Leading Blog



02.01.16

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2016

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

  The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
  Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap by Paul Leinwand and Cesare R. Mainardi
  Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
  Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein
  Remarkable! Maximizing Results through Value Creation by David Salyers and Randy Ross

Industries Strategy Originals Superbosses Remarkable

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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“Seeing a book on my shelf reconnects me to the ideas inside. And that’s why I read.”
— Michael Hyatt


Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:37 PM
| Comments (0) | Books

01.31.16

LeadershipNow 140: January 2016 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from January 2016 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:30 PM
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01.29.16

4 Rules for Getting Valuable Work Done

Deep Work

TO THRIVE IN the new economy—the current information economy—you need to master these two core abilities:
  1. The ability to quickly master hard things. (If you can’t learn you can’t thrive.)
  2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed. (To produce tangible results that people value. What Seth Godin calls the ability to “ship.”)
These two abilities depend on your ability to perform deep work.

Cal Newport bases his book Deep Work on the Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Learning is an act of deep work. An act of intense focus. “To produce at a peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.”

The reason deep work is rare is because we encourage distractions by the way we design our life. “An interruption, even if short, delays the total time required to complete a task by a significant fraction.” Deep work is not a priority. We are what we focus on and that is increasingly, the superficial.

Shallow work adds to our sense of meaninglessness. Science writer Winifred Gallagher observed that “when you lose focus, you mind tends to fix on what could be wrong with your life instead of what’s right.” Newport adds: “A workday driven by the shallow, from a neurological perspective, is likely to be a draining and upsetting day, even if most of the shallow things that capture your attention seem harmless or fun.”

To fight the drift into the superficial we need to cultivate some strategies to develop a deep work habit. Here are a few Newport suggests:

Find Your Deep Work Philosophy
Newport describes four approaches to making time for deep work. There is the Monastic approach that eliminates or radically minimizes shallow obligations. The Bimodal approach that suggests binging on deep work for various lengths of time. The Rhythmic approach makes deep work a habit by scheduling a regular chain of deep work in your day. The last approach and the one Newport prefers, is called the Journalistic approach. Using this approach you fit deep work wherever you can into your schedule. This last approach however, requires a great deal of willpower and practice. The Rhythmic approach may work best to get you started.

Take Breaks from Focus
Make deep work a priority by taking breaks from focus, not from distraction. “The idea motivating this strategy is that use of a distracting service does not, by itself, reduce your brain’s ability to focus. It’s instead the constant switching from low-stimuli/high-value activities to high-stimuli/low value activities, at the slightest hint of boredom or cognitive challenge, that teaches your mind to never tolerate an absence of novelty.”

Quit Social Media
Network tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and infotainment sites like Business Insider and Buzzfeed, “fragment our time and reduce our ability to concentrate.” The overuse of social media unwittingly cripples our ability to succeed in the world of knowledge work. “To master the art of deep work, therefore, you must take back control of your time and attention from the many diversions that attempt to steal them.” Newport recommends that we only use a tool if its positive impact on the core factors that determine our success and happiness, substantially outweigh it negative impacts.
If you give your mind something meaningful to do throughout all your waking hours, you’ll end the day more fulfilled, and begin the next one more relaxed, than if you instead allow your mind to bathe for hours in semiconscious and unstructured Web surfing.

Be Intentional with Your Time
Have a plan for your day. Confine the shallow work you must do, don’t eliminate it. If you start your day with blocks of deep work scheduled in, you stand a much better chance of actually getting some deep work done. “Your goal is not to stick to a given schedule at all costs; it’s instead to maintain, at all times, a thoughtful say in what you’re doing with your time going forward—even if those decisions are reworked again and again as the day unfolds.”

“To succeed,” writes Newport, “you have to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of producing—a task that requires depth. A deep life is a good life.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:54 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

01.27.16

Leadership Value is Defined by the Receiver

WE ALL RESONATE with the clarion call for leaders to build on their strengths, be authentic, and demonstrate emotional intelligence. We can envision these noble, resonant, and genuine leaders as icons of effective leadership. But these virtuous leadership attributes are not the essence of leadership effectiveness.

Building on one’s strengths is incomplete unless one’s strengths strengthen someone else. Authenticity without a positive impact on someone else is more narcissism than leadership. Effective leaders turn their emotional intelligence into helping others find their purpose and meaning.

An underlying principle of effective leadership is that value is defined by the receiver more than the giver. This value-added principle applies in almost every relationship. When I give my wife a gift, she defines the value of the gift. When I was newly wed, I got her tickets to sporting events and she often suggested I enjoy myself. I have learned that the real gift is figuring out what will be meaningful to her, not me. Likewise, effective leaders recognize and serve the stakeholders who are impacted by their strengths, authenticity, and emotional style. They then work to deliver value to these stakeholders in ways that matter to the stakeholders.

When leaders focus on the value they create for others, they think less about who they are and how who they are, will make others better. They realize that the value of their values is in that others will achieve what matters to them. Ultimately, leaders are measured by what they leave behind and how their present actions shape future success.

Leaders should be asking themselves, “Who are the stakeholders I care about? Who do I want to make better because of what I do? Who will benefit from my choices today? How will my actions be seen by and affect others?” When pondering and responding to these questions, leaders matter because they create sustained leadership in others.

Value creating leaders talk more about “we” than “I”; they build on what is right more than what is wrong; they help others feel better about themselves when leaving an interaction with them; the work to institutionalize their ideas so that they are sustained; and they relish success in those they mentor.

It is time to look beyond a leader’s personal strengths, authenticity, and emotional well being to define how leaders’ build value for others.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Dave Ulrich. He is the Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and a partner at The RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He studies how organizations build capabilities of leadership, speed, learning, accountability, and talent through leveraging human resources. He has helped generate award winning data bases that assess alignment between strategies, organization capabilities, HR practices, HR competencies, and customer and investor results. He has published more than 200 articles and book chapters and 23 books, such as Leadership Code, Leadership Brand, Results Based Leadership and most recently The Leadership Capital Index: Realizing the Market Value of Leadership.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:07 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Leadership

01.22.16

Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes

Black Box Thinking
Black Box Thinking is about how success happens. Progress hinges on how we react to failure.

