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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moving from 'Survive to Thrive' in 2010

Here in December many organisations are closing out a challenging year.

While the stock market has bounced back off its low for the year, economic and organisational growth is still hard to come by. Speaking with business leaders across a wide spectrum of industries one major question seems to resonate broadly: Now that we’ve survived in this tough environment, how do we return our focus to thriving?

Leaders and mangers have learned a lifetime worth of lessons about how to do more with less; leaders and organisational members have learned how to maintain competitive and financial positioning during adversity.

Setting goals on survival was necessary, but it will not suffice going forward from here. Business leaders who don’t begin to focus on how to thrive in the new economic reality simply won’t. Worse, survival strategies get shakier the longer the need to engage in them.

So as you complete your annual organisational goal-setting practice, how should you recalibrate your focus? How do you create a way up and onward, and motivate your team or organisation to get there? Here is a short list of practices that will help you set goals that align with a new, more positive and thriving-focused organisation.

Frame your goals positively.

Your team or organisation will focus on what you put in front of them. Create goal statements which include positive phrases rather than negative ones. For example, if an organisation had 100 new sales contracts last year, and this year will be tougher, your team may work harder to close 95 new sales contracts than to keep sales within 5-10 percent of last year’s production.

Always create a goal structure which emphasises what you do want, rather than limiting what you don’t.

Maintain a present and future outlook.

As a rule of thumb, comparison goals are difficult to use to motivate team members when faced with such an environment. Goals which relate to a percentage of growth or decline over a previous year keep the team focused on what happened last year, rather than what will happen this year.

Create goal statements that orient your team on the present and what is to come in the future.

Goals need to be specific and measurable.

Broadly defined goals tend to become abstract in the execution. Think about what the outcome of each goal will achieve and how specifically progress can be measured during the year. Whenever your team reaches a milestone metric, recognise and celebrate the progress.

Over-communicate goals and progress.

Once you have a goal statement that is positive, present and future oriented, specific and measurable, you have a great leadership opportunity. Remember the statement that teams and organisations focus on what is in front of them. Keep your goals in front of your organisational members.

If the goal is presented in this positive manner, over communicating it is a good thing. It emphasises where you are going - not where you have been.

Leaders who excel in this type of goal setting don’t end their work when the goal statement is written. These statements become the language of leadership in the coming year. Help your team understand how their individual roles relate to the organisational goals. Help them see how the tasks that they are assigned support the team in realising those goals.

Create an organisational focus on thriving in 2010 rather than surviving. Doing so will require some new thinking, innovation, and committed persistence. Having learned how to do more with less, use these creative building blocks to continue to enhance your team’s efficiency.

Positively framed goals and clear, consistent communication of these efforts will help you to lead your workgroup or organisation toward improvement and success in the coming year.

You have survived. Now take the opportunity to thrive. Engaging in a positive, purposeful leadership style will assist you in motivating your team and creating a resilient and focused organisation this coming year.

Leadership Resolutions for 2010

As we approach the end of the year, we all think about New Year’s resolutions. Here is a 12 point checklist on leadership:

Motivating yourself:

1.Keep a positive outlook. When you experience challenges, you’ll find optimism works wonders.

2.Believe in yourself. Guess what – there’s no-one else in the world like you!

3.Set yourself meaningful and achievable goals – keep measuring your success.

4.Develop and follow an action plan.

5.Find ways to enjoy what you’re doing.

6.Keep your enthusiasm levels high. Celebrate your successes / achievements.

7.Be kind to yourself. Self-criticism will lead you nowhere.

8.Move on from your mistakes. Learn from them and grow.

9.Avoid negative people. Know when to cut lose and move away. Surround yourself with successful, positive people.

10.Never stop learning.

11.Know that you will succeed!

12.Set yourself new challenges.

Motivating others / motivating your team:

1.Let your positive outlook be infectious. Spread it around.

2.Tell and show your team you believe in them.

3.Work to set meaningful, measurable and achievable goals.

4.Develop an action plan with them and help them stick to it.

5.Keep it fun for them.

6.Acknowledge and recognise their achievements, privately and publicly.

7.Never criticise. Instead, commend their achievements, make recommendations and lead by example.

8.Don’t worry about their mistakes. They need to make them. Your role is to help them learn by doing.

9.Overcome any negativity with action plans, tips, training and new ideas.

10.Show them, by example, how to duplicate themselves.

11.Keep dreams alive by constantly reinforcing the big picture.

12.Encourage them to keep setting challenges for themselves.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Focus on Leadership in 2010

2009 has definitely been a tough year. We suggest that 2010 is the year you focus on leadership.

Solid business results that stand the test of time do so for one reason and one reason only: consistently excellent leadership. Products and services change with the demands of the market. Individual leaders come and go. The key is to create an organisational culture that ensures great leadership today and tomorrow.

We recommend that you institute proven across-the-board behaviours that don’t depend on particular individuals. These five leadership tactics will help you see significant changes by the end of 2010:

1. Move low performers. Despite the layoff ax so many companies have wielded during the past year, low performers still work inside many organisations and they are causing big problems. Turning a blind eye to these individuals in your organisation squelches profitability. Why? Because middle performers get pulled down to the low-performer level, while high performers either a) disengage or b) leave.

2. Accentuate the positive. The next time you’re having lunch in a restaurant, listen in on the conversations at nearby tables. Chances are, you’ll hear people griping about their workloads, difficult clients, annoying colleagues, or the ridiculousness of corporate policy. Everyone does it, but if they realised how harmful it is to their company, perhaps they’d think twice. The solution is to hone the fine art of managing up.

3. Make a real connection with employees. Think of a doctor making her daily rounds to check on patients. Well, 'rounding' helps you communicate openly with your employees, allowing you to regularly find out what is going well and what isn’t going well for them at the company. But remember it’s not just empty “face time”—it’s rounding for outcomes, which means the process has a serious purpose.

4. Say thanks. In fact, put it in writing.  Send thank you notes to employees who do an excellent job. But that doesn’t mean just sending the occasional note when someone goes far above the call of duty. It means literally mandating a specific number of thank you notes for leaders to send to the people they supervise. People love receiving thank you notes. They cherish them.

