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LeadershipNow 140: September 2018 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from September 2018 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:25 AM
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What Happens Now? A Look at 7 Reasons Leaders Stall

What Happens Now


HE ABILITY TO REINVENT YOURSELF is core to your success as a leader. The ground is shifting under your feet. The only way to stay relevant and therefore effective is to invest in building your skills as a leader.

As you take on more responsibility, the demands on you as a leader change. If disrupting yourself isn’t part of who you are, you will get left behind. If you are just doubling down on what you’ve always done, you will miss the opportunities. When conditions change, you have to change too.

That’s why John Hillen and Mark Nevins wrote What Happens Now? to help you remain a leader. “If we are to generalize, we can say that you advance as a leader, the technical and tactical skill you need—distribution expertise, for example—pale in comparison to the strategic and interpersonal.”

Complexity Skills and Sophistication Skills

They divide leadership capabilities into two groups: complexity skills and sophistication skills. Complexity skills are often what got you in the door. Complexity skills are those abilities that help you to deal with complexity “in a traditional-management-centered way, such as knowing how to design and implement processes and systems, and having the required technical and functional knowledge.”

Sophistication skills are behavior and mindset related. They are about changing how you do what you do. “How you pull back and understand the bigger realities of the job. How you approach doing the job having done so. How you think and behave so your people eagerly receive your leadership. Getting the how right is the challenge when it comes to sophistication.”

Too often, we don’t look at ourselves when we run into problems. We look around and ask what’s wrong with them. Warren Bennis and James O’Toole wrote, “Most of us wear the concrete shoes of our earlier successes.”

We tend to focus on and fall back on Complexity skills rather than grow and develop our Sophistication skills. Complex challenges are easier to wrap your mind around. You can measure them. Sophistication challenges are not as clear. They can be more painful as they get into more personal aspects of who you are as a person. But distinguishing between the two challenges is critical.

Our leadership stalls when we try to use tools for solving complexity issues when we “need to develop the capabilities to lead in a more sophisticated way.”

Complexity challenges, which often come with growth in scale, can make your job bigger in ways you can’t anticipate. Sophistication challenges, which usually come with change in kind, make the job broader in ways you don’t anticipate. If you’re like most leaders, you’ll display more comfort with complexity and decidedly less comfort with sophistication.

Responding to increased levels of sophistication demands that you do something much harder. You must fundamentally rethink how you spend time, where you focus energy, how you communicate, with whom you develop relationships, and how you look at the big picture to understand when, where, and how to act.

Leadership Skills

As you rise as a leader, sophistication skills take on greater importance. What are the new capabilities on which your leadership success will depend? More importantly, which skills that you value today should you deemphasize—or resist exercising at all? No matter how good your complexity skills are if you fail to access your sophistication skills by regularly challenging yourself as to what and how you do what you do, you risk stalling as a leader.

The authors identify seven inflection points that can trigger a stall in your leadership.

Purpose Stall
When you fail to create an organizational story that delivers meaning and purpose
To escape this stall, you must assess whether you are inspiring people with a meaningful story about the organization’s mission. You then must craft a narrative that carries your people forward on an inspirational, shared, purpose-based quest—a story that can guide their actions when you are not there to give specific direction at every new turn.

Teamwork Stall
When you can’t align your team to deliver high performance as one
You have to assess your effectiveness in aligning your team’s priorities as well as your own critical role in creating a high-performing team. You then utilize time-tested tools to straighten out misalignment and bind people together into a true “A-team.” Become more inclusive and focused on alignment and accountability.

Stakeholder Stall
When you can’t amplify your influence among important stakeholders
To deal with this stall, you begin by assessing who holds power in your universe of internal and external constituencies and how you can engage them to achieve your desired outcomes. In turn, you “lift and shift” your influence to stakeholders you don’t control but who will pave the way for your future success. Develop the ability to persuade and influence rather than control.

Leading Change Stall
When you struggle in your ability to explain and lead change
Determine how readily employees and stakeholders receive and embrace your messages about change, and then offer new behaviors and practices for engaging people, so they grasp, welcome, and act on your initiatives. Combine empathetic understanding with discernment, creativity, and determination.