In two of the most safety-critical industries – aviation and health care – the approach to failure is very different. And the results highlight the problem. For commercial aviation on Western-built jets, they have only one accident per 2.4 million flights. In health care the equivalent of two jumbo jets are falling out of the sky every twenty-four hours making preventable medical error in hospitals the third biggest killer in the United Sates behind only heart disease and cancer.

The problem lies in how they approach failure. “A failure to learn from mistakes has been one of the single greatest obstacles to human progress.” For all of the talk about not being afraid of failure, we are not learning what we should. Our organizational and personal cultures tend to evade and cover-up the issues.

How do we react when something has gone wrong?

Black Box
Black Box Thinking refers to the flight recorder found on every aircraft in the airline industry. The idea of course, is that if an accident occurs, the data can be retrieved and analyzed. Any issues uncovered can then be dealt with so that the same problem does not occur again.

The author, Matthew Syed, describes black box thinking as “the willingness and tenacity to investigate the lessons that often exist when we fail, but which we rarely exploit. It is about creating systems and cultures that enable organizations to learn from errors, rather than being threatened by them.”

Why? “Failure is rich in learning opportunities for a simple reason: in many of its guises, it represents a violation of expectation. It is showing us that the world is in some sense different from the way we imagined.” Nicely put.

Learning from failure is easier said than done. The more we have at stake (especially our egos) the more likely we are to manipulate the evidence. Consider this:
When we’re confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.

Most failure can be given a makeover. Self-justification is more insidious. Lying to oneself destroys the very possibility of learning. The most effective cover-ups are perpetrated not by those who are covering their backs, but by those who don’t even realize that they have anything to hide.

Memory, it turns out, is not as reliable as we think. We often assemble fragments of entirely different experiences and weave them together into what seems like a coherent whole. With each recollection, we engage in editing.

Clinging to cherished ideas because you are personally associated with them is tantamount to ossification. As the great British economist John Maynard Keynes put it: “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do sir?”
One of the difficulties we have when analyzing failures (and analyzing success for that matter) is that we rely on information based on hunches. Our intuitions are often wrong. We need to get down to into the details so we can isolate the effect of any action so we are solving the right problem.

David Brailsford, the general manager of the British cycling Team Sky put it this way: “People think it is exhausting to think about success at such a high level of detail. But it would be far more exhausting, for me anyway, to neglect doing the analysis. I would much rather have clear answers than to delude myself that I have the ‘right’ answers.”

An organization (and even individuals) can go on for decades thinking that their success is linked to a particular factor when in reality it is the cause of their failures. And they never make the connection because their assumptions have never been tested or analyzed.

We must change our relationship with failure. We are not born with a fear of failure. It’s how we learn. It’s only over time that we are taught a fear of failure and lose our growth mindset. We can only improve in environments where we have the right kind of meaningful feedback. Fear of failure is not the real enemy; it is recrimination and defeatism that often accompanies failure. We need to eradicate blame and encourage growth responsibility.

Syed writes: “If we drop out when we encounter problems, progress is prevented, no matter how talented we are. If we interpret difficulties as indictments of who we are, rather than pathway to progress, we will run a mile from failure. Grit, then, is strongly related to the Growth Mindset; it is about the way we conceptualize success and failure.”

Through the use of a wide variety of examples, Syed pushes you to think differently about failure and success. More importantly, he teaches us how to look beyond our easy answers and effectively get to the real issues and causations.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:13 AM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving , Thinking

01.18.16

Now is the Time to Find Your Sweet Spot

As a twenty-something, Paul Sohn said his life looked so good on paper. But a growing feeling of disappointment overwhelmed him. He wondered, “Is this all there is?”

He was experiencing a quarter–life crisis.

Leadership
It can happen at any age especially when you get caught up in these five approaches that he identifies in Quarter-Life Calling: How to Find Your Sweet Spot in Your Twenties:

Fear and Anxiety: Instead of enjoying where you are at you allow the uncertainty of the world around you to overwhelm you with stress and a sense of trepidation.

The Choice Overload: We allow the choice we have to paralyze us. This is brought on “by a recent phenomenon called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Twentysomethings live in a 24/7 plugged-in culture. We live in an era where we are accosted by the incessant meals, vacations, parties, and sheer awesomeness people are experiencing—thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to a new study by Eventbrite, 69 percent of millennials experience FOMO when they can’t attend something that their family or friends are going to.”

Too Busy to Slow Down: Are we doing the things we really should be doing? We are overscheduled, overworked and over committed.

The Obsessive Comparison Disorder: We can always find people who are doing better than us and we want what everyone else has. ‘Millennial expert Paul Angone calls this Obsessive Comparison Disorder (OCD). He says, “OCD is the smallpox of our generation.” This is an epidemic that is producing unwanted thoughts and feelings, driving us into depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around discontent. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

The YOLO/FOMO Generation: You only live once. It’s easy to get stuck in the moment. Social media encourages this thinking and the resulting drift into instant gratification and self-absorption.

Paul Sohn is talking to twenty-somethings but we all can learn from his experience. The context changes but the principles are the same.

The answer is to find your sweet spot—that place where you are living out your calling. Sohn says it is found at the intersection of your personality (who you are wired to be), gifts (that which you are naturally gifted in), passions (that which ignites a fire in your soul), and life story (what doors have opened and closed in your life). It is here that you will find your purpose that will lead you to a meaningful life.

Sweet Spot

In a noisy world it is hard to slow down enough to know yourself. Finding your sweet-spot begins with getting outside of yourself—seeing yourself from another perspective. A meaningful life comes from something outside yourself. Sohn found that in the Bible. It allowed him to integrate his life around a concept outside of his present. It makes all the difference.

