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LeadershipNow 140: January 2010 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from January 2010:
  • Davos: Business Leadership for the 21st Century http://bit.ly/9JYV8g Good panel: Stephen Green, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Indra Nooyi, Eric Schmidt, Wang Jianzhou
  • RT @tom_peters: Mega-success-tip: Master beginnings! Master endings! Never leave either to chance! (Applies equally to accountant and Broadway actress.)
  • Mike Myatt: The myth of "When To Lead" http://tinyurl.com/ybhknqf >An important point!
  • Not to be missed insights from @JohnBaldoni Check out his blogs: http://bit.ly/1J7hJT and http://bit.ly/a9dvcO
  • Do you think people apply the same values in their private lives as they do in their professional lives? 22%=Yes / 62%=No @ Davos
  • Personal Responsibility: It comes down to individual moral actors making micro-level decisions. Thomas Glocer @ Davos
  • While many things are wrong systemically, I think we have a serious moral compass issue at the individual level. Thomas Glocer @ Davos
  • Are we wise enough to learn frm these lessons & take them into our daily life as a check-list of our daily deeds? Yasuchika Hasegawa @ Davos
  • Scott Elbin: Three Mantras to Keep Your Ego in Check http://bit.ly/aqiEdr
  • Mike Henry Sr: Sources of Leadership http://bit.ly/aSBc7C
  • RT @LeadToday: The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them. - Zig Ziglar
  • Michael Roberto: What Happened to Toyota? http://ow.ly/11qV7
  • Good Post: RT @mikemyatt: A closer look at leadership DNA...Do you have it? http://bit.ly/r0FrO
  • RT @hulmevision: Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself | A. J. Heschel
  • @davidrock101: 2nd NeuroLeadership Journal is out. Free intro paper outlining NeuroLeadership develpments in 09: http://bit.ly/cDharn (PDF)
  • We usually aren't suffering because we can't solve our problems; we are suffering because we can't see our problems.
  • I was grateful to be able to answer promptly. I said. “I don't know.” ~Mark Twain
  • RT @toddsattersten: "If you work really hard and you are kind, amazing things will happen" Conan closing final show as host of Tonight Show.
  • @BillGates My new website is live check out thegatesnotes. Excited to share more about what I’m learning, hope you like it!
  • Read: To Be or Not to Be? http://wp.me/pt5Ht-4a Being Intentional by @eschreyer
  • RT @eschreyer: Leaders - demanding proof too soon could stifle innovation. Nice read from Business Week: http://bit.ly/59Jj1O
  • Scott Elbin: How Coakley and Brown Pulled Defeat from the Jaws of Victory and Vice Versa: What Leaders Can Learn http://bit.ly/5wedHn
  • FT: Master the mix of continuity and change http://bit.ly/8TACK4
  • Scott Elbin: Six Qualities That Made Martin Luther King, Jr. a Great Speaker http://bit.ly/5jUv94
  • Jerry de Gier: Are We Enjoying the Journey? http://bit.ly/4xc0NK
  • Manias, panics and bubbles all have same characteristic: the absence of real leadership that takes a contrarians perspective. http://ow.ly/VR7c
  • Wally Bock: Leadership Development: Crafting Your Personal Development Plan http://bit.ly/4rMYgg
  • FT: A little knowledge is deadly dangerous: Organisations may already possess the information they need to avoid disaster. http://bit.ly/51njzl
  • TEDxMcGill - Karl Moore on Postmodern Leadership http://bit.ly/6ZcxL3
  • How To Keep Your Plates Spinning in 2010 http://bit.ly/6aYQZf
  • @tom_peters: 2010 quote of the yr award, but also goes into dictionary as Definition #1 of "They just don't get it." http://bit.ly/5OhzkU
  • @hulmevision: The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes | Marcel Proust
  • Wally Bock: Becoming a Great Leader is Up to You http://bit.ly/4ywash
  • Pliny the Younger on relationships: "We are paid in our own coin."
  • 59 Seconds: The myth of the "Yale Goal Setting" Study http://bit.ly/7cnobt
  • Terry Starbucker: A Leadership Checklist: 10 Things To Do Right Now To Make It A Great Year http://46xps.th8.us
  • @Mark_Sanborn: Lessons at Decade's End http://bit.ly/7JXxWZ
  • @rosasay: I once heard it said “hope has nothing to do with what is going on in the world.” So what, then, is it about? http://ow.ly/RZNt
See more on twitter Twitter.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:59 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