5. Don’t just recruit great employees. Re-recruit them. If you plan to hire in 2010—and as the recovery (hopefully) picks up steam, many will—here’s a relatively easy step you can take that will pay off in a big way. We all know employee turnover is expensive. But did you know that more than 25% of employees who leave positions do so in the first 90 days of employment? To retain a new team member, the leader needs to build a relationship. Scheduling two one-on-one meetings, the first at 30 days and the second at 90 days, has an enormous impact on retention that directly turns into savings for your organisation.

Once you start implementing these tactics, results quickly follow. Your employees will see that you care about them, which boosts morale, improves performance, leads to happier customers and higher profits. Creating satisfied employees is of critical importance, especially right now.

From the Court to the Boardroom

When asked for his advice on business, Coach John Wooden guides entrepreneurs to the top of the pyramid, where "patience" and "faith" flank the top block -"competitive greatness." Wooden explains, "As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you must have patience, and you must believe. But, you must also have skills, and you have to realise you're going to have to work at whatever it is you're hoping to attain."

Judging from his relationships with former players, perhaps the greatest business lesson to be learned from Wooden is how leaders should treat the people around them. "Make those under your supervision understand that you really care for them, not just for what they're doing in the corporation but that you really care for them," Wooden says. "I think anyone in a supervisor position has to do that." For him, that meant letting his players know they weren't playing for him, but with him as they worked toward a common goal. "My success was largely dependent on the type of youngsters I had under my supervision," he adds.

The mark of a great leader is someone who's successful over time, and that's just what Coach Wooden has proven to be.

Coaching: How the Best Leaders Teach

Its not easy to teach people how to think, yet this skill is a must for effective leadership. It requires patience and foresight...and time. Yet if we don't teach others how to think on their own, we waste time in the long run because our team will be forever dependent upon our knowledge base for answers. 

A leader who doesn't teach stunts his own personal growth and destines himself to the "same old, same old". This type of leader "teaches" people how to be forever followers.
Often, the best leaders teach people to think by following a coaching model, whether they realise it or not. Coaching and leadership go hand in hand. Interestingly enough, coaching is a learning model.
The primary competencies of professional coaching, grouped into the four main categories of listening, creating awareness, planning and managing progress mirror the skills necessary for leaders to get things done through people.  Let's take a look at how each core area enhances a leader's ability to teach.
  1. Listening  - Through the gift of listening, leaders demonstrate humility and respect.  Additionally, new ideas often emerge when people process out loud.
  2. Creating Awareness - Great questions create learning because they encourage thinking. The process of answering a question creates more learning than a "lecture".
  3. Planning and Goal Setting - A good action plan teaches us to stretch beyond what we might ordinarily think possible.
  4. Managing progress and accountability - Done well, accountability teaches us to celebrate our success and to reflect and course correct if necessary.
When we teach others to think through a coaching model, we free ourselves up to blaze new trails and we build trust in those we lead in the process. As leaders, teaching the way a coach teaches is a win-win for everyone concerned!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Impact of Positive Leaders Within an Organisation

The litmus test of a Positive Leader is the esprit de corps he creates with his troops. Positive Leaders deliberately increase the flow of positive emotions within their organisation. They choose to do this not just because it is a "nice" thing to do for the sake of improving morale, but because it leads to a measurable increase in performance.

Studies show that organisational leaders who share positive emotions have workgroups with:

•a more positive mood

•enhanced job satisfaction

•greater engagement

•improved performance

What differentiates Positive Leaders from the rest? Instead of being concerned with what they can get out of their employees, Positive Leaders search for opportunities to invest in everyone who works for them. They view each interaction with another person as an opportunity to increase his or her positive emotions.

Leadership Tactics Which Impact the Bottom Line

Leaders matter, especially in business.  To get ahead, to stay ahead, you must lead.  These four tactics can be used by any business leader, and have been scientifically shown to increase a business’ bottom line.
1. Charisma – the leader sees what is really important and instills a sense of mission, pride and respect in employees.  Money is not enough, employees need to see why their work is important.
2. Individualised Consideration – the leader gives projects to his team in order to promote learning and growth. The leader also provides coaching and teaching.  You can’t keep giving your most important projects to your best people; it is vital that all your team all grow and learn.
3. Intellectual Stimulation – the leader pushes colleagues to think in new ways and to use reason and creative problem solving.  You must push your team to go past what has worked before, because it may not work tomorrow.
4. Contingent Reward – the leader provides rewards when colleagues follow expected actions and contracts.  While money is not enough, it is important.  Staff need to know that you can get them the rewards that they want.
Together the first three tactics constitute a theory of leadership known as “Transformational leadership”, and the fourth tactic is half of what is called “Transactional leadership”.
The other half of transactional leadership is “Management by exception”, where the leader has staff follow the established rules and patterns as long as they are meeting performance goals.  Management by exception does not help a business’ bottom line, it is the opposite of transformational leadership and allows your competition to catch up and surpass you.
In the study linked to above, the researchers discovered a few more things about these tactics.
  • They are more useful in public rather than private businesses. This may be because publicly held businesses are more bureaucratic and so need more people who can push new ideas.
  • They are just as effective when used by leaders low on the org chart as when used by those at the top.  This is very important.  It means that no matter where you are in the company you can be a great leader and have a real impact on the business.
  • They are more effective at making staff feel like things are going well, rather than affecting objective performance (like revenue). This is most pronounced with contingent rewards – the transformational tactics affect both employee sentiment and company performance quite a lot.
What all does this tell us?
  1. Just doing what has worked, and is working, isn’t enough.  Other managers in other companies are trying new things, and eventually your old ways won’t be good enough any more.
  2. You need to give a sense of mission to your employees.
  3. You need to inspire them to come up with new ideas, and to give them opportunities to learn, try new things, and grow.
  4. Inspiration is not enough.  Your team also need to see real rewards.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Leadership is About Behaviour

Military experience can illuminate the identification, development and practice of leadership.

In the corporate world, potential leaders are identified because they excel in a technical area and are then taught leadership skills. Sometimes it is assumed functional excellence implies leadership effectiveness so new leaders are left to sink or swim.