Authority Stall
When your authority slips in the eyes of followers
Assess your own sources of leadership authority and invest in your own self-development. “Why would anybody want to follow you?” Build behaviors that will inspire people to follow you based on trustworthiness, empathy, breadth, balance, and gravitas.

Focus Stall
When you fail to focus your time and energy to have the most impact
Anticipate this stall by examining how you allocate your time and energy. Learn how to divide your focus among “do,” “manage,” and “lead” tasks and mastering the perennial secret to high-powered leadership—a commitment to delegating. What should you be doing and what should you let others do?

Leadership Development Stall
When you can’t develop your own leaders or prevent them from failing
The most crucial and most often overlooked stall is overcome by assessing your leadership talent and committing to coaching and developing new leaders as your main job. Become a leader of leaders, multiplying your own leadership success through the success of others.

What Happens Now? is a great look at some of the most critical issues in leadership. The authors walk you through each of these stalls to help you overcome or avoid them. Of course, self-awareness is key here—understanding the impact you have on others. Elevate your view and understand where you are and determine where you need to be. They call for a three-part approach: become more aware of what’s changing in your environment, know where you are, and then act deliberately to develop capabilities that will change your behaviors and thinking.

Every stall is an opportunity for growth. When you deal with each stall head-on, “you position yourself to evade the pain and consequences of being caught in future stalls. When you ask yourself, ‘What happens now?’ you’ll be ready to answer: ‘I will look inside, see myself as others see me and as they want and need me to be, and act to remake myself.’ You won’t blame your troubles on your organization or people, or ask, ‘How do I change the institution to overcome these challenges?’ You’ll see yourself as part of the slowdown. And then you’ll be ready to become you own ‘Best Leader Ever.’”

This is not a process of abandoning the complexity skills that got you where you are, but instead adding to and developing “your leadership repertoire with a new set of executive capabilities, mindsets, and behaviors” to help you to overcome the new challenges of sophistication that will come your way.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development


Three Strategies to Encourage Good Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health Kellerer


ET’S FACE IT: emotions are an inescapable element of the human experience.

Unfortunately, for many people, fluctuating feelings can run on overdrive in response to a society overflowing with negativity – think natural disasters, mass shootings, suicides, and even a heated political environment all occurring with disturbing regularity. There are also stressful personal events in our lives that add to the swinging emotional pendulum, like the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job.

According to a recent study, employees suffering from depression cost employers more than $44 billion per year in lost productivity, with over 81 percent of that decreased productivity coming in the form of presenteeism or the practice of going to work despite illness or anxiety and commonly resulting in reduced productivity.

While it’s not uncommon to feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, I believe by recognizing and taking ownership of our sometimes-wavering emotions – especially in the workplace – we can change our course for the better.

By working to shift the residual emotional effects of stressful situations and embracing more positivity, we can strive to achieve enhanced well-being and professional success.

For this strategy to be effective, leaders must start by taking a top-down approach to dealing with mental health in the workplace. By creating and implementing effective mental health programs within their organization, companies can experience greater staff member well-being, boost productivity and contribute to transforming our country’s corporate culture regarding mental health.

Mental Health Defined

Before getting to my tips on how management can get started with this mission, it’s important to review the various definitions of mental health.

At its core, mental health is “the emotional resilience which allows us to enjoy life, create friendships and be productive at our jobs.” This emotional flexibility helps us cope with life’s disappointments and setbacks, such as death, familial conflict or other stressful situations. Protecting our mental health is as essential as protecting our physical well-being.

Stress, anxiety and depression are the most common forms of clinically diagnosed mental health disorders. Fortunately, many of these disorders can be treated with social supports (however, in some cases, some individuals require medical intervention).

On a personal level, it’s no secret that mental ill-health can lead to general unhappiness. As a result, it can impact our lives in the professional world, costing businesses millions of dollars due to absenteeism, high staff turnover, and presenteeism.

As such, today’s business leaders and employers must make it a priority to serve as instruments of change in our current negatively charged, turbulent environment.

So, how can you get started to ensuring that your employees have good mental health in the workplace?

