? What benefit would you be loath to give up from each model?

Now you want to shift from understanding the models to creating new models, “creatively building from both opposing models to design an answer that is ultimately superior to either one.”

Examine the Possibilities

So in step three, you Examine the Possibilities. Explore other resolutions. Here there are three directions you might go to find a better choice: the hidden gem, the double-down, or the decomposition.

In the Hidden Gem, you take “one deeply valued benefit from each of the opposing models and throw away the rest. You imagine a new approach designed around the two gems.” And “you will need to replace all of the elements you’re throwing away with something new.” “I want one small element of A and B.” In the Double-Down, causality is key. If you identify one of the models as the one you would choose if it just weren’t missing one critical element, you Double-Down. “I want all of A and one key element of B.” In Decomposition, you do both—two contradictory things at once. You will need to “reach a different understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve.” In other words, you will need to break the problem apart and apply one solution to each. “I want all of both.”

Assess the Prototypes

Finally, in step four Assess the Prototypes to test different possible answers to find an answer that can actually be implemented. Proving an idea that is new is possible only in theory. A new model is possible only if we think differently. “At this stage, gaps in logic are necessarily the sign of a bad idea; rather, they are the hallmark of a new one. Gaps represent an opportunity to clarify and refine what a possibility could be. Possibilities become richer as they become more concrete because there is less abstraction within which to hide.” They recommend that when trying to communicate a new idea, try using storytelling, visualizing, or modeling—words, pictures, and/or objects. Look for ways to disprove the idea or under what conditions might it not work. In this way, you can finds ways to strengthen the idea.

What Is Your Stance?

Going into any decision-making process, you need to understand your stance—where you are coming from—who you are and what you are trying to do. What informs your thinking? Different stances drive different outcomes.

As a leader, your job is to be clear about your own thinking, knowing that your own models or views of the world are at least a little bit wrong. Understand others view of the world to inform and improve your own. And patiently search for answers that resolve the tension between opposing ideas to find the opportunities to create better choices.

Integrative thinking isn’t for every problem you face. “But when you find that your conventional thinking tools are not helping you to truly solve a problem, integrative thinking can be the tool that shifts the conversation, defuses interpersonal conflicts, and helps you move forward.”

Martin and Riel have included in this integrative thinking user’s guide, templates to help you work through each of the four steps. Keep it handy.

Of Related Interest:
  How to Develop Integrative Thinking
  Integrative Thinking: The Opposable Mind

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:49 PM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving , Thinking


To Understand Complexity, Use 7 Dimensions of Ethical Thinking


HE BOTTOM LINE is that there is no “good leadership” without ethical thinking. We’ve seen what can happen when leaders make decisions based on personal interests without considering the ripple effect of those decisions. The thinking that powers leadership choices must be grounded in ethical values or the impact on important constituents will be overlooked.

When my book 7 Lenses was first published, I wrote a guest post about it called “The 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership” for this blog. Since that time, 7 Lenses has gone into its second printing. This book helps leaders “see” the ethical impact of their choices through 7 Lenses of Ethical Responsibility. The lenses highlight the impact on many constituents, in the short term, and over generations, giving leaders a holistic ethical picture. As work complexity increases, the ethical thinking we use to address it must advance as well.

7 Lenses™ of Ethical Responsibility
ProfitHow much money will this make?
LawHow can we avoid punishment and penalties?
CharacterHow can we demonstrate integrity, congruence and moral awareness?
PeopleHow can we respect and care for people?
CommunitiesHow can we improve life in the communities we serve?
PlanetHow can we honor life and ecosystems?
Greater GoodHow can we make the world better for future generations?

Every leader must weigh the financial impact of decisions. Even non-profits have to carefully manage finances and raise funds using ethical practices. All companies have to comply with laws and regulations. The higher levels of ethical thinking, though, require a much longer-term perspective and a global worldview. We must be ready to make ethical decisions when dealing with multiple stakeholders with differing interests in the outcome.

In the 7 Lenses model in the book, each lens of the 7 focuses leader attention on one area of ethical leadership responsibility, and together all 7 of the lenses show leaders the combined impact of their choices. This way of thinking about ethics, in 7 dimensions, guides us to high level leadership thinking. Using better thinking we get better leadership.

Concepts and ethics guidelines that live “on the shelf” aren’t practical enough to help people navigate complexity. Leaders don’t just need to think ABOUT ethics, they need to think WITH ethical values to deal with catastrophic change and respond to increasing consumer expectations for transparency and ethical business. Ethical values drive business success and they should be the basis for every choice we make. Applying them builds trust and sets the foundation for all good business relationships.