The military provides a contrast. For example, if you join the RAF you probably want to fly a plane. But you have to wait six months to get to that point: for the first six months you are immersed in issues of brand, leadership and followership.

People see the military as inflexible: as having a set hierarchy, a way of doing things. Of course you learn certain things ‘by the book’ so you can free up your brain to make crucial judgements. But if you are flying a night mission over Kosovo, there is no time for a request to go up the chain of command and the decision to come back down. Everyone is involved in leadership. Mission decision-making is fluid and flexible.

In military operations, leadership has little to do with seniority. Operational teams are complex matrix structures. Once goals are set you decide who is best placed to fulfil each role. Since everyone has a grounding in leadership, anyone can take up that role. The key is to decide who is best to lead the project, to push decision making as far down the chain as it will go and then to support the people you’ve delegated to. If you do that right it solves the disengagement problem.

A mission without debriefing is unfinished. Debriefing is a constantly iterated cycle of 360° feedback and performance appraisal. Just as in execution, debriefing sidelines seniority. Leaders’ performance is critiqued and praised so they in turn learn. How leaders react to this – defensively or openly – is critical to the loyalty and motivation of their team. So debriefing, carried out in this way, sites leaders within the team: not as someone who ‘has all the answers’ but as someone learning, improving and responding to upward insights. It pulls together everything: leadership; motivation; engagement and an upward performance trajectory.

A lot of business thinkers and business schools have taken the passion out of leadership by overcomplicating it. Leadership is underpinned by process but, in the end, it's about behaviour.

Why Command and Control Leadership Does Not Work in Business Today

This New York Times interview with Joseph J. Plumeri, chairman and chief executive of Willis Group Holdings, the insurance brokerage, sheds light on why 'command and control' leadership does not work in business today:

'Q. How has your leadership style evolved?

A. I was once a command-and-control guy, but the environment’s different today. I think now it’s a question of making people feel they’re making a contribution, and they’re part of the process. In the end, you’re still directing the process, but you’re allowing for the collaboration and debate to take place, which in a command-and-control environment doesn’t happen.

A command-and-control environment is where you have a meeting and you say, “This is what I think; what do you think?” The good news about that was there was no question about where we were going, and what we were going to do. And if it works, that’s terrific. The problem is when it doesn’t work, and people start to grow and feel like they’ve got more to contribute, it wears out. I think that’s what happened to that whole command-and-control approach.

Q. What surprised you the most about getting the top job, running your own show?

A. You can’t do it yourself. You have to build up a group of people around you. In a lot of ways the C.E.O. of a company as large as this one is more like a baseball manager. I have a lot to do with what happens before they go on the field. I have a lot to do with where I put them on the field. I have a lot to do with the preparation for what they’re supposed to do when they’re on the field. But once the game starts, I have nothing whatsoever to do with what they do when something happens.

So I’m different from a football manager who calls every play. I can’t call every play. I can’t be a basketball coach, because I can’t slow down or increase the flow of the game. So I have to be putting the right people in the right spots and make sure that they know what we want to achieve. And you’ve got to make them feel that their own stats are important, but the company doing well because of their contribution is really what’s important.

Q. What else surprised you?

A. I never fully appreciated that there are people who choose certain things in life where they can’t have a bad day. I can’t have a bad day. If I walk into a meeting, and I’m grumpy — not good. I don’t think you fully appreciate that until you’re actually in a position like this, that you can’t have a bad day. My doctor can’t have a bad day. And I think anybody in a leadership position, where people depend upon you, you simply can’t have that one off day that’s bad, because you’re going to affect a lot of people.'

For more, see - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/business/06corner.html?pagewanted=1&ref=business

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winners Never Quit – Or Do They?

You can look back at many of your past successes knowing that because of your persistence, you were able to ride through the tough times and succeed. But is persistence always a good thing?

In the recent book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) author Seth Godin points out that to succeed in most endeavours we must first survive "the dip"—that period of time when the biggest barriers come up, or when it looks like we are not going to make it. Great leaders do not back down from his or her high expectations simply because the going gets tough.

But haven't you also persisted with some things that just never worked out? Maybe an employee you believed you could get to be a good performer who just didn't want to be one? Or that marketing plan that just isn't working but you believe it should?

In "The Dip" Godin says that the real winners are those who also know when to quit—they know when they are in a "dead end". Accepting setbacks graciously or admitting that you are wrong is not an easy thing to do, but there are steps you can learn which will help you decide whether it is a "dip" or a "dead end".

Listen to your gut feelings. In many situations logic is not available because you have not been in this situation before. So listen to you instincts. Does forging ahead feel like the right thing to do?

Get advice. Who are the people in your life whose opinions you value, that you can bounce your thoughts and feelings off?

Think about the consequences of success and failure. Can you recover from the consequences if it doesn't work out? Is it worth it?

Then make the decision and move ahead.

Remember, there are no mistakes, only learning experiences. If there is such a thing as a mistake, it is not learning from what we do. Persistence works very well, especially when you learn to trust your gut instincts and quit when you are in a "dead end".

Learning from the Past

No matter how your present circumstances may be, the light of your loving will show you a way to improve some aspect of your life. You can accept yourself, and forgive any shortcomings. You can love yourself through your challenges. Learn from the past and let go of it. You may see yourself for the goodness you truly are. Celebrate your inner strengths and qualities. You can choose a new start. You need never limit your ability to love.

Love cannot be bought by the coin in your purse. Love grows from the inside out.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Making Memories this Christmas

Can you remember your all time favourite Christmas gift? Do you remember the love and the music that filled the air during Christmas?

Of course, the Christmas season is not defined by the material gifts we give and receive but by the gift of love we share and the memories that we create together. Through the years presents are lost and become outdated but special memories are something that last forever. So this Christmas holiday season we encourage you to become Memory Makers:

1. Make Memories for Yourself - During this Christmas season say to yourself, "When I look back what do I want to remember about this time? Do I want to remember myself as a stressed out, unhappy, angry person or do I want to remember the joy I felt, the connections I made, the gifts of the heart I have given and the special moments I have shared."

