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LeadershipNow 140: December 2012 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from December 2012 that you might have missed: See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:06 AM
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Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf 1934-2012

Norman Schwarzkopf

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, died today at age 78 due to complications from pneumonia. He lived in retirement in Tampa, where he had served in his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command.

In a statement issued through his office, former President George H.W. Bush said he and his wife, Barbara Bush, were mourning Schwartzkopf's death. "Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation," Bush's statement read. "A distinguished member of that Long Gray Line hailing from West Point, Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises. More than that, he was a good and decent man—and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife, Brenda, and his wonderful family."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Storm, recalled Schwarzkopf as "a great patriot and a great soldier." He continued, "Norm served his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years. The highlight of his career was the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. 'Stormin' Norman' led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government. His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation.

On Leadership Development
You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it.

On Character
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

On Leadership
Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.

On Courage
True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that's what courage is.

On Knowing Doing
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.

On Success
Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:43 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders


Best Leadership Books of 2012

Best Leadership Books of 2012

THE WAYS we have thought about leadership have not always served us well. We have tended to think of leadership as something outside and above the rest. If leadership isn’t among, it will let us down.

Hierarchies are still important, but they must allow for freedom to act, think, and experiment in a way that encourages individual growth.

Moving ahead we need more clarity. We need to look at what we do with fresh eyes. As Andy Grove said to Gordon Moore, after a year of aimless wandering, “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do? … Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back, and do it ourselves?”

We need to step back and take another look. We have become mired in the organizational processes that are no longer relevant to the world we live in. It requires taking a fearless inventory of all that we do. And that takes courage.

Looking beyond the immediate result we seek or problem we are trying to solve or skirt, we need to continually ask, “What message are we sending?”

What is your approach to leadership?

How is that helping or hindering others?

How has your leadership style changed?

Are we sending the right message?

The list below represents my picks for the best leadership books of 2012. All of these books have helped us to look at the what and ask why?

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What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel

The Strategy Book by Max McKeown

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership by Gary Burnison

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

The End of Leadership by Barbara Kellerman

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz by Frank J. Barrett

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level by David Marquet

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen with James Allworth and Karen Dillon



Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume 3: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2011
Best Leadership Books of 2010
Best Leadership Books of 2009

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:54 PM
| Comments (0) | Books


The Success Equation: Separating Luck and Skill

In the mid-1970s, a man hunted for a lottery ticket with the last two digits ending in 48 for a chance to win the Spanish National Lottery. He found a ticket, bought it, and won the lottery. When asked why he was so intent on finding that number, he replied, “I dreamed of the number 7 for seven straight nights. And 7 times 7 is 48.”

You can be wrong and still win—in the short term.

Some things are a matter of luck. Some things are a matter of skill. The problem is we have a hard time untangling the two.

In The Success Equation, Michael Mauboussin aims to helps us to understand the relative contributions of luck and skill and then how we can use that understanding to make better decisions.

Untangling luck and skill is made more difficult because “our minds have an amazing ability to create a narrative that explains the world around us, an ability that works particularly well when we already know the answer.” When we see the effect we want to find (or create) the cause.


In the left hemisphere of our brain is what Steven Pinker calls the “baloney-generator.” “One of the left hemisphere’s main jobs,” writes Mauboussin, “is to make sense of the world by finding a cause for every effect, even if the cause is nonsensical.” Consequently, we attribute too much to skill especially in hindsight. “Once something has occurred and we can put together a story to explain it, it starts to seem like the outcome was predestined.”

“We have a natural tendency to assume that success and failure as caused by skill on the one hand and a lack of skill on the other. But in activities where luck plays a role, such thinking is deeply misguided and leads to faulty conclusions.” He notes that luck can be overwhelmed by the influence of luck.

To understand the relative impact of luck and skill, it is helpful to place activities on a “luck-skill continuum.” Mauboussin shows you how. He also shows why in competitive situations, when you’re the favorite, “you want to simplify the game so that you can overwhelm your opponent. If you are the underdog, you want to inject luck by making the game more complex”—creating new points of competition.

In business, “challengers almost never succeed by taking on the established companies in their core markets. The larger companies are simply too strong and too motivated. But they are often too smug to admit that a small, upstart firm could pose a threat. And therein lies the advantage for the little guy.”

Building Skill and Improving Your Luck

Whether or not you can improve your skill depends a great deal on where your activity lies on the luck-skill continuum, says Mauboussin. “In cases where there is a clear relationship between cause and effect, and in activities that are stable and linear, deliberate practice is the only path to improvement. … For activities near the luck side of the continuum, a good process is the surest path to success in the long run.

Feedback is critical in any case. “Improving your skill means constantly looking for ways to change your behavior, either because what you’re doing is wrong or because there’s a slightly better way of doing it. … No matter what your profession or level of expertise, the chances are very good that accurate feedback can improve your performance.”

