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Traits of Effective Change Leaders

'Facilitating Effective Change' by Patrick Love (ISBN 1505402387) Leaders invest remarkable talent, energy, and caring in their change efforts, yet few see the desired results. There is a good reason. Today’s leaders simply do not have much practice at large-scale change. Few organizations were doing sweeping reinvention 30 years ago, so there is little experience to pass on. The changes undertaken today—producing better products, faster, at lower cost—were inconceivable 30 years ago. Over the next decade, leaders will guide remarkable changes. That is a social and economic imperative.

Leaders exist at all levels. At the edges of the business enterprise, needless to say, leaders are responsible for less territory. Their vision may sound more simple; the number of people to motivate may be few. However, they perform the same role in leading change.

  • They outshine at seeing things through fresh eyes and at challenging the status quo.
  • They are energetic and pervade through, or around, obstacles.
  • People who provide great leadership are also deeply interested in a cause or discipline related to their focus area.
  • Such change leaders also tap deep convictions of others and connect those feelings to the purpose; they show the meaning of people’s work to that larger purpose.
  • The most prominent trait of great leaders is their quest for learning. They push themselves out of their comfort zones and continue to take risks.
  • They are open to people and ideas. Often they are driven by goals or ideals that are bigger than what any individual can pull off, and that gap pushes them to keep learning.

The single biggest impetus for change tends to be a new manager in a key job. It is often a new division-level manager or a new department head—someone with fresh perspective—that sees that the status quo is unacceptable. Producing change is about 80 percent leadership—establishing direction, aligning, motivating, and inspiring people—and about 20 percent management—planning, budgeting, organizing, and problem solving. Regrettably, in most change efforts, those percentages are reversed. We continue to produce great managers; we need to develop great leaders.

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Reflect on Why You Lead

Reflect on Why You Lead - Personal Leadership Journey

My Personal Leadership Journey

For the past 30 years, I have worked in business, primarily in energy, but here I share a few aspects of my personal leadership journey over the past six years and how that journey has changed my outlook on life.

You are leaders with your own roles and responsibilities. Your journey will be unique; however, I believe that we share many concerns in common. At times leadership can feel overwhelming. There are so many practical issues-how to communicate, coach, and develop strategy. But there are other, more fundamental questions-like “why lead?” or “why continue leading?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” or “How do I find meaning, purpose, and joy in my leadership?” These are the questions we all have to answer for ourselves.

'The Leadership Journey' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 1119234859) Leadership can be very rewarding-personally, professionally, and financially-but it can also be very challenging. Nothing is ever quite right. There are many setbacks and sacrifices. We often get caught up in the struggle without reflecting on the greater meaning of our journey.

Even after becoming a successful entrepreneur, I wrestled with “why?” questions. In fact, they seemed even more pressing. When you don’t have to work anymore, you can get very honest with yourself. The questions are still there-no matter how far along the leadership path you go. But the further you go, the better the answers have to get. Beyond words that sound right, the answers have to be deeply meaningful to sustain you.

I set many business goals, and am proud of what I helped to create. I experienced much satisfaction from our achievements. But “more of the same” didn’t seem like enough. I was seeking more important insights. Our lives and businesses are very complex. But I came to feel that the real answers should be simple. Truth, I believe, is simple, and the messages of great leaders are simple and clear.

Four Leadership Lessons

One catalyst in this process was my attendance at the Global Institute of Leadership Development conference five years ago. Warren Bennis was a cohost, and I was impressed with his wonderful example of leadership and inspired by his ideas. The theme that had the greatest impact on me was “find your leadership voice and passion.” His message spoke to me. I asked myself, “Have I really done that?” It seemed to require using more parts of myself. The more aligned we are with our unique abilities and talents, the better everything seems to work. And fully expressing ourselves suggests values and beliefs-even spiritual qualities.

At that time, another story line developed that became the source of many new insights that helped change my life and my leadership. It started with plans for the new Millennium in 1999.1 initially had a fun idea to charter a yacht in the Caribbean, but it became something much more meaningful. My family planned to contribute to the building of a 150-bed hospital in southern India. Over the last six years, this has led to involvement in building a school, a seva hall to feed the poor, and a spiritual park to nourish peoples’ souls-among other projects. Despite all the project activity, visiting this area of India is very rejuvenating for me. In fact, a one-week trip around the world to India is more restful for me than a week in Hawaii.

Through my experience in India, I learned four leadership lessons:

Lesson 1 in Purposeful Leadership: Joy

'The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 0071787127) As the locals, as well as people from around the world, came to help us with our projects in India, they worked long and hard, but with joy and passion. Now, I’m familiar with “24/7” work from the investment banking world; however, these people also seemed to find meaning and joy. Their mode of operating seemed to be not only a more enlightened way to live, and pointed to a more effective form of leadership.