The Domino Effect of Positivity

As an international speaker, mental health expert, and author, I have been fortunate to travel around the globe throughout my career meeting with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs about mental wellness. The consensus among these individuals is that when you focus on taking care of your own emotional health, the resulting positivity has a contagious effect, especially when it comes to relationships between leaders and employees.

Executives at the top of the chain of command must start by looking for any signs of higher than average employee stress, including regular complaining, and anger or reduced (or a boost in) productivity.

While altering attitudes to mental health in the workplace should be a priority, it can be daunting for some leaders to fully understand how they can support a staff member’s well-being.

Here are three strategies to improve how you approach mental health within your organization:

  1. Understand that knowledge is power. Make a point of truly trying to understand the advantages of a mentally healthy work atmosphere. A happier team equates to higher commitment, creativity and productivity. On the other hand, it is also important to realize the risk factors that can trigger poor mental health, such as lack of engagement, non-inclusion in decision-making, excessive workloads and more. There are numerous measures you can take to minimize these risk factors, including awareness of health and safety, greater autonomy, recognition of good work, promoting work-life balance and supporting career development. It is also critical that business leaders are better informed on the current landscape of mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness in our society tends to stem from unfamiliarity. Keep in mind, the great majority of people who struggle with poor mental health can be productive and valued employees when the proper support system is in place.

  2. Take practical steps to help your organization. When developing your initial strategy, tap into the array of tools available to help you create your organization’s policies and procedures. You can access the latest educational and training materials either digitally or in hard copy formats. There are also diagnostic tools, which allow for monitoring employees, that you can download and use, too. Please note that these tools do not replace the need for professional input, but they can serve as tools to help gauge basic general employee mental health.

  3. Let employees know where to go if they need help. If you are facing a deluge of negative emotions amongst your team members, they may feel seeking help is an overwhelming prospect. However, if your company has policies and procedures in place that aim to improve the mental well-being of everyone on staff, there should always be a clear path for employees to engage with and share difficulties confidentially. Remember, as an employer, you are not expected to be a mental health expert – in some situations, a referral may be required. The best outcomes are to resolve an employee’s difficulties and to keep them productive and on staff – usually via early intervention, training and education.

The Bottom Line

When leaders make conscious efforts to embrace positivity – even in turbulent times – we can help our employees experience increased positivity and more success.

The statistics about making such efforts are telling: one recent study by ValueOptions revealed that employees who utilized mental health tools (and met with a mental health provider) reported a decrease in absenteeism, and considerable improvement in both productivity and overall mental health.

As we become increasingly savvier to our society’s mental health needs, it’s in every manager’s best interest to implement a focus on positivity in the workplace. The long-term investment in mental health awareness, education and training will inevitably create returns that outweigh the loss of productivity in the professional world.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Ulrich Kellerer. He is an inspirational business leader, international speaker and mental health activist from Munich, Germany. For over 20 years, Kellerer worked in the European fashion industry as the founder and CEO of the German clothing line, Faro Fashion, which had the distribution rights for the brand CLOSED (the leading European fashion company for women’s and men’s sportswear) in Bavaria – south Germany.

Kellerer is the co-author of The Soul of Success with Jack Canfield and the author of the recently-released title, One Moment Can Change Your Life: Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary People. Today, he dedicates his time to fighting the depression epidemic and promoting mental wellness in the workplace.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:59 AM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources


What Can’t Be Copied?

What Can’t Be Copied


N A WORLD where nearly everything can not only be copied but distributed cheaply—and in some cases for free—what takes on significance and value—what matters—are those things that cannot be copied.

Kevin Kelly highlights a number of things that can’t be manufactured in his book, The Inevitable. They are things that add value to what is a commodity. He begins with trust.

Trust can’t be purchased or reproduced. “You can’t download trust and store it in a database or warehouse it. You can’t simply duplicate someone else’s trust. Rust must be earned, over time.”

People will pay for immediacy. Not just first-in-line but beta versions and prereleases. “Immediacy is a relative term (minutes to months), but it can be found in every product and service.”

You may get the copy free, but you’ll pay for personalization. For example, “A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire for family viewing (no sex, kid safe).” Networked data and AI will play a big part here as “personalization requires an ongoing conversation between creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user.”