For twenty-somethings, Sohn says the key is to start well. Start early.
As a clinical psychologist who specializes in twentysomethings, Meg Jay [author of Defining Decade] has observed how twentysomethings have considered this time as a throwaway decade, paying the price, professionally, personally, spiritually, and economically later in life. This is the biggest myth out there. No more procrastination. No more wasting away your time, talent, and treasure believing you can make it up later in life.

Keep learning. Find mentors. Life isn’t meant to be a rat-race. You were meant to flourish. Begin today.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:33 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

01.15.16

Finding Your 30-Second Anchoring Technique

Leading Forum
This is a post by Achim Nowak, the author of The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World

We live in a hugely distracted world. Rush from one meeting to the next, have too many emails to answer on any given day. There are moments when it seems all we do is fly by the seat of our pants. Yes, every aspect of our work rhythms conspires to throw us off-center! Staying grounded feels like the impossible dream.

I used to train actors. Have you ever wondered how an actor manages to be in the right frame of mind when the camera says “action?” How she accomplishes this amidst the relentless hustle and bustle of a movie set? Actors study the art of being in the optimal state of mind. Well, you are the actor in your own life, and your life will unfold with more grace the moment you master some of the same skills. We tend to call them anchoring techniques.

Here are a few of my favorites. Beware – what works well for one person will not work as well for another. Part of your homework is to experiment and discover the technique that “does it” for you!
  • Self-Talk:

    Affirmations have become the stuff of satire. I just watched an episode of the TV show “Two Broke Girls” in which the heroines hurl affirmations at each other with a sarcastic sense of glee. Too bad. To the cynic, an affirmation may seem too good to be true. Truth is, when you find an affirmation that works for you, the result DOES feel too good to be true!

    Here’s a phrase I use when I’m about to enter a meeting and feel anxious (and being anxious is not helpful). When I feel tired (and showing up tired is not an option): I am a vibrant vehicle of light and love.

    The three key words – vibrant, light, love – are high energy words for me. They resonate deeply. If you haven’t worked with self-talk before, this is what I want you to get:

    This little phrase works for me, every time. It shifts my energy, every time. I repeat it to myself, quietly, for about 30 seconds. Combined with a few deep breaths, it activates the cellular energy within me and around me that I am seeking to access.

    Do not use MY affirmation. Find the words that affirm YOUR highest good within you. Repeat them quietly. Instantly anchored!

  • Sensory Reprogramming:

    Mental worry tends to get us unhinged, and classic anchoring techniques shift us away from the mind, back into our optimal states of being.

    If you’re a highly visual person, see yourself in a physical place where you feel serene. Visualize the sensory details of this place. Calm will return quickly. If you’re a highly auditory person, listen to a piece of music that soothes you or fires you up.

    If you’re a highly kinesthetic person, take a few conscious breaths and adjust your posture. If you’re a spiritual person, saying a prayer or repeating a mantra will quickly reconnect you with your energy source.

This is common-sense stuff, but here’s the conundrum. An anchoring technique, applied with quiet commitment, invokes a powerful inner shift within 30 seconds. When we’re under pressure, the last thing we tend to think about is our anchoring technique. I urge you to discover the one or two techniques that “do it” for you, every time. Make them a daily habit.

And reap your anchoring rewards.

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Leadership
Achim Nowak is the author of The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World. He is the president of Influens and an international authority on presence and interpersonal connection. Achim's work integrates a wealth of experience in the personal transformation field, actor training, conflict resolution, and spiritual practice. He has been featured on 60 Minutes, NPR, Fox News, and in the Miami Herald. His weekly Energy Boost message offers practical tools for creating an energized life and has a devoted following across the globe.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:22 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

01.05.16

The True Value of Leadership

Leading Forum
This is a post by Dave Ulrich and Justin Allen. Dave Ulrich is the author of The Leadership Capital Index in which he details how equity or debt investors can systematically and predictably determine the quality of leadership to make faster and more informed decisions and gain a critical information advantage over their competitors.

Leadership emotional intelligence, authenticity, and charisma are not enough. Leaders succeed when they add value to others. Without making others better, all the personal qualities of leadership are more self-serving narcissism than true leadership. Good leaders inspire employees to do their best. Better leaders build organizations that outlast and outlive individual leaders. But, the best leaders create investor confidence in future success.

In recent years, investors have begun to look beyond current earnings to determine a firm’s true market value. Investors have examined intangibles like strategy, brand, and R&D to ensure that a firm will produce future not just past earnings. More recently, we have found that 25 to 30% of investment decisions can be traced to investors confidence in leadership.

To determine the quality of leadership, investors can now access a Leadership Capital Index (see the book Leadership Capital Index: Realizing the Market Value of Leadership). This index gives investors a thorough and rigorous way to evaluate leadership. We envision investors starting to access and assess leadership insights much like they do financial and intangible results. The Leadership Capital Index examines both the personal qualities of a leader and the leadership team and the human capital systems that the leader puts in place.

But, how can a leader initiate conversations that give investors confidence in their leadership ability? Here are some tips for leaders who want to realize more market value through their leadership.

As an individual leader, you and your leadership team can inspire personal confidence from investors when you demonstrate:
  • Learning: Show investors that you are constantly learning and growing in your role. Talk about the future more than the past. Demonstrate to investors personal energy and vitality in creating a future.
  • Strategic Clarity: Report challenges you see in the industry and have a clear strategic point of view about how to respond to those challenges.
  • Predictable Execution: Deliver on promises over and over and over again.
  • Leverage Talent: Say “we” more than “I”; share credit for success; make others feel better about themselves when they meet with you.
  • Situational: Know how to adapt your leadership style to the situation. Make your customer brand promises your personal leadership guide.