Happiness is good, but it’s fleeting. It may be the feeling you get from buying a new car, or house, or getting a new job or promotion. The feeling lasts for awhile, and then passes. You then need a new acquisition or achievement. It’s externally bound.

Joy is deeper, fuller, more sustaining. It’s a feeling you would have about your children, something special you did for someone, or something you received. It’s a feeling you can always revisit with joy. It’s internally connected.

How do you move from happiness to joy, and how can you create more joy in your life regularly? Joy isn’t something you can buy (a thing), or something you can do for yourself. You can’t create joy for yourself directly-it is only through others. You can’t operate in that joyful realm in a sustained way until you get outside yourself, because it’s not about you. Churchill said, “You make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give.” Serving others is what great leaders do.

In his book The Spirit of Leadership, Bob Sptizer describes four levels of happiness: physical gratification, ego gratification, service to others, and service to others in pursuit of a greater cause. The last two are in the realm of joy, as they take you from selfish to selfless, from conditional to unconditional.

Lesson 2 in Purposeful Leadership: Enough

Early in my career, I set some ambitious goals for myself, including financial ones. People suggested that once I achieved these goals, I would keep moving the goal posts. I didn’t believe them then, but they were right. What I achieved went far beyond my expectations, but I still found myself reframing my goals.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except for one aspect. It wasn’t making me any happier; in fact, it started to take a toll on my life-stress, pressure, obligations. When is enough, enough? There is no absolute point. Deciding is difficult. We are naturally attracted to more. Most people think if they reach their next destination or goal, they will finally have enough. But once they arrive, they inevitably discover another level of desire.

“More of the same” will not help us attain what we ultimately seek. In fact, “more” implies we’re incomplete. We think that we’ll finally arrive when we achieve the next goal. Of course, the horizon moves out. After a certain level, it’s a choice. “That’s it – I have enough right now.” When you reach that point, something remarkable happens because it’s no longer just about you. It’s a transformational awareness. It moves you from your own self-interest to otherinterest, from conditional to unconditional, and from happiness to joy.

So what about work? What about those goals that are so motivating? They are still there, but they take on more importance-because now they’re for a greater purpose.

I continue as Co-Chairman at ARC Financial Corporation, but I contribute all the growth in value to others. It’s turned my work into something with more purpose-and it’s more sustaining. How you share your talents and gifts will be unique. But I can attest that when you start operating on this basis, more incredible things happen to you and for you than ever could have happened when your own needs were paramount. That’s the paradox of opening yourself to joy.

Lesson 3 in Purposeful Leadership: Wealth

This is an interesting topic for someone like me who has devoted much of his career to finance, investment, and wealth. I could talk all day about maximizing shareholder value or about making investments in energy markets. Instead I want to talk about wealth in a different way and offer a new perspective.

Wealth is generally thought of as assets, and if you were truly wealthy then you would think that your financial wealth would provide “enough.” But if you ask many people with wealth, you find that they generally have both a need and a plan for more.

In India, we see a lot of poverty and hardship, but we also see a lot of joy. What we all need to realize is that real wealth is in the heart, and it is experienced when you have peace and joy-that is when you finally have “enough.”

As I struggled to integrate my future business life with my philanthropy, I asked Linkage founder Phil Harkins to work with me-on the condition that he come to India. He was skeptical, but he joined our family there in 2004. We talked about the challenges facing leaders. One morning, he said he had been up all night writing the outline for a book. “We need to explore some key insights here that could be important to leaders,” he said. “But there’s one condition-you need to help me write it.”

A major part of the book involved interviewing 25 successful leaders to understand how they answered those questions. What qualities, intentions and aspirations did they have that made them so successful? To what extent did those insights from India about wealth and joy play out? That brings me to my fourth lesson.

Lesson 4 in Purposeful Leadership: Unconditional Leadership

What draws us to leadership will not sustain us. For us to grow and evolve so must our leadership. If we are aligned with our purpose and what we find meaningful, then our leadership is more successful and sustainable.

Each leader in our study found meaning and created more impact through an orientation towards serving others. Here are two representative quotes: “Personal reasons will only take you so far” and “In building a company, ultimately you are serving others.” Another said “Leadership will challenge you in ways you couldn’t imagine.”

'Unlocking Potential' by Michael Simpson (ISBN 1477824006) Warren Bennis describes the process of becoming a leader as much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being. Leaders evolve through both failures and successes to their mature style. What is that style in its ultimate form? One important aspect if that style is moving from leading for oneself, to leading with others, to leading for others. This last stage, unconditional leadership, is the soul of leadership.