There is no replacement for human beings here (and trust). “When a copy of your sequence costs nothing, the interpretation of what it means, what you can do about it, and how to use it—the manual for your genes, so to speak—will be expensive.”

When nearly everything can be copied, you will pay to have an “authenticated” copy.

“Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and, in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, have to carry it along with you.” If you want to own stuff but without the hassle and responsibility of storing it, you will pay to have someone else do it and deliver it when you need it. In many cases to where ever you are.

While intangibles and cloud storage gives you freedom of movement, sometimes you want the real thing. You can stream a live event but it’s nothing like actually being there. Holding a paper book is an experience as is having the author read it to you.

“Deep down, avid audiences and fans want to pay creators. Fans love to reward artists, musicians, authors, actors, and other creators with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect with people they admire.”

People will pay for guidance. “When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention—and most of it free—being found is valuable.” Producers will pay for it and consumers will too. We need help in cutting through the clutter and confusion. We appreciate recommendations based on what we like. In the past, record labels served that purpose even though they overlooked some outstanding artists in the process.

While everything on this list adds value, one item stands out from the rest. And that is trust. The other items on the list should be evaluated as to how they might add differentiation to your offering, but leaders need to focus on championing trust and other character issues as a first line of defense to commoditization. These of course, are the hardest to develop and establish but they are the only differentiators that will stand the test of time—the only ones that can never be copied.

Times change but character never does. Good character is hard to measure but it is easily identified. It has universal value, transcending cultures, gender, and races. Character engenders passion and commitment. It gives weight to everything you do. In short, it endures.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:06 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation


That’s Not How We Do It Here!

That’s Not How We Do It Here


USINESS FABLES are not meant to provide great fiction, but to place lessons in a context that make them easier to relate to. And John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber’s That’s Not How We Do It Here! does just that.

It is the story of Nadia bright and adventurous meerkat who is part of a mature clan with over 150 members. This well-managed clan has done well to date but is now faced with unprecedented problems that challenge their once reliable rules and procedures.

Unable to be heard in her clan, Nadia ventures out to see how other clans are dealing with the changes. She finds partial answers in the approach a smaller, loosely organized clan. Returning to her own clan, she figures out how to combine the best of both worlds—a large, disciplined, well-managed clan and that of a small, informal, inspiring clan.

The story parallels the evolution of organizations of all types as they grow and mature. As illustrated in the chart below, most organizations begin by taking the approach in upper left corner (almost by definition). While a bit chaotic, they are curious, adaptable, and energetic. They are learning.

But once success comes they nearly always move into the upper right quadrant. They begin to cope with their size by cementing in systems, structures and policies, that inadvertently kill speed, agility and innovation. New ideas are often greeted with, “That’s not how we do things around here.” If they persist in this approach, they quickly fall into the lower right corner, becoming complacent, rigid, and slow. The very talent they need to stay relevant and responsive to their changing environment begins to leave. If dramatic change comes their way, they are doomed.

Not How Chart

The answer isn’t to move back to the upper left corner. The answer is to combine the two by changing the way the organization is led.

The authors suggest that leader begin by creating a sense of urgency around a clear opportunity and mission. Add to that a network-like system that spans silos and layers of hierarchy. These become entrepreneurial units that rekindle a sense of curiosity and learning. Contrary to the nature of a mature organization, much of this is dependent on the leadership’s willingness to communicate and embrace and nurture new ideas.

Faced with the environment we are all in, we can no longer comfortably lead the well-managed, calcified organization to its doom.

8 Steps Change

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Kotter on Urgency Our Iceberg is Melting

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:24 AM
| Comments (0) | Change


Smart Business is Business Redefined

Smart Business


N CHINA, near the turn of the century, Singles Day (11/11) was celebrated as a time for single people to meet. In 2009 it was reimagined as an online shopping festival. It is now the biggest shopping event in the world.

In 2016, Alibaba facilitated sales of $15 billion. In 2016, Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw less than 3.5 billion dollars. In 2017, three minutes after the day opened at midnight, $1.5 billion in sales had been transacted. At the peak, Alibaba’s technology platforms processed 325,000 orders and 256,000 payments every second. It’s amazing when you think that VISA’s stated capacity as of August 2017 was 65,000 payments per second globally.