2. Make Memories for Your Children - If you have children and you are feeling stressed about all the things you have to do, stop for a moment and ask yourself, "20 years from now what do I want my children to remember? What memories do I want to define their childhood?" Then create them. It's not about the presents.

3. Start a Tradition - It's never too late to start a new tradition. Traditions connect one generation to the next and they make life more meaningful. Tell a story, read a specific book, go to church, go Christmas caroling, make a certain meal, bake a specific dessert, volunteer, sponsor a family in need. Start a tradition and let it create memories every year.

4. Give Meaningful Gifts - In a world of so much stuff and maxed out credit cards... buy less this year, yet give more. Give more by giving gifts that have meaning. So whether it's a special book, a picture, a poem, a painting, or a symbol of your love, give a gift with meaning and it will create a memory forever.

5. ________________How do you make memories?

Leadership by Example

Alan Deutschman is a journalist, which is fortunate for us, the readers, because not only does he write fluently and vividly, but he tells stories, which is what all good journalists do.

Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders is a compendium of stories taken from the interviews he has conducted with leaders over the past 20 years, most of them in business but some, equally relevant and revealing, from the worlds of sports and politics. Deutschman’s subjects range from Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com to Barack Obama in the first week of his presidency, from FedEx to the Florida Gators, Nelson Mandela, and the Greensboro Four, whose lunchtime sit-ins in 1960 helped to jump-start the desegregation movement in the United States.

The stories make for compelling reading, particularly because they are not all paeans to the individuals profiled. Deutschman is critical of quite a few leaders, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for talking the talk about energy and the environment but continuing to own a fleet of five Hummers. The fact that, in response to criticism, Schwarzenegger got General Motors to retrofit one of the vehicles to run on hydrogen and another on biofuel was not helpful, suggests Deutschman, because neither fuel is readily available to his constituents. Obama, too, comes in for some mild criticism for not leading enough by example in the very early days, although he is praised for many of his initiatives.

Deutschman uses his stories to make a point, or several points. He starts with the statement that “the most crucial role of a leader is establishing and instilling the one or two values that will be most important for an organisation or a movement or a community.” There are always a multitude of values that are important — the hard part is making the trade-offs between them in order to focus on one or two. He castigates Coca-Cola for its list of six goals and seven values, many of which are potentially contradictory: Were “people” more important than “profit,” and where did “integrity” come in the pecking order?

It is, Deutschman says, only when you walk the walk that you reveal the ranking of your values. He describes the response of Martin Luther King Jr. when he was attacked by Roy James, a Nazi sympathiser, in Birmingham, Ala., in 1962. King staggered back under a rain of blows, but dropped his hands and refused to fight back. He turned the other cheek. He walked his walk, lived his teaching, and so demonstrated that others, too, could live by his principles. Deutschman contrasts King’s behaviour with stories of corporations and chief executives that have ignored their declared values and principles when it suited them to do so or when they went along with the prevailing customs of their industry, most flagrantly in the case of the airline companies. Deutschman labels them lemmings, those who follow the herd rather than setting their own standards.

Deutschman distills his long list of stories into a series of principles. Although these are obvious, like so much in the literature of leadership, it is the stories that bring them to life. Our recommendation would be to read the stories and make a note of the ones that resonated most with your own situation, underline the simple message that they contain, and then resolve to act on it or, as Deutschman would say, to walk your walk.

Friday, December 25, 2009

No Excuses!

This is the time of year that we often take stock of ourselves, and reflect on what we’ve achieved over the last year.

How did we do on our goals, resolutions, or development plans from last year?

Did we achieve what we set out to do? If not, why not?

Before you answer that question, take a look at this one minute video from Nike:

This video should inspire you to not let excuses and challenges get in your way as you start the New Year.

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!!

Without vision the people go astray (Proverbs 29:18)

We wish all followers of the Positive Leadership blog a very Happy Christmas.

At this time of reflection and special time with family, we are reminded of the words of Norwegian Air Force Brigadier General Arnvid Brage Løvbukten:


Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever. He never changes. He has perfect integrity. As a leader he is truly my frontfigure.

Laws/rules/regulations will be broken in a crisis or when times are getting rough (budget cuts etc). So who is setting the standard? We are.

We are drawing the lines. Everybody will be looking at us, and the units will immediately adapt to new rules as soon as we make up new unwritten ones.

It is tempting and convenient not to inform my authorities about my dispositions because the money flows easily in times of crises. So there are numerous opportunities to show my integrity or lack of it during a crisis. My leadership will in the long run be strengthened or weakened by it.

In an extended crisis, the morale will fall if we don't work on it. Then our own integrity will inevitably be looked at by our own people to find any excuse to break rules, laws, use of alcohol, etc. Credibility is a very important possession of a leader.

I always say that I am never perfect, but I should be working on myself constantly. I believe that when I'm through improving, I'm through. I also discovered that there are traps around success as well. When everything in the crisis is going well, it is not the time to relax. Ability may get me to the top - but it takes character to keep me there.'


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Love Leadership

John Hope Bryant is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE. He is Vice Chairman, U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and is the author of bestselling book, Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World

Earlier this year, in the midst of the worst global economic crisis in recent history, he was chosen to speak at the closing session for the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, joining Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland, on the subject of “dignity for all.”

Here is what he has to say about the crisis facing the USA today - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-hope-bryant/the-crisis-in-america-tod_b_293692.html

Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World reduces what Bryant has learned about 'love-based leading' into five fundamental laws:

1. Loss Creates Leaders. The storms of life offer an opportunity to respond in one of three ways to personal tragedy or failure: you can give up, you can try to cope using whatever dulls the pain, or you can grow and create something useful out of your experience or loss. The choice lies between legitimate suffering now and illegitimate suffering later. Only the last option allows you to harness fear and turn it into the strength to lead with love.

2. Fear Fails. We have all faced plenty of situations where it would be easier to allow a lack of self-awareness and high energy to bring down the people around us. But doing so is a reaction of fear: fear of oneself, fear of imperfection, fear of failing. Fear doesn't work. In the long term, letting fear motivate your actions - how you treat others, how you conduct business, how you live your life - leads to failure.

