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LeadershipNow 140: April 2011 Compilation


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:40 PM
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Presidential Decision Making: How and Why

Presidential Decision Making

BOB WOODWARD once wrote, "When you see how the President makes political or policy decisions, you see who he is. The essence of the Presidency is decision-making."

Nick Ragone has selected 15 presidential decisions that were proactive and ultimately shaped the office and the country. In the process he reveals more of the man.

Looking back on decisions made, we often evaluate them based on our biases and current sensibilities. But to truly understand them we must see the world as they saw it. That is what Ragone does in Presidential Leadership. He takes each of these decisions and recreates them from the president’s perspective. It makes for an engaging and thought-provoking read.

All of the decisions he selected were controversial at the time and required courage to see them through. The thread that runs through them all is persistence and conviction. Often in these decisions, the president had to make a choice between the good of the Union and his own personal beliefs. While many more decisions are worthy of consideration, he chose to focus on:

  • Washington Puts Down the Whiskey Rebellion
  • Thomas Jefferson Purchases the Louisiana Territory
  • Andrew Jackson Rejects Nullification
  • Lincoln Signs the Emancipation Proclamation
  • Teddy Roosevelt Builds the Panama Canal
  • Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations
  • Franklin Roosevelt and the Lend-Lease Program
  • Truman Drops the Bomb
  • Truman Fires MacArthur
  • Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Race to the Moon
  • Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights
  • Richard Nixon Visits China
  • Ford Pardons Nixon
  • Reagan and the Evil Empire
  • Barack Obama Takes On Healthcare Reform

In reliving these moments in the pages of this book, you will gain a new appreciation for what it took to bring them about, their consequences and the origins of some of the issues we face today.

Some of the decisions made were certainly a product of their time. What president today would deal with a tax revolt by personally leading 13,000 troops around the country in a show of force to intimidate the protesters as Washington did with the Whiskey Rebellion? But it proved to be the right thing to do. There was no bloodshed. “It was a rather anticlimactic ending to what many historians consider the greatest constitutional threat prior to the Civil War.

Then there is the colorful account of Andrew Jackson’s handling of the nullification crisis brought on by the Tariff Act of 1832. The Union was at stake. “Jackson,” writes Ragone, “had the perfect skills for the crisis, if not the demeanor. He was ruthlessly consistent with his rationale….He understood the importance of public support and was adept at rousing patriotism through his words and deeds. He wasn’t afraid to be forceful when necessary, yet he tempered his natural impulsiveness because he knew it wouldn’t serve him well. And he had the capacity to grow and learn, something that can’t be said for every holder of the office.” His convictions no doubt guided Lincoln three decades later.

Teddy Roosevelt’s approach to building the Panama Canal surely epitomizes the man. About his actions, Roosevelt said, “We would have a number of profound discussions, and they would still be going on now, and the Panama Canal would be in the dim future yet. We would have had a half century of discussion, and perhaps the Panama Canal. I preferred we should have the Panama Canal first and the half century of discussion afterword.”

The well narrated history alone makes this a great read, but there are great leadership lessons to be found here as well. Reading through the accounts, it is easier to see how one decision would frame decisions and issues far into the future. Each decision creates a pattern of interaction that then influences thinking and behavior over time. Every decision creates an emergent system. Our decisions matter.

What drove Harry Truman to fire Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War? Did Gerald Ford know that his pardon of Richard Nixon could very well end his political career? Why did John F. Kennedy challenge America to reach for the moon?

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Presidential Courage Washington Control

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:28 AM
| Comments (0) | Government , Leaders


Manage Through Ego and Conflict

Miracle on Ice
It was called the “Miracle on Ice.” On February 22, 1980 the U.S. Olympic hockey team did the unthinkable. They beat the unbeatable Russian team. But team goalie Jim Craig says is was not a miracle. It was the result of hard work and one of the “best demonstrations of team chemistry in sports history.” In Gold Medal Strategies, Craig illustrates that the principles that got them there in 1980 can be applied to any team.

Here Craig talks about an issue every team has to deal with—ego:

We weren’t big shots. We weren’t stars. If we were going to do something great we needed each other and had to do it together. We couldn’t afford to wallow in our differences to get laid low by towing egos.

We needed to manage through ego and conflict.

More great efforts have been undone by ego left unchecked and conflict not resolved than can ever be imagined. This negative energy brings down sports teams, companies, political campaigns, armies, and even societies and nations.

