Leading Blog



09.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2014

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

  The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson
  The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization by Jacob Morgan
  Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow
  Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization by Edward D. Hess
  Hard Times: Leadership in America by Barbara Kellerman

The Virgin Way Future of Work Smartcuts Learn or Die Hard Times

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“No two persons ever read the same book.”
— Edmund Wilson


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:19 AM
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08.31.14

LeadershipNow 140: August 2014 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from August 2014 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:57 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

08.29.14

A Road Map for Young Adults

It all began with an e-mail from his daughter, Avery, with the subject line: "Is this okay to send?"

Avery had gotten her first post-college job as an assistant to the co-executive producer to a new network daytime TV talk show. She wanted to ask her new boss for a later start date so she would have more time to “tie up loose ends.”

The Bigs
It was then her Dad, Ben Carpenter, realized that today’s young people don’t really know what is expected of them in the real world—the “big leagues”. They didn’t know how the working world actually worked.

So Carpenter sat down to write The Bigs. It is advice for recent college graduates and young professionals of course, but really for anyone working in the Bigs about the kinds of issues they will encounter. The book is not just a how-to book of bullet points, but it is filled with stories from Carpenter's own life that give the advice credibility and context. They are well worth reading to help you get your bearings.

Not all of the advice is new but it is the “uncommon sense” we all need to get along and influence the people around us in a positive way. Consider these thoughts:

It is ironic this issue tripped me up so badly because I believe my normally rigorous adherence to my Golden Rule was a major reason, from early on, I was viewed as a leader at Greenwich Capital. The lesson is … always follow the Golden Rule and never say anything negative about anybody in your company. To do otherwise is unprofessional, unnecessary, and more often than not will come back to haunt you.

Take responsibility for all mistakes you make and, if you are a competent and valued employee, when you do take responsibility it will be viewed as a sign of strength, not weakness, by your co-workers.

Understand that how your boss views you will be largely a function of how your peers and subordinates see you.

Whatever qualities you look for in a spouse, please include “a happy person” at or near the top of your list.

While you are looking towards the future, and the goals you hope to accomplish, you need to appreciate the blessings you have today. Just like choosing to be happy, you can choose to appreciate what you have. If I could give one gift to those I love the most, it would be for them to always appreciate what they have.

Leave you baggage at home. The insecurities and resentments from your childhood will just slow you down or, in some cases, sabotage your plans entirely. Yu are now a full grown man or woman and it is time to sand up, take responsibility, and start building the life you want to live. You may not yet have had a shock dramatic enough to make you drop your childhood baggage. However, you need to appreciate how stunningly different the real world is from your previous life as a student and seize this moment to make a fresh start.

Choosing a career you can do well, rather than doing what you want, might sound unappealing, but it isn’t. The reason is the satisfaction you get from being good at your job. From my personal experiences, as well as observing family, friends, and co-workers, I know most professionals are most happy doing what they are good at.

The most important advice I can give you about how to get a great job is to arrange for informational interviews with junior staff at a company before you have a job interview. In any good-sized company or department there should be no need to reinvent the wheel. Imitate the actions of the star employees and then use your creativity and talents to perform even better.

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The Bigs provides samples of letters to people you need to network with, questions to ask and how to find people to add to your network and thank-you letters to anyone you interviewed with along the way once you land your first job. He includes advice on what to do during each year of your college career, advice on internships, how to manage your finances, and what to say during interviews. Recommended for High School juniors and beyond. Start early.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:39 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

08.21.14

Get Advice from People Who Have…

The Decision Maker
Giving decisions to people closest to the action can transform any organization says Dennis Bakke in The Decision Maker. In a decision-maker organization, the leader leads by choosing a decision-maker based on their proximity, perspective, experience and wisdom.

But since we are all human, the decision-maker must ask for advice. The advice process brings multiple perspectives together to guide a successful outcome. But the decision-maker makes the final call—and takes responsibility for it.

Deciding who to get advice from can influence a successful outcome. So get advice from people who have:

Experience: Has this person had experience with this problem? There’s no teacher like experience.

Position: People in different positions see different things. The decision-maker asks a leader, a peer, someone below them in the hierarchy—and even, if circumstances warrant, experts from outside the company.

Responsibility: Decisions have consequences—and decision-makers should be held accountable for theirs. At the same time, nobody is right all the time. The most important part of any decision is that the decision-maker fully engages with the advice process, not just that he or she gets it “right.”

Ownership: When people are asked for advice, they start to feel ownership. Ideally, everyone who offers advice works for the success of the project as if it were their own. The advice process isn’t just about getting the right answer. It’s about building a strong team and creating a process of communication that will improve all decisions in a company.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:44 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Problem Solving