As a leader, you should create an organization that has unique capabilities to deliver sustainable value over time. Work on creating:
  • Cultural Clarity: Make sure that your internal culture matches the brand promises you make your customers.
  • Talent Flow: Show investors that you have industry leading ability to bring the best people into your organization, to develop and grow them, and to remove them if necessary.
  • Positive Accountability: Hold people accountable for results without becoming locked into burdensome performance appraisal systems. Learn to have positive conversations with employees.
  • Information Flow: Be adept at managing the flow of information into your organization through analytics and improve decision making.
  • Work Logic: Build a governance system that enables agility and responsiveness.

When you show investors that you have created both individual leaders and organization capabilities, they will respond and give you more market value. This is the next agenda for both leaders who add value and investors who want to realize that value.

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Leadership
Dave Ulrich is the author of The Leadership Capital Index and Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the Ross School, University of Michigan. Justin Allen is co- author of HR Transformation, Co-Founder of Ulrich Leadership Capital, and a Principal at The RBL Group.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:01 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business

01.01.16

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2016

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

  Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation by Adam Steltzner with William Patrick
  Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow's Workplace by Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick
  Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World by Al Pittampalli
  Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time by Laura Stack

Deep Work Right Kind of Crazy Stretch Persuadable Right Things Right

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


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“A house filled with books is a good place to live.”
— Seth Godin


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:23 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

12.31.15

LeadershipNow 140: December 2015 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from December 2015 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:16 PM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

12.30.15

Leadership Lessons from the Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS were born into an exciting period of American history. A time of great progress. Life-changing progress.

It was their character that served them well in pursuing their passion for manned flight. The genius of the Wright brothers wasn’t just that they invented a plane. It is that they figured out how to control it—how to fly it. David McCullough captures this well in one of the best leadership books of 2015. The quotes in this post are from his book, The Wright Brothers.

Their story provides us with many lessons for leaders. It’s a story of the possibilities that show themselves when we approach life from the right perspective.

Courage
Their mission was exciting but it was dangerous. They were putting their lives at risk. “But the brothers, ever conscious of the risks involved, had already decided they must never fly together. That way, if one were to be killed, the other could still carry on the work.”

Determination
Their courage was driven by their belief and confidence in what they were doing. They knew how to deal with failure. Failure informed the process and thus spurred them on. Impossible problems are solved with hard work and attention to detail. In the beginning they got little support from others. They were ridiculed by neighbors and the establishment in Washington D.C. Their time at Kitty Hawk was physically challenging as they dealt with the elements—the mosquitoes, the heat, the winds—but they persisted. They were highly-disciplined and focused. They were motivated by their work and found joy in it. Thus they were able to keep a proper perspective on either external criticisms or adulation.

Life-Long Learning
Although neither brother went to college or even finished high school, they were well educated. Their father, Bishop Wright, who was an itinerant minister, kept the house well stocked with books. He “heartily championed the limitless value of reading,” and insisted that the children learn to use the English language properly. “He was never overly concerned about his children’s attendance at school. If one or the other of them chose to miss a day or two for some project or interest he thought worthy, it was all right. And certainly he ranked reading as worthy.” It was a book from their family library, Animal Mechanism, that sparked Wilbur’s interest in “aerial locomotion.” Reading fueled their curiosity about nearly everything—Wilbur especially so. They never stopped learning.

Communication
The brother knew how to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Because of how they were brought up, their command of the English language was impressive. Wilbur was “an exceptional public speaker and lucid writer.” When he spoke in public, “his remarks were invariably articulate, to the point, and quite memorable.” “His vocabulary and use of language were of the highest order, due in large measure to standards long insisted upon be his father.”

Teamwork
The brothers worked well together and played to each other’s strengths. They understood each other. “Not that things always went smoothly. They could be highly demanding and critical of each other, disagree to the point of shouting ‘something terrible.’ At times, after an hour or more of heated argument, they would find themselves as far from agreement as when they started, except that each had changed to the other’s original position.” It was their way of working out the solutions to the problems they faced.

Character
It was their character that tied all of their strengths together. French aviator Léon Delagrange wrote, “Wilber Wright is the best example of strength of character that I have ever seen. In spite of the sarcastic remarks and the mockery, in spite of the traps set up from everywhere all these years, he has not faltered.” Their character shaped their attitude and approach to life. And it was formed in the home by their father. Describing Bishop Wright, McCullough writes: “From wide reading and observations of life, he had acquired what seemed an inexhaustible supply of advice on behavior, habits good and bad, things to be aware of in life, goals to strive for. He lectured on dress, cleanliness, economy. At home he preached courage and good character—‘good mettle,’ as he would say—worthy purpose and perseverance. Providing guidelines he understood to be part of a father’s duty.”
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:49 PM
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12.25.15

The Best Leadership Books of 2015

Best Leadership Books of 2015

AS LEADERS it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It’s hard to take the long-term view when we have to do the mundane. Learning to take the longer view is not easy. A long-term approach helps to take us out of our comfort zones because it connects us with a larger story. How in the midst of the mundane, the glut of information, and the tyranny of the now, can we remember that we are part of a larger—very human—story?

From Everybody Matters which helps us to look at those we lead as family to Becoming Steve Jobs that looks at the development of a leader as a life-long process, the following books help us to do just that. Lead the larger story.