Gold Medal Strategies
But the thing is this—ego and conflict can be healthy if managed and controlled. When they are not controlled, they become a monster that eats your group from within.

Managed and controlled, ego and conflict are energy and a source of winning ideas and inspiration. Not managed and controlled, they cause people to fight each other, not the competition—and that is a formula for losing.

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Craig offers several strategies for managing ego and conflict like, finding a buffer or go-between, respect the role that each team member plays, respectfully agree to disagree, and be prepared to sacrifice for the good of the team.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:23 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Teamwork


5 Leadership Lessons: What You Need to Know about Developing Teen Leadership


DAN APPLEMAN has written a handbook for developing teen leadership. Based on over 20 years of real world experience, you will find ideas, techniques, examples and even sample statements to guide you. Developing Teen Leadership will not only help you develop leadership skills in yourself and others, but you will find ways to help teens help other teens on their leadership journey.

The challenge for most parents, teachers and teen advisors is first understanding what they believe about leadership. If we think leadership is telling people what to do, it is difficult to guide their understanding of what real leadership is. They learn best by example.

Appleman offers over 50 valuable thoughts that impact your effectiveness with teens. Here are just five:

1  Explore options, but leave the decision to them. As a youth advisor, it’s not your job to make things easy on the teens. On the contrary—since people learn from challenges, it is perfectly fine for you to challenge them. One of the best ways to do this is to help them see facets of problems and options that they may not have otherwise considered.

2  Listen. The fact that many teens are unwilling to talk to adults is not all, even mostly, their fault. The truth is that most adults are just terrible at listening (both to each other, and to teens and kids). So if you want to have the slightest hope of being heard, your first step is to learn how to listen effectively.

3  Don’t be the boss. When people think about leadership, they often think of authority. It’s easy to confuse the two. While exercising authority is a leadership skill, real leadership does not consist of telling people what to do. [Being bossy will get people to participate,] but that participation will usually be less than enthusiastic. The members of the group will tend to wait for instructions rather than take the initiative. And the boss will spend all their time running around, stressing out, and telling people what to do. Teaching teen leaders the difference between a leader and a boss will be an ongoing task.

Teen Leadership
4  Limits. It is a well-known cliché that kids need limits and even want limits. And setting limits is part of your role. Where most adults go wrong is not on the limit setting—it’s with what happens up until the limits are reached. There is a strong tendency to try to control the activity regardless of where the limit is, and that control goes against the development of leadership among the teens. The real challenge for you is allowing the teens to have complete control over the group as long as that limit is not reached.

5  Find ways to say yes. Teens and kids hear the word “no” all the time. It’s no wonder many stop asking. The reality is that teens are generally capable of far more than they are ever expected or allowed to do. Part of teaching leadership is to get teens to realize that they are capable of becoming leaders and accomplishing tasks. One of the best things you can do to encourage this is to, as much as possible, eliminate the word “no” from your vocabulary. Except for health and safety and rules issues, the answer should always be some variation of the word yes.

This is not a book about teens. It is a book about how we as adults relate to teens. Because the only tool we have to teach leadership skills (or anything) to teens is the control we have over our own actions. You can spend hours worrying about what the teens are doing or their attitude, but we can only control the things we do and our own attitude.
—Dan Appleman

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:10 PM
| Comments (0) | Education , Five Lessons , Leadership Development


Be a Coach, Not a Critic

Unless they can highlight a problem, many book reviewers don’t feel like they have done their job. They operate under the assumption that being a critic means being critical. Many bosses operate the same way. They feel feedback is good only if it is critical or negative.

Adam Bryant suggests in The Corner Office, that we be a coach, not a critic. He writes, “Employees know if their boss is rooting for them to succeed, and they’re much more open to feedback if they sense the manager’s goal is to make them better. If you assume that most people want to get better, they want feedback and advice, that they want somebody to care about their future, then giving feedback becomes much easier.”

Unfortunately, most bosses have not established that fact with those they “serve.” They don’t deliver positive feedback on an ongoing basis and only take the time to say anything when they have some critical points to deliver. Feedback should not be thought of as an event. It should be ongoing and in real-time. Sure that’s more difficult and time-consuming, but it is what you signed up for.

Bryant shares what Tachi Yamada of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program had to say about feedback: “One of the things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how many good things you say, the one bad thing is what sticks….Everybody has their good points. Everybody has their bad points. If you can bring out the best in everybody, then you can have a great organization. If you bring out the worst in everybody, you’re going to have a bad organization.” What are you bringing out?

