Positive Leadership has also been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leadership Lessons from the Military

One of the finest military organisations in the world is the United States Marine Corps. All of their storied exploits and colourful history come down to one simple common denominator: Leadership. And not only has the Marine Corps established leadership as part of its lore, but it has made it a point of teaching sound leadership continuously up and down the chain of command. Everyone is included, from generals to privates.

The following is a list of Marine Corps Traits, taught with a passion to every Marine from the moment they have earned the title, Marine:

“The 14 leadership traits are qualities of thought and action which, if demonstrated in daily activities, help Marines earn the respect, confidence, and loyal cooperation of other Marines. It is extremely important that you understand the meaning of each leadership trait and how to develop it, so you know what goals to set as you work to become a good leader and a good follower.”

• JUSTICE. Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.

• JUDGEMENT. Judgement is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.

• DEPENDABILITY. Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.

• INITIATIVE. Initiative is taking action even though you haven't been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.

• DECISIVENESS. Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weigh them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.

• TACT. Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.

• INTEGRITY. Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.

• ENTHUSIASM. Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.

• BEARING. Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.

• UNSELFISHNESS. Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.

• COURAGE. Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognising fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.

• KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit's policies and keep up with current events.

• LOYALTY. Loyalty means that you are devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. The motto of our Corps is Semper Fidelis!, (Always Faithful). You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.

• ENDURANCE. Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.

What is 'Solid Leadership'?

Leadership is essential for any organisation to survive and thrive. Without solid leadership, it is simply a matter of time before the organisation is dismissed as ineffective.

In his just released book, Master Leaders: Revealing Conversations with 30 Leadership Greats, George Barna writes, “The best leaders see themselves as servants and truly respect other people. These leaders did not perceive a division between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ the indispensable ones and the worker bees… they acknowledged that a leader without a great team gets little, if anything, accomplished.”

Leadership is a trait that is sometimes hard to explain or even to define. People may stumble in attempting to give clarity to leadership and what it looks like, but people usually know good, solid leadership when it’s right in front of them.

The Importance of a 'Go-To Strategy' when Performing Under Pressure (2)

Continuing the theme of what it takes to perform under pressure. Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson of the USA has this piece of advice to Team GB athletes preparing to perform at their best in London in 2012:

'The objective is, at the least, to duplicate your best performance or to improve on it. It is almost impossible to do that by changing an approach that has until then proved successful and it is downright foolish to try a new approach for the most important race of your life.

The Importance of a 'Go-To Strategy' when Performing Under Pressure

Here is a great piece of advice from former England test cricketer, Geoffrey Boycott to anyone who is asked to perform under pressure, whether in business or sport.

Speaking of England bowler, Adil Rashid, he says:

'Rashid’s weakness is that he has all the eye-catching tricks but he doesn’t have a stock ball he can rely on. When the young Shane Warne went to Richie Benaud for advice, Benaud told him to go away and perfect a stock ball he could bowl at will. Benaud thought it might take two years, but Warne’s talent was such that he did it in six months. It’s the same for professional golfers: when they are in trouble, or under pressure, they need to have a particular shot they can hit with their eyes closed. Until Rashid sorts that part of his game out, he will always be a risky selection at international level. '

How to Speak like a Leader

1. Listen generously. How do you listen to an audience? Do your research. Find out who they are, what they need and want, and what they expect from you. When you step to the lectern, pause and listen. Are they ready to hear you? During your speech, keep listening. Pay attention to them. Are they leaning forward, backward or on each other? Be willing to depart from your prepared remarks to recover your rapport with them. Ask questions.

2. Say what you mean and mean what you say. “Say what you mean” is about telling the truth; “Mean what you say” is about making a commitment, keeping your promise, honouring your word. Have something meaningful to say. Step to the lectern with the intention of making a difference to your audience.

3. Use the fewest words with the fewest syllables. Delete therefore, insert so. That’s real economy in writing. Remember that the basic unit of communication is not the word but the idea.

4. Align with your audience. We may consider it our task to speak to the audience, but it is sometimes more important to speak for them. Express those thoughts and feelings that you share with them. Great leaders know that leadership begins with the pronoun 'we'.

5. Be specific. Use stories, anecdotes and examples rather than generalities and abstractions. The great teachers and speakers pepper their talks with vivid, detailed examples.

6. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action. Be aware of your non-verbal communication. Your gestures, posture, facial expressions, energy, tone of voice, and a thousand other tiny, unuttered elements actually carry the true and specific meaning of your communication.