Many leaders I talk with have a feeling that there is a more meaningful way of thinking and leading than what they’ve been seeing. These leaders want to have a positive impact in the workplace and make a difference in the world. Learning high level ethical thinking will not only help them handle the challenges they are already facing, it will also improve their long term social impact. We know that in the age of transparency, ethical brand value helps drive an organization’s bottom line results. How do we ensure that leaders will use the kind of thinking that leads to ethical action? We start by making ethical thinking “must have” development for leaders.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Linda Fisher Thornton. She is CEO of Leading in Context LLC and author of 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership, now in its second printing. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Her website is LeadinginContext.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:30 AM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving


What You Don't Know About Doing Great Work

Great Work

HY DO SOME people outperform others? It’s not what you might think—talent, effort, organizational skills, time, or luck. We work under the assumption that more is better. But more time doesn’t necessarily lead to better performance.

Morten Hansen thinks the way we work is broken. Not only that but how we manage and reward work, and how our culture recognizes hard work. What we call hard work may not be our best work.

In Great at Work, Hansen reports on a five-year survey of 5,000 managers and employees, including sales reps, lawyers, actuaries, brokers, medical doctors, software programmers, engineers, store managers, plant foremen, nurses and even a Las Vegas casino dealer. They discovered seven work smart practices. The first four involves mastering your own work, and the last three encompasses mastering working with others.

Do Less, Then Obsess

The common practice he found among the highest-ranked performers in the study was that they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then applied intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel. He found that there were just a few key work practices related to this selectivity that accounted for two-thirds of the variation in performance among our subjects.

So working smarter boils down to “maximizing the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted effort.” If we wish to perform better, we should examine our own selectivity process. But that’s only half of it. Not only do we pick a few priorities, but then we must “obsess over your chosen area of focus to excel.” “As few as you can, as many as you must.”

Redesign Your Work

Redesigning work is about creating more value for the same amount of work done. That requires an outside-in view “because it directs attention to the benefits our work brings to others. The typical inside-out view, by contrast, measures work according to whether we have completed our tasks and goals, regardless of whether they produce any benefits.” Hunt for value. Opportunities exist at “pain points.” Ways to create value include: eliminating existing activities of little value, increasing existing activities of high value, creating new activities of high value, improving quality, and doing existing activities more efficiently.

Don’t Just Learn, Loop

The Learning Loop means you learn while you work. Doing great work requires that you are getting feedback every day. In his study, 74 percent of the top performers reviewed their work in an effort to learn and improve. On 17 percent in the underperforming category did.

Aim for Passion and Purpose

You can have one without the other, but we should aim for both. “Purpose and passion are not the same. Passion is ‘do what you love,’ while purpose is ‘do what contributes.’ Purpose asks, ‘What can I give the world?’ Passion asks, ‘What can the world give me?’” With passion and purpose working for you, you bring more energy per hour of work. Passion alone doesn’t guarantee success or happiness. You may need to take a wider view of what ignites you. “Passion can also come from: success, creativity, social interactions, learning, and competence. Expand your circle of passion by tapping into these dimensions.”

Become a Forceful Champion

Getting our work done often hinges on our ability to gain the support of others. Getting other people on board takes more than just explaining the merits of your project. You’ve got to inspire them. The best advocates in their study master two skills in this regard. “They inspired others by evoking emotions, and they circumvented resistance by deploying smart grit.” Beyond just appealing to people’s emotions, they persevere taking into the account the perspective of the people they’re trying to influence and devising tactics that will win them over. Not just grit, but smart grit. Enlist others to help move your project forward. “Too many people try to get others to change by doing all the convincing themselves. They become lone crusaders for their efforts—and they exhaust themselves in the process.”

Fight and Unite

The ability to lead teams is crucial to great work. As a matter of necessity, much of this work takes place in meetings. The trick is to encourage constructive fights in meetings with cognitive diversity. Team members need to “debate the issues, consider alternatives, challenge one another, listen to minority views, scrutinize assumptions, and enable every participant to speak up without fear of retribution.” But after that is done, the team needs to come to a decision quickly and commit to a decision. You must unite. “That means people on a team have to commit to a decision—to agree to it and exert effort to implement it.”

Adopt Disciplined Collaboration

Hansen has identified two sins of collaboration: undercollaboration and overcollaboration. Some people talk too little, and some people talk too much across teams and departments. The goal isn’t collaboration, but better performance. He recommends disciplined collaboration. That is, “they carefully select which collaboration activities to participate in (and reject others), and follow five specific rules to make the chosen activities a success: establish a compelling reason for the collaboration, craft a unifying goal that excites, reward people for results, commit full resources or kill it, and tailor trust boosters to solve any trust issues quickly.