One final thought: Mauboussin presents what he calls the Paradox of Skill. “As skill improves, performance becomes more consistent, and therefore luck becomes more important.” If everyone is getting better, then luck plays a more important role in determining who wins.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:05 AM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving , Thinking


The Leader’s Pocket Guide

Leader Pocket Guide

WHAT I LIKE most about the work of John Baldoni is that it is very practical. His advice is relatable, practical, and gets to the core of the issue. In article after article, book after book, he hits the nail on the head.

The Leader’s Pocket Guide is the next best thing to having John as your own personal coach. He shares the lessons he’s learned coaching others. Without a doubt, it’s a handy reference guide when you’re stuck, but if you use this book like a leadership development program, you can pull out its real value.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
—Victor Frankel

Leadership development is not easy. Facing yourself as a leader is the most difficult part. Appropriately, he begins with “How to Know Yourself Better.” Leaders continually need to compare where they are developmentally to where they want to be. It’s critically important to their growth. John suggests that we ask ourselves and others three questions: What more do I need to be doing more or less of? What else should I be doing—what should I be asking others to do? and How do I accept feedback?

Inside you will find 100 more ideas related to leading yourself, leading others and leading an organization. Each leadership essay is clear and to the point. Reflection questions are asked throughout the book that you can take advantage of. As you read each topic, ask if you are where you want to be on that topic. And importantly, ask others for feedback because how you are perceived gives you a more accurate view of your leadership effectiveness than your intentions.

The Leader’s Pocket Guide is a useful book for both new and seasoned leaders.

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Lead Your Boss Lead By Example

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:47 PM
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Do Leaders Really Matter?

Are individual leaders truly responsible for the end result, or do they just happen to be there—for better or worse? asks Gautam Mukunda in Indispensible. To be sure, Lincoln and Churchill have mattered, but does every leader matter?

Of course, every leader matters to someone. But here Mukunda is talking about leaders who matter on a larger scale—those that matter to all of us. What would have happened if someone else had filled the same role. “Leader impact can best be thought of as the marginal difference between what actually happened and what would have happened if the most likely alternative leader had come to power….Will he or she make significantly different choices than the other plausible candidates.”

It gets down to how we choose our leaders and how we advance people through an organization. This process, Mukunda calls the Leader Filtration Process (LFP). A given LFP will filter candidates through a process designed to find those who conform to a specific value system—a Modal or standard leader. Occasionally an Extreme candidate will slip through. Many organizations weed out potential Extremes. The military’s promotion system is an example of a tight filtration process. At the other extreme, entrepreneurship is a very loose process—you become an entrepreneur just by deciding to do it.


A leader that has bypassed an LFP is likely to be an Extreme. Charisma helps leaders bypass filtration. “Family connections, personal wealth, and celebrity, for example, all smooth the path to power without subjecting candidates to the risk of being Filtered out by the LFP.”

Modal leaders can be highly successful under normal conditions. They are good at maintaining the status quo. I would associate management with Modal leaders. Extremes, on the other hand, are all about innovation. “Extreme leaders will be much more likely to change the goals their organization or state is pursuing and to adopt means to achieve those goals that other leaders would not—that’s why they have such marked impact compared with other Modals.”

If you are stuck, an Extreme leader may be just what you need. But while Extremes deviate—and that may be a good thing—they are “far more likely than Modals to have dramatic successes and failures.”

“Filtration is supposed to prevent leaders with undesirable characteristics from gaining power.” This is quite understandable. However, “many of those undesirable traits aren’t purely negative—in the right situation, they can be a huge asset.”

What helps make an Extreme great is when they couple their decisions with humility. “The Extreme leader does what others would not do, even when others advise him or her against it. To make this sort of choice when the stakes are high takes enormous confidence. Sometimes, however, the Extreme’s advisers will be right. When that is true, the great Extreme leader will have the humility to defer to their judgment. It is this almost paradoxical combination of self-confidence and humility that marks the transcendentaly great leader.”

Mukunda’s Leader Filtration Theory has implications as to how and when we choose certain types of leaders to lead us. He recommends that if you are a Filtered leader that you bring a few Extremes into your inner circle.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:11 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Government , Human Resources , Management


The Truth About Becoming a Great Leader

Leading Forum
This is a guest post by Bill McBean, author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows that You Don't. The seven facts he presents are clearly articulated in this very straightforward book. He begins by saying that when it comes to business ownership, “the reality is very different from the dream, even when you are successful.” How true. I know when I first started my business over thirty years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. Here, McBean shares the importance of leadership:

Being a leader sounds like a great thing to be -- and it certainly is. But here is the rub: though the word "leadership" gets tossed around a lot, real, productive leadership is still very uncommon. Now, I'm not quoting any study or research. I'm giving you my opinion based on what I have witnessed over the last four decades of business ownership.

What is needed in order to be a good leader? I think it begins with two macro concepts. First, a leader has to have the ability to visualize what success looks like; meaning that leaders must be able to define their organization's success destination, describe what the organization will look like when it gets there, and determine how long it will take to achieve those goals. Secondly, leaders have to have the ability to understand where their organization's weaknesses and strengths are, and then they must have the character and courage to move the organization from where it is today to where they want it to be tomorrow -- the destination.