When I visited an orphanage with over 100 children in India last year with my family, the experience evoked many emotions and much anxiety. These children have so little. When we arrived, the kids came out to greet us, and our anxiety disappeared as we were swept up in the experience of being with them. We brought ice cream and cookies, but the kids wouldn’t eat any until we had some of their treat for us first. They performed songs and dances, and they embraced us. Even though they had so little, they still had joy and laughter and shared it with us. My children saw abundance in a whole new way-a way that did not relate to the material world but to the heart. Despite their hardships, we felt that abundance and love, which is more meaningful and joyful.

Reflect on Why You Lead

You can make a difference. If you want to change the world, first you have to change yourself. If you change – yourself, if you change your heart, it will change the world.

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10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

  1. Know what you want to accomplish within the learners and measure it. Provide an exercise that simulates the behavior or action you are teaching in the second half of your training session. Now you have a way to estimate if the learners understand what you are teaching. If not, you have more time to get your point across as you discuss the results of the exercise. If the learners did get it, you can instill confidence by telling them they got it right! They will feel successful and be more likely to apply their new learning at work. Leader-trainers gain respect among participants just by saying, “Yes! You’ve got it!”
  2. Use PowerPoint slides as a learner-aid, not a trainer-aid. Learners need a few key graphics or words to help them focus. For words, use the 3×3 to 6×6 rule (no more than 3 to 6 words per line; no more than 3 to 6 lines). For graphics, use representations of your words, or use graphs, charts, and models to organize concepts. Don’t stand behind a podium or hold your notes in front of you when present. Nothing should come between you and your learners. Use body language to indicate that you are open to them.
  3. Tell them what they can do as a result of your training, not what you will do. Paint the picture of what the learner will accomplish during training and after it. Speak their praises, not your own. Use interactive, active words for which any observer could see the result. You cannot see if a person “understands,” “learns,” or “knows.” You can see if a person “applies,” “improves,” “uses,” “describes,” or “creates”.
  4. 'The Trainer's Handbook' by Garry Mitchell (ISBN 0814403417) Plan an interaction every 10 minutes. The interaction can be an exercise, or question to the learners with a chance to respond to you, their fellow participants, or on paper. Communications help learners process the information. Try asking each person to tell their neighbor one significant thing they heard in the last 10 minutes.
  5. Put the learner to work, instead of you, during the training. Give learners opportunities to try out new information and make new connections with carefully designed exercises. Direct them as they practice new skills or ideas. Tell them when they are on the right path, and when they are off. Learners look for both your assurance that they are correct, as well as your supervision if they are off-target.
  6. Provide Purpose, Action, and Limit (PAL) for every activity. Tell the learners why they are doing the activity and what they will do. Often, this is a list of steps to complete the assigned activity. And, give them limits—such as a time limit, a limit on resources, or a limit on location, such as in the room or at their table. If your activity is multifaceted, consider trying it out first on a few friends to hone your directions, avoid misunderstandings, and save face-to-face time at the training event.
  7. Use the magic numbers—3 and 6—for group work. I find that teams of 3 or 6 people is optimal group size for any activity or exercise. Three people bring diverse thinking to a problem and help each other learn complex tasks or skills. Groups of six provide a critical mass to assure a high level of energy.
  8. 'What Great Trainers Do' by Robert Bolton (ISBN 0814420060) Know your audience. Learn what they care about and what interests them. Are they energized by stories and examples? By doing it themselves with guidance? By cooperating or discussing with others? By having time to reflect? Learn how participants are responding.
  9. You are responsible for the energy in the room. You may have a tough group, but you should never have a quiet, nonresponsive, low-energy group. If the energy is low, you need to be more vigorous. If their energy is too high, you can take your energy level higher still in order to gain control; then bring the energy level back to a good level. Your passion for the subject can boost energy.
  10. If you are concerned about the learners’ success, they will value you. Your attitude matters. If you sincerely care about the learners and their success, learners respond more positively. People learn more from someone they respect and value. You need to be that someone, so members will learn and apply their learning.
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Four Key Traits of Conscious Leaders

Four Key Traits of Conscious Leaders

Leaders who have an effect for good or ill hold three common attributes: vision, discipline, and passion. The differentiation is conscience. When conscience governs, leadership endures and changes the world for good. Moral authority prepares formal authority work. When conscience does not oversee, leadership does not prevail, nor do the institutions created by that leadership. Formal authority without moral authority collapses.

Leadership for good lifts and lasts. Mahatma Gandhi’s vision, discipline, and passion were driven by conscience, and he became a servant to the cause and the people. He had only moral authority, no formal authority, and yet he was the father of the second largest country in the world. When vision, discipline and passion are governed by formal authority void of conscience, it changes things for the worse. Rather than elevating, it rescinds; rather than last, it fails.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #1: Vision

Seeing a potential state with the mind’s eye is vision. It’s applied imagination. All things are created twice: first, a mental creation; second, a physical creation. Vision starts the process of reinvention. It signifies desire, dreams, hopes, goals, and plans. These dreams are not just whims—they are reality without physicality, like a building blueprint.