7. Structure your speech. One valuable way to make your talk memorable is to speak to a structure and make your listeners aware of it. People appreciate the scenery more with a glance at the road map every now and then.

8. Speak to be understood. Have the courtesy to develop your voice so that all may hear you. You groom your appearance, so why not cultivate your voice? With a little effort it can be strong, crisp, clear and various in texture, colour and range.

9. Speak for the benefit of others. Serve your audience well by keeping their interests foremost in your mind. This is the golden rule of speaking.

10. Speak from your highest self. The highest self is where hope resides. To lead effectively requires a courageous, positive, optimistic view. There must be a caveat attached to this rule, however: Beware of elevating yourself with a high horse. Be humble. On most occasions a modest demeanour improves communication.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off Field Leadership by a Sporting Role Model

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees broke away from his preparations for the ensuing World Series Game 2 earlier this week because he was the 2009 recipient of the Robert Clemente Award. Bestowed annually since 1971, the award recognises the Major League Baseball player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

"Major League Baseball is proud to honour Derek Jeter for the lasting impact the Turn 2 Foundation has made on youth in communities across the country," Commissioner Bud Selig said, referring to the charitable organisation Jeter started in 1996. "In a year of career milestones for Derek, receiving the Roberto Clemente Award will inspire future generations of ballplayers and fans to give back to those in need.”

Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $10 million in grants to create and support signature programmes and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and "TURN 2" healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote academic excellence, leadership development and positive behaviour. Turn 2's goal is to see the children of these programmes grow safely and successfully into adulthood and become the leaders of tomorrow.

Turn 2 is managed on a day-to-day basis by the Jeter family with Derek in a hands-on role. In addition to contributing his own funds, he hosts the annual Derek Jeter Celebrity Golf Classic and the Turn 2 Foundation Dinner to raise funds needed to continue a wide range of programmes.

As a positive role model, Jeter’s leadership presence on and off the field is an example to sportsmen and women throughout the world and he is to be congratulated on his achievements.

Trust in Leadership

Not only do both a business and a sports team need strong leadership, but also total faith in their leaders from every member.

According to Matt Langridge who won a silver medal in Beijing as a member of the British men's eight rowing team, good leadership from their cox and two coaches was the biggest factor in their Olympic success. “They said very clearly: ‘This is what we want to do, this is how we feel the boat needs to be rowed.’” he says. “And what then made it work is the fact that we have a lot of confidence in them, so we’ve bought into what they’ve said.”

There will always be individuals who disagree, but for the team dynamic to work, they must be able to trust their leader’s judgment. “Everyone has their own opinion, but if we all went with them it would never work,” adds Langridge. “The fact that we’ve had the confidence in our coaches to put our opinions aside and go with what they’ve said has been the determining factor for us, and it has allowed us to perform to our best.”

Does Your Leadership Change as Your Organisation Changes?

Leading an organisation through lifecycle transitions is neither easy nor obvious.

Methods that produce success in one stage can create failure in the next.

Fundamental changes in leadership and management are required, and solutions need to be created with the active participation, understanding and support of the managers who implement them.

The Qualities of a Leader

James Riady is the CEO of Lippo Group, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates with annual revenues of some $3 billion. Fifteen years ago, Riady was responsible for the establishment of Universitas Pelita Harapan in Indonesia, and he has a strong interest in the social impact of business.

During an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Riady was asked what are the most important qualities of a leader?

'A leader needs to have a vision, because at the end of the day, the vision must drive the organisation. It must drive people. And a strong vision attracts people like a magnet and gets people to make changes in the community. But it's not just about having a vision. It's also about having humility. That's very difficult. The more successful you are, the more you face the temptation of being egoistic and full of pride. It's also about having the heart to serve, to do things not for yourself but for others. Those are the three things: vision, humility and the ability to serve.'

Riady was also asked for examples of what gives him pride in the work he is doing in education and healthcare? His answer points the way towards why Indonesia is making progress in international education tables and highlights what needs to happen in the UK as we slip further behind in education performance (eg the 2008 OECD international rankings place the UK 13th in reading - down from seventh in 2000 - and 18th in maths).

'I was not born into and did not grow up in a particularly educational environment. But it wasn't until when I went back to Indonesia in 1978 with my four children, who grew up in the U.S., and I had to look for schools for them that I realised that we do not have top schools in Indonesia that I would consider putting my children in. There is a great deficiency in education in Indonesia. I set out to contribute something, to make a change. So we set up the non-profit called [Pelita Harapan] Educational Foundation and started building schools and universities. Today, we have 20 schools and one university, which have transformed Indonesian education.

