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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.”

Posted in Education and Career

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.

Posted in Management and Leadership

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.

Posted in Management and Leadership

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.”

Posted in Management and Leadership

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.
Posted in Management and Leadership

Four Strategic Shifts to Streamline Your Work Flow

Four Strategic Shifts to Streamline Your Work Flow

Behind every business strategy is a belief. What we believe about how the world works determines the policies we enact, the plans we devise, the processes we use, and the way we behave. Often, when we want to alter an outcome and improve results, we need to change the underlying belief. Then the processes and activities can be changed.

New product development is one area where erroneous beliefs keep us from getting the results we desire. The drive is always to achieve faster time-to-market and more predictable product development cycles, since finishing second in a winner-takes-all competition means, at worst, giving up millions in revenues, and, at best, delays in translating spending to revenue.

Here are four shifts in belief and behavior that make a profitable difference:

  1. Increasing throughput. The widely held belief is that keeping everyone going full bore-working long hours will speed things up. But most projects take longer than planned, and keeping everyone working longer does not necessarily improve speed. It’s more important to know what is limiting how much work can get through the system, and focusing resources there. Apply the most precious skills to tasks only those people can perform, offloading lesser tasks and ensuring the work arrives fully prepared.
  2. Exposing capacity. The entrenched belief is that idle system capacity is wasteful and should be eliminated. In reality, not having some extra capacity is sure way to miss deadlines and due dates. Too often, business capacity is pared to the bone, and projects fall behind. With no cushion, the system can’t handle even minor mishaps, let alone major problems. A reasonable extra capacity is not excessive but protective, helping to guard against sudden deviations. Flexible protective capacity can reduce project cost and time.
  3. Coherent work behaviors. Multitasking—working on several things at once—does not speed projects along. In fact, multitasking is one way to lengthen project time. Shifting attention among several different tasks inevitably wastes time. It’s almost always possible to speed up work by 10 to 30 percent just by eliminating multitasking. In truth, people cannot do more than one task at a time; they simply switch back and forth and lose time in between. The alternative is to get it, work it, and move it-working on a task until it is finished or you can’t do any more without more input.
  4. Acting globally. The common belief is that any improvement helps the organization, that local excellence always benefits the larger entity. However, local improvements may have no effect, or a negative one, on the bottom line. Becoming faster as a company simply can’t be achieved by optimizing areas. Since organizations are interdependent systems, it’s not always obvious how a change in one part will affect others. Changes toward “faster and better” may shift the balance of power, and people may resist or subvert change that hurts the ego or wallet. So, shifting to a global mindset may also mean adjusting rewards and incentives.

Speeding up product development requires knowing what makes work flow in a smooth and streamlined way. It’s not about keeping everyone busy all the time, eliminating all “waste,” juggling tasks, or making isolated improvements. The way to speed and quality is through stronger alignment—of behavior and belief, of practices and purpose—that frees us to strategically apply resources where real opportunities for improvement lie.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Learn to Make Paranoia Work for You

Learn to Make Paranoia Work for You

For most leaders, decision-making involves the dualities of increasing productivity but retaining quality; satisfying ecology but maintaining profitability; reducing service costs but insuring customer satisfaction. Leaders serve many constituencies: senior staffs, employees, stockholders, board members, customers.

Leaders are often unaware of their personal limits and the limits of their jobs: the job is often soul-consuming; martyrdom is a frequent refuge; and super-human responses still fall short.

In the past, leaders were encouraged to live with the demands of their jobs, reduce excesses through delegation, appreciate the achievements—the rush, respect, even admiration of those they valued. But such consolation didn’t last.

Why? It was a sane approach. It blended knowledge of both the nature of the job with that of the client. But the fears persisted: not being equal to the challenges; surrounded by untrustworthy and even back-stabbing associates; and an array of external forces and factors making success problematic. The net result was frequent and urgent callbacks in which CEOs spent all the time venting. The inevitable question then came: “Am I crazy? What’s wrong with me?”

Once I answered: “The job is crazy, and so are you. It is a mirror match. No divorce is possible. You have a tiger by the tail. Neither one of you will let go, and it will never change its stripes. Your paranoia goes with the job and with who you are. We have to bring it to the surface and accept paranoia as a norm. Then we need to find ways of making that paranoia work for you—making it protective, purposeful, and proactive.”