5 Leadership Lessons: How Men and Women Lead Differently

5 Leadership Lessons
Men and women are hard-wired to lead each other differently. Understanding that the human brain is hard-wired with its gender, we can use this information to become more gender-intelligent and balanced. Utilizing these differences gives the organization a competitive advantage. In Leadership and the Sexes, Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis reveal these differences:

1  In women’s brains, there are more active sensorial and emotive centers, and better linkage of these centers to language centers; men’s senses don’t generally work as well as women’s. Men don’t process as much emotion, and men don’t tend to link as much complex emotion or sensorial detail to words. Men downplay emotion, even at the risk of hurt feelings, in order to play up performance. Men are chemically and neurally directed toward immediate rewards from performance, and they often prod—and sometimes humiliate or shame-coworkers in this direction. Women work constantly toward helping others express emotions in words rather than just in actions and search for a method for direct empathy when someone’s feelings are hurt, even at the expense of current goals.

2  In men’s brains, the cerebellum tends to be larger than in the female brain. The cerebellum is the center for action and physical movement. Thus, men tend to communicate more nonverbally, with more emphasis on movement and physicality than women’s emphasis on words. Men also often misread women’s facial expressions of frustration or annoyance—leading women to think that men don’t care. Additionally, men often listen without as much facial expression as women exhibit. Women can tend to feel not heard by men who recline away from them or listen with a blank face.

3  Men’s brains enter a “rest state,” a zone out state, more easily than women’s. This happens many times per day naturally for men – comparatively, women’s brains do not shut off in this way except in sleep. Men’s brains also enter a rest state when quantities of words become overwhelming during communication. Men are more likely to “zone out” if discussions become lengthy or wordy. In a meeting, men may keep themselves awake by what might appear to be fidgeting—clicking a pen, tapping, looking away, and the like.

4  Men’s brains circulate more testosterone than women’s, as compared to women’s greater neural emphasis on oxytocin. Testosterone is a competition/aggression chemical. Oxytocin is a bonding chemical. Quite often during communication, men will try to compete while women try to bond. The more support women build around them, the lower their stress level.

5  Women tend to be more interactive, wanting to keep interactions extended and vital until the interaction has worked through its emotional context. So much more sensory and emotive information is processed through female brain flow that female leaders tend more than men do, to seek more interactions in a day. Men tend to be more transactional in their interactions. Once the transaction of the interaction is complete, they tend to move away from the interaction and back to their more solitary task.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:12 AM
| Comments (0) | Five Lessons


What Kind of Leadership Will Work in 2010?

The Work Foundation, a British think-tank, released a reaffirming report on the principles of outstanding leadership. They concluded that outstanding leaders do three things:
  1. They think and act systemically: they see things as a whole rather than compartmentalising. They connect the parts by a guiding sense of purpose.
  2. They see people as the route to performance: they are deeply people and relationship centered rather than just people-oriented. They not only like and care about people, but have come to understand at a deep level that the capability and engagement of people is how they achieve exceptional performance.
  3. They are self-confident without being arrogant: self-awareness is one of their fundamental attributes. They are highly motivated to achieve excellence and are focused on organisational outcomes, vision and purpose. But they understand they cannot create performance themselves. Rather, they are conduits to performance through their influence on others. The key tool they have to do this is not systems and processes, but themselves and the ways they interact with and impact on those around them. This sense of self is not ego-driven. It is to serve a goal, creating a combination of humility and self-confidence. This is why they watch themselves carefully and act consistently to achieve excellence through their interactions and through their embodiment of the leadership role.
While these studies are helpful in defining what leaders need to aspire to, what is not so easy is converting these values into daily practice. In another fine article in the Financial Times by Stefan Stern, he offers the conclusions of a study by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones. In Leaders Must Live Up to Their Promises, he writes, “Mr Goffee and Mr Jones concluded – after speaking to followers, i.e. lower-ranking employees rather than leaders – that the best leaders brought four things to their organisations: a sense of community, a sense that the work is significant, a sense of excitement (or fun), and authenticity (meaning that the personality and behaviour of the leader is consistent and credible).