Logistics? “Just twelve minutes after the midnight start, the first package arrived at a customer’s door in Shanghai. Three minutes later, a woman in Ningbo on China’s Pacific coast received the first imported package. Before 9:30 a.m., a hundred million packages had already shipped.”

Singles Day is a technological marvel. But it would be wrong to think of Alibaba as China’s Amazon. To think of it this way “obscures Alibaba’s breakthrough business model and the window it provides on how the economic scene is evolving.” The technology and business model Ming Zeng, the chairman of the Academic Council of the Alibaba Group, describes in Smart Business: What Alibaba’s Success Reveals About the Future of Strategy.

Unlike Amazon, Alibaba is not even a retailer in the traditional sense—we don’t source or keep stock, and logistics services are carried out by third-party service providers. Instead, Alibaba is what you get if you take every function associated with retail and coordinate them online into a sprawling, data-driven network of sellers, marketers, service providers, logistics companies, and manufacturers.

Alibaba’s mandate is to apply cutting-edge technologies—from machine learning to the mobile internet and cloud computing—to revolutionize how business is done.

Zeng summarizes the formula for smart business with this simple equation:

Network Coordination + Data Intelligence = Smart Business

“That simple equation reveals what is behind Alibaba’s success and captures everything you need to know about business in the future. Success is strength in both networks and data.”

In its broadest sense, network coordination is the breaking down of complicated business activity so that groups of people or firms can get it done more effectively.

Impossible for humans, this level of interaction is the essence of network coordination: autonomous coordination with almost unlimited scale and a boundless number of partners over the internet.

Data intelligence is what I call this business capability of effectively iterating products and services according to consumer activity and response.

Under this approach, companies will use network coordination to achieve value, scope, and scale greater than that of their competitors and will deploy data intelligence to make their business smart enough to adjust nimbly to changes in the outside environment and the minds of consumers.

Smart business then, is when all participants involved in achieving a common goal are coordinated in an online network and use machine-learning technology to efficiently leverage data in real-time to generate relevant responses.

A case in point:

25-year-old Zhang Linchao is the head of China’s online clothing brand, LIN Edition. Turning her clothing hobby into a business, she turned to Taobao, Alibaba’s Chinese e-commerce platform.

In 2015, she prepared to sell a batch of 15 new clothing items at 3:00 p.m. Ten of thousands so of fans are waiting for the sale to begin having already seen previews of this sale on social media. She expects to sell several thousand items but has only had 1000 pieces in stock—total. At 3:00 p.m. 60,000 users are visiting the store. Within one minute, everyone one of the fifteen clothing items sells out. Now preorders are sold. By 3:45 p.m., she has sold more than 10,000 items with each customer spending an average of $150 per order.

Linchao has created an on-demand business—but at mass production price points. What is remarkable is that she finds her customers on social media, keeps almost no inventory, and owns no factories. Yet the customer has the product in 7 to 10 days. The business model is efficient and responsive. Smart businesses like LIN and many others rely heavily on machine-learning technology to achieve scale and manage complexity. Alibaba uses “technology to coordinate business activity across a nearly unlimited number of interconnected parties.”

A business strategy is no longer based on competition, but coordination. Routine decisions are made automatically by machines driven by data. “Organizations are no longer static, hierarchical structures that need managing and controlling, but rather are dynamic, fluid networks of interconnected players that must be engaged by mission and opportunity.”

Strategy Is About Learning, Not A Plan

Strategy in a smart business is not long-term or short-term planning. It’s not planning at all. It’s more like learning. Strategy is continually updated by continuous real-time experimentation and customer engagement, which “creates feedback, which leads to adjustment of the vision, which in turn guides new experiments.” Can we run a business like an algorithm?

What Does this Mean for Organizations?

The Creativity Revolution is here. Organizations in the Creativity Age will focus on creativity and innovation. “An organization’s goal is to improve the efficiency of innovation founded on human insight and creativity.” This cannot be managed in the traditional way.