Most of us don’t envision or appreciate our potential, even though we all have the power, energy, and capacity to reinvent our lives. Memory is past. It is finite. Vision is future. It is infinite.

'The Conscious Leader' by Shelley Reciniello (ISBN 098528644X) The most important vision is having a sense of self, a sense of your own destiny, mission, role, purpose and meaning. When testing your own personal vision, first ask: Does the vision tap into my voice, energy, and talent? Does it give me a sense of “calling,” a cause worthy of my obligation? Acquiring such meaning requires overwhelming personal reflection to rise above our autobiography, rise above our memory, and create a high-mindedness of spirit toward others.

We need to consider not only the vision of what’s possible “out there” but also the vision of what we see in other people, their unseen potential. Vision is about more than just getting things done; it is about unearthing and enlarging our view of others, affirming them, believing in them, and helping them discover their voice and realize their potential.

Seeing people through the lens of their potential and their best actions, rather than through the lens of their current behavior or weaknesses, produces positive energy. This affirming action is also a key to rebuilding broken relationships. There is great power in viewing people apart from their behavior and upholding their inherent worth. When we acknowledge the potential of others, we hold up a mirror to them, reflecting the best within them. This affirming vision unshackles them to become their best and frees us from reacting to bad behavior.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #2: Discipline

Discipline represents the second creation. It’s executing, making it happen, doing whatever it takes to realize that vision. Discipline is willpower personified. Peter Drucker noted that the first duty of a manager is to define realism. Discipline defines reality, acknowledges things as they are, and gets totally immersed in solutions. Without vision and hope, accepting reality may be discouraging. Happiness results from subordinating or foregoing immediate pleasure for a greater good.

Most people associate discipline with an absence of freedom, with coercion or duty. In fact, only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions. What about the freedom to forgive, to ask forgiveness, to love unreservedly, to be a light, not a judge—a model, not a critic? Discipline comes from being “discipled” to a person or a cause, often subduing an impulse in obedience to a principle or sacrificing present for future good. Successful people may not like doing things that failures don’t like to do, but their hate is subordinated by the strength of their purpose.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #3: Passion

Passion comes from the heart and is discernible as optimism, excitement, emotional connection, and determination. It fires remorseless drive. Enthusiasm is deeply rooted in the power of choice rather than circumstance. Enthusiasts believe that the best way to foresee the future is to create it. In fact, enthusiasm becomes a moral imperative, making the person part of the solution rather than part of the problem of feeling hopeless and helpless.

'The Conscious And Courageous Leader' by Tracy Tomasky (ISBN 0692725229) Aristotle said, “Where talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation.” I say, “Therein lies your passion, your voice, your energy, your drive. It keeps you at it when everything else may say “quit.” When life, work, play, and love all revolve around the same thing, you’ve got passion! The secret to creating passion is finding your unique talents and your special role and purpose.

Courage is the crux of passion, and is, as Harold B. Lee once said, “the quality of every virtue and acting at its highest testing point.”

Skills are not talents. Talents, however, require skills. People can have skills and knowledge in areas where their talents do not lie. If they have a job that requires their skills but not their talents, they’ll never tap into their passion. They’ll go through the motions, but need external supervision and motivation.

If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within. Their motivation is internal.

When you can give yourself to work that brings together a need, your talent, passion, and power will be unlocked.

Key Traits of Conscious Leaders #4: Conscience

'Awakening Corporate Soul' by Eric Klein (ISBN 0968214932) Conscience, this moral sense, this inner light, is universal and independent of religion, culture, geography, nationality, or race. All major traditions are unified when it comes to basic underlying principles or values.

The thesis developed by authors Eric Klein and John Izzo in Awakening Corporate Soul begins to explain how leadership and working with conscience, compassion, and commitment are relevant to individuals. They write,

There is, at this time, both a crisis and a longing that permeates organizations across North America. We call one the commitment crisis, the struggle of organizations and their leaders to discover ways to ignite commitment and performance in a rapidly changing insecure climate. The other is an awakening that is slowly occurring within traditional businesses—the awakening of the Corporate Soul. It is a nascent movement that seeks to reclaim the spiritual impulse that is at the heart of work. It is about people wanting work to have meaning and even more, to engage more of them at the deepest levels of their capacity and desire.