The executive was thoughtful. Then he said: “Clearly, I am not comfortable thinking of myself or my job in terms of paranoia. So, what’s the next step?”

I told him: “First, make a list of daunting tasks, people out to get you, and those cheering you on to failure.” As a result, this leader went from accepting to embracing the limitations of the job, from believing that there was nothing wrong with him to recognizing his paranoia.

I coach protective, purposeful, and proactive paranoia for leaders. Coaching should be situational: “If you had to deal with this situation how would you handle it?” Although coaching should focus on solutions, these should come from the mentee. But here the client was puzzled.

Three situations surfaced: threats, quandaries, and discontinuities.

Threats-protective Paranoia

I asked the CEO to make a list of threats, including: who is out to get me, who wants my job, who is undermining me or my plans, what factions are forming, what is the rumor mill saying about me, what is my standing with the rank and file, stockholders, and board members? Along with a to-do list, paranoia creates a to-worry-about list.

Heeding paranoia and making it serve protective ends, the CEO finds he has to make some changes. The first one is changing style and schedule of appointments. Meetings now need to be supplemented by information-gathering. Breaks become occasions for surprise visits. Early arrival can be coupled with buying breakfast for managers never known before. Lunches are devoted to disarming threats and spiking the guns of those who may be out to get you. Evening engagements involve inviting senior staff members and spouses for dinner or to attend a show or concert together. It’s sage advice: “Keep your enemies dose.”

The second major change is a reexamination of the CEO’s sources of information. Who tells the emperor that he has no clothes? What has been his relationship with his senior staff? Has he surrounded himself with “yes men”? Does he require constant approval with little or no dissent? Does he shoot the messenger? In short, has he inspired and developed ” followship”? Has he created a team that will protect him?

By operating from a base of paranoia, threats can be accepted as a norm not a personal leadership failing. The CEO needs to have an early warning system. Internal intelligence gathering should match the external monitoring of market and competition. Indeed, the first may feed into the second. Learning about internal capacity may directly affect market performance. Worrying about threats may save his job and his company.

Proactive Paranoia

Quandries-purposeful Paranoia

One benefit of valuing paranoia is relieving the CEO of the burden of having to be all knowing, all powerful, all successful, and indispensable. The CEO can’t be the only problem solver. The coach suggests the compilation of another list: what at work drives you crazy? What frustrates or compromises what you believe should be done? This paranoia requires a more reflective exchange. These are not direct threats as much as powerful enigmas that cause sleepless nights and undermine companies. And so the coach and the CEO seek to identify and unravel Gordian knots.

Although many will surface, the most difficult is how to persuade people to change behaviors or to alter basic attitudes and belief systems. The coach might ask the CEO: How often have you changed or resisted change? What helped or hindered you? What have you learned that can be applied? A second approach requires reconfiguring structures and roles so that change is welcomed not required, invited not coerced. In short, change the outside as a way of changing the inside.

To stimulate such thinking, the coach may introduce distributed leadership, including a leadership component in every employee’s job. Or, rotate leadership among team members. Or, shift the focus from changing people to changing environments that change people. The fear or paranoia of failure compels such actions because they facilitate thinking out of the box, and reduce attribution of failure to executive limitations. As with threats, paranoic inadequacy can be turned upon itself for insight, quandaries can become transparent enigmas; and the challenge of internal change can be converted to the challenge of external structures.

Discontinuities-proactive Paranoia

Increasingly, nothing remains constant and familiar. Twists and turns, breaks and new directions, shrinking of old markets, seeking new ones—these are the daily fluctuations leaders face.

Given such regular dislocations, the desire to hold on reinforces the resistance to change. The future then abandons the organization. Whep the coach and the CEO address the future, what surfaces is the stuff of which nightmares are made: assumptions, planning, and coherence.

  • Assumptions that good times will continue, that growth is assured, and that market share will remain secure make for happy days. But when discontinuity becomes a norm, assumptions analysis has to become the data of decision making.
  • Forecasts and strategic planning fail to serve as an early warning system, suffering from a reliance on assumptions. If the CEO asked all employees to invent the future, that would make everyone a strategic planner who would forecast how their jobs might change and what to do to prepare.
  • Coherence. The key is for the leader to find and articulate new common ground. It may be a combination of some previous beliefs that still have binding power with some new sources of coherence that await us in the future. Together these give commonality of purpose and flexibility to face discontinuity. Having graduated from the College of Paranoia, you are ready to lead others out of the wilderness of threats, quandaries, and discontinuities.
Posted in Investing and Finance Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

How to Use Power Wisely to Transform People into Partners

Use Power Wisely to Transform People into Partners

Sensitive leadership is not leadership that lacks strength or courage. It is not softness, weakness, or lack of power. It is just the opposite.