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Lean
The Lean CEO: Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence
by Jacob Stoller

Lean is not just a manufacturing system. It is a way of thinking about people that applies to any organization. Lean is a culture. It’s not a directive. It’s a way of thinking. It is about being open and humble. It’s about diversity of thought and understanding that good ideas come from anywhere. The Lean CEO gets to the heart of what it means to lead from anywhere. (Blog Post)

9781625271303
Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win
by Fred Kiel

In Return on Character, Fred Kiel has put numbers to the notion that good leadership aimed at promoting the common good, not just individual, winner-take-all acquisition can be good business. (Blog Post)

9781591847793
Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family
by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia tell how Barry-Wehmiller envisioned and implemented a new kind of business culture—a culture that puts people first and cares for employees like family—and turned it into years of highly profitable growth in a tough market. (Blog Post)

9780718022259
H3 Leadership: Stay Hungry. Be Humble. Always Hustle.
by Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick reflects on his leadership journey in H3 Leadership. Building on three H’s— Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?), and Hustle (How will I get there)—he gives us 20 habits to build our leadership on. The result is a very practical and challenging guidebook. (Blog Post)

9780062356109
The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life
by Bernard Roth

The Achievement Habit is a book about life. Bernard Roth has woven together wide variety of insights to help us to design our life and leadership. Using design thinking we can transform our behavior and relationships. Stop wishing, start doing, and take command of your life with the ideas presented here. (Blog Post)

9781118899014
A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It's Everyone's Business
by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden

Typically we look at a constraint as a negative. A problem to be solved. But what if a constraint was the gift that opened up previously unimagined possibilities? What if a constraint was the gift that took you to the next level? We can choose to use a constraint as an impetus to explore something new and arrive at a breakthrough. Not in spite of the constraint, but because of it. (Blog Post)

9780804141239
Triggers: Creating Behavior Change That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be
by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter

Marshall Goldsmith explains in Triggers the kinds of things in our environment that derail us from becoming the kind of leader, co-worker, parent, or spouse that we want to be. He illuminates an aspect of self-awareness that is so vital to a leader’s success. By creating an awareness of our environment and identifying our own triggers we can be a force for adding value in other people’s lives by triggering something good in others. (Blog Post)

9780062383167
Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time
by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Leadership BS is a compendium of human nature. It describes well the hypocrisy in all of us. We don’t always meet our own standards. We don’t always reward what we say we value. The real world doesn’t behave as it should. Leadership BS is an important book because it is a dose of reality. It is important for the questions it raises. (Blog Post)

9781119157854
You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C's to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life
by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

Jon Gordon and NFL coach Mike Smith describe how to transform a mediocre team into a winning one. You Win in the Locker Room First provides leaders of all fields with a practical framework and real world examples to build a great culture, lead with the right mindset and approach, create strong relationships, improve teamwork, execute at a higher level, and avoid the pitfalls that sabotage far too many leaders and organizations.

9780062302540
Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
by Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone

“Teams are not strictly practical responses to immediate challenges and situations. Teams are at the heart of what it means to be human,” write Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone. This book brings together both the best practices of today and the past, with the latest scientific research, to show leaders in every field how to build the dynamic, robust, and great teams they will need in order to compete in this new world.

9781455554799
Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
by Laszlo Bock

Laszlo Bock shares how Google does it. Frequently unconventional, the ideas do resonate and beg to be tried in your organization. How does Google balance creativity and structure? If you’re comfortable with the amount of freedom you’ve given your employees, says Bock, you haven’t gone far enough.

9781119111153
5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time
by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram

“Every day, millions of people are negatively impacted by the inability of a person to connect appropriately and to be present.” So much drama is created when we don’t know how to shift gears and become present. 5 Gears offers an extremely valuable metaphor for identifying which gear you are in and finding the right gear at the right time in order to connect fully with others. The 5 Gears model gives you language to communicate which gear you are in to yourself and others, and to understand where others are at so that you can be more fully present. (Blog Post)


2015bestbookpick

Biographies:

9780385347402
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

Becoming Steve Jobs looks at Jobs as a work in progress. “Steve is a great object lesson in someone who masterfully improved his ability to make better use of his strengths and to effectively mitigate those aspects of his personality that got in the way of those strengths.” And we can too.

9780062301239
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk is one of the most successful and important entrepreneurs in the world. Vance has written a fair portrait of Musk so far. That Musk is extremely persistent is clearly seen. At the same time he is very hard to work with. Comparisons with Steve Jobs are not off the mark.

9781594206535
Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
by Niall Ferguson

Kissinger: 1923-1968 is the first volume in a two-volume biography. He was one of the most important foreign policy theorists and secretaries of state that America ever produced. Whether you agree with Kissinger or not, Ferguson provides interesting insights into the man and his thinking.

9781476728742
The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

The Wright brothers were more than just a couple of bicycle mechanics. They were convicted, determined and communicated well. They were a model of authenticity. They were basically self-taught with a well developed love of reading. Their character made their success very likely.


Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2014
Best Leadership Books of 2013
Best Leadership Books of 2012

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:54 AM
| Comments (0) | Books

12.22.15

7 Coaching Skills that You Need as a Leader

Whether you like it or not – if you are a leader, you are a coach.
—Joseph Grenny
Coaching exerts enormous leverage.

People struggle at work and at home. No one leaves their problems at the door when they come to work. And it affects their performance. Coaching is critical. Developing people is or should be a top priority of leaders.

Coaching doesn’t mean fixing people. It is developing a relationship that allows you to help people break through from one level of performance to another. It is unlocking potential.

Leadership BS
Michael Simpson writes in Unlocking Potential that coaching is built on four principles:

Building Trust: “Simply being in a position of authority does not make you a trusted coach. Your concern for the person you are coaching must be based on genuine and good intent. Your integrity must be inviolable. Your determination to keep confidences must be unshakable.” These are issues of your character.

Tapping Potential: “When a coach helps a person challenge their paradigms, they can more readily take responsibility for their life or situation. When they learn to align their paradigms to reality, many of the barriers to realizing their potential begin to fall.” “Potential suppressed by years of self-defensiveness, self-betrayal, or self-denial.”

Creating Commitment: You can’t make people commit, “But you can create the conditions where people commit to goals they themselves want to achieve.” This is done primarily by asking powerful coaching questions.

Executing Goals: “All successful coaching conversations need to link directly to actually meeting key performance indicators, measures, and objectives.”