A smart business is “no longer a vessel for conveying orders from the top. It is a vacuum sucking up information about its environment and then generating and coordinating effective responses. The job of leadership is not to manage this experiment, but to make it possible and boost its success rate.” Think enabling not managing.

Through enabling mechanisms, management provides the necessary conditions to tackle business problems through innovation as opposed to the execution of tried-and-true procedures. This means managers must now focus on things like articulating the mission and providing the environment that attracts the right collaborators, supplying the tools for them to experiment and scale successful ideas, and providing a market to assess the innovation’s success. Instead of micromanaging the firm, management creates the organization’s architecture to run itself.

To do this you need a strong culture and the people that fit that culture. “Hiring is the single most important thing a company can do to preserve culture.” Culture “works to segregate as much as it does to bring people together.” To that end, Alibaba has HR workers randomly assigned to interview employee candidates called, “chief olfactory officers. Their job is to sniff out the match between candidates and the strong corporate culture.”

From Zeng’s perspective, “the individual has more potential than maybe at any other time in history.” New technologies can free individuals from static organizations. New technologies “need not swallow the individual, but instead can propel you forward toward greater heights.”

Smart Business is one of the most fascinating books you’ll read this year on strategy and the future of business. At the very least it will expand your perspective. Zeng details the principles and practices that companies need to become smart businesses and the implications to the organization of those implemented principles and practices.

Singles Day is an example of what is possible when networks and data are brought together at the same time. “Thousands of companies come together seamlessly and instantly to provide millions of customers with what they want. Unimaginable scale is possible when businesses are smart.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:35 AM
| Comments (0) | General Business


Didn't See It Coming

Didn't See It Coming


HERE ARE SEVEN key life challenges that every leader will face to one degree or another. Any one of them has the potential to derail even the best of leaders. But here’s the thing. While they may creep up on us, we can see them coming and apply the proper antidote.

Carey Nieuwhof is the author of Didn’t See It Coming. He wrote this book because too often we don’t. And even though these seven challenges never really go away, we can create some life habits that keep them at bay.

Nieuwhof writes from a been-there-done-that Christian perspective about the issues as they manifest themselves in our lives and follows up each one with a chapter on how to combat it. It’s not really just for leaders. These issues affect everyone and some you'll find hit close to home.

The seven challenges are:

Disappointment and frustration often end in cynicism. “Most cynics are former optimists.” He reminds us that cynicism is a choice that benefits no one. “Cynics never change the world. They just tell us why you can’t change the world. Ask them and they know all about it.” The antidote is curiosity. “Curious people are never cynical, and cynical people are never curious.” Simple but profound.

The little compromises we make every day—the half-truths, the rationalizations, the excuses— “create a gap between who we are and who we want to be.” We often look to competency to carry us to success. It may get us in the door, but character is what determines how far we go. “If you don’t nurture your character daily, you can be most admired by the people who you know the least, while the people who know you best struggle with you the most.” Our character gets challenged every day. The antidote to compromise is to “work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.”

Nieuwhof notes that technology doesn’t create disconnection, it just reveals what is already going on inside of us. “Disconnection is a human problem. Technology just makes it worse.” So the solution is to deal with what is going on inside of us. “When you search for an explanation as to why you have a hard time trusting or opening your heart to people, you can make progress. You’re using the past as a stepping stone into the future, not as a barricade against it.” Engage in life-giving conversation. Eliminate hurry from your life. And this comment could pull any of us up short:

For me, the sense that a conversation is going nowhere always carries with it an underpinning of judgment and even arrogance on my part. I just assume I’m better, smarter, or wiser or that I have greater emotional intelligence than others. Which, of course, should drive me right back to my knees in confession. After all, we’re encouraged to think of others as better than ourselves. That’s a cornerstone habit of the humble.

Irrelevance happens when what you do no longer connects to the culture and the people around you. That gap is a factor of how fast things change relative to you. You defeat it by continuously “changing, learning, and evolving. Change staves off irrelevance.” A key idea here is you need to “love the mission more than the methods.” An easy trap to fall into. Get radical about change. Surround yourself with younger people. Seek change to transform you.