“Not too many leaders can place a tick by all four of these requirements. Cynical or disillusioned leaders will just add that list to the pile of other leadership theories, which have urged them to become “servant leaders”, “coaches”, “player managers”, and so on. Meanwhile, the disillusionment and dissatisfaction of those who are led grows. And we do not seem much nearer to establishing a clearer idea of what sort of leadership will work in the cynical and confused world of 2010.”

He adds this closing anecdote:
During the British general election of 1959, the journalist Geoffrey Goodman spent the campaign following the deputy leader of the Labour party, Aneurin Bevan, around the country. He made a record of Bevan’s many memorable speeches. One quotation in particular stands out. Contemplating the world’s increasingly interlinked problems, and the leadership that was on offer to deal with them, Bevan summed up what he saw in these terms: “Smaller and smaller men, strutting across narrower and narrower stages.”

Timidity and smallness in our leaders is nothing new. It has to be exposed and challenged, generation after generation. Even while we secretly hope for powerful new leaders to emerge.
In another highlight from the Work Foundation study, they made this observation about the process of becoming an outstanding leader:
Becoming an outstanding leader is likely to depend a great deal on maturity, self-awareness and self-development within the job. Some of the outstanding leaders featured in the research did not originally have a people-focused approach, but realised the impact they were having on people and therefore adjusted their style accordingly. They arrived at this point through experience, maturity and reflection. They had a very sophisticated understanding of cause and effect and how their actions can dramatically affect outcomes.
I would suggest that “maturity, self-awareness and self-development” will help us to adjust our leadership to the context we now find ourselves working within.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:09 AM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Leadership Development


Four Steps to Building Loyalty

Loyalty is a critical subject for leaders. As builders of community, we can’t function without it. Successful organizations are built on relationships. Leadership is all about relationships. But how important is modeling loyalty in everything you do?

It is hard to talk about sustainability, community, personal responsibility and relationships without talking about loyalty. Yet we do.

Loyalty has become a commodity that we hold or withhold—a tool to vote with—a means to express our discontent on a whim. Abiding commitments are seen as old-fashioned. Impatience, irritability and selfishness all drive the need to look for greener pastures. “In a strange way,” said Jack Valenti, “loyalty is now seen as some kind of character flaw.” In Why Loyalty Matters, authors Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy write:
The possibility of leaving applies to some degree to our relationships with everyone. Weak friendships, dysfunctional families, bad marriages, intolerant religious institutions, and inept governments all face the prospect of abandonment. And there are indeed times when leaving is the best option.

But society cannot function and relationships cannot last if leaving is the readily selected, probable outcome to every perceived grievance. And while few would admit to cutting and running when times get tough, many, if not most of us, have a general sense that leaving has become too easy for many.
Loyalty is about making commitments to causes, people and ideas through thick and thin, for better or for worse. It is about service to something greater than ourselves.

Keiningham and Aksoy define loyalty as “accepting the bonds that our relationships with others entail, and acting in a way that defends and reinforces the attachment inherent in those relationships.” Loyalty is implicit in all relationships and the lack of it is eroding our sense of well-being and happiness. Our priorities are often misplaced. They write, “The problem isn’t that we are exchanging our time for commodities, but instead we are exchanging our family’s time, our friends’ time, our ideals’ time to get something.”

