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Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Oceania is usually considered to include the central and southern Pacific, but excludes the North Pacific and Australia. It consists of three principal areas: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

The Pacific Islands were unsettled by any of the early hominid species, but with assistance from ice-age land bridges, modern humans settled the Philippines, Australasia and elsewhere by no later than 40,000 years ago (long after the earliest known boats). Eastern Polynesia may have been settled by South American sailors following the Humboldt Current. Sophisticated agriculture developed to supplement fishing.

Human migrations from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific Islands of Oceania began as early as 40,000 BCE. A concentrated wave of migration about 2000 BCE produced profound environmental changes as humans introduced domesticated animals, depleted species of native fauna, and practiced agriculture resulting in deforestation and erosion. Although subsequent settlements achieved ecological balance, few who saw the region as a paradise in the 1600s realized just how fragile that balance was.

Plaster cast of an Arawi Maori: Migration Into Oceania The thousands of islands and huge ocean gulfs between them meant that settlement was uneven; some—such as Hawaii and Easter Island—remained unsettled until well into the first millennium AD. Isolation helped create significant linguistic diversity; there are not only hundreds of different languages, but several different language families (in civilizations without writing, oral histories were greatly developed). Philologists can chart the linguistic changes, dating the settlement of each island and tracking the rise and fall of loose-knit empires, with religiously potent chieftains and various class systems.

  • A plaster cast of an Arawi Maori shows detailed tribal tattoos—New Zealand was one of the last parts of Oceania to be settled by humans, about 800 years ago.
  • For the European voyagers, who began visiting the South Pacific in larger numbers between 1600 and 1800, many of the Oceania islands assumed mythical status as tropical paradises.
  • Today, few islands are truly remote, peripheral, or insular. Islands certainly do not exist in stasis. It no longer makes sense to distinguish islands and continents or to stereotype them or their inhabitants.
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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

At the dawn of the new millennium, two powerful factions are arrayed against each other. Each faction advocates an extensive list of reforms.

  1. those influenced to support the principle of equality of condition and to extend their progressive program of reforms
  2. those equally determined to reinstate equality of opportunity as the reigning principle.

Now, we need to tackle such concerns as the struggle for self-realization, the desire to find a deep-seated meaning in life than the endless accumulation of consumer durables and the pursuit of pleasure, education not only for careers but for spiritual values, methods of bankrolling an early and rewarding retirement, and increasing the quality time available for family activities.

The changing nature and distribution of work and leisure and changes in the structure of consumer demand are creating overabundance in some areas (such as the excessive consumption of calories and fat) and severe shortages in others (such as health services at all ages).

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

To accomplish self-realization, we need to understand life’s opportunities and sense which ones are most attractive to us at each stage, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities. Currently fair access to spiritual resources is as much a benchmark as access to material resources was in the past.

  • Spiritual resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.
  • Developments in physiology have contributed to the growth of the elderly population, giving rise to the problem of in, intergenerational equity—the assurance that one generation will not suffer a lop-sided share of the burden of financing a lifetime of self-realization.
  • Also pressing is the need to develop arrangements that permit prime-aged workers greater flexibility so that they can attend to their own and their family’s spiritual needs.
  • Lifelong learning is another new equity issue. It involves offering opportunities not only to upgrade skills to earn a living but also to extend knowledge in the arts and humanities.

For women, self-realization requires an end to glass ceilings and the creation of conditions that make careers and families fully compatible.

The new agenda is shaped by changes in structure that have reversed the trend toward economic concentration and the separation of work and home.

Today, 60 percent of our discretionary time is spent doing what we like (volwork). The abundance of leisure time promotes the search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

Why this deep desire for volwork? Why do so many people want to forgo earnwork, which would allow them to buy more food, clothing, housing, and other goods? The answer turns partly on the extraordinary technological changes.

Food, housing, clothing, and other consumer durables have become so inexpensive in real terms that the totality of material consumption requires far fewer hours of labor today.

Indeed, we are approaching saturation in the consumption not only of necessities but also of goods that were in the recent past thought to be luxuries. The era of the household accumulation of consumer durables, which sparked the growth of manufacturing industries, is largely over. Most future purchases of consumer durables will be by those replacing items or establishing new households.