Pride manifests itself in many different and subtle ways so it’s hard to spot—in ourselves. “Pride will snuff out your empathy, stifle your compassion, create division, suffocate love, foster jealousy, deaden your soul, and make you think all this is normal.” The only way to deal with pride is to cultivate humility. “Learn the ways of the humble and make it your principal way of operating.” Nieuwhof offers practical ways to begin to make this happen in your life.

Burnout saps the meaning and wonder out of life. Signs of burnout include among other things: your passion fades, you no longer feel your highs and lows, little things make you disproportionately emotional, everybody drains you, nothing satisfies you, and your productivity drops. Getting out of this state begins by admitting it and then figuring out how to live today so you will thrive tomorrow. What does that look like? “Maintaining health in all five major areas of life (spiritual, emotional, relational, physical, and financial)” must become a priority. Nieuwhof recommends some concrete steps you can take to bring you back from burnout. Go deep enough and take enough time to recover so that you begin to feel gratitude for the process.

Ironically, success often makes you feel empty. Once you have arrived, “you find there’s still something inside you that says there has to be more.” The antidote: “find a mission that’s bigger than you.” He continues, “Selfishness looks good only to the selfish in the same way that pride is attractive only to the proud. Humility will win you what pride never will: the affection of others. And that’s exactly what selflessness will do. Other people naturally gravitate toward people who live for a cause beyond themselves.”

Didn’t See It Coming is full of understanding and insight. The practical advice found here will benefit anyone on their leadership journey.

Nieuwhof Chart


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Asset Based Thinking Attitude Of Wisdom

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:01 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development , Personal Development


The Physics of Innovation

The Physics of Innovation


CCORDING to Newton’s law of inertia any body prefers to remain in its present state, and will continue to move (or not) as it has been, unless disturbed sufficiently to be forced – literally – to change direction.

What we were taught in high school science, F = MA, force = mass times acceleration, also describes the physics of innovation. The laws of innovation may be an entirely different application than Newton intended, but tracking through on the metaphor yields pragmatic tips for innovators.

Innovation faces the inertia of the status quo defined by team members, organization culture, and whatever product or service solutions already exist. These all become anchors for evaluating the desirability of anything new. Every member of a team in any organization brings with them some version of “the way things have always been done.” Users have ways they are solving the problems innovations claim to address.

Change makers – whether corporate innovators, founders, or investors – improve their odds of moving their ideas from napkin back and prototype to commercial reality at scale when they acknowledge that one of their biggest challenges is overcoming the bias to maintain things as they are.

How can change makers create the forward motion to dilute the impact of inertia so they can advance innovation?

Here are four imperatives based upon the physics of innovation:

Know and convey your purpose.

Purpose is not about a slogan on the conference room wall. It’s about knowing what you stand for, why your enterprise exists, and why you are there. With purpose backed by passion and commitment, you can challenge and motivate yourself and others to accomplish hard goals. Purpose creates the fuel – the intensity – required to change the status quo of what is, towards the change maker’s view of what is possible.

Chunk down whatever you are trying to create into small steps.

By bringing people with different perspectives together to iterate ever-improving prototypes, and exposing the prototypes to users at each step, the change maker accomplishes key objectives: Collaboration and inclusion build buy-in as people feel heard and are able to contribute their expertise. Costly mistakes are avoided as innovations that are true departures from the status quo evoke counter-intuitive responses – good and bad. And, iteration feeds the next item on this list -- speed.

Move fast.

Taking multiple steps to iterate a prototype before declaring readiness to go to market may feel like a slowdown. But in fact, chunking down the work into iterative cycles can compress the time it takes to get to market with a product or service that works, and that people really want to own and use. Imagine the difference between a fully unfurled piece of string, and one of the same length compressed into a coil. The two strings represent the difference between the start and end times for a linear approach versus one that is iterative.

Follow the ‘compliment then complement’ principle.

Some amount of resistance to innovation happens when people tied to a prior success see the next big thing as a repudiation of their past contributions. Take the edge off this emotional impulse by signaling respect and empathy with a simple practice: Compliment with an ‘i’ then complement with an ‘e’. Here’s an example of how this sounds, in the case of introducing client segmentation to insurance agents accustomed to mining their contact lists one-at-a-time for leads: “You have done an amazing job within your network identifying new clients. We can offer you a new tool to try out that might allow you to achieve even better results by tagging your contacts with a segment identifier. Others are finding this is helping them to win new business.”