Coaching is a skill with its own set of competencies. Simpson gives seven:
  1. Build Trust: Character and competence are foundational to building trust. As you demonstrate character and competence you can begin to expect it of others and build a culture of trustworthiness.
  2. Challenge Paradigms: “An individual that believes they can’t improve is not coachable—until that paradigm changes, you’ll go nowhere….Your task is to challenge them firmly and gently.”
  3. Seek Strategic Clarity: “With the coach’s help, the individual should choose personal goals and be completely clear about them with measureable endpoints. Without strategic clarity, coaching becomes aimless and endless.”
  4. Execute Flawlessly: “Execution may be the toughest challenge of all—the coach can help individuals to actually set, prioritize, and achieve their goals and help to hold them accountable.”
  5. Give Effective Feedback: “Give feedback that helps create awareness, focus on actions, and achieve the results that people want with whom you’re coaching.”
  6. Tap into Talent: “Most people underestimate their own talents. As a coach you need to know how to help people tap into the unique and vast reserve of the talents they already have.”
  7. Move the Middle: “The biggest opportunity for performance improvement in any organization is to help ‘move the middle,’ among those performers who are good, but not yet great.”

Simpson provides you with the essential questions and approach behind each of these skills. One of the benefits of coaching is that it also helps you to develop you. It holds you to a higher standard.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:33 PM
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12.11.15

Are You Trading Influence for Attention?

PEGGY NOONAN brought up some great thoughts in her editorial, A Rash Leader in a Grave Time that would be good for us to consider in any time.

She was referring to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, but too frequently we see the tendency of leaders of all walks of life, to use their “mouth as a blunt instrument” whenever they feel they are in the right, have a just cause, want to get attention, or simply want to put their foot down. Their comments may not be as flamboyant as Donald Trump’s, but they are just as dismissive. Some people find that to be an admirable quality in a leader, until of course, they don’t. When the leader steps on their toes, then the undisciplined rhetoric comes across as contemptuous.

Noonan says that the problem arises when a leader “doesn’t think it through, doesn’t anticipate legitimate pushback, doesn’t try to persuade, only declares.” It is disrespectful and shows a lack of self- and situational-awareness on the part of the leader.

MacArthur
A good leader has a self-awareness of the kind that helps them to understand their impact on others. A good leader seeks to influence and connect with everyone they touch and not just those ardent supporters in their camp. The goal isn’t to just whip up the troops but to gain converts. A leader’s rhetoric may point out differences but with the goal of ultimately bringing reconciliation. Noonan states, “one thing an effective leader must always do is know what can be misunderstood and guard against it, what can be misconstrued and used to paint you—and your followers—as bigoted. Leaders try hard not to let that happen. It is the due diligence of politics.” It’s the due diligence of leaders everywhere.

She uses the word politesse in this regard. In a time when grabbing attention is more important than civility, politesse it not a practical value. Taking the time to be civil or polite and to polish our words is a luxury we can’t afford or we may miss adding our voice to what’s trending. The pressure to respond doesn’t often leave us the time to be thoughtful, measured, and disciplined on our approach. We have to fight the forces that would intimidate us.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be remarkable in our speech. Noonan encourages, “It is possible for candidates to be vivid but careful, dramatic but responsible.

Politesse is a word that implies sacrifice which is at the core of good leadership. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our raw emotions for disciplined thought; our efficient bluntness for long-term understanding.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:11 PM
| Comments (0) | Communication , Leadership

12.08.15

5 Leadership Lessons: Players First

5 Leadership Lessons
Players First is a biographical leadership guide from the University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari. Although geared towards coaching and college basketball, the lessons and approaches are easily applicable to any other leadership situation.

His Players First philosophy is summed up this way: “I coach for the names on the backs of the jerseys—not just the front. My players. They are sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts—whoever in this world raised them and loves them. Others look at their NBA bodies and consider them lucky. Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in. That’s not what I see. They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen years old. They all need me in a different way.
Players First
Some want my affection, others my approval. It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.”

From this mindset comes this key point that any leader could ask. “If I’m struggling with a player, it’s where I ask myself: How would I want my own son treated?

These ideas are worth considering in your own leadership situation:

1 There’s not a coach time and a not-coach time. I’m always their coach. If I just walk away, or I look too busy or preoccupied, they don’t know, as a seventeen-year-old or eighteen-year-old, what that means. They wonder, Why did he do that? I don’t want them to think for a moment that I don’t care about them. I don’t want them to have a second’s worth of doubt.

2 The art of coaching at this level is about convincing great athletes to change. First we have to get them to accept what they’re not good at. My assistant coaches and I use the word “surrender.” Surrender to our instruction. Surrender to physical conditioning. If you’re delusional and see yourself one way while the rest of the world see something else, let it go. Believe what we’re telling you. Some player will say, “You just don’t understand my game.” But we do. Believe me, we get it. We’re just not liking it.

You have to be strong willed. You can’t have a mental picture of yourself that’s not accurate.

3 The best players I’ve coached have a demeanor about them that never moves. They have a calmness. You can’t read the score on their faces. They’ll get emotional, they’ll play with fire, but their demeanor will never be one of rage or anger. Physiology-wise, rage and anger are related to fear. Hook a guy up to wires and look at his brain, and that’s what you’ll find. [W]hen you play with a sense of rage, you don’t respond well to being challenged. [When the game is turning against you], you have no calm inner core to bring you back.

4 Part of coaching is acting. It’s true of any kind of leadership, whether you’re a CEO, an army general, or a father. Part of the job is that you don’t reveal your apprehensions. I don’t ever go into games thinking we’re going to lose, but of course I get anxious.

Along the same lines is this note sent to a player:

Alex, work hard to improve your body language. Body language is a facial expression, slouching, dropping your head, how you sand, how you sit, how you speak. Begin today. God created you as a winner and he has big plans for you. Work with him. Be the best. When you feel like you want to drop your head, lift it up. When you feel like slouching your body, stand up straight. When you want to frown or have a sour face, smile. When you feel like complaining, encourage someone else. When someone corrects you, thank God because they care.