Of course, we like to see ourselves as more loyal than we are and everyone else as less loyal than they really are. But, “it is our unwillingness to see our own role in the general decline of loyalty that is a major cause of relationship disintegration. And this disintegration ultimately leads to our unhappiness.”

Long-term thinking helps to develop loyalty. Professor Richard Sennett observed, “’No long term’ is a principle which corrodes trust, loyalty, and mutual commitment … social bonds take time to develop, slowly rooting into the cracks and crevices of institutions.” Leaders are hard pressed to function without it.

We develop and model loyalty in the seemingly small choices we make every day. “If loyalty is to be an important part of our lives, then we must become aware of the ramifications of our decisions. Living a loyal life requires that we recognize the formal and implicit commitments we have made to others. We must then make deliberate choices to strengthen our bonds by honoring our commitments.” The authors suggest a process they call P2R2. It stands for:

Pinpoint Where You Are: Where do you stand? We believe we are far more loyal than the recipients of our loyalty believe us to be. They offer the online LoyaltyAdvisior assessment to aid you in determining where you are.

Prioritize Those Things That Matter: If we want to make loyalty a meaningful part of our everyday existence, then we need to understand where we are actually spending our time and then prioritize.

Reinforce Your Connections: Actively schedule time to connect with those to whom we owe loyalty. “It will mean that there will be times we must sacrifice doing things that would be more fun to help a friend in need.”

Reach Out To Others: Engage beyond your friends and family. “It says, this relationship, this institution, this cause is mine, and I will not abandon it.”

Why Loyalty Matters delves deeply into the issue of loyalty. They discuss the economics of loyalty, the problem of misplaced loyalty, faith and loyalty, and an important chapter on teaching loyalty. President Theodore Roosevelt warned, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Oprah Winfrey sums up the need well: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:12 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


Can You Pass the Fitzgerald Test?

Can You Pass the Fitzgerald Test

IN HIS CLASSIC self-analysis, The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” For example, he added, one should “be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

More and more we are called upon to function in a world full of paradoxes; not only function but possess an ability to take action in the face of conflicting ideas and norms. Bruce Piasecki writes in The Surprising Solution, that paradox “almost seems too mild a word to describe the challenges facing the social leaders of today.” He adds, the best leaders “thrive on differences and ambiguity, and find solutions amid this large tolerance for social complexity.”

In his innovation playbook for uncertain times, The Silver Lining, Scott Anthony writes, “Existing systems, structures, and development programs that were sufficient for leaders to thrive in an era of ordered capitalism are proving to be inadequate in today’s increasingly turbulent times. Most leaders just aren't ready to grapple with the paradoxes that will increasingly characterize their day-to-day lives.” He lists, for example, these seemingly paradoxical requirements facing leaders:
  • I have to focus on running operations with laserlike precision without stifling creativity.
  • I exist because of my big business, but “small saplings” are critical for long-term success.
  • Data drives my decisions, but I have to trust intuition and judgment when data doesn’t exist or is vague.
  • Attention to detail and focus on numbers has allowed me to progress in my career, but too much focus on details or numbers can crowd out innovation.
  • The people I trust the most are people who deliver short-term results and never surprise me, but innovation almost always involves some kind of surprise.
  • I have to leverage my capabilities to win today’s battles while walking away from many of these capabilities to win tomorrow’s battles.
To this we might add the ability to look at solutions to problems that have more than one solution or seemingly opposing goals—serving shareholders and our communities, to grow and be good stewards. If you have a low tolerance for opposing thoughts you are less likely to look for other alternatives. This greatly limits your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Anthony reports that it has been estimated that no more than 5 percent of the manager population can truly grapple with paradox. Why? He says that “Michael Putz from Cisco has studied this problem for the past decade. His perspective is that the problem isn’t a lack of basic intelligence, desire, or capacity. Rather, managers haven’t developed the ability to grapple with paradox because they haven’t needed to.”