Hansen’s research has statistically linked superior performance to the daily practice of the above seven principles. Fresh and compelling examples are used throughout to fully illustrate the seven smart work practices.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


First Look: Leadership Books for February 2018

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

  The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future by Skip Prichard
  Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt and Sven Smit
  The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done by Stephen Denning
  The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
  Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People by Mark Miller

Mistakes Hockey Stick Agile Culture Code Talent Magnet

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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"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."
— Groucho Marx

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:52 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: January 2018 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from January 2018 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:37 PM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


A Dozen Lessons for Entrepreneurs


REN GRIFFIN, who writes the well-read 25iq blog, has assembled a collection of insights for entrepreneurs from some of the most successful venture capitalists and coaches of business founders in the world.

For A Dozen Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Griffin has interviewed 35 people who have “seen more highly successful business launched than any other single group on the planet.” He offers 12 quotes from each followed by short explanations to provide clarity and context. The book is a real education that is worth taking the time to reflect on and absorb.

You will get an experiential education from investors like Steve Blank, Marc Andreessen, Mary Meeker, Paul Graham, John Doerr, and Ben Horowitz.

What follows are some of the thoughts that resonated with me:

Eric Ries: “The mistake isn’t releasing something bad. The mistake is to launch it and get PR people involved. You don’t want people to start amping up expectations for an early version of your product. The best entrepreneurship happens in low-stakes environments where no one is paying attention, like Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room at Harvard.” (p. 36)

Sam Altman: “In general, it’s best if you’re building something that you need. You’ll understand it better than if you have to understand it by talking to a customer. Passion and a mission are more likely to exist if a business is providing solutions to problems that cause the founders personal pain. In other words, a deep understanding of a valuable customer problem and potential solutions to that problem is enhanced if the founders are themselves potential customers for the solution.” (p. 44)

Sam Altman: “Eliminate distractions. The hard part of running a business is that there are a hundred things that you could be doing, and only five of those matter, and only one of them matters more than all of the rest of them combined.” (p. 48)

Steve Anderson: “Ten years ago, you needed $5 million to start a business. Today, you need $70 and some coding skills.” (p. 53)

Rich Barton: “Ideas are cheap. Execution is dear. Great leaders need three key attributes to successfully execute: brains, courage, and heart.” (p. 73)

Rich Barton: “It’s much more powerful long-term to make up a new word than it is to use a literal word. I also like to high-point Scrabble letters in my brands if I can work them in. They are high point because they are rarely used. A letter that’s is rarely used is very memorable. Z and Q are all worth ten points in Scrabble. X is 8. They jump off the page when you read them, and they stick in your memory as interesting.” (p. 73)

Chris Dixon: “You’ve either started a company or you haven’t. “Started” means starting with no money, no help, no one who believes in you (except perhaps your closest friends and family), and building an organization from a borrowed cubicle with credit card debt and nowhere to seep except the office. It means lying awake at night worrying about running out of cash and having a constant know in your stomach during the day fearing you’ll disappoint the few people who believed in you and validate your smug doubters.” (p. 99)

John Doerr: “Believe me; selling is honorable work—particularly in a startup, where it’s the difference between life and death.” (p. 102)

Jim Goetz: Many of the entrepreneurs that we back are attacking a personal pain.” (p. 116)

Paul Graham: “If you want to start a startup, you’re probably going to have to think of something fairly novel. A startup has to make something it can deliver to a large market, and ideas of that type are so valuable that all the obvious ones are taken. Usually, successful startups happen because the founders are sufficiently different from other people—ideas few others can see seem obvious to them.” (pp. 126-127)

Reid Hoffman: “So many entrepreneurs are worried about protecting their precious ideas, but the truly valuable thing is that you’re in motion, you have momentum, and you are gathering all the necessary resources to make it happen.” (p. 158)

Reid Hoffman: “The network of people around you I what extends your ability to be effective regarding expertise and reaching your goals. Put yourself out there and get feedback. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Another huge thing to emphasize is the importance of your network. Get to know smart people. Talk to them. Stay current on what’s happening. People see things that other people don’t. If you try to analyze it all yourself, you miss things. Talk with people about what’s going on.” (pp. 160-161)

Ben Horowitz: “Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.” (p. 168)

Vinod Khosla: “The single most important thing an entrepreneur needs to learn is whom to take advice from and on what topic. Ask different questions of different people, both those who have been successful and those who haven’t.” (p. 179)

Keith Rabois: “As you get into the unchartered territory where you don’t actually have any intellectual background, you need perspectives from people who are very different from you. At that point, it’s actually quite valuable to have people who are diverse.” (p. 255)

Keith Rabois: “First Principle: The team you build is the company you build.” (p. 254)

Fred Wilson: “Reputation is the magnet that brings opportunities to you time and time again. I have found that being nice builds your reputation.” (p.302)

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:11 AM
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The Power of Vulnerability


ANG UP THE CAPE. Effectiveness in leadership is not about having all of the answers but not knowing and accessing the power of those you lead.