5 We can’t have kids whose main thing is that they want respect. I respected you enough to give you a place in a heck of a basketball program and put you with other kids I think you’re going to love. You need to be able to give respect. I look for how kids act in front of the people raising them. If they disrespect their mothers or fathers or grandmothers, that’s it. I’m no longer interested.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 PM
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12.04.15

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Serve
LEADERSHIP is stewardship. It requires a long term perspective.

It is difficult because it is fundamentally a process of reconciliation; a process of bringing a community of people together towards a common purpose. It is service.

Stewardship requires that the organizational leaders put leadership in the hands of every member of the organization. It gives them ownership of the future. As leaders, it is where we can contribute the most good for society as a whole. It’s good stewardship.

In Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia’s remarkable book, Everybody Matters, they explain the idea this way:
So many American businesses destroy lives every day, but we make a lot of money, and then we feel really good when we write a check to the United Way for $1 million. But I belive we are creating the need for the United Way in the first place by destroying the lives of people who create the wealth that enable us to give. I believe the greatest charity is what we could do at work every day to take care of the people entrusted to us.

The greatest gift, the greatest charity we can give back to society is to be truly human leaders who treat the people under our leadership with profound respect and care and not as objects for our success and wealth. In other words, we need to see ourselves as stewards of the lives we have been given an opportunity to lead and influence.
As a leader, ask everyone you influence, “How can I serve you?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:52 PM
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12.02.15

How the World’s Best Leaders Enhance Their Productivity and Effectiveness

Leading Forum
The world’s best leaders know how to get things done by skillfully utilizing the talents of the people around them. One of the best examples of this is the relationship successful leaders enjoy with their high-performing executive assistants.

Leaders know how to choose the right person for the job. As Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great, leaders start by getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.

In my book The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness, I interviewed global business leaders such as Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes, John Chambers and others, who repeatedly demonstrated this knack of hiring the right person who could operate as a seamless extension of the executive. In the case of these business leaders, all their assistants have been with them well over 20 years, and sometimes, over 30 years. Donald Trump told me, “I have good instincts but I always believe every hire is a gamble.” Knowing yourself, your work habits and your work style are key. In discussing hiring his assistant, Norma Foerderer, who was with him over 25 years before she retired, Trump told me, “I needed someone strong because I work quickly and am demanding because of that. I also needed a straight shooter—someone who will tell it like it is. I’m that way and I can’t have someone who isn’t. Every boss appreciates someone who is honest with them.”

So, how do these global business icons manage to get so much done through the smart use of their assistants? Here are some suggestions for how can you do the same in your business:

Give Them Access: Give your assistant complete access to you. Let them learn by observing your decision making process, your moods, why you like or dislike something. This perspective will give them a compass for how to act on your behalf. Confident of what you would want, they won’t hesitate to act as your proxy.

Give Them Autonomy: Great leaders know when to become immersed in the details and when they should let someone else take the lead. If you’ve hired the right person, let them do their job. Trust them. Don’t second-guess what they do. As General Patton reportedly said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” In the case of exceptional executive assistants, you don’t even need to do that. Simply share your vision with them and trust their experience, skills and creativity to take it from there.

Give Them Confidence: When you trust people, you build their confidence and encourage initiative. I was fortunate in my positions as assistant to successful business leaders such as peak performance strategist, Tony Robbins, to be allowed considerable latitude in how I did my job. Then the job becomes exciting because you care for it and run it as you would your own business. Richard Branson’s former assistant, Penni Pike, told me that after many years of working in close quarters with Branson, one day he told her to take all his most important papers and move back to the houseboat from where they worked earlier. She said that while it felt strange to be away from him in the beginning, it came to feel like she was running her own business. In fact, the experience I gained through being trusted by my bosses and working independently, gave me considerable confidence when I started my own business, because decision making and going out on a limb were not new to me.

Give Them Kudos: Management consultant Peter Drucker told me he didn’t have much interest in discussing assistants with me because his focus was on strategy and assistants don’t create strategy. If he were alive today, I think Mr. Drucker would be pleasantly surprised to see the role many assistants are playing in helping their executives define strategy because of the strategic position an assistant to a leader occupies in an organization. The assistant is often privy to information that would never make it to the ears of the CEO unless the assistant told them. Who is doing or saying what, how employees are reacting to new directives, much of this is communicated to the CEO by their assistant, whose finger is on the pulse of the organization. Smart leaders take note of their assistant’s recommendations. Management guru Marshall Goldsmith commented in my book, “Executives should get in the habit of asking their assistants, ‘How can I be a better partner in our relationship’, then listen, learn and act on the assistant’s ideas.”

Give Them Respect: Every top influential business leader I’ve had the privilege of knowing or hearing about, shows courtesy and consideration to their assistant – in public and private. They don’t disrespect their assistant and they don’t let others disrespect their assistant. I remember, as a young assistant, telling my CEO boss that someone had been rude to me. My boss immediately called him saying that when I called, this person needed to speak to me as if he were speaking to my boss. That experience taught me that a boss backs up his people. As much as the assistant “has the boss’ back”, the boss should do the same.

Give Them Gratitude: Acknowledge the immense job your assistant is doing on your behalf. Time after time, great business leaders have told me they could never do what they do without their assistant. As Ken Blanchard remarked in my book, “Assistants give you the capacity to do so much more.” Remember to express your thanks, show consideration and once in a while, look for ways to reward them.

Develop these habits and you will have learned some of the secrets that for generations have enabled exceptional leaders to function at optimum levels, working effectively with their exceptional assistants.

