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LeadershipNow 140: February 2014 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from February 2014 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:54 PM
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The 7 Lenses of Ethical Leadership


UR UNDERSTANDING of "ethical leadership" has not been clear enough to guide us through today’s complex ethical choices. We know from recent widespread ethical lapses in the business world that some leaders do not fully consider what will happen to others when they take actions that profit them and their businesses. Without a shared definition of ethical responsibility, people make decisions based on their own varying "ethics."
I believe that our current understanding of "ethical leadership" does not clearly describe the complexity and ethical implications of leader behaviors, and that there is an emerging clearer, bigger picture that will.

A Continuum of Perspectives

One of the reasons that it's so difficult to learn how to lead ethically is because we are not all using the same definition of our ultimate destination. To one leader, leading ethically means carefully protecting the environment. To another, it simply means responsible profitability. To a third, it means fair labor and responsible people management practices. To a fourth, it means serving the long-term greater good.

I believe that the bigger picture of ethical leadership incorporates all of these many perspectives that seem to be at odds with each other. In our global society "ethical leadership" is actually a continuum of different perspectives. Understanding "ethical leadership" as a continuum of perspectives helps us understand our choices in a broader context.
The way we define "leading ethically" needs to be broad enough, complex enough and multi-dimensional enough to help us talk about today's difficult choices intelligently.
Talking about these differing perspectives as part of the whole, and not competing perspectives moves the conversation forward.

A Multidimensional Framework

In 7 Lenses, I describe a clear multidimensional framework for ethical leadership that incorporates seven different perspectives on what it means to lead ethically in a global society. This framework honors organizational complexity and guides leaders through the challenge of honoring multiple stakeholders when making decisions.

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

Only by considering all seven of these lenses do we get the full picture of our ethical leadership responsibility in a connected global society.
Starting with the Profit Lens, each lens we add to our perspective gives us a new sense of clarity about what ethical responsibility means.
Why is this ongoing learning journey so important for successful leadership? Besides responding to our moral responsibilities, proactive ethical leadership drives important business metrics and provides a competitive advantage. Forward-thinking leaders will use 7 Lenses as a learning guide on their journey to ethical leadership, and along the way, they will enjoy the many business benefits that result from bringing out the very best in their people and organizations.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Linda Fisher Thornton. She is CEO of Leading in Context LLC and one of the 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is the author of 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership. Her website is LeadinginContext.com

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Do Ethics Really Make You a Better Leader 4 Reasons We Struggle with Ethics

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:24 PM
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Culture Counts

Leading Forum
Corporate America has had no shortage of heroes: Kellogg, Hewlett, Disney, Packard, Kroc, Watson, Ash and Iacocca. These leaders come to mind as examples of lions that have emblazoned their names as corporate giants. But far more important than heroic reputations are the values these captains of industry personified and instilled within their organizations.

When reading the news these days, I sometimes wonder if we have completely forgotten the tenets these titans used to shape American industry. While it is true that history can both illuminate and obfuscate, we would do well to remember the past in the case of these great examples.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of spending a summer at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago as a PhRMA Fellow. There I observed a wide array of Abbott executives, scientists and managers. I was struck not only by their disciplined approach but also by their freedom to discover, develop and design within broad operating parameters—conditions I did not typically associate with large, for-profit corporations. It was there that I first became fascinated with the question “what makes a successful organization.”

As a manager “on loan” to Abbott from the University of Michigan, I quickly found similarities between the two organizations. While it may be better known to some for its legendary football, winged helmets and “Hail to the Victors” fight song, Michigan, much like Abbott Laboratories, is one of the world’s premier research institutions where scientific rigor, intellectual freedom and disciplined scholarship thrive in a lively, entrepreneurial and decentralized university environment. I realized then that the same core principles could apply regardless of industry.