3. Love Makes Money. Over the long term, to succeed and to be happy simultaneously, you need to lead with love. If you lead with love for the long term, people will follow you forever, wherever - for their own good as well as yours - and you will be remembered as a person of greatness.

4. Vulnerability is Power. Admitting weakness and owning up to mistakes have counterintuitive benefits. When you are honest, people are more likely to forgive you for any weaknesses and mistakes. You are also able to make a stronger connection with others. Ultimately, this gives you an ability to persuade and influence people, which in turn strengthens your ability to lead.

5. Giving is Getting. Giving is a long-term commitment to others. When we start serving those who work in our organisation and expanding out to serving partners, vendors, and customers it translates to success. No great business was ever built on giving the bare minimum. Doing good for others pays off.

Leading Into 2010 - Creating Cycles of Success

You know how it feels when you are “on a roll” – when you are consistently performing at your best and realising results. You have the ability to create these circumstances more often simply by experiencing your successes and building upon them.

As you begin to look toward 2010, start creating your own cycles of success:

Create small wins on a daily basis. Break down larger projects into a series of steps that are manageable and measurable. Acknowledge accomplishment of each step.

Take pride in each and every accomplishment. No matter how small, every accomplishment establishes a new step on your path to success. Don’t allow yourself to think that your accomplishments are no big deal. Celebrate them.

Take advantage of the momentum. Create your “on a roll” feeling by experiencing each success and proving to yourself that you can accomplish anything you put your mind and efforts into.

When you show yourself how successful you are, you will realise just how successful you can be.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Everyone Can Achieve 'World-Class' Performance

In 2008, Geoff Colvin wrote the bestselling book Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

Colvin’s main point in the book is that people are not born with all the natural talent and abilities that will make them great it life. Other than some physical attributes that may give an athlete an advantage in a particular sport, everyone can achieve world-class performance through “deliberate practice” in his or her chosen field - business, music, sports, etc.

Colvin explains, drawing several research-based conclusions, that the secret – deliberate practice – is designed, can be repeated a lot, requires constant feedback, is highly demanding mentally, and isn’t much fun.

He goes on to say, “If it seems a bit depressing that the most important thing you can do to improve performance is no fun, take consolation in this fact: It must be so. If the activities that lead to greatness were easy and fun, then everyone would do them and they would not distinguish the best from the rest. The reality that deliberate practice is hard can even be seen as good news. It means that most people won’t do it. So your willingness to do it will distinguish you all the more.”

Although the concept of deliberate practice sounds good in theory, he doesn’t go into a lot of detail on how to implement it. So how can a leader use deliberate practice as a coaching technique to help their employees improve their performance?

First of all, we need to start with the assumption that the employee really wants to be great at what they do. In other words, the motivation must come from within; the leader can’t force this desire on someone.

Let’s assume most employees really do want to be the best at what they do, and are willing to work for it. Try this step-by-step approach to implementing the concepts of deliberate practice as a coaching technique:


1. Identify 3-4 critical activities that separate great performers from the rest. For example, for a salesperson, it might be the ability to get an appointment, listen, and close. There may be more than 3-4, that’s OK, this is just a place to start. If you don’t know what they are, you might need to interview and study some high performers, read a book, or find some other way to learn from the best.

For each activity:

2. Identity someone who does it really well. Write down exactly how that person performs the activity. Again, you might need to interview or observe them. Identify what they do, their thought process, any anything else that differentiates how they perform the activity from average performers. Using the same sales example, for closing skills, it might be the repeated use of trial closes.

3. Figure out how the activity can be learned. In most cases, according to the theory, there is a “teacher” involved. In the business world, this person could be a trainer, coach, mentor, manager, or expert. In the salesperson example, this could be a sales trainer or the sales manager.

4. Determine how the activity can be practiced repeatedly. Practice activities could include role plays, simulations, and rehearsals. In the sales example, it might include role playing trial closes with the manager or a sales trainer.

5. Set up a feedback mechanism. The person needs to have a way to know how well they did. In the sales example, this could include observing the sales rep with a client and providing feedback after the call.

6. Repeat this process for each critical activity.

The coaching discussion:

1. Have the employee read the book ahead of time in order to prepare them for the discussion.

2. Check for motivation and commitment.

For each activity:

3. Describe the activity in detail.

4. Ask the employee to self-assess themselves (scale of 1-10) for the activity. Provide your assessment as well.

5. Ask the employee to set an improvement goal. For example, they see themselves as a “6” in closing, ask them how much better they want to get (7-10).

6. Explain how the activity can be learned and practiced. This becomes your deliberate practice plan.

7. Repeat the process for each activity.

8. Agree on next steps.

That’s it! The process may sound deceptively simple – yes, it’s not brain surgery, and probably nothing that you haven’t already been doing in a less structured way. However, in practice, it’s going to require a lot of discipline, hard work, and support from the leader. Oh, and it’s not fun!

Crisis May be the Defining Moment for a Leader

Scottish Mountaineer, W.H.Murray's wisdom offers a powerful message to today's leaders as they face a defining moment in their leadership - get committed to a bold plan, and the universe will move with you to enable you to turn your dream into reality.

'Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!"'

W. H Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition

For more on Murray, see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._H._Murray

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Measuring the Success of Business Leaders

Executives' salaries and reputations don't always match their performance, according to a new study of the world's 200 best-performing CEOs. To see whether a CEO is doing well, the authors say, it's necessary to examine companies' performance both during and after the executive's time at the top.

For more, see -

Jack Welch on Leadership

Jack Welch is “classic” but always to the point. Here is a summary of his 5 traits of leadership:

The first essential trait of leadership is positive energy – the capacity to go-go-go with healthy vigour and an upbeat attitude through good times and bad.

The second is the ability to energise others, releasing their positive energy, to take any hill.

The third trait is edge – the ability to make tough calls, to say yes or no, not maybe.

The fourth trait is the talent to execute – very simply, get things done.

Fifth and finally, leaders have passion. They care deeply. They sweat; they believe.