In The Power of Vulnerability, Barry Kaplan and Jeffrey Manchester explain that the secret to unleashing the power of leaders, teams, and organizations, is through vulnerability. The more that leaders open their hearts, reveal their fears and show their authentic selves, the deeper the connections among team members will be, and the more the team will achieve.

Part of what makes it work is that when we get behind the façades that we habitually put up, we begin to understand others better—their motivations, values, and beliefs. As we better understand what is going on inside of us, we will better understand what is going on inside of others and take their comments and behaviors less personally. We will begin to understand their points of view more completely. It generates respect and a willingness to share points of view that can strengthen the group as a whole.

You don’t begin this journey to authenticity and vulnerability by giving away the store. There are real and imagined risks. Some environments carry more risk than others. “Imagine that there is a continuum of risk, on one end of the spectrum is where you shut down completely, and at the other end, you are wide open. You stand somewhere along that continuum as you subjectivity determine what’s what. That’s your spot of safety, where your internal risk manager allows you to play.” To take the first step, “you’ll need to get permission from your internal risk manager to take a small step, say to stretch just 10 percent, in showing vulnerability.”
If you don’t believe it’s safe enough for you to share your opinions, you are not going to. Yet because you have clarity about what you want, you can now imagine the relational and team dynamics to ensure that you can express yourself more fully. Because you have clarity about your need to create safety, it’s already safer.
As you also make it safe for others to show their vulnerabilities, it will become safer for you. Creating a safe space for others involves:

1. Getting Present:

Set aside distractions. While you may feel safety in being disconnected, “if you’re going to be more open and vulnerable and show up in your power, then you must first shift from disconnection to the intentional practice of connection.” The authors suggest checking yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Where are you right now through these four energy centers?

2. Understanding and Committing to Guidelines and a Protocol for How We Are Going to Connect:

For example, everyone commits to respect confidentiality, being present in the moment, staying when times get tough, speaking the truth, asking for what you want, owning your judgements and feelings, actively listening, and asking permission before offering feedback or advice.

3. Using the “Clearing and Resolution Model:”

Clear the elephants in the room so that “everyone can be aligned with themselves and the people they work with.” There is a process of clearing that asks five questions; What are the facts? What are your perspectives? What are you feeling? What was your role in attracting the issue to you? What do you want specifically?

4. Completing Exercises to Take Steps Toward Authenticity:

Break the ice with an exercise like everyone sharing a bit of themselves to get you to move out of your head to opening up emotionally to become more present. Create shared experiences. “The weekly or monthly meetings don’t count because the primary focus in those sessions is on the business of the company. Additional investment on a quarterly, semi-annual, and, at a minimum, annual offsite is required to help continue the momentum of trust and connection that has been established.”

5. Anchoring and Integrating the Process:

Create a rhythm by creating rituals that serve to maintain the connection you’ve established. The heart of authenticity is connection. It has to be a conscious choice practiced over and over.
When our souls transparently connect with other souls, something magical happens. You begin to be seen and known and accepted for who you are and what your viewpoint offers. Your diversity is embraced, as is everyone else’s. This creates a deeper sense of understanding and respect for everyone around us.

The best way to get stuff done, to be the boss, to be a real leader, is to encourage others to step into their best version of personal leadership. That means you as a boss, need to accept that you may not always be right, that you may not always know the answer, that you may not even know who does know. You’ll also need to accept that it is okay and even sensible (though risky) to move into the unknown, that it is okay to believe that the best outcome is when you can be both the boss and a leader without having to always lead. Embrace the reality that sometimes the highest form of leadership is when you lead from behind be creating the environment for others to claim their power and step in before you.

Begin the journey by practicing vulnerability in the hope that others on your team will really see you and seek a version of the journey for themselves. And hang up the cape.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:50 AM
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Killing It! How to Run a Startup in a Healthy, Joyful Way

Killing it

MERICA WAS FOUNDED by entrepreneurs. Along with all of the other freedoms granted to its citizens, the freedom to risk and to fail encourages our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship has never seemed so popular as it is today no doubt because it is easier than ever to start a company. Especially in the tech sector, barriers to entry have fallen, and there is greater access to risk capital for startups. Steve Anderson, the founder of Baseline Ventures, said, “Ten years ago, you needed $5 million to start a business. Today, you need $70 and some coding skills.” It is a golden age for entrepreneurs.

But with the implied success is a dark side that is rarely talked about. The cost is often the entrepreneur’s physical and mental health and the impact their work has on their family and friends. Sheryl O'Loughlin tackles this head-on in Killing It! The entrepreneur’s personal life is often the hidden cost of building an uber-successful career or business.