Sensitive leadership builds people. A sensitive leader has a heightened awareness to such things as childcare, retirement programs, union issues, safety, motivation, training, career opportunities, fair policies, high standards, and social problems.

When you become sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, you gain not only knowledge, but the wisdom to make a difference. You realize there is more to life than material gain, status, power, and instant gratification. Your sensitivity to future trends keeps you at the forefront of your field, and it gives you the insight to create a vision for your people to follow, build an organization, and improve performance.

To improve the performance of your people and earn their respect, apply these four ideas about sensitivity:

  1. 'Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis (ISBN 1422168034) Be sensitive to the power of a positive mental attitude (PMA). Your cheerfulness helps defeat cynicism, fear, futility, and despair. Your PMA will inspire a shared vision and help you enlist others to make a difference. It can calm turmoil, confusion, and chaos. It enables you to uplift people’s spirits and give hope when they feel overburdened or negative. With a PMA, you don’t ignore realities and difficulties, but you do find opportunity in problems. You have an optimistic view.
  2. Be clear about what is important to you. What is your mission? Are your followers enabled by it? What will you do to make a difference? What do you stand for? Performance is enhanced when your vision is clear, and others see how they fit into it.
  3. Recognize where people are (not where you would like them to be, where you think they should be, or where you think their potential lies). If you match your leadership style to someone’s current performance level, you will achieve much better results than you will by trying to make that person fit your preconception.
  4. Lend constructive support. To improve performance, criticize positively, give constructive support, and concentrate on the job, not on the character of the worker. Describe what you want, not how to do it. Also, be courteous and polite. Your leadership style isn’t what you think your style is—it’s what others perceive it to be. Compare your own perception with that of your followers and modulate your activities to suit the situation. The more sensitive you become, the broader your perceptions will become, the more possibilities you’ll see, and the greater difference you will make through your service.

Use Power Wisely

'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion' by Robert B. Cialdini (ISBN 006124189X) Leaders who make a difference use their power in many situations. They recognize that power is the prime mover of people and events. Yet power is hard to define. Synonyms include: direct authority, influence, hierarchy, rank, superiority, clout, prestige, sway, mastery, and persuasion. We all recognize power when we see it in action. We know powerful people when we are with them, and we know that we need power to lead. Leaders who make the greatest contribution use power wisely.

Leadership requires you to be strong enough to tackle the tough issues and gentle enough to keep the solution humane, demanding enough to challenge others not to settle for easy answers and patient enough to know that progress takes time. Cultivate the wisdom to use power wisely. With power, you can achieve a great deal. Power, well used, energizes people and helps you to earn their loyalty and respect.

There are two kinds of power: power that comes from holding a position and power that comes from within. Personal power is the magnet that draws people to you. It is the energizer that gets things done. Your personal power outlasts your position power; by using these two powers, you can accomplish great things.

Recommended Reading

Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Accelerate Leadership Performance in The First 100 Days

Accelerate Leadership Performance in The First 100 Days

Disciplined leaders engage in enterprise-wide conversations that trigger vital instincts, tapping deep wisdom, strong commitment, rich relationships, real insight, innovative creativity, and earned trust—all necessary to drive cultural success. We-centric leaders share their inner thoughts. They help transform deep thoughts and feelings into dialogue that directs people toward bold action.

As relationship circles build among colleagues, customers, vendors and resource partners, a web of interconnectivity forms. Using a common language and story-telling process, the organization becomes a dynamic system of positive transformation. Egocentricity (I-centric behaviors) gives way to humility, and we-centric engagement fills the space. The collective will for action becomes a driving force, moving the brand and organization forward faster. The energy of action is not reactivity, which leads to territorial behavior (I-centric), but generativity and co-creativity, which leads to synchronous behavior and action (we-centric).