For more, see: http://www.welchway.com/Home.aspx

Quiet Leadership

Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger has spoken out in praise of centre-back Mikael Silvestre, whose disciplined calm and experience has provided invaluable guidance for the club's younger players.

Silvestre has not been one of the Gunners' more high-profile performers this season, but Wenger is in no doubt about the positive influence he has exerted in the Emirates dressing room.

"Mikael is a quiet leader. He is highly respected in the dressing room," Wenger told The Daily Mirror.

"He’s a positive guy who helps the young players. The best help, of course, is if we can keep winning. For me, he doesn’t get enough praise for both his attitude and his quality.

"But he has a job of marshalling the team. He has an important role to play."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Leaders Keep On Learning

Great leaders are continual learners. Why?

Learning helps you:

Increase your self confidence. When you are learning new things, new horizons are opening up in your mind. You feel better about yourself and your ability to achieve. After all, if you can learn one thing, you can learn more! True genuine self confidence is something that we all can use more of; investing in your education and learning will add to your storehouse of self confidence.

Reach your goals. There is a learning component within every goal, large or small. As you learn more in the focused areas related to your goals and aspirations, you are able to move towards achieving them more rapidly. Investing in education in support of your goals is one of the best things you can do to increase the likelihood that you will reach - and even exceed - them.

Have more fun. When you are reaching your goals and feeling more confident don`t you think you are going to have more fun? You can invest in learning anything! Want to learn how to ballroom dance or judge wines? Whatever your passion, learning opens up new opportunities to enjoy them even more.

Improve your attitude. Human beings are - by design - learning beings. When we are doing the things that make us most human (including learning) we naturally are more upbeat and positive. When you are learning things that help move you towards your goals, will you likely be more positive and optimistic?

Increase your momentum. Momentum is a powerful thing. As the rock rolls down the hill and picks up speed, it becomes more powerful and able to overcome the obstacles in its way much easier. So it is for people too. Learn something, improve your confidence; learn something more and have a more positive attitude; learn something new and you thirst for more. As you continue to learn your learning momentum grows, as does the momentum of your success. A perfect reason to never stop learning!

Reach your potential. Deep inside all of us (especially as our self confidence becomes healthier) is a desire to move closer and closer to our potential - to becoming the person we were meant to be. No other single action will tip the scales towards you reaching your potential more than continuing to invest in yourself as a learner.

The Seven Nolan Principles

The 'Nolan Principles' code of practice was written with regard to the seven principles of public life identified by the Nolan Committee in their First Report on Standards in Public Life in May 1995 and subsequently endorsed by the UK Government. The Principles are worth bearing in mind by private sector leaders as well.

The seven principles are:


Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.


Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.


In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for awards or benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.


Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.


Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Looking for Talent?

Here is how Jeffrey Swartz, the president and C.E.O. of the Timberland Company, describes what he is looking for when hiring:

'Comfort with ambiguity is one thing and faith in a solution is another and a commitment to fight for a worthy outcome is the third.'

A Plea for the Return of the Collegial Style of Leadership

The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos may have escaped notice when first published in 2007 because of its unusual title, but this year’s paperback with a new preface by Russell Ackoff deserves rediscovery at this critical time.

“Puritan gift” refers to what the authors describe as the United States’ superb managerial culture as established by the descendants of the country’s early settlers. Those settlers sought to create God’s kingdom on earth in New England in the 17th century. As businessmen they also needed to earn a return on capital but saw no conflict between the two. Profit to them was the means to a greater end.

The Puritan gift, therefore, is that rare ability to create and manage organisations that serve a useful purpose in society. As the authors note, it later inspired the creation of a federal political culture that enabled 13 obscure colonies at the edge of the civilised world to transform themselves, with the passage of time, into a great power. This managerial culture was even successfully transplanted to Japan under the U.S. occupation after World War II and turned a poor country lacking natural resources into the second-richest in the world.

It was, the authors suggest, the United States’ gift to the world until sometime around 1970, when profit-and-loss accounting began to take priority, a time they describe as “the years that the locust ate.” It was then that the cult of the expert and the rise of the so-called professional manager shifted the focus of management to money as the measure that mattered, for self and organisation. The elevation of shareholder value as the main criterion of business success mistook the means for the ends, a classic category error for logicians, but a calamitous strategic mistake for leaders. This error was compounded when managerial reward was tied to share value.

The Puritan Gift is partly a history of American business, but it is also a lament for the decline of the collegial style of leadership that drove what the authors call the “great engines of growth and prosperity” and that was replaced by the “imperial” rule of the professional CEO in so many companies. It is a reminder of what made the U.S. great and a heartfelt plea for its recall.

Motivating Employees

Thirty-seven years ago Roy Vallee was stocking shelves at a small electronics distribution company in Los Angeles. That small firm has grown up to become Avnet, Inc., a Fortune 500 firm located in Phoenix, Arizona. Avnet is one of the largest distributors of electronic parts, enterprise computing and storage products, and embedded subsystems in the world. And Roy Vallee is the CEO and chairman of the board.

Vallee believes that to motivate your employees you need to stop trying to put fire in their belly and focus instead on practical details.

Most employees are already passionate about their jobs, Vallee says, so the best way to motivate them is simply to give them clear instructions and the tools they need to get the job done.

For more, listen to this radio interview with Vallee conducted by Professor Antony Peloso of the W.P. Carey School of Business: http://feeds.wpcareyonline.com/knowledge/wimpy/valleePlayer_120109.html

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Keeping Your Team Positive During The Recession

Your employees are human. In a recession they worry about their jobs. They’re concerned about the future of the business too. And the doom and gloom merchants don’t help. Their negativity can hurt your business. Take the lead and create positive expectations.

1. Be Positive. If you feel negative about your business, your staff will know. They’ll notice your body language, your tone of voice and general demeanour. Keep calm and, as the old song says, “accentuate the positive”.

2. Be Honest. Tell the truth. Tell your staff exactly how you believe your business could be affected by the recession. Don’t gild the lily. But make sure you point out how you can limit the effects of the recession on your business and the opportunities it offers to staff. Ask them how they believe they can help.

3. Set Specific Priorities And Targets. Tell your staff what you’re trying to achieve and how it will be measured. Include short, medium and long term goals. Make sure that priorities are crystal clear to staff so they stay very focused.