David Novak of Yum Brands adds, “When you start out by talking to people about what they’re doing well, that makes them very receptive for feedback because at least you’re giving them credit for what they’ve done. Then I say, ‘And you can be even more effective if you do this.’ I think that really works.”

When it comes to feedback, packaging is everything.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:00 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Management


From Values to Action

From Values to Action

FORMER chairman and chief executive officer of Baxter International, Harry Kraemer, has written a genuine, back-to-basics book on value-based leadership: From Values to Action. He presents four interconnected principles that build on and contribute to each other:

Self-Reflection is the most important and is central to your leadership. “If you are not self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself?” writes Kraemer. “If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you possibly lead others?”

Self-reflection allows you to transform activity into productivity for all the right reasons. It means “you are surprised less frequently.” It is essential in setting priorities. You can’t do everything. So reflection makes it possible to answer key questions like What is most important? and What should we be doing? in a way that is in line with your strengths and values and organizational goals.

Engaging in self-reflection on a regular, ongoing basis (preferably daily) keeps you from becoming so caught up in the momentum of the situation that you get carried away and consider actions and decisions that are not aligned with who you are and what you want to do with your life.

Balance and Perspective is the ability to understand all sides of an issue. Pursuing balance means you will have to grasp the fact that leaders don’t have all the answers. Kraemer says, “My task was to recognize when a particular perspective offered by one of my team members was the best answer….Leadership is not a democracy. My job as the leader is to seek input, not consensus.”

Because he believes we are more effective if we balance all areas of our life, he prefers the term “life balance” over “work-life balance.” It’s not an either-or proposition. “When you identify too closely with your work, you can easily lose perspective and become unable to look at all angles in a situation.” He recommends implementing a “life-grid” to keep track of where you are spending your time and to hold yourself accountable.

True Self-Confidence is know what you know and you don’t know; to be comfortable with who you are while acknowledging that you still need to develop in certain areas. (Comfortable not complacent.) Why TRUE self-confidence?

There are people who adopt a persona that might make others think that they have self-confidence, but they are not the real deal. Instead, they possess false self-confidence, which is really just an act without any substance. These individuals are full of bravado and are dominating. They believe they have all the answers and are quick to cut off any discussion that veers in a direction that runs contrary to their opinions. They dismiss debate as being a complete waste of time. They always need to be right—which means proving everyone else wrong.

Genuine Humility is born of self-knowledge. Never forget where you started. “Genuine humility helps you recognize that you are neither better nor worse than anyone else, that you ought to respect everyone equally and not treat anyone differently just because of a job title.”

From Values to ActionAfter describing each of these principles, Kraemer explains how these four elements play in everyday situations such as talent management and leadership development (“The values based leader is looking for people who exhibit the values that are most important to her.”), setting a clear direction (You’ve been tasked with creating a quick strategy, the first step is to listen. “This is precisely the time that you need to draw upon the capabilities of the excellent team you’ve put together.”), communication (“Never assume you have communicated enough.”), motivation (“What you must do is relate to others by letting them know who you are and the values you stand for.”), and execution (“As you become a leader, you will shift from knowing the right answers to asking the right questions.”).

Kraemer describes a values-based leader well: “Self-reflection increases his self-awareness. Balance encourages him to seek out different perspectives from all team members and to change his mind when appropriate in order to make the best possible decisions. With true self-confidence, he does not have to be right, and he easily shares credit with his team. Genuine humility allows him to connect with everyone because no one is more important than anyone else.”

From Values to Action is an outstanding book and filled with important concepts that any would-be leader would benefit from.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:13 PM
| Comments (0) | Communication , Human Resources , Leaders , Leadership Development , Management , Personal Development , Positive Leadership


Leadership is about Creating Conversations

Poet and Fortune 500 consultant David Whyte said that “The core act of leadership must be the act of making conversations real.” Conversations—sometimes difficult conversations—are what build relationships. Conversations that provide the opportunity for possibility. Conversations about choice.

Leaders create the opportunity for conversation. By bringing people together for conversation they increase engagement, commitment and accountability. Leaders ask people to share their own genius and assume personal leadership. At that point the ability to listen becomes paramount.

Accountability isn’t only at the top. It lies with all of us. All of us are responsible. Possible futures are not the work of one person. They are made possible by the conversations and resulting accountability of a community of leaders.