Perhaps the most crucial linking pin connecting great leaders and their vision is the personal value system they demonstrate and teach to others which becomes ingrained in the fabric of the firm, the so-called “corporate culture.” Today’s best leaders realize that a strong corporate culture is the glue which unites people and provides them with a raison d’ etre that’s bigger than any product or service. Profit is necessary, but it shouldn’t be the paramount goal. Results from a seven-year study conducted by the Workplace Research Foundation and University of Michigan investigator Palmer Morrel-Samuels, as reported recently in Forbes, confirmed that, as employee morale improves, a firm’s stock price enjoys higher returns.

Undeniably, today’s global marketplace is a far cry from the insular corporate environment of the past. Perhaps two of the biggest barriers today to establishing and perpetuating an enduring corporate culture are:
  • excessive CEO and executive compensation packages, reflective of greed and a short-term mindset; and
  • a workforce comprised of increasing numbers of younger employees who do not often remain at a company for more than a few years.
When a widening gulf in salaries and benefits between the top and bottom ranks of an organization exceeds acceptable bounds, employees are less likely to feel a need to work harder, let alone possess the sense of loyalty, responsibility and trust needed to help solve a company’s most pressing challenges. They will often point to the C-suite where executive perks and bonuses are out of control and say “Let them solve it!” As companies have had to cut costs to survive and, as result, expect remaining employees to pick up the slack, the disparity in compensation has become a battle cry across the business landscape that is now reverberating in the halls of Congress.

The younger workforce presents challenges as well. This generation is far less enamored by traditional organizations and is more independent than any that came before. They can pose major challenges for today’s managers, especially if those managers are part of a different generation. New forms of stimulus and incentives should be created to appeal to these technologically savvy, bright and environmentally conscious young minds. Presenting more stimulating assignments, frequent two-way dialogue and company-supported affinity groups can help achieve this.

The values of many former great leaders were forged by the experiences of the Great Depression, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and humble beginnings. They understood the impact that a strong, adaptive corporate culture has on organizational performance, the true mark of leadership.

They treated workers as their greatest asset, investing in and motivating them. They understood that the purpose of business was to serve the customer. They expected high standards for employee behavior which they themselves modeled and reinforced.

Perhaps if today’s business leaders took a page from history, their companies would achieve the success created by the enlightened leadership of past corporate giants. And that would be a good thing.

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Ritch K. Eich, Ph.D. (Michigan), is president of Eich Associated, a marketing and public relations consulting firm. He is the author of numerous publications in the field of leadership, organizational behavior and management. He is the former Chief of News and Public Affairs at Stanford University Medical Center and is the author of Real Leaders Don’t Boss (Career Press, 2012) and Leadership Requires Extra Innings (with Second City Publishing Services, 2013).

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:32 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business


The Problem of More: Scaling Up Excellence

Scaling Up Excellence

HOW DO YOU scale up excellence? How do you spread constructive beliefs and behavior from the few to the many?

Scaling Up
Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao tackle these questions in Scaling Up Excellence. What they found is that it simply isn’t a matter of just running up the numbers by replicating the same old magic again and again. In fact, they write, “Scaling well hinges on making the right trade-offs between mandating that new people and places become perfect clones of some original model versus encouraging local variation, experimentation, and customization. Something they refer to as the Catholic approach versus the Buddhist approach.

Scaling up can be is messy because it is unpredictable. It’s never clean and well-run. But the best leaders revel in these inevitable moments and months of messiness.

The process requires the mindset of a marathon. It’s like building a bridge as you walk on it. It requires faith and perseverance.
Scaling is akin to running a long race where you don’t know the right path, often what seems like the right path turns out to be the wrong one, and you don’t know how long the race will last, where or how it will end, or where the finish line is located….[And yet] plenty of people and teams find ways to master this mess, take satisfaction in their daily accomplishments, and take pride in spreading constructive beliefs and behaviors far and wide.
The book is centered on seven mantras of scaling up excellence. They serve as signals as to whether your scaling is going well or badly. Here are the mantras and how Sutton and Rao define them:

Spread a Mindset, Not Just a Footprint
Scaling unfolds with less friction and more consistency when the people propelling it agree on what is right and wrong—and on what to pay attention to and what to ignore. It requires relentless vigilance. It requires stating the beliefs and living the behavior, and then do so again and again. Key point: When people get smug, operate on autopilot, take shortcuts, and chose the path of least resistance too often, they lose sight of the essence of their excellence. In their lust to run up the numbers and plaster their logo on as many people, places, and things as possible, the temptation to accept mediocrity—or worse—often proves irresistible.