Sheryl who has taught entrepreneurship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business understands the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. She served as the CEO of Clif Bar, was the Co-Founder and CEO of Plum Organics and is now CEO of REBBL. In Killing It! she offers empathetic support for entrepreneurs with candid discussions about her own experience and those of other entrepreneurs she has known.

Many people start a business without really knowing what they are getting into. Starting a business for money is a bad bet since around 95 percent of startups fail. There needs to be a real love for the problem you’re trying to solve. Professor, social entrepreneur and investor Will Rosenzweig, told Sheryl, “Many thought they were going to launch a business coming out of school, not necessarily to solve a problem, but the problem they were trying to solve was their own unemployment and livelihood.”


Once you get past the idea, execution is everything. “It’s this build phase that catches many entrepreneurs by surprise—after so much excitement; they’re shocked at how mundane it all is. Remember the Buddhist saying, ‘After enlightenment, the laundry.’ Oh, and how much laundry there is.”

Sheryl says you have to make others love your business as well and connect to the company’s purpose—and it’s ongoing. You do that by inviting others to be part of the story. You help others to connect their personal passions to the company’s purpose. You and your team need to live the experience your customers have with the product. You need to be a leader that models love, compassion and care and hire people that can do the same.

At the same time, love can blind you to realities. So “let reality in,” she cautions. “You don’t have to love every moment, but you do have to love enough of them.

Entrepreneurs believe they have to do it all. Show no weakness. But we do have weaknesses. We need to talk to each other. “When entrepreneurs don’t rely on one another, they don’t harness the power of possibility. Too often we approach our work from a mind-set of scarcity and not one of abundance—a mistake that holds us back. The entrepreneurial profession requires that a person be vulnerable in order to remain healthy, and it’s critical to have a space in your life with others that allows for that.” When it comes to running your own company, business and personal issues are all intertwined.


Hang on to your friends. “Friendships are crucial for the emotional well-being of an entrepreneur, but they are often the first thing to hit the chopping block when things get busy.” There are three good reasons for this:
  1. It’s Good for Your Business. Entrepreneurs can easily become myopic. “The point is, you have to stay connected to the world outside your narrow one in order to make sure your ideas are still relevant—not according to some marketing study or other, but according to common sense.”

  2. It Helps Maintain Your Full Identity. “You are not your startup. Being a friend or a family member forces you to take on that identity. You can’t just take in the relationship; you have to give, too. Valuing these relationships reminds you that it’s not in fact all about you. Being a friend offers a buffer against narcissism and obsession. Remember that the intensity that entrepreneurs are so susceptible to must be guarded against so that it doesn’t become destructive. If you’ve been spinning all day long about a decision, just sitting with someone else and offering your attention and care to them can pull you out of that dangerous headspace.”

  3. It Helps Heal You (and Them). “There are dozens of studies that show the friendships are good for our health. Choose a friend you trust and open up to him or her. Write down a list if your greatest fears with your business and share them.”


I’ve risked it all is not a good strategy. “A skilled entrepreneur is the one who will assign risk to somebody else. The entrepreneur will that the resources when they are there. Would you go climbing without the proper gear? Probably not, and you shouldn’t approach business any differently. Entrepreneurship is about minimizing risk.”

You need a Plan B because most of the time you will need it. Most ventures will fail. “You can’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll beat the odds just because you have a fancy degree, stellar experience, and great contacts.”


We are conditioned to believe that money equals success. It’s vital, but your self-worth isn’t tied to the company’s net worth. “To keep a healthy self-worth/net worth separation, you have to continually ask yourself what role money is serving in your endeavor? Is money becoming your identity?” What are you proud of? We talk about family values, but they aren’t as easy to measure as money.

Your self-worth is probably the most important message of her book. Self-worth “is the quality that must be the strongest and most fight-ready before you start a company.” No matter what happens, you are no the company. “What must endure is a deep feeling that you are living in line with your values, that you are fundamentally grounded. You have to have resilience, and you have to know that you can fall down, get back up, and wipe yourself off, aware that deep down you are okay. Without this strong sense of self-worth, no matter how supportive your partner or your kids or your friends, no matter how bold or humble you are, you are at risk, even if your company isn’t.”

Most new businesses fail. And most entrepreneurs would do it all over again. But if you know up front the dark side of entrepreneurship, hopefully, the journey will end up happier and healthier for you. Before you start a company, think of entrepreneurship in terms of your life as a whole. Invest in your wellbeing. Killing It! is a great place to start.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:39 PM
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6 Characteristics of Type R People

Type R

E SEE THE EFFECTS of turbulent change all around us on individuals and organizations. Some people seem to be able to rise to the occasion while others fold in the face of it. Most of us don’t have a choice but to meet what the world throws at us head-on.