Quality of Life and Self-Realization

Today, ordinary people wish to use their liberated time to buy those amenities of life that only the rich could afford in abundance a century ago. These amenities broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and relieve the monotony of earnwork. They include travel, athletics, the performing arts, education, and shared time with family. The principal cost of these activities is often measured, not by cash outlays, but outlays of time.

Soon, the issue of life’s meaning, and other matters of self-realization, will take up the bulk of discretionary time.

'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown (ISBN 081298580X) New flexible work modes—such as a regular part-time work, blocks of work interrupted by blocks of released time, job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, hoteling, compressed work, early retirement, and postretirement earnwork arrangements—are desired by men and women who want a life that is not overwhelmed by earnwork. They do not measure success by income or position. They are content with a simpler lifestyle that places greater emphasis on family life, shared relationships, spiritual growth, religious faith, and good health.

Today, many corporations view alternative working arrangements as part of an inventory of personnel policies that increase corporate productivity and reduce absenteeism, labor turnover, and the cost of office space.

Today ordinary people must decide: What it the nature of the good life? Our world may be materially richer and contain fewer environmental risks, but its spiritual struggles are more complex.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Freedom is the Opportunity for Self-realization

“No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself.”

“It’s a free world!” our seven-year-old son cried out in a final effort to rationalize his tantrum. He did not want to go to sleep, and he cried out against his enforced bedtime as an invasion of his rights. His illusion is not uncommon even among grown-ups. We often define freedom as the right to do as we please, but this is an erroneous conception. Freedom is not the right to do as we please. No one can do just as he pleases, since we are all subject to pressure from sources beyond ourselves, which we cannot defy. If freedom consists of the right to that defiance under all circumstances, then none of us can be free. The laws of gravity, biology, geography; the laws of the road and of our home routines; die laws of the natural world and the laws of the man-made world—all these and countless other regulations limit our right to do as we please.

No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself The separation of time elapsing between the pronouncing of the stimulation word and the response is precisely measured. It is needless to say that this would not only be an object of human race, but a great monetary saving, considering how expensive it is to support invalids, and to interchange men; not to mention that it is upon the health and lives of men that all public exertions fundamentally depend.

Freedom is the opportunity for self-realization. In each of us lie dormant all kinds of powers which were meant to be developed in the course of our maturing. Moreover, once developed, they were meant to be employed in the give and take of life. We are free if our powers can develop to the fullness of their promise and if we are unimpeded in their use.

A rock that rests on the seed planted in the ground will prevent its growth, thereby denying its freedom. However, tying the tender plant to a garden stake—while limiting it from too much movement, rather than restricting—enlarges its freedom, because it is an aid to its growth. And a world in which little boys have to retire at a reasonable hour is indeed a world which holds the conditions of freedom, because it is in such a world that little boys can grow up to become wholesome and healthy adults.

Let us not fret because there are traffic laws by which we must travel on the highway of life. The laws of the road, if they make for safer driving, are a contribution to our freedom, not an infringement of it.

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness As for the greater variety, having become afraid of peace and happiness, one goes to asylum for the welfare of others.

The flux seems indeed often to be a kind of alternate for fevers, as it prevails most in those ships that have brought from Europe an infective fever. While it is better to have no idea than have a false idea, it is also better to have a genuine idea than having a pretended idea or no idea. In addition, this being so, I think it a great erroneous belief to persist in attempting to ascertain in the Christian doctrine that thoroughgoing rule for our counsel which its author intended it to sanction and impose, but only partially to offer. Stoic Philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations,

Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrian and Augustus. In the next place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man’s nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.

Nothing contributes more to wellness and long life than pure and good air: but by pure we are not to interpret bleak; nor are old men at any time to choose it. Conversely, representatives of scientific discipline have often attempted to arrive at all-important judgments with respect to values and ends based on scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. It is well known, some who have reached a rare date of life, have perished at last by a sudden change in their food: and the air is scarcely of less effect.

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

Excellence in Leadership Execution

Excellence in Leadership Execution

Just as the most dangerous part of a jet flight is going from cruise altitude to landing, making the transition from a lofty vision and innovative strategy to ground-level implementation requires great focus and flawless execution.

Having perspective and strategy is important; however, when we examine business plans that miss the mark, we find that the problem is rarely with the vision or strategy but rather with implementation and execution.

