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05.31.13

LeadershipNow 140: May 2013 Compilation

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twitter Here are a selection of tweets from May 2013 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:41 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

05.23.13

5 Leadership Lessons: The Manager and the Monk

5 Leadership Lessons
The Manager and the Monk is one of those books that comes along every now and again, that will shape and inspire your thinking. It is a deeply philosophical book with very practical applications. The book is essentially a conversation between Jochen Zeitz (@JochenZeitz), the former Chairman and CEO of Puma, and Father Anselm Grün, the financial manager of the Münsterschwarzach Abby near Würzburg, Germany. Zeitz is also co-founder and co-chair with Sir Richard Branson of The B Team.

Together Zeitz and Grün discuss important topics like success, culture, values, acting ethically, the environment, commerce, sustainability, strengths and weaknesses and awareness.

The book reflects their concern to think beyond the immediate concerns of business to how decisions could affect other people and the environment around them. "We should always be aware of the effects of our decisions." In the moment, it is often hard to remember that principle. Here are several thoughts from the book:

Manager and the Monk
1  On Leadership: Even in monasteries, one has the illusion that small communities need no authority and that they can lead themselves. But that's a mistake because where there is no clear structure, informal power structures will develop on their own. Then the most assertive Brother will assume leadership, but if his power is not clearly established, he will only exercise it when doing so benefits him. When he is supposed to assume responsibility for the community, however, he will refuse and draw back so that he has no official leadership role. Such unclear power structures are not good for either the community or a firm.

2  On Culture: Regarding culture, in my opinion, the most important leadership goals include integration, an open exchange of ideas, building confidence, and striving for greater equality. A leadership culture also has to be fun, and it must promote meaningfulness and innovation, regardless of how close to the wind you may sail sometimes.

3  On Hope: No one can lead a company or corporate group without having hope. Hope is something different from expectation, because the expectation I have for a person or a company can be disappointed. Hoping, on the other hand, means: "I am hoping for you and about you." Hope can never be disappointed, because I will not give up hope that another person will be able to change himself.

4  On Acting Ethically: They think that I can solve all problems, that I have always been kindhearted and understanding in dealing with others, and that I am always in harmony with myself. I realize that I must protect myself against such projections, for they are not good for me. They idealize me. If I were to identify myself with these projections, I would become blind to my weaknesses and would come to a standstill.

5  On Responsibility: Supervision limits the responsibility of every individual, but as human beings we cannot entirely do without it. Every person can and must have freedom in his work as in his life as a whole, in order to be able to assume responsibility. Every individual needs responsibility, for without it he loses interest and joy in his activities. We say that a person "takes on" responsibility. When we have the feeling that we can assume still more responsibility, then in my opinion we will find the means and ways to do this.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:01 PM
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05.21.13

Change with Confidence

Change
Change with Confidence by Phil Buckley is a great handbook for working through a big change project. The book is organized around 50 critical and practical questions change leaders ask.

The examples provided throughout the book mostly reflect his experience as co-lead in the global integration of Kraft and Cadbury. I think that this is some of the hardest change to lead because you are not just merging systems and processes but different organizational cultures. He reflects on the critical issues and the analysis is quite helpful.

Buckley's approach is people-centered and emphasizes the responsibility of change and organizational leaders. Not surprisingly, the first question considered is "What do I bring to the project?" Knowing the answer helps you bring confidence and resolve to the change project.

Buckley writes:
Many change leaders don't realize that the people who must adopt the changes are the ones who control the long-term success of the project, and if they don't take on new ways of working (and stick with them), the project will ultimately fail and most benefits will be lost. Therefore, the best strategy for ensuring success is to work with people and make sure they have everything they need—including respect, encouragement, information, tools, and the opportunity to shape the change to fit their environment.

If leaders don't change first, the people actually being asked to do the heavy lifting won't either. I have seen change leaders attempt to force changes through fear and threats. This might work in the short run but always fails over time. A forced change loses steam as soon as the pressure is removed.
Importantly, Buckley also deals with questions such as, "How do I manage my day job, change project and life?" Not only will change projects test you as a leader in both your abilities and self control, they will eat up as much time as you give it. "A reasonable life balance will help you stay focused on all of your priorities."

This book can help any change project from beginning to end and help you grow as a leader in the process.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:50 PM
| Comments (0) | Change

05.13.13

The First Step in Self-Awareness Isn’t You - Redux

Human beings—and that includes most leaders—are relational.

Self-leadership is fundamental to good leadership, but it is not the end-game.

Self-awareness for self-awareness sake has a limited value.