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CEO
Jan Jones is the author of The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness. She is President of Jan Jones Worldwide, a speakers bureau that evolved from her experience as executive assistant to personal development icon, Tony Robbins and ten years as exclusive representative for small business visionary, Michael Gerber. For more information: theceossecretweapon.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:24 AM
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12.01.15

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2015

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

  Go Slow to Go Fast: Tools to Disrupt Incumbent Strategy & Behavior to WIN your Competitive Landscape by Damian D."Skipper" Pitts
  Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way by Joseph Michelli
  Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations by Jeff Boss
  Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life by Jason Selk and Tom Bartow with Matthew Rudy
  Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

Go Slow Driven to Delight Navigating Chaos Organize Tomorrow Today Presence

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


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“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”
— Abraham Lincoln


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:33 PM
| Comments (0) | Books

11.30.15

LeadershipNow 140: November 2015 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from November 2015 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:36 PM
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11.17.15

Leadership BS

Leadership BS
Leadership BS by Jeffrey Pfeffer, is a very important book. It actually builds on the ideas and thinking presented in his classic book written with Bob Sutton, The Knowing Doing Gap over a decade ago.

Pfeffer wants to know why, in spite of the thousands of leadership books, blogs and seminars are there so many leadership failures? Pfeffer believes that the answer is to be found in the systemic processes that produce leaders who often behave differently from what most people might like or expect.

He’s right.

As a society we produce and reward leaders that think short-term and this is at odds with what it takes to get the leaders we think we want.

As we look around there are disconnects between:

• what leaders say and do,
• what the leadership industry says leaders should be doing and what they actually do,
• reality and the simplistic fixes we try to apply to it,
• what the leadership industry thinks it is achieving and what is actually happening or rather not happening,
• what we say we want and what we actually reward.

It’s not surprising that students of leadership often become disillusioned upon entering the workplace. Life rarely adheres to the good leader formula of success they have come to know.

Leadership BS is a compendium of human nature. It describes well the hypocrisy in all of us. We don’t always meet our own standards. We don’t always reward what we say we value. The real world doesn’t behave as it should. These are life issues as much as they are leadership issues. Consider the following comments from Leadership BS:
Once people believe they are better leaders—possibly because they have given talks or written about positive leadership, have attended lots of leadership trainings, or because they were once acknowledged for their good leadership—they are less likely to be as vigilant about their subsequent behavior, having already demonstrated their leadership credentials.

Although modesty may be valued in the leadership literature, self-promotion and assertiveness seem to produce better career results in the real world.

We seem to have a preference for immodest, grandiose, and narcissistic leaders. Narcissism and self-aggrandizement and the behaviors associated with these constructs reliably and consistently predict the selection of leaders, the evaluations made after interviews, and the selection of emergent leadership.
And finally, this would seem to be a fairly typical experience. Pfeffer was asking a woman who was being outmaneuvered by a peer how she responded to the whole thing:
She said that she responded by using her learning and ideas from a leadership course on personal dynamics, colloquially referred to as “touchy-feely,” to attempt to repair the relationship with her peer. “Why?” Pfeffer asks. “Because I have been taught to build relationships of authenticity and trust at work.” But it didn’t work because the peer was not interested in “repairing a relationship” or behaving with trust and authenticity; he was interested in taking over her team for his own advantage. Pfeffer comments: People not only have problems in their current positions, but they also lose out on attractive job opportunities by believing in the prescriptions so frequently proffered for how leaders should behave.
The leadership values aren’t the problem. It really becomes a “why” problem for each individual. Why do I believe what I believe? What kind of person do I want to be and why? How important is it to me to be this kind of person and why?

The fact is, you are going out into a world that doesn’t work the way it “should.” People are not always trustworthy, authentic, honest, supportive, generous, or any number of other highly regarded values. If you want to adhere to them you need to understand that the playing field isn't level. Not all organizations encourage virtuous behaviors.

Frequently, people do what works for them in the moment to get what they think they want now. It’s short-term thinking, but for many it seems to work. Leadership BS reads a bit like the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon illuminated some of the same issues almost 3000 years ago. He noted that, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.” (I wonder if Pfeffer peruses Ecclesiastes in the quiet moments.) Organizations that tolerate less than virtuous behavior will get less than virtuous behavior.

Machiavellian values would not still be circulating almost 500 years after they were first published, if they did not “work” in the real world. They do and quite spectacularly at times. So I have to ask myself, “What is most important to me?” knowing that I may not get some of the things I want out of life if I stick to my values. It is a commitment issue. Values are personal and they stand up to whatever is happening around you. If they don’t they’re not values they’re strategies. Strategies change when conditions change. Some people will argue that “I’ll temporarily trade my values in on a bigger prize and then I’ll go back to them after I get what I want”—the corner office for instance. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Either way there’s always a price.

It’s a question of character. It is the same problem faced by schoolchildren every day: Do I compromise my values to get along, to be accepted, or to be promoted to the head of the line?

Narcissistic people often get the spotlight as Pfeffer noted. This can be confusing if a person doesn’t have the support structure to navigate human nature. We need to get better at building character from day one. Leadership begins in the home.

Pfeffer chides the leadership industry for focusing too much on inspiration and not enough on the reality of the world in which we live. And he is right. Inspiration is important as people need a vision, but there needs to be accountability along the way.
The leadership industry is so obsessively focused on the normative—what leaders should be doing and how things ought to be—that it has largely ignored asking the fundamental question of what actually is true and going on and why. Unless and until leaders are measured for what they really do and for actual workplace conditions, and until these leaders are held accountable for improving both their own behavior and, as a consequence, workplace outcomes, nothing will change.
He’s talking about creating accountability for what we say we value. Character is a long-term, life-long issue. Do you always stick to your beliefs even when you might lose in the moment for doing so? Fred Kiel demonstrates there is a long-term payoff for doing the right thing in his book Return on Character. The problem we all face in the short-term is that not everyone is playing by the same rules.

This isn’t a problem that is ever going to go away. We are all human and will continue to be human. We do need to work on ourselves but it is also an organizational problem. As Pfeffer and Sutton write in The Knowing-Doing Gap: “Some organizations are consistently able to turn knowledge into action, and do so even as they grow and absorb new people and even other organizations.” The difference between organizations that do and organizations that don’t comes “more from their management systems and practices than from differences in the quality of their people.”

The leadership industry certainly could do more. Knowing without doing leads nowhere.
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Of Related Interest:
  Return on Character
  Leadership Begins at Home

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