For 30 years, we have worked with senior executive teams on implementing sound strategies. We find that four key elements must be in place:

Operational Excellence for Execution

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge and competency of the senior leaders. Assess the strengths and competencies of the senior management team and identify potential gaps that could impact implementation. You can learn what gaps in skills or knowledge exist through formal assessments conducted by an experienced third party to encourage candor and objectivity. In other instances, knowledge gaps become apparent through multiple interactions. Leaders must know their strengths and shortcomings and address the gaps, either by recruiting new members or developing the requisite skills or knowledge.
  2. 'Purpose Meets Execution' by Louis Efron (ISBN 1138049093) The senior leadership team must be fully aligned with the intent and direction of the strategic initiative. Although candor and cooperation among senior leaders are crucial, functional heads often pursue their own objectives to the detriment of the strategic initiative. The implementation of key initiatives requires the full alignment and shared accountability of senior leaders. A lack of cooperation is readily apparent. Passive-aggressive behavior in staff meetings, a “not invented here” attitude when presented with new ideas, or a reluctance to embrace change indicate something is amiss. Unless senior leaders embrace the strategic objective and commit to its implementation, the odds for success are low.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and adhere to the essential values set. Certain values are so vital that we refer to them as the Essential Values Set. Culture is largely determined by the values shared by its members. This Essential Values Set is a universal set of principles that govern how the organization defines acceptable behavior. The presence of the Essential Values Set explains why some companies excel in executing strategic initiatives.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with the outcomes of the strategy. The cash compensation plan, along with other rewards, needs to be aligned with the cross-functional goals of the strategic initiative. Leaders should be rewarded for accomplishments in their areas of responsibility and for their support of cross-organizational initiatives. How aligned is your rewards and recognition process with the strategic initiative?

High-performance Teams are Characterized by Six Healthy Values

  • Performance value. This “make it happen” value focuses on setting challenging expectations and achieving results with accountability. With a healthy performance value, people seek innovative ways to overcome obstacles, encourage teamwork, and accept prudent risk-taking. Without a healthy performance value, people engage in finger-pointing, passive-aggressive behavior, and blame-avoidance.
  • Collaborative value. Collaboration is built upon principles of trust, sharing, open and direct communication, and a belief in the positive intent of team members. Collaboration promotes teamwork, mutual support, and decisions made for the greater good.
  • 'Execution Getting Things Done' by Larry Bossidy (ISBN 0609610570) Change value. The successful execution of key initiatives requires innovation, openness, and positive support for new ideas. Leaders operating from a healthy change mindset act as coaches, as opposed to judges or critics of new ideas. They encourage innovation, risk, and growth, as opposed to dismissing new ideas or diverse points of view. They refuse to allow a rigid bureaucracy or current processes to kill innovatio .
  • Customer value. The customers’ experience is a barometer of overall health. This value can also be defined as how well the organization focuses on a greater purpose-something beyond itself. The best leaders are focused on better serving internal and external customers. Positive and productive initiatives are framed in the context of a customer-value perspective.
  • Integrity value. Integrity refers to the consistency between the senior leadership’s words and their actions. Integrity is crucial for effective strategy execution. Integrity goes beyond simple compliance. At its core, integrity goes to consistency between word and deed to walking the talk.
  • Health value. Senior leadership teams that execute well share a healthy climate characterized by openness, trust, mutual respect, optimism, and hopefulness. This health value enables leaders to generate positive energy, assume the best motives and intentions in others, be more present and listen to one another for different points of view.

These six values position senior leaders as positive role models. If there is mistrust, internal competition, or negative assumptions of motives among senior leaders, the implementation of the strategy will be impaired.

Case Study: Execution Excellence Framework

The new CEO of a cellular telephone company and his executive team grappled with many challenges—one being to determine a strategy for competing in markets dominated by better-financed competitors. The senior leaders concluded that excellence in customer service was the key. They believed that if they could endear themselves to their customers, they could reduce the erosion of their customer base and free up resources to attract new customers. Reducing turnover by improving its service could result in $400 million in additional annual profits.

Here’s how this firm used the Four Elements of Execution to achieve this goal.