Engage All the Senses
Mindsets are spread and sustained by subtle cues that activate all the senses. Our beliefs and behaviors are bolstered—and undermined—by the colors and kinds of images we see, the sounds we hear, the smells we encounter, the things we taste, and the objects we touch. We are influenced by the voice tone and facial expressions that accompany the words people say, whether they look us in the eye, their posture, and many more seemingly inconsequential and irrelevant cues in the world around us.

Link Short-Term Realities to Long-Term Dreams
Make sure that short-term stuff gets done and done well, while simultaneously never losing sight of the big picture. Scaling requires the wherewithal to hound yourself and others with questions about what it takes to link to the never-ending now—the perpetual present tense that every person is trapped in—to the sweet dreams you hope to realize later. “Let’s not decide based on what is best now, let’s decide based on what will be best in two or three years.”

Accelerate Accountability
The trick—and it is a difficult trick—is to design a system where this tug of responsibility is constant, strong, and embraced by everyone, and where slackers, energy sucker, and selfish soloists have no place to hide.

Fear the Clusterfug
When scaling goes bad, three elements are usually present: Illusion, Impatience, and Incompetence. Decision makers think this is going to be far easier than the facts warrant; they are quick to rush the rollout thinking that when they are ready everyone is ready; and they frankly don’t know what they are doing. A related hallmark is that decision-makers don’t recognize when they are on the verge of subjecting victims (and themselves) to overwhelming mental load, distress, and turmoil.

Scaling Requires Both Addition and Subtraction
Strategic subtraction clears the way for people to focus on doing the right things. As organizations grow larger and older, as the footprint of a program expands, and as the consequences of past actions accumulate, once useful but now unnecessary role, rules, rituals, red tape, products, and services build up like barnacles on a ship; to make way for excellence to spread, these sources of unnecessary friction must be removed. Scaling isn’t just a problem of more, it’s a problem of less too.

Slow Down to Scale Faster—and Better—Down the Road
Mastering “the black art of scaling a human organization” requires learning when and how to shift gears from fast to slow ways of thinking.

A few other thoughts to consider when considering a scaling an idea or initiative is to conduct a premortem. Ask participants to imagine that it is a year from now. What success or failure has occurred? Was it a good idea? Are we happy living in the world we’ve built? “Looking back from the future helps people bridge short-term and long-term thinking—a hallmark of successful scaling.”

While excitement may be there in the beginning, it will soon wear off if steps are not taken to live it. “Although creating enthusiasm and spreading awareness about new beliefs, behaviors, and initiatives are useful first steps for mobilizing a mindset, they aren’t enough. People have to live it or it won’t stick.

Along the way, you need to continue to evaluate your beliefs and mindsets. “You should never stop asking whether the time is ripe to cast them aside.” As part of this approach, it is important to remember that “although more roles and processes are needed as organizations and projects expand, skilled leaders wield their power to eliminate needless friction and complexity—not burden employees with ‘rules, tools and fools’ that make it tougher to do their jobs and waste money and talent.”

While scaling is often thought of in terms of growing a company, it is also about spreading an idea. Scaling Up Excellence is an excellent guide on both counts.

As we grow, how do I build on what worked without being undone by my own success? Scaling Up Excellence deals with the issues of spreading ideas and duplicating success that every leader faces. Sutton and Rao offer valuable insights for your consideration.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:48 PM
| Comments (0) | Change


First Look: Leadership Books for February 2014

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

  Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao
  Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything by Tim Irwin
  The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle
  The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers by Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman and Rahaf Harfoush
  Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability by Faisal Hoque with Drake Baer

Scaling Up Excellence Impact Up Side of Down Space to Lead Everything Connects

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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“Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
— C.S. Lewis

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:08 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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