Leadership is about creating conversations.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:18 PM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1) | Communication , Leadership


Onward: You Are There with Howard Schultz


Onward tells the story of a company suffering from the side effects of its own success made worse by the recent financial fiasco and what its returning CEO did about it. It’s a story of a company’s return to the why.

Howard Schultz realized that by 2007, Starbucks had begun to fail itself. It was obsessed with growth and lost sight of what made it “Starbucks” in the first place—the essence of what they set out to do 40 years earlier—to inspire the human spirit. Starbucks had lost its “point of view.” He writes, “No single bad decision or tactic or person was to blame. The damage was slow and quiet, incremental, like a single loose thread that unravels a sweater inch by inch.” This is usually how we experience derailment. We wake up one day and find ourselves somewhere other than where we had planned on being. Tangents are like that.

With sales and passion already slipping, the economic meltdown at the end of 2008 only made matters worse. In an inspiring and detailed narrative, Schultz tells, from his perspective, how he got the company back on track and innovated around core values. It’s a sometimes emotional look at the thinking behind what worked and what didn’t. And it is told with dignity.

Onward is a valuable resource for leaders and is, for that reason alone, worth re-reading. It was interesting to watch Schultz’s leadership evolve through the process and instructive to observe how he handled the board, personalities, tough choices, frustrations, progress, and setbacks.

Here are some of his thoughts:

There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense, and against the wise counsel of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all the risks and rational arguments, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead.

If not checked, success has a way of covering up small failures.

I believe leadership is about instilling confidence in others.

I’ve never bought into the notion that there is a single recipe for successful leadership. But I do think effective leaders share two intertwined attributes: an unbridled level of confidence about where their organizations are headed, and the ability to bring people along.

Reigniting people’s hearts and minds had to be done in person. For all the promise of digital media to bring people together, I still believe that the most sincere, lasting powers of human connection come from looking directly into someone else’s eyes, with no screen in between.

Grow with discipline. Balance with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and overcommunicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:17 AM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Leaders


Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

Guy Kawasaki has made a career out of enchanting people. He has summarized what he has learned so far in Enchantment. (Think How to Win Friends and Influence People 2011.) Reading his book you will clearly see that enchantment doesn’t happen by accident. It is a state of mind that can be developed and perfected.

In a perfect world, if you had a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way anymore. In our social media driven world you need to enchant them.

You need enchantment when you are trying to change the world because you need to convince people to dream the same dream you do, you need to overcome inertia and the fear of big changes, the process of getting people to diverge from a crowd is similar to getting them to join one, and you need people to engage for the long term.

The process of delighting (enchanting) people with a product, service, organization, or idea begins with three steps:

Likeability. Guy knows likeability. (330,000+ Twitter followers can’t be wrong.) You need people to like you. The way to do that says Kawasaki is to accept others and find something to like in them.

Trust. Like likeability, you go first. You trust others first and they will trust you. Kawasaki says there are two types of people in the world: bakers and eaters. Eaters think zero-sum. They want the biggest slice of any pie. The bakers don’t see the world as zero-sum game. They want to make more and bigger pies. Bakers are more enchanting than eaters.

Get Ready. Make your offering great. It should be DICEE—Deep (many features), Intelligent (clever/innovative), Complete (all aspects of the offering is a great experience), Empowering (makes possible what you couldn’t do before), and Elegant (works with you not against you).

As a part of getting ready he suggests you do a pre-mortem. Before the launch, assume you failed and ask, “What might have gone wrong?” Come up with reasons why the failure occurred in order to prevent problems and increase the likelihood of success.

In two very practical chapters, Kawasaki talks about push and pull technology. “Push technology brings your story to people. Pull technology brings people to your story.” Push technologies are presentations, e-mail and Twitter. Pull technologies are web sites, blogs, YouTube and Facebook.

Enchantment is about becoming the kind of person people want to follow and it begins with approaching people thinking how you help them rather than wondering what they can do for you.

How enchanting are you? Take Guy’s Realistic Enchantment Aptitude Test online.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:32 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


First Look: Leadership Books for April 2011

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

  Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
  The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed by Adam Bryant
  From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership by Harry M. Kraemer
  Idea Man: A Memoir by Paul Allen
  Put Your Mindset to Work: The One Asset You Really Need to Win and Keep the Job You Love by Paul G. Stoltz and James Reed

Change Anything The Corner Office From Values to Action Idea Man Put Your Mindset to Work

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 155 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:56 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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