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge mid competency of the senior leaders. They assessed the strengths and capabilities of staff to ensure that those charged with leading the initiative had the requisite skills. Their analysis revealed some gaps in knowledge that would be difficult to develop internally. So, they recruited several new executives with these capabilities.
  2. 'The Art of Execution' by Lee Freeman-Shor (ISBN 085719495X) Senior feeders must be fully aligned with the intent mid direction of the strategic initiative. The success of the initiative hinged on everyone becoming committed to improved customer service. Knowing that employees would be looking to them, senior managers resolved their differences behind closed doors. While dissent and alternative points of view were welcomed in staff meetings, a unified front was required after the meetings.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and live the essential values. Presenting a positive and unified front reinforced the desire to better serve the customer. Although the leaders came from different business units, they put aside their individual needs and collaborated to identify innovative methods for serving the customer. Their ability to coach others and maintain focus on the customer’s experience contributed to the success. Senior leaders held each other accountable to “walk the talk.” They faced many setbacks and obstacles but maintained a healthy climate with an optimistic view of the future and cast a positive shadow.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with outcomes of the strategy. Senior leaders realigned their executive compensation reward and recognition system to support the collaborative measures necessary to implement the strategic plan.

Improve Your Execution

After two years, the company moved from 7th place to 1st in the JD Powers ranking of Cellular Customer Service and Loyalty. Customer turnover levels were 67 percent lower than national competitors. This resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profits.

The behaviors of leaders cast long shadows and dictate success in implementing major initiatives. Senior leaders must embrace and model the four key elements of superior execution.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

What is Organizational Culture?

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture is the essence of what is important to the organization. For itself, it stipulates and proscribes undertakings, and it defines the “dos and don’ts” that oversee the behavior of its members.

An organization’s culture serves at least seven important functions:

  • Specifies what is of principal importance to the organization, the standards against which its successes and failures should be gaged.
  • Determines how the organization’s resources are to be used, and to what ends.
  • Establishes what the organization and its members can expect from each other.
  • Makes some methods of controlling behavior within the organization legitimate and makes others illegitimate—specifically, it defines where power lies within the organization and how it is to be used.
  • Selects the behaviors in which members should or should not engage and prescribes how these are to be rewarded and punished.
  • Sets the tone for how members should treat each other and how they should treat nonmembers: competitively, collaboratively, honestly, distantly, or hostilely.
  • Instructs organizational members about how to handle the external environment: aggressively, exploitatively, responsibly, or proactively.
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Learn How to Execute Effectively with Strategic Alignment

Learn How to Execute Effectively with Strategic Alignment

Aligning Strategies Throughout the Business

It is a familiar situation. Corporation A misses severely on its obligations several quarters in succession and the stock plummets. Consequently, the Board loses confidence, the CEO “resigns,” and a new CEO is chosen who declares a restructuring of the business.

In recent years, we have seen numerous such reports. Even where top-level executives display signs of “vision” and express what seems to be a sound business strategy on paper, results go amiss of expectations.

Strategy is often thought of as something that only top-tier executives can effect, and while it may be true that “top-down” strategy is most customary. We continue that individuals throughout the organization must both recognize the organization’s strategy and create an supplementary strategy for themselves—a supplemental strategy that directly impacts their respective areas of responsibility and braces the core of the business.

'Rapid Realignment' by George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky (ISBN 0071791132) We have all been there. The leadership team spends long hours deciding on a strategy to improve performance. Management teams come up with supportive annual budgets. Bout teams settle long PowerPoint presentations and exhaustive spreadsheet files. Yet not much happens in terms of deliverables! Ambitious year-end targets are missed. Improvement curves keep being shifted to the right, and the reorganization begins.

Companies with obstructive cultures and meagre strategic alignment considerably underperform their competitors. Additionally, most executives recognize what’s at stake and what matters, even if their companies don’t always seem to get it right.

Questions arise as to why these events occur: What has gone wrong and why? Are the goals too assertive? Are the apparitions or strategies deficient? Are middle managers unable to execute? If the answer is yes to all these questions, then why is it so?

All are good questions; however, the key component is strategic alignment.

What is Strategic Alignment?

'Alignment Using the Balanced Scorecard' by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (ISBN 1591396905) Strategic alignment is the connection between the goals of the business, which quantify the progress of the implementation of the strategy toward the vision, and the goals of each key contributor, including groups, divisions, business units, and departments.

Strategic alignment, then, is one and all rowing in the same direction. The tighter the linkage and the better the alignment, the likelihood of faultless execution becomes stronger.

Once implemented properly, strategic alignment delivers four major advantages:

  1. it allows an well-organized use of frequently scarce resources;
  2. it results in improved speed of execution;
  3. it encourages team efforts toward common goals; and
  4. it increases motivation by giving people a keener sense of contribution to the results of their groups and the corporation in total.

