Browsing All Posts filed under »leadership«

Smart organizations analyze the way. Healthy organizations find a way.

October 23, 2019

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Smart organizations are technically advanced, analytical, attuned to metrics, and are economically savvy. They know markets, trends, media, and their product really well. Smart organizations are “experts.” Healthy organizations are comprised of disciplined people committed to the organization’s core vision and values. They have rigorous discussions about the most important questions and ideas. They foster […]

Don’t just ask for feedback. Notice it.

October 11, 2019

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Many companies and organizations have a feedback system by which people provide direct and actionable information that can be used to better the organization. The problem is that this system of feedback can atrophy one’s skill at being aware, of noticing. The reality is that feedback is everything that happens throughout the organization every day. […]

Blame is an abdication of responsibility.

January 1, 2019

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We must first distinguish between “blame” and a rational analysis of causality. Once you’ve done that, if you hear someone use blame as the rational analysis, you’re listening to someone who has given up power; the power to change, make a difference, or the authority to influence. Blame is ultimately an abdication of responsibility. The kind of person […]

Most problems are actually solutions to other problems. Therefore, don’t deal with problems, deal with finding better solutions.

March 31, 2017

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Consider the problem of procrastination. Procrastination is not the problem. Procrastination is the solution to a bigger problem, be that fear of accomplishment, or the absence of discipline. Consider the problem of arguing with a loved one. Arguing is not the problem. Arguing is the solution to the problem of a failure to communicate, or of deep pain […]

Leadership is not about stating the facts. Leadership is responsible for shaping the conversation around facts.

January 31, 2017

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Facts are not beliefs. Facts are merely objective data points that reflect reality. It is a common misconception that people in positions of power have a responsibility to report the facts. In reality, everyone has a responsibility to report the facts, and submit to them, regardless of your “title” or “position.” That’s just the nature […]

The plan is less important than the planning.

March 3, 2016

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A team with a plan is less effective than a team that has gone through the rigorous and involved process of putting that plan together. The process of planning is what builds knowledge, understanding, insight, and inspiration to execute. For this reason, outsourcing the “planning” to a third-party is detrimental to an organization’s success. The […]

In God we trust. All others bring data.

March 3, 2016

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One of my favorite Edward Deming quotes.

Spend more time introducing change than implementing change.

March 3, 2016

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Everybody loves and hates change. Instinctively, people know that change is good. Change means growth, development, innovation, and adventure. Change means improvement, and challenge. Emotionally, however, change is threatening. Change also means the loss of familiarity and the uncertainty of what is to come. Change can be subtly insulting to the way we’ve done things […]

Don’t be afraid to dig in the conflict quarry.

March 3, 2016

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Many managers take issue with employees/constituents who argue. They feel it is threatening, or disrespectful. In addition, many leaders really wish they could move on from the arguments to “the real work” of making deals, or completing projects as they have an aversion to friction. What they miss is that conflict is evidence of people’s […]

Don’t confuse or conflate a “tactical victory” with a “strategic success.”

March 3, 2016

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Tactical victories are particular battles you fight and win. Strategic successes, however, are the end results of all the battles you fight and whether or not they realize the ultimate aims, goals, and objectives of an organization. It is possible to win the tactical fight, and lose the strategic goal. It is just as possible […]

Prioritize caring for your people and they will prioritize caring for your organization.

February 29, 2016

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There is a direct relationship between how much you prioritize the care of the people in your organization with how much they prioritize the organization over their own selfish desires and ambitions. The more willing you are to prioritize your people, the more willing your people are to prioritize the organization over themselves. Consequently, if […]

I am not an expert.

October 10, 2015

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Too many people in this world avoid personal or professional development because the unstated implication of growth and maturation is that there is some level of incompetency or immaturity that exists in your current state of understanding. This is known as being “insecure,” “feeling threatened,” or “being vulnerable.” This dynamic frequently sabotages and thwarts human […]

Inspect what you expect.

September 26, 2015

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Inspection, done well, communicates care, that you’re invested, and value, that the work is important. Inspection can also allow someone to “brag” and “show off” their work, instilling a sense of accomplishment or pride — a positive sense dignity and worth. Inspection also provides accountability, and can spurn inspiration when lulls of motivation sets in. […]

Groupthink makes the mind stink.

September 26, 2015

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Irving Janis, author of Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, has defined group think as, the deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures. (p.9) There are several common characteristics that emerge from groupthink: The Illusion of Invulnerability. Group members collectively believe they are […]

Leadership is about significance, not about prominence.

September 24, 2015

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The great myth of leadership is that leadership is a positional category; that it is rank, order, tier, power. Leadership is more about meaning, purpose, and significance. How one makes an impact in this world, not where one stands in the world. The value of one’s work, not the power of one’s position. The difference […]

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

September 24, 2015

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Never be an expert. Always be a novice. Never be certain of a solution. Always embrace the next problem. Fail frequently. Do not run from discomfort. Run to it. This is the way of success. This is the way of an entrepreneur. This is the way of an adventurer.

Labels are a distancing phenomena. Don’t use them.