The keywords in this macro description are "visualization," "character," and "courage," because in my mind the key step in becoming a great leader is understanding where you're going. And then, you have to have the character and courage to inspire others to follow you down that path to success.

Sure, leadership can be more complicated than this. But in my mind, before you dive into the many nuances of leadership, the first step in becoming a good leader is taking the time to define what leadership means for you. But your definition has to be based on the two macro concepts of defining your success destination and developing the character qualities that encourage others to follow your lead.

The point is, leadership begins with your definition of what leadership means to you. Without knowing that, you will never develop a clear understanding of what leadership is, or of what you have to do to become a great leader. Or said another way, you will never be the leader you could be, meaning you will never reach your personal potential. And as a result, the organization you're leading, whether it's your own business or someone else's, will never move to the next level.

In my book, The Facts of Business Life, I describe seven facts, or business basics, that business owners have to understand in order to be successful. What's important to note about the seven facts is that they are sequential in nature. In other words, to improve your organization, you start with Fact One, and the better you know and implement Fact One, the more effective Fact Two will be, and so on. And Fact One, "If you don't lead, no one will follow," is all about leadership because I believe leadership is a vital ingredient to the success of any organization. Without leadership, a business goes nowhere because business basics like management, creating processes, demanding accountability, planning, and marketing, which are covered in other Facts in the book, never even come into play.

In other words, I think leadership is the first step toward owning and operating a successful business. It's the foundation on which the rest of the business disciplines rely. Before there can be effective management and controls, an organization will have to have the leader's courage and vision to enforce the disciplines, put power and accountability behind objectives and goals, reward those who succeed and replace those who don't, and so on.

Without effective leadership, there is just chaos because there is little team work, little consistency, little employee pride, and little customer loyalty. Every day is just another day, without purpose or direction. Your organization will operate just like many other unfortunate businesses that open their doors and close them shortly thereafter with little fanfare and few people missing them.

There is an old saying that a "skunk stinks from the head down." It's true for skunks, and it's true for leadership. The strength of an organization comes from the top, its leadership, and the number of leaders who can be developed within the organization. Many business owners know this. But what most don't know is how to become great leaders, and how to develop them.

Where do you begin? You emulate great leaders, and every great leader began by taking one important first step: defining what leadership means to them. Once you know what kind of leader you want to be you can begin developing the skills needed and the courage to test yourself in front of others.

Are you that person?

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Bill McBean is the author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don't. McBean has spent most of his nearly forty years as a successful business owner in the automobile industry where, among many other achievements, he purchased several underperforming dealerships and turned them into a successful business enterprise with yearly sales of more than $160 million. Since selling the company to the world's largest automotive retailer, AutoNation, McBean has been involved in several new businesses, including McBean Partners, an investment and business mentoring company, and Net Claims Now, which provides administrative services and support to the restoration industry. For more information go to FactsOfBusinessLife.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:05 PM
| Comments (0) | Leading Views


The Character Based Leader

Charisma: helpful
Competence: important
Character: Priceless

The greatest threat to any leader comes not from without, but from within. It is who we are, more than anything else, that will derail us. The traits we so value in great leaders is a matter of character. And it is through this character that our leadership is manifested. It creates the space in which we lead.

Good leadership rests upon good character.

It’s not by chance then that Mike Henry Sr., founder of the Lead Change Group, has gathered together twenty leadership experts to write The Character Based Leader about the importance of and the need for character and the challenge of leading from it.

They hope, through the pages of this book, to inspire leaders to look inside themselves so that they might lead beyond themselves in the service of others. They define character-based leadership as leading from who you are rather than from power or position.

These twenty-one dedicated experts—Tara Alemany, Chad Balthrop, Meghan M. Biro, S. Max Brown, Page Cole, Heather Coleman – Voss, Deborah Costello, Monica Diaz, Sonia DiMaulo, Georgia Feiste, Chery Gegelman, Christina Haxton, Mike Henry Sr., Will Lukang, Susan Mazza, Jennifer Miller, Jane Perdue, Lisa Petrilli, Dan Rockwell, Mary Schaefer, and Dan Shapiro—cover topics such as humility, communication, service, passion, discipline, trust, leading from our strengths, the power of character, and how we demonstrate good character every day.

The Character Based Leader is both instructional and inspirational. It’s a good book to read chapter by chapter and reflect on the implications in your own life. The message is on-target and the best place to begin any leadership development program. It’s a call to make the choice to develop yourself so that you can lead with greater influence for the benefit of others.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:33 PM
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First Look: Leadership Books for December 2012

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

  The Art of Deliberate Success: Transform Your Professional and Personal Life by David Keane
  Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage by Kevin Robson
  To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
  It's All About Who You Hire, How They Lead...and Other Essential Advice from a Self-Made Leader by Morton Mandel with John A. Byrne
  The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

Deliberate Success Service-Ability To Sell Is Human Who You Hire Icarus Deception

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“When you sell a man a book you don't sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.”
— Christopher Morley

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:49 PM
| Comments (0) | Books




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