These are great results, but few corporations realize them. Since many corporations and their leadership teams try to gain strategic alignment, what barriers must be overpowered?

Strategic Alignment and a Culture That Supports Innovation

Two Key Components of Successful Strategic Alignment

Culture plays a critical role in this strategy. According to Fred Palensky of 3M Company, “for over 100 years, 3M has had a culture of interdependence, collaboration, even codependence. Our businesses are all interdependent and collaboratively connected to each other, across geographies, across businesses, and across industries. The key is culture.”

  1. Communicate broadly to help people understand the elements of the vision and of the key strategic directions. Repetition by the leadership and management teams at every opportunity—including sales meetings, company meetings, and operational business reviews—empowers each employee to understand vividly how he or she can contribute.
  2. Link the results of each employee’s job to the progress of the entire corporation strategy, and do it clearly and simply. This is best done by using simple measures of key performances (KBMs = key business metrics, or KPMs = key performance metrics) that can be connected to the employee’s annual performance review.

Strategic Alignment and a Culture That Supports Innovation

'Achieving Strategic Alignment' by Barry MacKechnie (ISBN 1439274223) At our company, we use a cascading set of goals that determine the progress of the strategic implementation. This “waterfall effect” or “goal tree” starts at the top and cascades down. The objectives are assimilated into our annual performance targets and support the key goals of our leaders. This safeguards focus and alignment as employees deliver on their objectives. Objectives are rolled back up the “goal tree” in reviews of goals.

Implementing strategic alignment requires a robust promise from the top leadership and a focus on frequent communication using simple management principles of focus, clarity, and fortification. In the end, effective execution of strategic alignment is a leader’s top priority and ensures that goals are met and success achieved.

Purpose is what the business is trying to accomplish. Strategy is how the business will accomplish it. Purpose is durable—it is the north star towards which the company should point. Strategy comprises choices about what products and services to offer, which markets to serve, and how the company should best set itself apart from entrants for competitive advantage.

Keep corporate strategy at the heart of your organization’s culture by standing up a process to keep it front-and-center.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

How Leaders Can Motivate People to Think and Act Differently

How Leaders Can Motivate People to Think and Act Differently Will the induction of new technology present any menace to traditionalists? Of course it will. Innovation, by definition, is a undermining force. That is why we will need real leaders to champion the innovations. Leaders motivate people to think and act differently. We need to make sure that we are on the winning side of new technologies.

We must choose anything that will bring greater urgency and velocity to the search for new products, or advancements of existing ones, that are truly innovative. We can find some clues on how to act by studying the history of innovation. Here are some lessons learned.

  1. The instinct to create or innovate can be encouraged. We can systemize innovation by encouraging bright people with a real diversity of talent to work together in teams.
  2. Nothing stimulates innovation more than the rapid exchange of information, knowledge, and ideas. Faster transmission begets greater discovery. We see this in e-commerce. Amazon.com may constitute the greatest innovation in the distribution of the written word since the printing press.
  3. There must be obvious financial incentives for successful innovations. Undoubtedly, financial incentives add fuel to the fire for high-tech companies in the business-related world. But there is still a dearth of attractive financial incentives in defense procurement. Many leading companies have turned their backs on military R&D and defense contracting as a result of poor profit margins and red tape.
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Posted in Management and Leadership

Speed with Balance: Towards a Balanced Leadership Framework

Speed with Balance: Towards a Balanced Leadership Framework

Speed is an Incredible Drug

Managers are under snowballing pressure to deliver ever faster and more expectable returns and to restrain riskier investments intended for meeting future needs and finding creative solutions to the problems confronting people around the world.

Just ask a Formula One driver, a day-trader, or the CEO of any startup trying to get to market first with the next great idea or technology. We are convinced faster is better; indeed, complacency could mean death in today’s markets. But what fuel is driving you? Is it high-octane intelligence or the fumes of fear-fear you’ll lose the race, be left behind, be dumped in the trash heap of what could have been?

The next challenge of leadership is not just to increase speed but to maximize the intelligence of people. Research has advanced our knowledge of human intelligence, opening up incredible new possibilities for creating more productive, resilient workplaces. Emotion plays a critical role in decision-making, innovative thinking, and effectiveness. Intelligence is distributed throughout the body-not just localized in the brain. The heart is an intelligent system profoundly affecting brain processing.