Through introspection and reflection we can get to know a great deal about ourselves—as far as we know. The problem is that we don't know what we don't know. Only when we are able to test our assumptions about ourselves, can we know if we are getting it right. It is when we see ourselves in relation to others and in relation to a higher purpose that we really begin to clarify (and many times even identify) our core values, beliefs and intentions. We can all know who we think we are, but it isn't until we get out and interact with others that we can begin to see where we are right and where we have been fooling ourselves.

Who we are takes on meaning when it is in the context of our relationship with others. Superman's stance on "truth, justice and the American Way" is pointless if he remains isolated in his Fortress of Solitude. His values only have meaning in relationship to other people. All the self-knowledge in the world counts for very little if it is not put to work in the service of others.

Self-awareness that points to your unique contribution in the world is leadership. Who you are is leveraged when it is placed in the service of other people. Surely we must lead with integrity—in a manner consistent with who we are. However, the only way to know if we are really doing that is by looking at how we impact the lives of others—how our leadership is experienced by others.

Self-awareness provides the opportunity for us to close the gap between who we think we are or want to be and who we actually are at a particular point in time. But that can only be achieved with feedback of some kind. I want to share a lengthy story provided by Scott Weiss in his great book DARE, to illustrate this point. It's a book about trust in leadership and the trust that is generated by knowing who you are and leading as that person.
At thirty-five, I was already an executive vice president with Turner Broadcasting, overseeing two divisions and reporting directly to the second most senior executive who soon would be named the company's CEO. I believed that I was very much at the top of my game, already delivering a lot of high-level presentations, and getting consistent positive feedback. I was more than a little offended by the suggestion that I needed any help at all with my communication skills. But I went.

In Atlanta, I participated in Speakeasy's exclusive, invitation-only workshop for C-suite executives. Called "The Leader's Edge," this intense three-day workshop focused on communication style and delivery with respect to leadership. In spite of my initial resistance, I did my best to participate without revealing my conviction that I felt superior to this target audience that needed help with communication and presentation skills. I wasn't the least bit nervous when it came time to watch the video recordings of our individual presentations. I was sure I'd done just fine.

With the others in our group, I watched as the executive persona of Scott Weiss delivered his speech from the screen. The guy up there looked pretty good. Very sure of himself. Very corporate. Very buttoned up. I expected to be told, as I always had been before, that I was a very effective presenter. But after a moment, Sandy Linver, the faculty leader who had directed our session turned to ask me a question.

"So," she said, "as you look at yourself, objectively, how do you perceive this person?"

"Fine," I said. "He seems knowledgeable. Experienced. Very confident."

"Hmm," she said. "That's interesting. If you could separate yourself from this person and experience him objectively, would you want to hang out with a person like that on the weekend?"

It was a strange question. But I looked at that person frozen on the TV monitor and thought about it. Reluctantly, I had to tell the truth.

"No," I said. "Probably not."

"Really?" she asked. "And why not?"

"Well," I said, "because I don't hang out with people like that."

I'm not sure whether there was a collective gasp from the audience or just a stunned silence, but what she said next definitely stunned me.

"You know, don't you, that you're talking about yourself?"

Yes. I was. I had just admitted that the person I was projecting was not someone to whom I could relate. He wasn't even someone I really liked!

And apparently, I wasn't the only one to be put off by Scott Weiss's executive persona. In our remaining time together, other members of the audience began to offer more specific impressions of how they had experienced me as a communicator, and as a person.

Arrogant.
Cocky.
Superior.
Disconnected.
Not real.


Those were just some of the terms they used. I had never heard myself described this way before. I felt like the emperor with no clothes.

I had not gone to Speakeasy for a consciousness-raising experience. But I sure had one. In the weeks following that close and uncomfortable encounter with my own executive persona, I did a lot of thinking. I examined what I had learned about how others actually did experience me, and thought about how I wanted people to experience me. There was a gaping abyss between those two extremes, and I realized that I had a lot of work to do to bring them closer together—to become more congruent as an individual and as a leader. I needed to find my authentic self and learn how to bring more of my real personality to my vocation.
I appreciate Scott Weiss sharing this story, for it's not just a process all growth oriented leaders must go through, but a process we must seek out continuously.

Feedback is a process that, if we allow it, will keep us honest with ourselves. We see things as we are; and we see ourselves through our intentions. Feedback gives us a reality check that we are free to accept or reject, but without it we have no way to combat our own self-deception.

We must be able to experience ourselves in relation to other people if we are to have a genuine understanding of who we are and why we do what we do.