10 Steps in 100 Days of New Leadership

To build your team in 100 days, follow these 10 steps:

  1. Build your executive team. Decide who will be on the team. Gain alignment with the key executives and develop productive relationships with them. If there are issues with relationships, philosophy, history, misunderstandings, clear them up; don’t allow them to fester. Have one-on-ones with your key people regularly. Clarify the roles of each executive.
  2. Unveil your visions and strategy as a shared vision. Project your strategic thinking clearly. Share the details; have forums for dialogue to create an enterprise-wide vision. You clarify your message every time you say it. People need to hear it, and you need to speak it consistently.
  3. 100 Days of New Leadership Build momentum and energy from top to bottom. Each executive, not just the CEO, must hold the vision. Every one-on-one helps clarify the picture. Make sure you and your team sees the same view. They need to be onboard with you and build the vision with you.
  4. Appreciate the value each person brings. Ensure that people feel valued, solicit their points of view, and note their contributions. Discuss where the business is going and how they can contribute to its success.
  5. Communicate intimately and globally. Every conversation is a chance to build trust and respect and strengthen relationships. To build trust, give people a chance to be heard. Circle back more than once during the conversation. And let them get to know you.
  6. Set priorities for 30, 60, and 90 days. Select key priorities that show actions are being taken and decisions made and engage your top team in building the 30-60-90 day agenda.
  7. Communicate the small wins. Communicate the small wins toward achieving transformational goals.
  8. Celebrate success. Every success is important; so, celebrate when it counts.
  9. Capture symbols of change. Capture cultural symbols of change as they emerge and make them explicit.
  10. Make requests, promises, and commitments. Ask for what you want. Keep your promises. And build a commitment culture by walking the talk.

Leadership is being redefined from power-over others to power-with others. Executives are awakening to new beliefs about what drives people to be productive and what it takes to engage their energy, commitment, and creativity.

Leaders turn fear into hope, caution into courage, and resistance into a powerful energy for creating the future.

Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Good Intentions Won’t Bail You Out

Good Intentions Won't Bail You Out

When it comes to fishing, my husband James takes the lead. But his lack of leadership ability during recent canoe trip on the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota offered wonderful lessons on how leaders can unknowingly screw up.

Here is a list of what not to do.

Never assign responsibility without authority

James insisted that in order to cast his fishing line, he needed to be the back of the canoe. I was to paddle as he cast and trolled his lure. The only challenge is that the ability to steer a two-person canoe is handled by the person in the back. He’d shout directions to me but I had little authority over the craft. Frustrated, I wanted to turn around and whack him with the paddle.

Lesson: If you assign someone a task, put them where they have full control to do what is required rather than hamstring them with your positional authority.

Don’t: Hire a skill set but don’t let the employee use it

The Boundary Waters are comprised of many lakes connected with islands and it is frequently neces- sary to portage the canoe to the next lake. I have a good eye for reading navigational maps. I would identify the portage spot as we approached. On more than one occasion, James would insist I was wrong. We’d spend time looking” only to return to the site I had identified. I felt like throwing the backpacks up the trail.

Lesson: If you hire someone with skill you don’t have, let them take the lead.

Never believe someone closest to the problem

We were fishing along a rock ledge jutting out from one of the islands. James was a distance from me when I suddenly yelled for help. “I have a fish and I can’t tighten the reel.” “No,” replied James, “You don’t have a fish.”

“Yes, I do. Please help me.” He slowly made his way over and took the rod from my hand. A deft fisherman, he fixed the problem and, to his amazement, he pulled out a fish. I wanted to hit him with it.

Lesson: Pay attention to people down line. A removed view might very well be wrong.

Never Practice unclear communication

From my weak directional paddling position, James would also holler out a specific direction. “Head toward that tree,” he’d call. Now remember, he is sitting behind me. The island is covered with trees. Just what is that tree?

“The green one,” he’d say. Sorry, James. They are all green! Since the eyes at the back of my head were shut, I couldn’t see where his finger pointed. I wanted to bite that finger.

Lesson: Clairvoyance is not a skill set you can hire. Describe specifically what you want, what you see. Bring people along into your vision.

Don’t Make others bail you out of the trouble you cause

As we circled the various islands, James would cast toward the shore. He has a good eye for distance but on occasion, his line would snag the low-lying bushes, and I’d have to climb out and untangle the mess.

One foot almost landed on the back of a monstrous rock that moved: a moss-covered snapping turtle with a shell the size of a toilet seat and jaws that could break my ankle. I screamed.

Lesson: You can be bailed out once. But for repeated errors, get out and do it yourself.

Posted in Mental Models and Psychology