How can leaders balance these complex and often competing demands? The core question for modern leaders is to become more entirely human—to energetically develop a wider range of competences and to more deeply understand themselves.

Four leadership dynamics are crucial to creating a culture that honors the contributions of each person, while maintaining a clear vision and focus.

Leadership Dynamic #1: Manage Yourself

'The Well-Balanced Leader' by Ron Roberts (ISBN 0071772448) More than ever we have to see outside ourselves. The new economy is all about connecting, partnering, collaborating, and leveraging what we have through the strengths and talents of others. Many executives realize that the adaptability, creativity, and innovative intelligence within people is their only competitive advantage.

Three things are clear in this time of unprecedented change:

  1. Stress will increase because of pressure to grow, to learn, to adapt, to flex, to find and maintain balance among conflicting priorities.
  2. Understanding mental, emotional, and physical processes is essential to enhancing performance. Emotional mismanagement strains the heart. We can’t divorce personal or professional success from the everyday emotional pressures we face. Emotional turmoil causes poor health, weak morale, high turnover, and lost productivity.
  3. Identifying and plugging the leaks in your own system saves energy. A leak is caused by anything unresolved: a tough decision still unmade, a relationship that worries you, guilt over mishandling a project or relationship, or the gnawing anxiety that you are not doing work that fulfills your talent and potential.

We see a negative impact on clear thinking and decision-making when our emotions run amuck. Positive emotions—such as appreciation, care, and compassion—create an internal environment that neutralizes negative reactions and increases resilience.

Leadership Dynamic #2: Build Coherent Relationships

In a connected world, communication becomes more demanding. The speed of response is often critical. However, when you are rushing or frantic, incoherent thinking results. A balanced response, while appearing to take more time, actually saves time because of the added clarity. Coherent communication reduces internal noise while encouraging meaningful conversations among coworkers, customers, and constituents. You do this in four ways:

  1. achieve understanding first—don’t jump to conclusions or assume you know;
  2. listen nonjudgmentally—put your judgments aside to hear the views or concerns of staff;
  3. Listen for the essence—don’t react just to the words or tone or get lost sword-fighting over details. Listen for deeper meanings and patterns. Assume others have essential knowledge you need to succeed.
  4. Be authentic—Leaders soar in credibility and praise when delivering tough messages forthrightly. Leaders who cover up or sugar-coat are greeted with skepticism, cynicism, and apathy. Paralysis follows leaders afraid to take a stand with compassion.

As Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, said: “Engage your heart, your gut, and your mind in every decision you make. Engage your whole self, and the journey will reveal itself with time.”

Leadership Dynamic #3: Create a Positive Climate

'Balanced Leadership' by Sheryl Boris-schacter (ISBN 0807746983) Leaders understand the necessity of a positive workplace climate for innovation and creativity. Anyone who has been through a merger knows first-hand just how dramatic a climate change can be and how devastating to productivity are people who are unhappy about their role, or the organization’s direction (or lack of direction). Dissension and antagonism act like a virus that infects an organization, weakening vitality and resilience as it spreads.

A healthy climate combats the virus through an inoculation of essential human values and behaviors, such as supporting initiatives, valuing individual contribution, encouraging self-expression, and providing recognition, role clarity, and challenge. Adaptability, shared core values, care, and appreciation are not only qualities of great places to work, they also nurture an innovative spirit that serves all interests and stakeholders.

Leadership Dynamic #4: Renew Yourself and Your Organization

Balance is essential in people and organizations. As speed increases, imbalance becomes more apparent and catastrophic. A living system, like a mechanical one, needs to be renewed, refreshed, rejuvenated, and balanced.

  1. Introduce methods to help you examine your individual interests, desires, and goals
  2. Understand your workplace’s priorities and culture, and offer tips for identifying where there’s either a match or a gap
  3. Prepare to move forward through the creation of a personalized strategic professional plan that addresses professional development, gaining additional experience, and other options for growth
  4. Share your skills and experience through mentorship

Every Person and Organization Needs Renewal

To meet the challenges of the new economy, speed is essential. Balance will guarantee we don’t spin out of control in the process.

The success of a leader has more to do with intrinsic motivation, skills, capabilities, and character than with whether his or her pay is tied to shareholder returns.

The ambition is not to find a perfect balance, but to build a harmonizing set of strengths, so that we can move elegantly along a spectrum of leadership qualities. Incorporating our own complexity makes us more wholly human and gives us added resources to manage ourselves and others in an gradually complex world.