  • Conscience is the moral law within—the voice of God to his children. Hence, there is an innate sense of fairness and justice, of right and wrong, of what contributes and what detracts, of what beautifies and what destroys, of what is true and what is false. Culture translates this basic moral sense into different practices and words, but this translation does not negate the underlying sense of right and wrong. There is a set of values, a sense of fairness, honesty, respect and contribution that transcends culture—something that is timeless, which transcends the ages and is also self-evident. Conscience is the still, small voice within. It is quiet and peaceful.
  • Conscience is sacrifice—the subordinating of one’s self or ego to a higher purpose, cause or principle. Sacrifice means giving up something good for something better. Sacrifice can take many forms: making physical and economic sacrifices (the body); cultivating an open, inquisitive mind and purging oneself of prejudices (the mind); showing deep respect and love to others (the heart); and subordinating one’s own will to a higher will for the greater good (the spirit). In business, you know those who are honest with you and who keep their promises and commitments. You also know those who are duplicitous, deceitful, and dishonest. Even when you reach a legal agreement with those who are dishonest, do you trust they’ll come through and keep their word?
  • Conscience tells us the value of both ends and means. Ego tells us that the end justifies the means, unaware that a worthy end can never be achieved with unworthy means. It may appear that it can be, but unintended consequences that are not seen or evident at first will eventually destroy the end.
  • Conscience transforms passion into compassion. It engenders sincere caring—a combination of sympathy and empathy where one’s pain is snared and received.

People who do not live by their conscience will not experience this internal integrity and peace of mind. Their ego will try to control relationships. Even though they might pretend or feign kindness and empathy, they will use subtle forms of manipulation.

The private victory of integrity is the foundation for the public victories of establishing a common vision, discipline and passion. Leadership becomes an interdependent work rather than an immature interplay between strong, independent, ego-driven rulers and compliant, dependent followers.

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10 Leadership Lessons from JFK

10 Leadership Lessons from JFK

John F. Kennedy remains a popular president. He was one of those rare presidents who became more popular during his time in office. In the last Gallup poll before his assassination, Kennedy’s approval rating stood at 70 percent!

Some pundits have dismissed Kennedy as “all profile and no courage.” But a closer look reveals that behind the charisma, smile and bold rhetoric, lay courage aplenty, plus vision and substance.

  • Craft a compelling vision. By 1960, a new generation of “Baby Boomers” was coming of age. What was to be their challenge? In his Inaugural Address, Kennedy gave them one: “Now the trumpet summons us again-not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are-but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation-a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that effort?” He dared young Americans to take on the status quo and to push themselves to the limit.
  • 'JFK and the Unspeakable' by James W Douglass (ISBN 1439193886) Face adversity with a smile. John F. Kennedy was born with an unstable back, which he aggravated further in sports and in the PT-109 incident. Also, he nearly died of scarlet fever as an infant, was mistakenly diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager, developed Addison’s Disease, which could be controlled only with painful cortisone treatments, suffered from allergies, bad eyesight, slight deafness in one ear, and much else besides. Born into a wealthy family, yet cursed with a sickly body, Kennedy could have given in to self-pity and sat on the sidelines. He refused, facing his maladies with a smile and joke. He was thus well-prepared to deal with the frustrations of political life.
  • Don’t follow the crowd. John F. Kennedy set his own course in life, always wary of being seen as anybody’s “man.” As a young man, he spent much time in Europe watching his father make blunder after blunder as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, and young Kennedy resolved not to repeat them. He rejected his father’s crabbed isolationism in favor of a robust internationalism personified by Kennedy’s hero, Winston Churchill. He and his brother Bobby investigated corruption in U.S. labor unions, particularly the Teamsters. He also took on the American Legion, the House Democratic leadership, the Pentagon top brass.
  • Educate yourself. A passion for self-education might be one of the most reliable markers of leadership: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan were mostly self-taught. Jack Kennedy became a reader during his childhood illnesses as he lay flat on his back in hospitals. History, biography, and historical fiction, such as Churchill’s History of the First World War and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, were among his favorites. Before becoming president, Kennedy traveled the globe, visiting places few Americans had ever been, such as Vietnam. The contrast he witnessed between pre-war and post-war Berlin demonstrated vividly the possible consequences of world war, especially if it became nuclear.
  • 'Churchill: The Power of Words' by Winston Churchill (ISBN 0306821974) Learn to communicate. Kennedy was a poor public speaker at the start of his career. He spoke too fast, failed to pause for audience reaction, tended to speak from the larynx rather than the diaphragm and so wore out his voice quickly. He spoke with a pronounced regional accent. He dealt with this by keeping his talks short, and leaving time for questions. But he worked hard to improve himself, hiring voice coaches and a speechwriter, Theodore C. Sorensen, who helped him craft memorable phrases and imagery. Kennedy was also one of the first politicians to receive media training. His live press conferences became a White House tradition. He cultivated reporters who wrote favorable stories about him and his family and declined to write about his affairs and illnesses. He used his communication skills to rally the nation to fight the Cold War, soothe its fears, inspire unity, and achieve its highest aspirations.
  • Don’t let crises manage you. Perhaps the most important quality a leader can possess is the ability to manage a crisis without letting the crisis manage the leader. Kennedy projected a calm confidence that communicated to those around him and to the country. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis (October 1962), Kennedy remained calm and refused to retaliate. To prevent future miscommunications, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to establish a “hotline” between the White House and Kremlin.
  • Build a team and find your “Bobby.” No one gets to the top alone. To reach and hold a major leadership position, you need to build a team. Kennedy learned early how to get along with people from all walks of life. He could charm European aristocrats as well as bell hops and cab drivers with equal felicity. His intensity and purpose proved irresistible, and most people who worked for him remained devoted to him (no member of the Kennedy circle ever wrote even a remotely hostile memoir.) When Jack’s first Senate campaign manager proved incompetent, he turned to his brother Bobby, who impressed Jack with his organizational abilities. Bobby took charge, firing those who failed to perform and promoting those who showed drive and determination. He became indispensable to his brother, who defied the charges of nepotism to name him attorney general. Everyone at the top needs someone whose advice he can trust implicitly.
  • Add a touch of showmanship. When Kennedy became president, the presidential aircraft was painted in an orange-white-and-black paint scheme with the phrase “Military Air Transport Command” stenciled on the side. For the New Frontier, this simply wouldn’t do. So Kennedy called in Raymond Loewy, a great industrial designer. Loewy came up with the pale blue and white paint scheme and the words “United States of America” stenciled on the fuselage. Kennedy also discovered the aircraft had a codename: Air Force One. That was too good a name to keep secret, and Kennedy began using it publicly.
  • 'Profiles in Courage' by John F Kennedy (ISBN 0060854936) Learn from mistakes. When Cuban exiles invaded that country with U.S. support early in his administration in an effort to overthrow Fidel Castro, the effort collapsed ignominiously. Kennedy did not blame the previous administration, whose idea it was. Instead, he accepted full responsibility, saying, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” Still, there were consequences. The director and deputy director of the CIA were both sacked. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were required to give their opinions to him in writing. Never again would Kennedy simply trust anyone’s word. Instead, he questioned his advisers to ensure all options were explored.
  • Do what’s right. Courage is a leitmotif running through Kennedy’s life. He possessed enormous physical courage, playing rough sports like football and starring on the Harvard swimming team despite his fragile frame. Before the United States entered World War II in 1941, Jack enlisted in the navy. After the PT-109 was sunk by a Japanese destroyer, he joked with his men to keep their spirits up. His best-known book is called Profiles in Courage, which chronicles the stories of United States senators who risked their careers by supporting unpopular causes.