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Leading Forum
This post is by Amy J. Radin, author of The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation In Any Company. She is a recognized Fortune 100 chief marketing and innovation officer with a record of moving ideas to performance in complex businesses, including Citi and American Express. Amy is passionate about developing innovations that can create sustainable, business-changing impact. She now advises aspiring growth companies on business development and marketing.

Follow Amy on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can download an excerpt of The Change Maker’s Playbook on her website.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:07 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation


Business Chemistry: What Type Are You?

Business Chemistry


HE BETTER YOU UNDERSTAND yourself and those around you, the easier it is to work with other and as a leader, to give them what they need to excel.

Business Chemistry is a tool for self-understanding and empathy—a way to identify meaningful differences between people’s working styles and perspectives.

Kim Christfort and Suzanne Vickberg of Deloitte helped to develop Business Chemistry. It does not invalidate everything else of its type, rather it is designed to be simpler and thereby memorable and actionable on issues that really matter for people in the work environment. And it is quite straightforward for both accessing yourself and others you work with.

Using the key sticking points between people, they identify 4 Working Styles:

BC Pioneer Pioneers value possibilities and they spark energy and imagination. They’re outgoing, spontaneous, and adaptable. They’re creative thinkers who believe big risks can bring great things.

BC Drivers Drivers value challenge and they generate momentum. They’re technical, quantitative, and logical. They’re direct in their approach to people and problems.

BC Integrators Integrators value connection and they draw teams together. They’re empathic, diplomatic, and relationship oriented. They’re attuned to nuance, seeing shades of grey rather than black and white.

BC Guardians Guardians value stability and they bring order and rigor. They’re practical, detail-oriented, and reserved. They’re deliberate decision-makers apt to stick with the status quo.

The authors naturally go into detail on each of these types and give an example of a well-known person that fits that type. They also delve into difference between the types as they relate to stress (Pioneers are the least stressed.), career aspirations, environments they thrive in, and where each type if found organizationally and generationally.

The trick of course, is to use this knowledge to modify you own behavior. Otherwise it’s just a game. “By learning about your own type and developing a hunch about the types of those you work with, you can see right away where some of your key differences and similarities are. Then you can determine how you might flex your own style to better match the preferences of those around you.”

For example, too many constraints can completely shut a Pioneer down, while a Guardian may withdraw in an environment that feels too chaotic. A Driver may become very frustrated in an organization that lacks decisiveness, while an Integrator may wither on a team that doesn’t value broad-based input. Knowing these trigger points can help you as a leader to give people more of what they need to excel and less of what will turn them off.

To understand your own style and develop your hunch about others you know, they’ve developed a test which you can take here.

If you’re going to try it out for yourself, you might think about what you are naturally inclined to do and what you have learned to do. I might want to be direct with others but I have learned that I am more productive when I am diplomatic. But being that that is my natural tendency, I probably prefer when people are direct and concise with me. That fact would affect my working style profile.

Interestingly, 32% of Millennials are most likely Guardians. They prefer having all of the answers and enjoy zooming into every detail. 29% of Baby Boomers are most likely to be Pioneers or Integrators. They grew up in a different time and may have adopted a more novelty-seeking and relationship–focused orientation.

Business Chemistry Types

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:21 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development , Teamwork


First Look: Leadership Books for September 2018

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September 2018. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases.

  Didn't See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences by Carey Nieuwhof
  Dear Founder: Letters of Advice for Anyone Who Leads, Manages, or Wants to Start a Business by Maynard Webb with Carlye Adler
  Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World by John Chambers with Diane Brady
  The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Nieuwhof Dear Founder Doris Kearns Goodwin Connecting the Dots Dichotomy of Leadership

For bulk orders call 1-626-441-2024

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"Read deep! Read often! Out-READ the Competition!!!"
— Tom Peters

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:11 AM
| Comments (0) | Books




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