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Glimpses of History #5: Ice Ages, Glacial History, and the Development of Human Civilization

The glacial history of the earth is multifarious and extends back in geological time to the Proterozoic and perhaps the Archean. Global glaciations have occurred during every geological period except for the Jurassic period. This perseverance of global glaciations, in addition to recurring and ongoing glaciations in high mountainous areas, everywhere altitudes exceed the local snowline, is so constant that one might make a case that the Earth is fundamentally a glacial planet. Even though the dearth of precise time correlations remains a limiting factor, climatic data on a regional basis propose that Pleistocene climates differed in different areas, and cooling and warming trends were not uniform. Evidence suggests that glacial epochs have repeatedly occurred almost every 100,000 to 150,000 years.

Glimpses of History #5: Ice Ages, Glacial History, and the Development of Human Civilization

The Pleistocene period (beginning 2.58 million years ago) saw quite a few phases in which Earth’s mean temperature dropped and the polar icecaps expanded towards the tropics. These are clustered into four broad ice ages—periods with cool temperatures and a significant continental ice sheet (at times, up to one-third of Earth’s land surface was covered), separated by interglacial periods of 10-15 millennia.

Aside from the palpable impact of glacier ice in eroding, transporting, and depositing vast volumes of sediments, glaciation has led to many secondary effects on the landscape and life. Nomadic humans, with fire, weapons and language, were able to hunt across the tundra and secure caves in which to shelter. Their prey needed bigger areas to scavenge, causing humanity to spread widely in pursuit. While geologists and glaciologists think widespread glaciation typifies the Pleistocene Epoch, once upon a time anthropologists considered the emergence of modern humans as a defining criterion, and vertebrate paleontologists used the fossiliferous episodes of the elephant, modern horse, and cattle in their definition of this interval.

'The Ice Age' by Jamie Woodward (ISBN 0199580693) Falling sea levels opened up land bridges across today’s oceans—most considerably, the Americas were populated by humans spreading from Mongolia, while horses evolved in America but migrated east before becoming extinct in their native land. The last noteworthy glaciations ended 10,000 years ago, even though a climatic cooling of about 500 years from c. CE 1300 has been noted.

Glacial history is so wrapped up in the evolution and development of human civilization that it is crucial we understand historical glacial history to forecast probable future global environmental change.

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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Seven Employee Engagement Practices

Seven Employee Engagement Practices

Use these seven engagement practices to engage or re-engage your people:

  1. Give realistic job previews to ensure the expectations of new hires match on-the-job reality. This involves giving a candid description of difficult challenges or conditions, touring the plant, allowing candidates to discuss job challenges with current employees, or portraying actual work situations.
  2. Take more time in hiring to avoid person-job mismatches. Analyze the critical success factors required for all jobs, screen candidates via personality assessments, ask behavior-based questions, use multiple interviewers, and check references. Don’t over-prescribe how jobs are to be done, but communicate clearly what results are expected.
  3. Provide managers with training in performance management and coaching. This should include the art of giving performance feedback and dealing with situations of potential conflict. Leaders of engaged workforces teach an adult-to-adult partnership model that allows more input from the employee in performance goal-setting, and features more frequent discussions.
  4. Provide self-assessment workshops and train managers how to be career coaches. Require all employees to complete an annual Individual Development Plan and update it with managers after six months. Some CEOs state that managers do not “own” the talent and that “talent-hoarding” won’t be tolerated. Employees will not be prevented from moving laterally when they are ready.
  5. 'The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave' by Leigh Branham (ISBN 0814408516) Create a culture that acknowledges all improvements and contributions. Assure that people receive the message that they are valued. Request employee input about matters that impact them, keep them informed, provide the right resources at the right time, and discipline or fire managers who abuse and disrespect people. Hire great people and pay above-market wages.
  6. Maintain reasonable workloads. Help people to have a decent life outside work. Survey your people and find out what they need. Companies with many female workers with children might start flex-time and subsidized child care or trade some pay for increased vacation time.
  7. Gain and maintain the trust and confidence of employees. Convey a clear and compelling vision that inspires confidence and gives people hope that they can grow as the organization grows. Convince workers that you care as much about them as you care about shareholders and customers. Back up your words with actions and maintain high standards of ethics and integrity.
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