When African-Americans were agitating for their civil rights, Kennedy at first hesitated to embrace their cause, fearing it would damage him politically. But on June 11, 1963, he did so wholeheartedly. Kennedy was the first president to call for equal rights for all Americans. And his words could not be taken back once he had spoken them. In addition to his physical courage, he had inner courage as well.

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Learning and Productivity Compound Over Time

Mathematician and computer scientist Richard Hamming on how learning and productivity compound over time

How are some people more industrious and prolific than others? Are they merely smarter or do they just toil a bit harder than everyone else?

In 1986, mathematician and computer scientist Richard Hamming gave a talk at Bell Communications Research about how people can do great work, “Nobel-Prize type of work.” One of the characteristics he talked about was possessing great drive:

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity—it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.

Thinking of investing your time and energy in terms of this compounding effect can be a very useful way to go about life. Early and rigorous investment in anything you are interested in cultivating—friendships, relationships, wealth, understanding, spirituality, know-how, etc.—often generates exponentially superior results over time than even marginally less effort.

Success begets success, and that counts for small investments, too.

Try to have “more experience” than someone else, but it’s not by itself enough. It’s about how well you can draw the appropriate lessons from the experiences. It’s about how well you can distinguish specific experiences as generalizable versus anomalies.

Knowledge Compounds

Someone once asked Warren Buffett how to become a better investor. He pointed to a pile of company annual reports. “Read 500 pages like this every day … That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

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Select Leaders by Assessing the Style and Personality Traits of Your Hires

The Personality Traits of Leaders

CEO tenure is becoming shorter and less secure. Half of today’s CEOs have been in the post less than three years.

Why the rise of revolving-door executives? Some reasons have to do with economic uncertainty, but companies also need to look at their recruiting, selection, and development practices. Those in leadership roles often come from the same universities and graduate schools with qualities similar to those of incumbent leaders. High-potential recruits are placed on a fast track to management positions where they tend to perpetuate perspectives of existing leaders. They move through positions at a fast pace, which inhibits them from learning their jobs well and reaping the harvest of seeds they sow.