Ama and Stephanie Marston describe what is needed to leverage change and hardship into opportunity as individuals and organizations and carry that progress into the world in the form of a contribution to the greater good in Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World.

Those who flourish in this world don't just have resilience, they have Transformative Resilience: the ability to learn, grow, and spring forward. These are people they refer to as Type Rs.
Transformative Resilience frames challenge as an opportunity rather than a problem. It leads to new approaches and questions about how to best address an issue. It asks, What other doors might open for me? What other things might I do? What changes do I need to make? It isn’t simply what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens that has the greatest effect on the trajectory of our lives after adversity.
The world is uncertain, but the “certainty we seek is that we have the inner resources to transcend our challenges and in fact be transformed by them.” Having the Type R mindset and characteristics act as a shock absorber that enables people and organizations to cope with the day-to-day stress as well as the seismic events.”
Regardless of our age or background, if we think of ourselves as adaptable, confident, robust, and able to continue to grow, we will spring forward from stress and challenges in our lives.
The Marston’s have found six characteristics that reinforce and interact with one another that will help individuals and organizations to cultivate Transformative Resilience. Each one of these six characteristics can be developed and strengthened over time and when thoughtfully engaged, will take us to the opportunity beyond the challenge.

1. Adaptability

Adaptability is the tension between “knowing when to hold firm and when to accept the changing world around us and alter our outlook, goals, and plans.” As our world becomes more uncertain, we tend to look back to the good-ol’-days for support, but this can make us resistant to change. Knowing what you can and cannot change and when to adapt and reframe to find positive outcomes, is a critical skill in today’s world.

2. Healthy Relationship to Control

Closely linked to adaptability, is having a healthy relationship to control. This involves having a strong sense of when to exercise control, when to persevere, and when to let go. While believing that everything is outside of our control and nothing that we do matters is unhealthy as it causes us to stagnate, believing that we alone are responsible for what happens to us is only healthy to a point. An extreme internal locus of control can cause us to take on “too much responsibility for ourselves and the world around us” causing undue stress and difficulty “because it doesn’t take into account eternal factors” and cause us to be overly rigid.

Type Rs learn to “assess what’s within their sphere of influence and what’s not. They realize that strength isn’t always determined by triumph over the outside world but sometimes by changing our inner world.”

3. Continual Learning

An important factor in continual learning is knowing yourself and reflecting on the situations you encounter so that you can extract the all the lessons you can to better prepare you for future challenges. Type Rs should always be aware of what is going on in their world so that they can learn and adapt in anticipation of coming challenges rather than having to react to them. Curiosity “is vital to adaptability and intellectual growth, and it motivates ongoing learning and forward motion.”

4. Sense of Purpose

Having a sense of purpose is your north star. Regardless of the uncertainty and indecision around you, a sense of purpose grounds you with values to keep you on course and set a direction. It also provides you the means to find meaning in whatever you are going through.

Along with the other Type R characteristics, a sense of purpose helps to inspire others through the way we approach each situation. “Type Rs maintain a vision of what truly matters, what their lives and their work are about, and what they want it to be. A sense of purpose provides a buffer against obstacles; a person or group with a strong sense of purpose can more easily remain engaged and satisfied with life or work even while experiencing challenges.”

5. Leveraging Support

Don’t go it alone. The Marston’s write that “One of the biggest obstacles to growing from adversity is the sense of being alone.” It is important for building resilience that we have a strong network of people we can count on both personally and professionally. They provide a safety net and a sense of security. They also help to give you time to reflect, create perspective, and think about the challenges you face. “Many of our successes might rise and fall with our ability to leverage support.”

6. Active Engagement

Transformative Resilience “takes place when the Type R mindset and its various characteristics and skill are combined with forward motion.” Along with a healthy relationship to control, staying engaged is believing that no matter what happens you have what it takes to deal with the changing and often challenging circumstances in your life. This also means being proactive and confronting the issues rather than avoiding them.

Knowing that you have the inner resources to stay engaged helps you to slow down and respond rather than reacting. While challenges are stressful, “research shows that those who focus on the challenging dimension of a stressful circumstance, rather than seeing it as a threat, experience a different form of stress.” This is because, “their fear reaction is suppressed and instead a response linked to hormones and parts of the brain associated with positive emotions and learning are triggered, thus encouraging engagement.”

Type R

What’s Your Type R Quotient? Take the Type R assessment.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:14 PM
| Comments (0) | Change


8 Principles for Building a High-Performance Culture


HEN IT COMES to recruiting, motivating, and creating great teams, Patty McCord says most companies have it all wrong. Powerful is a book of advice gained from her experience at Netflix.