4. Have a Positive Plan and Share It. Explain to your people what you propose to do and why to achieve your targets. Explain how they’ll be involved, how it will affect their jobs and the broad adjustments they’ll have to make.

5. Structure Input, Participation and Co-operation. The important word is “structure”. It’s not enough to seek employee help. Take the lead. Put in place systems and processes that require their input and participation. Show that you value their inputs. Look for ways to eliminate friction, real or imagined, between different areas of your business.

6. Have Staff “Own” Changes. Structuring participation and co-operation is just the start. To survive a recession, staff need to feel that they own what they’re doing to help the business survive short term and prevail long term. Offer rewards to staff who are successful and make sure their successes are publicly acknowledged.

7. Review and Reveal. Establish a regular review schedule to check the success of your combined efforts. Ensure your staff knows what it says. Be open. Set up some way of publicly monitoring progress. Institute a “warning system” so staff can inform you of potential problems. Be prepared to change if you’re failing to progress adequately.

Firm and decisive leadership is essential in a recession. But only your staff can create real benefits from such leadership. The positive expectations you create will help that to occur.

Leadership is Not Something You Do to People; It’s Something You Do with Them.

Ken Blanchard is internationally renowned for his situational leadership model developed with Paul Hersey and his “One Minute Manager” series co-authored with Spencer Johnson.

The Leadership Pill: The Missing Ingredient in Motivating People Todayis a fun parable that underscores the need for leaders to show integrity, build a culture of partnership, and affirm people’s sense of self-worth by letting them know that what they do is important.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Derek Jeter - Sports Illustrated's 2009 Sportsman of the Year

Even if you know little about the sport of baseball, this story is well worth reading for many reasons:

'Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees captained the U.S. team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, after which MLB commissioner Bud Selig sent him a letter of thanks in which he called him "Major League Baseball's foremost champion and ambassador."

"You embody all the best of Major League Baseball," Selig wrote in the March 30 letter. "As I mentioned to you in our recent telephone conversation, you have represented the sport magnificently throughout your Hall of Fame career. On and off the field, you are a man of great integrity, and you have my admiration."

For those achievements, but most especially for the principled, selfless manner in which he earned them, Jeter is SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's 2009 Sportsman of the Year. He is the first Yankee to win the award in its 56-year history and only the third baseball player in the past 34 years to win the award alone, joining Orel Hershiser (1988) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1995).

Jeter is an anachronism if you believe that manners and humility, the pillars of sportsmanship, are losing ground in an increasingly stat-obsessed, self-absorbed sporting culture in which the simple act of making a tackle, dunking a basketball or getting a base hit calls for some burlesque act of celebration, a marking of territory for individual purpose. Jeter is the unadorned star, and not only in the literal sense in that he is free of tattoos, piercings, cussing, posses and the other clichés of the big-time-jock starter kit. The actress Kim Basinger once captured the essence of Jeter as well as any scout, telling SI in 1999, "He's a hunk, and I don't even like that word. Women like guys who have a big presence but sort of play it down. It's very appealing."

Such uncalculating humility, alloyed to his formidable skills, is the same attribute that makes Jeter so appealing to teammates and foes alike.

Jeter's rare gift as a superstar athlete is that he doesn't so much inspire awe as he engenders comfort. To be around Jeter is to truly believe that things are going to turn out well, whether you are a fan who still wants to believe in the inspirational quality of sports and the people who play them, or a Yankee who wants to believe there is some way back from three runs down, five outs from elimination, against Pedro Martinez in his prime.

"Everything he does has such a grace about it," Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane says. "Even now, this last postseason, people would say to me, 'You must be rooting against the Yankees.' But you know, maybe because of Jeter, the Yankees know how to win. It's not an act. The Yankees' brand name in this era is that it is Jeter's era. It's similar to what DiMaggio was in his era."

Eight years ago, to his recollection, Beane watched Jeter run out a routine ground ball to shortstop in the late innings of a routine game in which the Athletics were beating the Yankees. Jeter ran down the first base line in 4.1 seconds, a time only possible with an all-out effort. Beane was so impressed by the sprint that he ordered his staff to show the video of that play to all of the organisation's players in spring training the following year.

"Here you have one of the best players in the game," Beane says, "who already had made his money and had his four championships by then, and he's down three runs in the seventh inning running like that. It was a way of showing our guys, 'You think you're running hard, until you see a champion and a Hall of Famer run.' It wasn't that our guys were dogging it, but this is different. If Derek Jeter can run all out all the time, everybody else better personally ask themselves why they can't."

Told the story, Jeter says, "It makes you feel good whenever anybody appreciates how you do things. My whole thing is, you're only playing for three hours a day. The least you can do is play hard. You have what, four or five at bats? O.K., it's not difficult to run, to give it a hundred percent. It's effort. You don't have to have talent for effort."

The idea of Jeter as a template stretches beyond 90 feet. He is a role model not only for how to play baseball but also for how to remain atop the wobbly pedestal of fame. '

For more, see - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1163403/index.htm

Suggestions on How to Develop Positive Children

The latest research in neuroscience and positive psychology demonstrates that we can mold our brains and ourselves to be more positive. Simple strategies and daily rituals can make a tremendous impact on our mindset, belief system and outlook on life.

We believe that positive children become positive adults and as parents we can play a significant role in shaping our children’s perspective and mindset. In this spirit we would like to share with you several tips to develop positive young people:

1. Success of the Day - Each night before bed, at dinner or while taking an after dinner walk ask your children their success of the day. The success could be a great conversation, an accomplishment at school, something they are proud of, a situation where they helped someone, etc. The important thing is to help them focus on accomplishments instead of failures. When we help our children expect success, look for success, and celebrate success they find more success and gain more confidence. Of course they need to learn from their mistakes and failures, but let’s help them to not dwell on them.

2. Bedtime Prayer - A ritual such as this provides your children with a foundation of peace, security, and confidence that gives them the strength to take on the daily challenges of being a child.