'The Complete Book of Intelligence Tests' by Philip Carter (ISBN 0470017732) When hiring or promoting managers, many organizations rely on requisite knowledge, experience, and a track record. However, if they fail to investigate the behavioral characteristics of candidates, they may make a costly mistake. Many executives who have a string of early successes because of their technical genius or problem-solving skills later derail because of poor interpersonal relationships. The failure to build and maintain an effective team proves disastrous.

To pick the right managers, you need to assess the softer qualities of leadership. Those responsible for making people decisions need to know, for example, if the candidate inspires trust, listens well, delegates tasks, and shares praise and credit. These competencies are a function of personality.

Traits Common of Successful Corporate Leaders

While leadership styles vary from person-to-person, in my experience, great executives share a number of common, observable behaviors that support their success. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits.

  • Tolerance for risk and uncertainty: experience with calculating and encouraging appropriate risk
  • High level of empathy: can walk in the shoes of the customer and convey the insights to others
  • Deep expertise in a least one field: the specific area is less important than the rigor and dedication any deep expertise demonstrates
  • Ability to work with varied and complex information
  • Collaborative interpersonal style: avoid big egos, aggressive personalities, and go-it-alone types
  • Passion: clear passion for your customer, your company, and innovation
  • Strong drive for results: desire to take ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace
  • Mature intelligence: ability to make connections and build ideas without needing to be the smartest person in the room

The more companies recognize about leaders— what they truly care about, how they make decisions, why they do what they do—the more effective they will be at organizing the support of others for what they anticipate to accomplish.

Attributes of Star Performers and Effective Managers

The attributes of star performers and effective managers are often personality characteristics–such as reliable, curious, even-tempered. Since people are perceived as leaders to the degree they are trustworthy, forward looking, inspiring, and decisive, the suitability of a candidate for a management job is more than simply a matter of the candidate’s function, experience, or position.

The most crucial factors are personality and behavioral style. Interpersonal skills can be measured cheaply, efficiently, and accurately; however, these skills are shaped early in life. By the time we reach adulthood, they are deeply ingrained. So, companies benefit by focusing their energies on selection rather than development of interpersonal competencies.

Personality Testing in the Workplace: Pros and Cons

'Management Level Psychometric and Assessment Tests' by Andrea Shavick (ISBN 1845280288) Assessing behavioral style is necessary to determine suitability but insufficient. People who interview well may also have less attractive interpersonal behaviors. These self-defeating be-haviors disrupt team performance and derail careers. Since these “dark side” characteristics are hard to detect by interviews and assessments, conduct interviews with former associates. The “what” required for a successful team could include education, time, and communication skills to be able to work effectively without barriers. The most important part of the team building process may actually be the “why” of the project.

Adopting behaviours associated with transformational leadership (such as stimulating followers to engage in complex decision-making and problem-solving) may in the short term lead to increases in the management quality of their followers. In addition, transformational leaders can also have a positive effect on the well-being, motivation and job satisfaction of those they supervise.

Interpersonal Style and Temperament of the Manager

Personality Tests for Hiring

Core values must also be assessed. No matter how talented you may be, if your values are at odds with the culture, you will not fare well. People are happiest working where their core values and goals are compatible with those of the organization.

'Ultimate Psychometric Tests' by Mike Bryon (ISBN 074946349X) Personality is pivotal in selecting managers. Compatibility is vital when considering the transfer or promotion of executive talent. The interpersonal style and temperament of the manager must be congruent with the character and needs of the firm. People can be taught certain skills and technologies, but not the traits that turn the use of those technologies into results. If personality and style are out of step with the new situation, nothing can prevent failure. Even the best leaders of the most capable teams promoting well-tested innovations may fail if the context in which the change is to be implemented is not considered. Capable leaders and well-balanced teams must personalize and adapt their approaches to create cultures and contexts where change will flourish.

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Use Facilitative Leadership to Transform Your Organization

Facilitative Leadership Style

'The Facilitative Leadership That Makes the Difference' by Priscilla H. Wilson (ISBN 097297640X) Facilitative leadership is not about leading by committee or getting everyone together and asking, “What do you and you think?” Committee can decide not everything. The front lines are not the place to take a straw poll. Even so, there are times when a leader can, and should, get people together to talk about how to improve operations and ask for input. That is facilitative leadership.

For this process to work, leaders must create a culture where people not only feel comfortable contributing ideas and suggestions, but where leaders act on those inputs.

Facilitative Leadership Theory

Acting on input does not mean doing everything the group tells you to do. It means making it clear to the group that their input is valued by defining how that input will be used. Many times a leader gives the impression that if the team members give honest input, they will be punished. This is why the leader must clarify how the input will be used before asking for input.

For instance, let the group know if you are:

  • Just asking for ideas and you, the leader, will make the final decision,
  • Asking for ideas and you, the leader, will discuss options with the group before making the final decision,
  • Requesting input so the final decision will be made together as a team,
  • Requiring input, and the team will make the final decision after reviewing it with you, and,
  • Giving input to the team and the team will tell you what the final decision is.