But the capacity to deal with paradox, to work with opposable ideas, is learnable. Again, self-awareness is key. Understand how you view the world. Then, creating a specific developmental program to help you take a broader view, to integrate multiple perspectives, to view solutions as both/and instead of either/or, will help you pass the Fitzgerald Test.

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Dealing With Paradoxes The Chaos Imperative

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:12 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development , Thinking


What Your Group Needs to Become Extraordinary

Extraordinary Groups
Why do most groups fall short of their potential and only a few groups become extraordinary? To find out Geoffrey Bellman and Kathleen Ryan say we need to dig deeper into the wants, needs and motives that cause people to work together. They define an extraordinary group as one that “achieves outstanding results while members experience a profound shift in how they see their world.” They exhibit:
  • A compelling purpose that inspires and stretches members to make the group and its work a top priority
  • Shared leadership that encourages members to take mutual responsibility for helping the group be successful
  • Just-enough-structure to create confidence to move forward, but not so much as to become bureaucratic or burdensome
  • Full engagement that results in all members jumping in with enthusiasm, sometimes passionately and chaotically, regardless of role
  • Embracing differences so that group members see, value, and use their diversity as a strength
  • Unexpected learning that translates into personal and group growth
  • Strengthened relationships among members characterized by trust, collegiality, and friendship
  • Great results, tangible and intangible
In Extraordinary Groups, they present the Group Needs Model. Extraordinary groups experience a transformative shift “because the group experience satisfies core needs that members intuitively bring to any group they join.” The model identifies six core group needs forming three pairs:

Extraordinary Groups Model
  1. The Individual: Acceptance of self (knowing and accepting ourselves for who we are) while moving toward one's Potential (sensing and growing into our fuller and better selves)
  2. The Group: A Bond with others (our shared sense of identity and belonging) that grows while pursuing a common Purpose (the reason we come together)
  3. The World: Understanding the Reality of the world (understanding and accepting the world as it is and how it affects us) while collectively making an Impact (our intention to make a difference and our readiness to act)
When two or more of these needs are experienced you are likely to describe the group experience as memorable. While it might seem to happen by chance, it's a choice. Any member of a group, aware of these needs as expressed in a group setting, can take the steps necessary to move that group to a more transformative, extraordinary experience. Meeting these core human needs is accomplished best in small groups (2 to 20 people).

To accomplish this, you want to be a facilitative leader as opposed to a directive leader. With the group needs model in mind, the authors suggest that you “stand back from your group to consider the individual members, their collective purpose, and the world in which they operate” and ask “How might this group experience meet those needs?” Then consider the eight indicators of extraordinary groups (listed above) to see if they are present. Do members of the group seem energized, hopeful, connected and positively changed?

A group leader needs to frame an inspiring purpose, lead with a light touch, keep the issues discussable, manage the world around the group acting as a buffer and facilitator, make sure the right people are on the team (those people with the knowledge, skills, or experience to tackle the group’s purpose), and integrate the Groups Model into their approach. Ask yourself questions like: “How will this meeting meet the needs of acceptance and potential, bond and purpose, reality and impact?” “Where and how can we use our differences as a group strength?” “Is there enough room in the agenda so that members have time for those more in-depth and sometimes complex conversations?”

Extraordinary Groups offers practical advice on implementing the Groups Model into your own group situation. All of the suggestions offered are accompanied by examples, reflection questions and sample actions for both you and the group. By paying attention to group needs you can more consistently transform ordinary groups into something more energizing, connecting and affirming.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:02 AM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1) | Teamwork


Leading Views: How To Increase Your Value

Leading ViewsIn The Unforced Error, Jeffrey Krames is talking about taking responsibility. No Responsibility = No Value. Taking responsibility is about seeing the larger goals of the company and your part in it. It’s about learning to leader from where you are. To not take responsibility is to say “I don’t want to be part of the solution.” In fact, you become part of the problem. Kramer writes:

At Work, people often look at their jobs in terms of tasks rather than responsibilities. But if you don’t view responsibility in the broader sense, you may be committing the most subtle of unforced errors: Over time you may fall off the corporate radar screen. Your boss may feel that you are capable of completing a routine task or matter, but if the assignment is more than routine, or if the boss is looking for someone to take the initiative, she will not think of you. And when it comes time to promote someone or to draw up a list of the valuable people she needs to keep when corporate belt tightening requires a layoff, she will not think of you.