When McCord began her career in Human Resources at Netflix, she began working with Reed Hastings to identify the behaviors that they wanted to see become consistent practices and worked to instill the discipline of actually doing them. When established they were communicated over and over again and eventually became known as the Netflix Culture Deck. They coached all of their people, at all levels and on all teams, to be disciplined about these fundamental set of behaviors.

“A company’s job isn’t to empower people,” she writes, “it’s to remind people that they walk in the door with power and to create the conditions for them to exercise it.” As a leader, you need to model that behavior. If you want people to act like adults, they have to see adult behavior.

There are a lot of great insights in Powerful but here are some takeaways for you to think about:

1. Treat People Like Adults

“Great teams are made when every single member knows where they’re going and will do anything to get there. Great teams are not created with incentives, procedures, and perks. They are created by hiring talented people who are adults and want nothing more than to tackle a challenge, and then communicating to them, clearly and continuously, about what the challenge is.

Saying to employees, “If you do X, you’ll be rewarded with Y,” assumes a static system. Yet no business is static.

Being given a great problem to tackle and the right colleagues to tackle it with is the best incentive of all.

2. Communicate Constantly About the Challenge

Coming up with simple yet robust ways to explain every aspect of the business isn’t easy, but it pays huge rewards.

Don’t hire people that are stupid. Better yet, don’t assume that people are stupid. Assume instead that if they are doing stupid things, they are either uninformed or misinformed.

If your people aren’t informed by you, there’s a good chance they’ll be misinformed by others.

If you stop any employee, at any level of the company, in the break room or the elevator and ask what are the five most important things the company is working on for the next six months, that person should be able to tell you, rapid fire, one, two, three, four, five. Ideally using the same words you’ve used in your communications to the staff and, if they’re really good, in the same order. If not, the heartbeat isn’t strong enough yet.

3. Practice Radical Honesty

People can handle being told the truth, about both business and their performance. The truth is not only what they need but also what they intensely want.

The most important thing about giving feedback is that it must be about behavior, rather than some essentializing characterization of a person, like “You’re unfocused.” It must also be actionable.

When leaders not only are open to being wrong but also readily admit it, and when they do so publically, they send a powerful message to their teams: Please speak up!

4. Cultivate strong Opinions and Debate Vigorously

Our Netflix executive team was fierce. We were combative in that beautiful, intellectual way where you argue to tease out someone’s viewpoint, because although you don’t agree, you think the other person is really smart so you want to understand why they think what they think.

“Can you help me understand what leads you to believe that’s true?”

We had cultivated the practice of asking people about the nature of problems they were tackling rather than assuming an understanding of them.

People become overly wedded to data and too often consider it much too narrowly, removed from the wider business context. They consider it the answer to rather than the basis of good questions.

Good judgment: the ability to make good decisions in ambiguous conditions, to dig deeply into the causes of problems, and to think strategically and articulate that thinking.

5. Relentlessly Focus on the Future

Leaders rarely look to the future in thinking about the team they’ll need. They tend to focus on what their current team is achieving and how much more that team can do.

Another mistake I’ve seen in building teams is assuming that current employees will be able to grow into the responsibilities of the future. This is an especially acute problem for start-ups, because founders often feel a strong sense of loyalty to their early team.

Are we limited by the team we have not being the team we should have?

We were going to make sure our teams were constantly evolving. Just as great sports teams are constantly scouting for new players and culling others from their lineups, our team leaders would need to continually look for talent and reconfigure team makeup.

I believe the best advice for all working people today is to stay limber, to keep learning new skills and considering new opportunities, regularly taking on new challenges so that work stays fresh and stretches them. [whether that means rising within the company or seizing a great opportunity elsewhere.]

6. Have the Right Person in Every Single Position

At Netflix we had three fundamental tenants to our talent-management philosophy. First, the responsibility for hiring great people, and for determining whether someone should move on, rested primarily with managers. Second, for every job, we tried to hire a person who would be a great fit, not just adequate. Finally, we would be willing to say goodbye to even very good people of their skills no longer matched the work we needed done.

People’s happiness in their work is not about gourmet salads or sleeping pods or foosball tables. True and abiding happiness in work comes from being deeply engaged in solving a problem with talented people you know are also deeply engaged in solving it, and from knowing that the customer loves the product or service you all have worked so hard to make.

7. Pay People What They’re worth to You

Separate performance review and compensation systems. The tight bind between the performance review process and salary increase and bonus calculations is one of the main factors holding companies back from doing away with the review process.

I realized that his work with us had given him a whole new market value. We realized that for some jobs we were creating our own expertise and scarcity, and rigidly adhering to internal salary ranges could actually be harming our best contributors financially because they could make more elsewhere.