Facilitative Leadership Style

Facilitative Leadership Style

These are examples of how to explain your intentions when involving direct reports in decision-making. Clarity builds respect, trust, and rapport.

'The Practice of Facilitative Leadership' by Ken Todd Williams (ISBN 1523693908) The role of the leader is changing. Once, the leader stood in the middle of everything and directed the team with one-way communication. The leader would say, “Jump,” and followers would only ask, “How high?” As leaders progress, they allow for two- way communication, but they are still in the middle directing the activities. Then, as leaders continue to progress, they step out of the middle and become a part of the team. The leaders are still responsible, but they do not push their people—they tend to pull, to get people to follow them—not to push and micro-manage them.

As leaders progress even more, they can step away from the day-to-day management. This affords even more communication among the members of the team. Again, you cannot do this until you help the team members interact with each other on a level playing field. You can then be free to work on the strategic elements of your job.

These skills are becoming more critical because the leader’s span at control is expanding!

Now, when you step away, you do not disengage! You cannot expect what you do not inspect. So you must be accessible, continue to coach, and have the courage to hold people accountable and not fold under pressure. Suppose, for example, that you have been coaching a direct report on an important project. The project does not reach its target. Your boss calls you in and asks, “What happened?” You might explain how you have been coaching a member of your team who let you down; but you need the courage to also say, “I am responsible, and I will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” You are ultimately responsible for your group’s performance!

Now, you will want to talk with that direct report about what happened. Clearly, you need to revisit the miscues. It is the employee’s responsibility to achieve the goals, but you need to ensure your people are on-track.

Characteristics of Facilitative Leaders

Characteristics of Facilitative Leaders

Facilitative leaders listen to multiple points of view, including those they do not agree with. This enables them to make better decisions. Facilitative leaders capture the key kernels of information, build bridges between people, and create an atmosphere where people share information.

When you master these skills, you become a facilitative leader. The need for greater collaboration comes at a time when the diversity of perspectives, talents, and cultures present in the workplace is increasing. Achieving better results by tapping into this mix is a goal that can be accomplished through effective application of facilitative leadership fundamentals.

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Leaders Connect Their Voice to Their Touch

Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz In Leadership Jazz, Max De Pree, former chair and chief executive officer of the Michigan furniture maker Herman Miller, illustrates this point with a moving story about tending his prematurely born granddaughter, Zoe, during the first days of her fragile life. On his initial visit to the neonatal intensive care unit, De Pree encountered a compassionate nurse named Ruth, who gave him this advice: “I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I would like you to rub her body and her legs and her arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch.”

In that instant, De Pree realized that Nurse Ruth was giving him not only the best advice for care of Zoe but also “the best possible description of the work of a leader. At the core of becoming a leader is the need always to connect one’s voice to one’s touch.”

Leadership credibility is about connecting voice and touch, about doing what you say you will do. But De Pree insists that there’s a prior task to connecting voice and touch. It’s “finding one’s voice in the first place.”

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The Leadership Tent

Vital leadership competencies

We will not add yet another description of the character traits or thought processes of leaders. Our analysis of massive data collected on leaders’ competencies reveals that all vital leadership competencies can be grouped into five elements, which we compare to the poles in a tent:

  1. Character: Our model starts with a center pole representing the “character” of an individual. Personal characters is the core of leadership effectiveness. The ethical standards, integrity, and authenticity of the leader are extremely important. With a strong personal character, the leader is never afraid to be open and transparent. In fact, the more people can see inside, the more highly regarded the leader will be. Without that personal character, leaders are forever in danger of being “discovered.”
  2. Personal capability. The pole of personal capability describes the intellectual, emotional, and skill makeup of the individual. It includes analytical and problem-solving capabilities, along with technical competence. It requires an ability to create a clear vision and sense of purpose. Great leaders need these personal capabilities. Leadership cannot be delegated to others. The leader must be emotionally resilient, trust others, and be self-confident enough to run effective meetings and speak well in public.
  3. Focus on results. Focusing on results describes the ability to have an impact and get things accomplished. Leaders may be wonderful human beings, but if they don’t produce sustained, balanced results, they simply are not good leaders.
  4. Interpersonal skills. Leadership is expressed through the communication process and is the impact that the leader has on other people. It is the leader’s ability to obtain good results in other arenas, such as financial outcomes, productivity improvement, or enhanced customer relations.
  5. Leading change. Another expression of leadership comes in the ability to produce positive change. The highest expression of leadership involves change. Caretaker managers can keep things going, but leaders are demanded if the organization is to pursue a new path or rise to higher performance. For many leadership roles, the first four tent poles may be all that are required. It is not until a person gets into leading strategic change that the final tent pole is required.
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