If there is nobody addressing a problem that you observe, or taking advantage of an opportunity that you see, think about whether you should be doing it yourself.

Taking responsibility is about developing a mind-set that says: “I am responsible for what happens in my unit. It’s my job to help get us to success.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:47 AM
| Comments (0) | Leading Views


Building a Community of High Commitment and High Performance

If the leaders of the financial institutions implicated in the economic crisis had had the aspirations, the higher moral purpose, or the savvy to build resilient organizations capable of sustained advantage, could we have avoided the financial crisis? Harvard’s Michael Beer thinks so. Leaders of high commitment, high performance organizations (HCHP) make principled choices. He argues in High commitment, High Performance, “These choices begin with their definition of firm purpose—a desire to make a positive contribution to customers, employees, and society.” If a leader’s “primary goal is to acquire money and power, building an HCHP organization will be beyond their reach.”

To build enduring HCHP organizations, leaders must stick to the firm’s why: purpose and guiding values, strategy, risk profile, and basis for motivating, organizing, and managing people. “In times of crisis, when capital markets may demand expedient decisions that could take the firm off the HCHP path, commitment to principles enables CEOs to go against conventional wisdom in decisions about strategy, debt, growth rate, acquisitions, and layoffs.”

These circumstances often create conflicting demands between people and profits that leaders must learn to integrate. This does not call for heroic leaders—single-minded and single-handed leaders—but leaders who are willing to listen and engage others in a collective action learning process. In a crisis we often look for saviors, but instead, writes Ron Heifetz in Leadership Without Easy Answers, “we should be calling for leadership that will challenge us to face problems for which there are no simple, painless solutions.”

Heroic leadership isn’t about listening or collective learning. “Most important,” writes Beer, “heroic leadership fails to perform the central function of leadership—engaging employees authentically in a process of organizational learning and development from which they as leaders also learn.” Leading the creation of a HCHP organization is “not about aligning the company with the leader’s ideas. It is about enabling leaders and their people to learn together about the problems they face and the actions they must take.”
Surviving and thriving in this crucible of conflicting demands is no easy task. It requires that leaders strengthen and develop their internal resources. They must learn to enter the fundamental state of leadership when faced with challenges—a state that demands that they dig deep into their values and purpose. That fundamental state of leadership requires leaders to move from comfort with activities to focus on results, from self-absorption to commitment to mission and higher purpose, from focus on self to focus on others, from being internally closed to being externally open, and from hiding the truth to embracing the truth.
Incidentally, it will not come as a surprise to readers of the Leading Blog, that generally, underperforming companies have not developed leaders throughout their organizations. Beer suggests that this is because “most managers had come up through their home function, business unit, or region, and never acquired the broader general management perspective needed to understand and manage cross-boundary activities….In many of the companies, ineffective senior teams did not spend time developing common values and perspective about what constituted good leadership.” Again, the primary responsibility to learn to lead from where you are lies with you.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:02 AM
| Comments (0) | General Business


Thriving In the New Economy

New Economy
We have been going through the worst economy in three generations. It has been a defining moment for many leaders. While many of us have been focused on surviving, there have been those leaders that have thrived in this economy; leaders who have taken advantage of this changing economy and have found opportunities amid the uncertainty.

Lori Ann LaRocco, Senior Talent Producer at CNBC and a producer of the show Squawk Box, was in a position to ask some of the best minds in business today how they are responding this economic environment, how they are defying failure and what opportunities do they see?

As a result, LaRocco has assembled 23 insightful essays in Thriving In the New Economy. In their own words, they shed light on how they view the crisis, what they did as a result, and what they plan to do. It makes for a compelling read to gain a window on these leaders' different but similar viewpoints and approaches.