8. Proactively Say Goodbye

One of the benefits of the leadership communicating clearly to everyone in the company about where you’re heading and the challenges and opportunities that future will bring is that it better equips people to evaluate how well their skills fit into that future. They can also consider whether or not that future is one they want to be a part of and, if it isn’t, can proactively seek out new opportunities.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:30 PM
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How to Avoid the 5 Career Derailers

Career Derailers

HY DO SOME careers stall while others flourish? The careers of one-half to two-thirds of managers and leaders will derail. “At some point, over half of us will get fired or demoted—or our careers will flat-line, and we won’t reach our innate potential.

In The Right—and Wrong—Stuff, Carter Cast shares with us the turning point in his career at PepsiCo. Blissfully unaware of how negative perceptions were shaped, he was stunned when called into his boss’s office, and told he was “unpromotable” because he was obstinate,” “resistant,” and “insubordinate.”

More often than not, people get fired, demoted, or plateau not because they lack the “right stuff,” but because they let the “wrong stuff” act out. Cast’s research led him to five defining archetypes. These archetypes are present across all organizations, genders, and levels of seniority.

Captain Fantastic

Captain FantasticThese people are human wrecking balls known for being insensitive, arrogant, dismissive and emotionally volatile. This archetype gets more people into trouble than any other. Captain Fantastic’s poor ego management results in behavior that is a combination of defensiveness, arrogance, lack of composure, being distrustful, being mischievous and colorful, and being passive. In short, they lack interpersonal skills. Cast relates a conversation he had with Stuart Kaplan, the director of leadership recruiting at Google to make this point:
As you progress [in your career], your relationship with others is more important than your knowledge of and relationship with data. This need kicks in as you move into middle and upper management. It’s a mindset change. You have to suppress your ego, let go of having the answer and embrace the relational world. It becomes less about having competencies and more about engendering trust.

The Solo Flier

Solo FlierThe Solo Flier is a strong individual contributor, but they have difficulty building and leading teams. They create problems for themselves by overmanaging which makes it difficult to build and lead an effective team. They communicate with others either verbally or nonverbally, “Step aside. I’ve got this.”

For many talented people “skilled in and rewarded for ‘doing,’ the shift to manager and leader is a hard one. We’re required to operate differently, getting work done through others, moving from athlete to coach. We need to move from ‘me’ to ‘we.’”

Version 1.0

Version 1These people are highly skeptical of change. “The second most common career stopper right behind poor interpersonal skills is difficulty adapting to change. Some research studies state that it affects over half of managers who derailed.” This can happen due to a simple fear of change or an inability to adjust to changes that have been made, or because they possess a rigid belief system. A Version 1.0 can think they are traditionalists when really they are closed-minded.

Version 1.0’s resist learning new experiences. They lack curiosity preferring the status quo. Agility in your personal learning is the “subtle skill of picking up on cues and changing one’s behavior quickly.” Cast recommends that Version 1.0’s become more approachable. “Some people’s fear of change can be masked as assured arrogance or by being a contrarian. They protect themselves by being rigid and aloof and acting with complete assurance. Then, when challenged with a contrary point of view, they become combative and aggressive, like Captain Fantastic.”

The One-Trick Pony

One Trick PonyOne-Trick Ponies are good at what they are good at becoming over time “one-dimensional and unpromotable.” They have become overspecialized thereby limiting their careers. They get “mired in the details associated with their signature skill area and have trouble seeing the big picture beyond their area of expertise.”

This archetype is not strategic. That is, they lack a holistic understanding of the organization. “People with a strong strategic orientation approach problems from an ‘outside-in’ perspective.”

The Whirling Dervish

Whirling DirvishThese people are out of time. They just don’t seem to have enough time. They struggle with converting ideas into action. They lack good planning, organizational and task management skills and therefore don’t deliver on promises. This can also be because they have a problem saying “no.”

Whirling Dirvish’s need to be in tune with the steps in “the work flow process—their proper sequence, how long each will take to complete, and whom to include along the way.” This includes being able to plan and prioritize tasks before a project is started. Say no when you have to and delegate task to keep things moving.

Having the Right Stuff

To avoid derailing, you must learn to lead yourself first. We all come close to derailing from time to time, but having the right stuff means that you have the “ability to bounce back, to learn from your mistakes, make adjustments, take corrective actions, and get back on track.”

Cast finds that people with the right stuff act on their own initiative, they have emotional intelligence, and have tremendous perseverance and drive for results. And of the three, taking the initiative is the most important. “High performers with the right stuff accelerate their personal and professional development be having a ‘learning orientation’—a curiosity to constantly learn and improve.

Avoiding derailing requires that you continuously reflect on your performance. Know where you want to go and understand where you are. Then take steps to bridge the gaps. Cast provides abundant examples of the archetypes and corrective measures for each. We are all a work-in-progress.

Carter Cast provides an assessment on his website to find out where your career is vulnerable.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:17 PM
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