August 12, 2015

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Labels can be descriptors, but never identifiers. Labels tell you what you perceive, not what is truly there. Labels don’t tell stories, and people are stories in motion. Labels halt listening, the fundamental act of humanizing our species. Let us set aside labels and do more listening.

Don’t be the smartest person in the room.

July 18, 2015

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As a leader, your job is not to be the one who is most creative, most intelligent, or most important. A leader’s job is to create the environments and conditions in which the most creative, most intelligent, and most important ideas and people live and thrive within the organization. And by creating that kind of […]

Invest power, do not just wield it.

July 8, 2015

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The people around a great leader are not just governed, they’re empowered. They’re made to feel larger than themselves, and integral to the organization. A great leader invests power and authority into the people that leader serves, and entrusts that everyone will be as responsible with that power as the leader has been. One catch. […]

“Abusus non tollit usum.” Misuse does not remove use.

February 26, 2015

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Leadership: Just because effective leadership practices and principles are often misapplied, taken advantage of, or leveraged for one’s own selfish agenda, does not mean those leadership principles are invalid. Religion: Just because religious institutions have abused power, misappropriated theological concepts, and ignored rationalism, reason, and proper philosophy, does not mean that religion itself is vapid […]

The leadership desert. Everyone leads, not everyone leads well.

February 13, 2015

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Principle 1. Everyone on the face of the planet is a leader. Everyone lives in some kind of organization. Everyone influences other human beings in that organization. Everyone causes life to progress or digress in one or more of an infinite number of possibilities. Everyone makes a difference in outcomes. In this sense, everyone leads. […]

Fill the communication gap with love.

March 22, 2014

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Because of the inadequacies of human connection, there are a variety of ways in which communication is missed leaving a gap between you and the other. Because of the insecurities of the human spirit, most often that obscurity leads to worry at what the other was intending to say to us. And because of the […]

David Foster Wallace on Leadership

March 2, 2014

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It is just about impossible to talk about the really important stuff in politics without using terms that have become such awful clichés they make your eyes glaze over and are hard to even hear. One such term is “leader,” which all the big candidates use all the time — as in e.g. “providing leadership,” […]

Evaluate a leader’s character and integrity by those who see them most and know them best.

February 19, 2014

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In our celebrity culture, it is almost instinctual to evaluate a leader on their “product,” the thing they offer to the world that is consumed by their patrons, and thus evaluated by the rubrics of “customer satisfaction.” This is great for capitalism, but lethal for leadership. A “customer service” evaluation of leadership is necessarily done […]

Great leaders say, “I’m sorry.”

February 3, 2014

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Too often an apology is seen as an admission of fault or an acceptance of liability. This is a low view of the word “sorry.” Leaders who only see an apology as somehow undermining their position or authority not only completely miss the point, their abdication of this critical skill increases distrust, disillusionment, and disintegration […]

The three occupations of an effective leader: curator, librarian, and tour guide.

January 30, 2014

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While our interconnected world will always need experts, experts by definition are not people of influence but rather people of ownership, people who “possess” what they know. Leadership requires an interpretation and deployment of that expertise in ways that are useful, through avenues that are accessible, and in language that is understandable. Thus, the future […]

When elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers.

January 18, 2014

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If elephants=leaders, and grass=people under those leaders, what is most painful about this African proverb is that the elephants neither know nor care about the pain they cause to the grass. The warring elephants are too distracted with winning the battle than tending to the ground underneath. Their concern is in their power and position, […]

Mentor yourself.

January 17, 2014

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It is frequently asked of high profile people, “Will you be my mentor?” Why? A mentoring relationship subconsciously offers promises it may not be able to keep; the promise of climbing a corporate ladder, the promise of gaining “secret intelligence,” the promise of being “on the inside” with a person of prominence. Perhaps, the most […]

Why it might be helpful to apologize for something that’s not your fault.

October 30, 2013

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An apology for something beyond anyone’s control, such as the weather, has the effect of making others trust the apologizer. For example, when a young man approached strangers in a train station on a rainy day and said, “I’m so sorry about the rain! Can I borrow your phone?” he was successful 47% of the […]

What leaders won’t do? Endure emotional discomfort at work.

August 27, 2013

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[The following is a truncated version of Patrick Lencioni’s POV (point of view) article, June 2013.] In the course of my career, I’ve always been amazed at what leaders will do for their organizations. So many founders and CEOs will spend countless late nights in the office, endure long and grueling business trips, even sacrifice […]

The opposite of a covenant is compliance.

July 3, 2013

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When you lead people, through positional or moral authority, it is easy to equate people’s level of compliance with your level of effectiveness. Compliance, however, is not about how inspired people are, or how engaged they happen to be. Compliance illustrates how obedient people are to rules, how fearful they are of consequences, and/or how […]

The first question any consultant should ask is, “Who is my client?”

May 2, 2013

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This is also the first question for any teacher, minister, and doctor; anyone with a vision or passion to do something great in this world. Perhaps another way to frame the question is “Who do I serve?” Identifying the right client is a key step in providing the right service. The second question is to […]