The essays are divided into five sections: the economy, banking, real estate, autos, and retail. You will read personal accounts from people like economists Larry Lindsey and David Malpass; Wall Street legends Jack Bogle, Bob Doll, Abby Joseph Cohen, Ron Baron and Peter Cohen; bankers Kelly King, and Donald Powell; real estate executives Don Peebles Richard LeFrak, and Ron Peltier; and from the auto and retail industries Jim Lentz and Steve Sadove.

Larry Lindsey, CEO of The Lindsey Group shares this on the function of leadership: “Most institutions prefer managers who will serve the needs of an existing institution—that is, who will follow the wishes of the various constituencies within the institution—rather than managers who will lead the institution to a new place."

“Our political process is dominated by leaders who tell us what they think we want to hear, thereby effectively following the polls and the media and not necessarily leading the country…. But that type of leadership by itself can actually be a handicap for a society dealing with a financial or economic catastrophe. To be precise, financial crises throughout history have developed when excesses went unchecked. Like the over-leveraging of risk in our capital system. All these manias, panics, and bubbles have the same characteristic: the absence of real leadership that takes a contrarian perspective.

At Forbes, Steve Forbes says, “Essentially, we learned that in a down economy you have to both tighten your belt and plant seeds for the future, which is tough to do.”

Peter Cohen founder of the $7.5 billion alternative asset management company Ramius, says you have to remain open and pay attention. “What I do know,” Cohen writes, “is you have to show up every day at work; you have to be there every day to find opportunity. You have to be constantly alert to what the possibilities are. Good ideas are all around all the time, if you’re paying attention.” He continues:
I’ll take information wherever I get it and run it down. Winning is all about showing up. I know a lot of people who say they don’t want to go to work and claim to have nothing to do there. That’s not true. There is always something to do at work—always. That is a philosophy that I follow, and that we follow. And while I think we’re in for a really difficult time ahead, I’m really excited that there’ll be some great opportunities that will come out of it.
Luck must play a part in all of this too. Thriving in the New Economy has no chapter 11. LaRocco says that when she began to assign chapters in the book, a lot of the authors asked her not to put them in “Chapter 11.”

You can read (PDF) the contribution by Wilbur Ross on how he analyzes a crisis and how he chooses to invest.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:11 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business


Business Reputation Isn’t Just About Business

Peter Firestein makes the claim that “reputation is the strongest determinant of any corporation’s sustainability.” It determines value and relationships.

The corporate landscape has changed. Corporations don’t exist in a social vacuum. In Crisis in Character, Firestein writes, “the individuals who run significant companies hold much more than the companies themselves in their hands. Their influence extends to where the children of their employees can go to college, and whether the communities that surround them survive.”
People look to corporations as they look to their politicians. They want corporations to reflect their own values. As a consequence, the question arises: Why should the conduct expected of corporations and individuals differ from each other? Why should we not hold both to the same standards? A corporation’s strong social identity can cast its light across products and services, and onto the attitudes of investors, legislators, regulators, and prospective business partners.
All of this adds up to a greater reputation risk. Reputation goes deeper than a corporate press release. It’s embodied in the system and the people who run it. To help companies achieve a balance between their internal realities and the demands of investors and society, Firestein developed a set of seven strategies that are of immediate use:
  • Establish Core Values, and Reputation Will Follow
  • See Yourself through Stakeholders’ Eyes: Market Intelligence and the Art of the Perception Study
  • Define Your Company’s Landscape: The Power of Stakeholder Mapping
  • Build Your Reputation from the Inside Out: Become the Company You Want the World to See
  • Tell Your Corporate Story: Engagement and the Communications of Convergence
  • Prepare for Crisis: How the CEO Saves the Company Every Day
  • The Governance Imperative: Oversight, Informing the Board, and Compliance
As reputations are built over time, it’s not surprising that it is lost “in all the sins of commission and omission that lead up to a reputation-threatening event.” Building a reputation is a daily job. A CEO should expect a crisis and prepare for it by having a response plan. The solution to a reputation problem doesn’t lie in PR and corporate communications.