3. Implement the No Complaining Rule - It’s a simple rule that says you’re not allowed to complain unless you identify one or two possible solutions to your complaint. This empowers children to become self directed learners and self starters. They also learn to use complaints as a catalyst for positive change and positive action.

4. Teach them that we can’t control the events in our life, but we can control our positive response to these events and our response determines the outcome. This helps children develop a strong locus of control which is a perspective that through their beliefs and actions they have an influence on their life. They come to believe that they are not a victim of circumstance but rather a hero in their own inspirational tale and that they can turn their challenges into opportunities and transform bad events into good outcomes. This helps them stay optimistic and believe that their best days are ahead of them, not behind them.

5. Feel Blessed instead of Stressed - As parents we need to realise that children, like adults, deal with a lot of stress...and stress is the enemy of positivity. Well, the great news is that when you are feeling blessed you can’t be stressed. The research says we can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. Thus, a simple ritual is to help your children identify 3 things they are thankful for each day. You can create a gratitude journal together or you can encourage them to write these blessings on their blog, diary or simply talk about them at dinner. And anytime they are feeling stressed you can encourage them to recall something they are thankful for.

Think of your child’s mind like a garden. Each day you want to help them weed their negative thoughts and plant positive thoughts. One day of weeding and planting won’t do much. However if you practice these strategies each day, over a week, a month, a year, a lifetime, the garden grows more healthy and vibrant. Nurture your child. Take time to coach them and nourish them with lots of love and positive energy and you shall see the fruits of your efforts. Stay Positive!

Moving into a Leadership Role

Moving to a leadership rather than management style for frontline managers is one that requires significant top down support. This enables the behaviour change that is required for them to succeed.

What are the keys to making this transition:

1.Prepare yourself

Analyse what’s working and what isn’t in your leadership of your team. When you are clear on what needs to stay you can look at replacing unprofitable tasks, like spending too long on administration and email, with effective frontline leadership activity.

2.Develop a critical behaviour checklist

When you pay attention to the activity of your top performers, you will notice there is a theme to how they continually do better than your average performers. Remarkably this often comes down to consistency of critical work behaviours. While average performers may show these behaviours sometimes, high performers use them consistently.

3.Coaching – more than managing by results

Many frontline managers may look at this point and think they have this under control. Look again. How are you coaching? Is it on a results basis? If it is you need to rethink your coaching approach. Coaching that is effective for your average performer must be behavioural based. Coach and reinforce the critical work behaviours consistently.

4.Balanced feedback

Look at how you are giving your feedback. If you are like the majority of managers your feedback will likely contain equal doses of both corrective and positive feedback. If you can switch that ratio to be more strongly focussed on using positive feedback to reinforce the critical work behaviours you are trying to instil, you will create much more success for both your people and for yourself.

5.Practice, practice, practice

Research shows that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Therefore, if you practice at anything you will get better. Frontline leadership skills are no different. Consistency is the key to success. Keep at this day in and day out and you will quickly build high levels of trust, employee engagement and performance in your team.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Confidence in Leadership' Index Reveals Cautious Optimism

The Korn/Ferry Institute's Q4 "Confidence in Leadership Index" shows rising confidence in corporate leadership globally, an encouraging sign heading into 2010. Several major drivers of confidence reached their 2009 peak in an economy showing signs of recovery.

The Confidence in Leadership Index asks global executives critical questions that produce metrics for: 1) credibility of leadership, 2) trust of leadership, 3) leadership characteristics ("factors") and 4) direction of leadership. The survey was fielded by Braun Research, Inc. between November 19-27, 2009.

Highlights of the survey include:

Credibility of Leadership: 71; +2 points

•Leadership credibility increased across all levels of leadership

•Increased in Asia Pacific, Central/South America and Europe; North America declined

Trust of Leadership: 72; No Change

•North America remains most trusting with an index score of 80

•Europe remains most skeptical with an index score of 63

•Central/South America climbed 6 points to 75

Most Important Leadership Factors: 1) Strategic Skills and 2) Operating Skills

•Personal and interpersonal skills carry more weight in North America and Europe

•Courage and Managing Financial Performance received slightly more emphasis in Central/South America

Direction of Leadership: 22.6; + 3.5 points

•North America is least optimistic (-4.2), though improved after a low in August (-9.9)

•Central/South America most optimistic (+48.5)

"The Q4 Confidence in Leadership Index reflects cautious optimism inspired by a steadying labor market and improving economic picture globally," said Ana Dutra, CEO of Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting. "It's especially encouraging to see confidence in CEOs and corporate boards has made positive strides in consecutive quarters, because strong leadership at the top of the house influences the entire organization."

For more, see - http://www.kornferryinstitute.com/index.php

The Man in the Arena

The Man in the Arena is the title of a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. It was subsequently re-printed in his book Citizenship in a Republic.

The speech is notable for the extended passage:

'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.'


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is Shareholder Value 'the dumbest idea in the world'?

Speaking with the Financial Times earlier this year, Jack Welch, who is regarded as the father of the “shareholder value” movement that has dominated the corporate world for more than 20 years, said it was “a dumb idea” for executives to focus so heavily on quarterly profits and share price gains...

... “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy . . . Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products...”

In a subsequent article in BusinessWeek, he said:

'It's obvious that strategies are what drive a business. You might, for instance, have a strategy around innovation aimed at producing the leading products in every cycle, or you might have a strategy to become the low-cost global supplier, or you could have a strategy to globalize a company, taking its strengths in one market and translating them to every market. But you would never tell your employees, "Shareholder value is our strategy." That's not a strategy you can touch. That's not a strategy that helps you know what to do when you come to work every day. It doesn't energize or motivate anyone.
So basically my point is, increasing the value of your company in both the short and long term is an outcome of the implementation of successful strategies...the job of a leader and his or her team is to deliver to commitments in the short term while investing in the long-term health of the business. Bottom line: That's management. Good managers know how to eat today and dream about tomorrow at the same time. Any fool can just deliver in the short term by squeezing, squeezing, squeezing. Similarly, just about anyone can lie back and dream, saying, "Come see me in several years, I'm working on our long-term strategy."
Neither one of these approaches will deliver sustained shareholder value. You have to do both.'