So the place to begin if we truly want to know ourselves is to reflect on the impact that we have on others. Only then can we lead authentically knowing that our inner being is congruent with our outer behavior.
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Of Related Interest:
  The First Step in Self-Awareness Isn’t You

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:09 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

05.10.13

The First Step in Self-Awareness Isn’t You

Ironically, the more self absorbed we are, the less self-aware we are.

Self-awareness is vital to the development of a leader. But it's not navel-gazing. It is not an inward focus. It is an outward focus. Its ultimate goal is to improve our connection and effectiveness with others.

The self absorbed leader struggles with self-awareness and emotional intelligence because self-awareness is about how we are perceived by others. It's about understanding how our behaviors are affecting other people. And we just can't do that by focusing on ourselves.

It is easy for us to focus on ourselves—to think people just don't understand us. And when we do, we tend to rationalize rather than grow. Explain rather than listen. Disconnect rather than lead.

Self important leaders can't see how they are sabotaging themselves because they focus on their needs and feelings and not those of their followers. Consequently, they don't encourage feedback because it never seems relevant to them. An inward focus dooms us to operate from a place of weakness—never able to see what is holding us back.

It is in the character of great leaders to have a great appetite for feedback. It's a gift and still the best way to gain an awareness of ourselves. You might think of it as a personal scorecard.

To see where we need to grow, we need to see how we affect other people. Only then can we begin the introspection that will lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and learn to move past unproductive thinking and develop new behaviors.

More: The First Step in Self-Awareness Isn’t You - Redux

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Of Related Interest:
  12 Keys to Greater Self-Awareness
  Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:52 PM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1) | Personal Development

05.08.13

How to Make Your Ideas Contagious

Marketing
As leaders we need to understand how to make our ideas catch on. This is most effectively done through word of mouth and social influence. It's more persuasive than advertising and is more targeted to an interested audience.

Jonah Berger shares the science behind word of mouth in Contagious and even teaches a class at The Wharton School by the same name.

Interestingly, most people think that most word of mouth happens online. But research finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online. "Offline discussions are more prevalent, and potentially even more impactful, than online ones.

Berger presents many examples of contagious ideas that seem clever in hindsight. And we can learn from these. From these examples and his own research, he has assembled six principles or STEPPS for making products, ideas, and behaviors more likely to become popular:

Social Currency: We share things that make us look good. Find the inner remarkablility that makes people feel like insiders. Give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others.

Triggers: How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas? People talk about what comes to mind. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue. There is immediate and ongoing word of mouth. Movies benefit from immediate word of mouth, but many ideas and initiatives benefit from ongoing word of mouth. What keeps people talking? Triggers. Think context. Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience. "A strong trigger can be much more effective than a catchy slogan."

Emotion: When we care, we share. Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Not all emotions are equal. Awe is good. Sad is not. High-arousal emotions—awe, funny, anger, anxiety—are shared more than low-arousal emotions like contentment and sadness.

Public: Built to show, built to grow. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate; products and ideas that advertise themselves.

Practical Value: Products and ideas we can use. Highlight the value and package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.

Stories: People don't just share information, they tell stories. Information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter. Embed your products and ideas in stories that people want to tell.

The more of these principles you use the better, but not all are required to make your idea contagious.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:49 PM
| Comments (0) | Marketing , Motivation

05.07.13

11 Ground Rules that Leaders Ought to Know

Leadership
Phillip Van Hooser has condensed his leadership experience down to 11 ground rules that Leaders Ought to Know.

Van Hooser begins with the fact that leaders are made: Leadership is a choice, reinforced by individual effort. In his earlier days, he was moved by a comment that Deming wrote in Out of the Crisis:
Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.
His choice to be a leader has proven to be his most important professional decision. And it could be yours too. But as Deming noted it takes deliberate work and is not a quick transformation. It is the choice to make the effort that makes a leader.

The choice can be made by anyone anywhere because leadership is not a title. It is, as he states in ground rule 2, the ability to offer service and the willingness to take action—especially on those things we already know we should be doing, but aren't.

He continues with ground rules on earning respect, integrity, motivation, preventive leadership, courage, leadership pitfalls, and some good commonsense.

Ground Rule 3: Leaders cannot function in a vacuum; Leadership requires willing and able followers.
Ground Rule 4: Leaders don't plan to be disrespected; Leaders practice universal principles than earn respect.
Ground Rule 5: Leaders don't play loose with the truth; Leaders lead from a position of unquestioned honesty.
Ground Rule 6: Leaders don't motivate followers; Leaders search for the wants and needs that motivate followers.
Ground Rule 7: Leaders can't predict followers' behavior; Leaders need to know why people do what they do.
Ground Rule 8: Leaders don't overreact to problems; Leaders prevent problems before they materialize.
Ground Rule 9: Leaders aren't fearless; Leaders face their fears courageously.
Ground Rule 10: Leaders' wounds shouldn't be self-inflicted; Leaders flourish when serious errors of judgment are avoided.
Ground Rule 11: Leaders don't always need to plow new ground; Leaders can watch, listen, and learn from the success of others.