The CEO must foster a company whose characteristics are such that its influencers assume both its good intentions and its fundamental ethics in all circumstances. Should a crisis occur, that company receives the benefit of the doubt during the crucial time it takes to investigate the oil spill, the factory explosion, or the defective product. It will already have earned the chance to tell its story before the adverse event takes place. That’s the most important characteristic of a good reputation. The history of corporate failings is laden with tales of companies that have arrived completely unprepared at moments of crisis.

When did Noah build the ark?

Before the rain.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 AM
| Comments (0) | Ethics , General Business


Leading Views: Parker Palmer on Leading From Within

Leading ViewsParker Palmer, founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, says that we tend to ignore what is going on inside us. Inner issues can distract from the message we are trying to project, the good that we would accomplish. It’s a call to be integrated or authentic. A leader’s personal issues can work their way into the culture of those we lead. Leaders need to not only master the skills of working through and with others, but also the discipline to manage what is going on inside—character issues both good and bad. From Let Your Life Speak, he explains:

We have a long tradition of approaching leadership via the “power of positive thinking.” I want to counterbalance that approach by paying special attention to the tendency we have as leaders to project more shadow than light. Leadership is hard work for which one is regularly criticized and rarely rewarded, so it is understandable that we need to bolster ourselves with positive thoughts. But by failing to look at our shadows, we feed a dangerous delusion that leaders too often indulge: that our efforts are always well intended, our power is always benign, and the problem is always in those difficult people whom we are trying to lead.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:44 AM
| Comments (0) | Leading Views


The One Question You Should Ask Now


WHY gets to the cause of things. The answer is your purpose or belief. It explains why you get up in the morning, why should I follow you, why should I buy from you.

Your why is what inspires people. It gives clarity. Everything you do—your HOWs and WHATs—flows from your WHY.

Why is vital to leaders. It inspires action through inspiration instead of manipulation. Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, says, “To lead requires those who willingly follow. It requires those who believe in something bigger than a single issue.” He distinguishes between leaders in name and those who actually lead. The difference is the why. It is possible to motivate people by external factors like a tempting promotion or fear. General Motors, for the last 70 years, has been the leader in their industry, but for the most part, did not lead. Sinek explains:
Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained…. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people—supporters, voters, customers, workers—who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” The problem says Simon Sinek, “is most businesses today are making decisions based on a set of incomplete or, worse, completely flawed assumptions about what’s driving their business.” They don’t know or have forgotten the why. Whys are hard to communicate. It’s easier to talk about what you do or how you do it. So we focus on the whats and the hows and over time, the why can get lost.

In Start With Why he introduces the Golden Circle to explain loyalty and how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement. It begins from the inside out. It starts with why.

Sinek Golden CircleWHATs are easy to identify. They are your products and services. HOWs are the ways you do what you do. They differentiate you. WHYs tell people why they should care. Most organizations usually communicate from the outside in—the clearest to the fuzziest. “We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do. But not the inspired companies. Not the inspired leaders. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out.”

"All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves."

Begin your year by asking WHY. Then communicate it through everything you do. Let WHY be the inspiration to your Hows and Whats. “Achievement comes,” says Sinek, “when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:02 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business


George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

Weekend Supplement

If you're considering some personal development goals you couldn't go wrong reviewing the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior once copied down by George Washington.

By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640, and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor.

Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly. It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together.

Check them out at Foundations Magazine.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:11 AM
| Comments (0) | Washington's Lessons , Weekend Supplement


First Look: Leadership Books for January 2010

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

  Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street by Jim Wallis
  Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional by John G. Miller
  Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice by Edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana
  No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth by Sam Silverstein

Rediscovering Values Linchpin Outstanding Handbook of Leadership No More Excuses

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:00 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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