08.18.14

Leading People Like Family

Leaders Eat Last
In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek shares an insight he learned from Bob Chapman, Chairman and CEO of the Barry-Wehmiller Companies. It’s an important way of framing our leadership responsibility:
Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Parents work to offer their children a good life and a good education and to teach them the lessons that will help them grow up to be happy, confident and able to use all the talents they were blessed with. Those parents then hand their children over to a company with the hope the leaders of that company will exercise the same love and care as they have. “It is we, the companies, who are now responsible for these precious lives,” says Chapman.
Sinek explains: “Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own … in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.” He adds, “It is about committing to the well-being of those in our care and having a willingness to make sacrifices to see their interests advanced so that they may carry our banner long after we are gone.”
Circle of Safety
To that end we have to protect our people by creating what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety. We constantly face threats to our survival; forces working to hinder our success. These come of course, from without the organization and are these threats are largely beyond our control. But they also come from within our organizations and are well within our control. He writes:
Intimidation, humiliation, isolation, feeling dumb, feeling useless and rejection are all stresses we try to avoid inside the organization. But the danger is controllable and it should be the goal of leadership to set a culture free of danger from each other. And the way to do that is by giving people a sense of belonging. By offering them a strong culture based on a clear set of human values and beliefs. By giving them the power to make decisions. By offering them trust and empathy. By creating a Circle of Safety.
Too often, people are trying to protect themselves from leaders that are willing to sacrifice anyone to advance their own careers. “Without a Circle of Safety, people are forced to spend too much time and energy protecting themselves from each other.” We thrive when we feel safe in our group.

Leaders can be found at any level in an organization. They are the ones who are willing to give of themselves for the sake of others.

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The title of the book—Leaders Eat Last—comes from a conversation with a Marine Corps general. He said, “Officers eat last.” Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: great leaders sacrifice their own comfort—even their own survival—for the good of those in their care. In a world where far too many leaders are looking out for themselves, Sinek offers numerous insights about the kind of sacrifice required to be a great leader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:03 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Leadership

08.14.14

5 Leadership Lessons: Opportunity and Risk are Soul Mates

5 Leadership Lessons

The Risk Advantage by Tom Panaggio is designed as a guide for those who are contemplating an entrepreneurial pursuit, are already engaged in building a business, or are currently working for someone else and want to inject their entrepreneurial ideas and attitude. “Those who understand where risk belongs in their lives,” says Panaggio, “will ultimately be successful.”

1  When failure occurs, it’s natural to say, “We made a bad decision.” But what you need to do is ask yourself this question: Was it a bad decision or simply a bad outcome? A decision is a choice you make. Without the benefit of clairvoyance, you base that choice on timely information. It would be unfortunate to measure the decision’s value based solely on outcomes. If we only accept the value of favorable outcomes, then we limit our ability to take risks, and forward progress stops.

The reality is that important decisions made by intelligent people having the best information and intentions could still result in an undesirable outcome. Leaders make decisions to determine the company’s direction. Promoting the proactive nature of decision making is the objective because in an environment where there is decision paralysis, forward motion ceases, and that is bad outcome.

2  Go for clarity, not certainty. The idea of clarity pertains more to the direction you want your business to be moving rather than the degree of detail and the language you use.

3  I have heard all the “If I had” excuses over the years. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is based on false reality, because the road to success is through action, not tools or accessories. While tools, technology, and accessories might be helpful, they do not guarantee success. Effort guarantees success—you have to keep your foot on the accelerator longer and more often than your competitor.

4  Opportunities are not only an advantageous circumstance but also chances to correct, rectify, or prioritize a situation that needs attention. Besides forgoing an opportunity for success because we are waiting for ideal conditions, many business leaders fail to solve problems or correct mistakes because, in their minds, the timing wasn’t right. Opportunities are not one-time occurrences; they are continuous events that present themselves throughout our entire journey.

5  Hoping that something will change to improve your situation will result in defeat, the end of your dream. As a leader, your example of enthusiastically seeking opportunity to execute, improve and deliver results will be the beacon that guides all who follow you.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:52 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Five Lessons

08.12.14

Designing Moments of Impact

Leadership
In a world of adaptive challenges—messy, open-ended, and ill-defined—your garden variety meeting isn’t going to cut it. What you need is a strategic conversation. But these kinds of conversations don’t just happen—they need to be designed.

Moments of Impact by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon will help you to do just that. A moment of impact is created at the intersection of design, strategy and conversation. Pierre Wack described the challenge as:
It happens when your message reaches the microcosms [mental models] of decision makers, obliges them to question their assumptions about how their business world works, and leads them to change and reorganize their inner models of reality.
Mental models matter. The real challenge is “not to find the right answer to an adaptive challenge but rather to help shape people’s perceptions of the problem—and thus of potential solutions.”

Moments of Impact

Here are the five core principles for designing strategic conversations:
  1. Define the Purpose: More than a clear set of objectives, you develop a clear sense of the change that this group needs to make together—and how this conversation will advance that process.
  2. Engage Multiple Perspectives: Not just the most appropriate participants, but you dig deeper to understand the views, values, and concerns of each participant and stakeholder group. Find ways to create value from the intersection of diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise that live inside any organization.
  3. Frame the Issues: All content should be highly relevant to the objectives and clearly communicated and they should also be framed in a way that illuminates different aspects of the adaptive challenge you are wrestling with, including how the various parts relate to the whole.
  4. Set the Scene: Make thoughtful choices about all of the elements of the environment—from the physical space to artifacts to aesthetics.
  5. Make It an Experience: Not only should you follow a logical sequence of agenda items, but also attend to the emotional and psychological experience of the participants. The experience should not only be logical but also intuitive and energizing.
Moments of Impact is really two books in one. Included is a comprehensive 60-page Starter Kit. It’s a collection of tools and tips that will help you start designing strategic conversations. Well worth the price of the book alone.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 PM
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