Van Hooser on keeping your distance: You can be a supervisor or manager without getting close to your followers; however, you cannot be a leader unless you get close to your followers.

Van Hooser was given this advice on parenting: "You may not always be able to predict what your child will do, or say, or think. But you're the father; your child must always be able to predict with certainty what you will do, or say, or think. That way, he can adapt and adjust his behavior to yours." He relates it to leadership: A leader's consistency provides a predictive foundation from which followers can begin to think, decide, and act. If a leader does not establish that foundation, he or she—albeit unintentionally—creates confusion, uncertainty, and potentially chaos in the followers' minds.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:21 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development

05.03.13

How to Make Better Decisions

"Why do we have such a hard time making good choices?" ask Chip and Dan Heath in Decisive.

"A remarkable aspect of your mental life," says Daniel Kahneman, "is that you are rarely stumped." We have opinions about nearly everything and are quick to jump to conclusions based only on the information that is right in front of us. We often just go with our gut. And that hasn't always served us well.

Bad Decision
• An estimated 61,535 tattoos were reversed in the United States in 2009.

• Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce.

• Forty-four percent of lawyers would not recommend a career in law to young people.

• Eighty-three percent of corporate mergers and acquisitions fail to create any value for shareholders.

The Heath brothers have identified “four villains” when it comes to making decisions:
  1. Narrow Framing. We tend to define our choices too narrowly and see them in binary terms. We miss other options.

  2. Confirmation Bias. We develop a quick belief about a situation and then seek out information that confirms our belief. When we want something to be true, we look for reasons to justify it.

  3. Short-Term Emotion. Our emotions paralyze our decisions. We think we're working it out, when all we have really done is kick up "so much dust that we can't see the way forward."

  4. Overconfidence. We think we know more than we actually do. The problem is that we don't know what we don't know. "The future has an uncanny ability to surprise. We can't shine a spotlight on areas when we don't know they exist."

What can we do? We can counteract our tendencies with these four strategies the authors call the WRAP Process from the first letter of each step:
  1. Widen Our Options. As it turns out, most of the "decisions" we make do not involve any real choice. They are whether-or-not, yes-no decisions. We do not even consider other choices. Like a teenager, we "get stuck thinking about questions like 'Should I go to the party or not?' The party is in their mental spotlight, assessed in isolation, while the other options go unexplored. A more enlightened teen might let the spotlight roam: 'Should I go to the party all night, or go to the movies with a few friends, or attend the basketball game and then drop by the party for a few minutes?'"

    We would benefit by even adding one more option to our "decision." Consider opportunity costs. ("If I do this, then I can't do that?") Or the Vanishing Options Test: If you cannot choose any of the current options you're considering, what else could you do? And consider asking others who have "been there done that."

  2. Reality-Test Our Assumptions. Encourage constructive disagreement. Consider the opposite. Consider the "outside view"—the averages. If possible, run small experiments to test our theories.

  3. Attain Distance Before Deciding. Try the 10/10/10 analysis: How will you feel about your decision 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months? How about 10 years? Also, identify and stick to your core priorities. Perhaps the most powerful question for resolving a personal decisions is, "What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?"

  4. Prepare to Be Wrong. We have to stretch our sense of what the future will bring—both good and bad. Think about the extremes. The future is not a "point"—a single scenario that we must predict. It's a range. Set a tripwire: "We will act when…" a predetermined set point occurs.
Making better decisions is a choice. This process will help us to make better choices.

Quote 
Leadership
As you might expect from the Heath brothers, Decisive is both informative and fun and well worth the investment. It would be a great book to get your teens to read as well. There will always be bad decisions, but with the four-step process we can improve our odds and have greater peace of mind. "You can quit asking, 'What am I missing?' You can stop the cycle of agonizing."

(By the way, if you ever get a chance to see Chip (and Dan) Heath live, do it. The presentation is very well done.)

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:09 AM
| Comments (0) | Management , Personal Development , Thinking

05.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2013

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

  Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green
  What You're Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan
  Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks by Barbara Trautlein
  The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decision in Business (and What Happens When They Don't) by Chatham Sullivan
  The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think by Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed

Ten Virtues What You're Really Meant to Do Change Intelligence The Clarity Principle The Three Rules

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“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
— Confucius


Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:01 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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