We introduced an education system that is not based on rote memorisation but the creative process of learning. It's not about knowledge; it's about the process of learning. We wanted small class sizes, and a holistic education that gets students to develop all parts of life. We don't just want to have good schools. We want to have model schools that other schools look at and want to copy. For the next generation, our schools hopefully will be a role model of what good education is all about, what good schools are all about. It's exciting because that's transformational.

We started paying teachers salaries that they deserve, increasing salaries three to four times more than what they were earning over the last 15 years and so instilling in the community that education has a high value. In today's modern society, there has been a shift. People do not respect and value teachers as much as they should.... I hope that when I finish my life that the biggest impact I have made will be in education.'

For the full interview, see - http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2365

How to be a leader others want to follow

Examples abound of poor leadership. Who hasn’t had a teacher or boss who invoked feelings of disrespect?

A positive leader is someone who inspires, motivates, energises and unites, while generating loyalty and producing results.

Here are some ideas on how to be that kind of leader:
  • Give more than you expect others to give.
  • Combine optimism and perseverance.
  • See everyone as a diamond in the rough.
  • Express appreciation; accept responsibility.
  • Keep your ego in check.
  • Show respect for the people around you.
  • Treat team members as family.
  • Be a source of inspiration.
  • Stress cooperation, not competition.
  • Maintain a sense of humour.


Leadership Essentials

Leadership is difficult to define. It’s an abstract concept that evokes as many different reactions as there are different kinds of people. Yet most of us know good leadership when we see it, and we can often tell when good leadership is missing by the way a team or organisation struggles without it.

At Positive Leadership, our leadership philosophy identifies the following areas as essential to quality, effective leadership:
  • Mission. A clear mission helps the leader to focus the team so that they can ignore distractions and pay attention to what’s most important.
  • Values. When a leader demonstrates values that are in sync with the company’s mission and the team’s goals, everyone benefits.
  • Planning and goal-setting. With clear goals and effective planning, leaders make their expectations understood and team members know what to do at all times.
  • Delegating authority. The job of leadership is usually too big to handle alone. By sharing responsibilities with the team, a leader instills a sense of purpose and empowerment.
  • Team building. Establishing trust, playing to individual strengths, encouraging people to work together – all are important aspects of team building.
  • Giving feedback. Constructive, concise and timely feedback is essential to each team member’s success, and to the success of the team as a whole.
  • Coaching team members. A good leader must take on the role of trainer now and then, providing expert advice, encouragement and suggestions for improvement.
  • Motivating people. By providing a good example, learning each team member’s needs and giving rewards and incentives when appropriate, a leader can inspire people to achieve higher levels of performance.
  • Working for the team. Great leaders encourage participation, facilitate communication and provide an environment where team success is more likely to occur.
  • Resolving conflict. Conflict between team members is inevitable, and not always a bad thing. A leader’s job is to resolve the conflict in a just and reasonable way so that productivity and morale do not suffer.


How to Develop Good Coaches in an Organisation

Research says that managers, in general, are poor at coaching and developing their people.

As if that fact isn’t depressing enough, what makes it even worse is a whole body of other research that proves just how well effective coaching hits the bottom line. For example, a 2007 Corporate Executive Board study found that sales reps receiving great coaching reach on average 102% of goal in contrast to sales reps reporting poor coaching who achieve only 83% of goal. Good coaching can improve bottom line performance by 19%!

Coaching is not just a “nice to do” – it’s a proven productivity driving, revenue growing, high impact management activity. So if it works…. why don’t more managers do it? And why are they so bad at it?

There are four reasons:

1. They don’t understand how effective it is in improving performance.

2. They don’t have time. While “lack of time” may be just a symptom of reason #1, it’s also a reality that most managers these days are extremely busy and have difficulty finding time to eat, let alone coach.

3. It’s hard to learn. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult leadership competencies to learn.

4. Poor execution. Managers often spend too much time coaching poor performers at the expense of the “B” performers who would benefit from it the most. Or, they apply the same process to all employees equally.

Given this stark reality, what’s an organisation to do? How can we infuse coaching skills into an organisation’s managers?

Here are four ideas:

1. Help managers understand the importance of coaching.

Stop trying to convince them it’s the “right thing to do” in order to improve employee satisfaction. Show them the research and the ROI. Make it a business case, not an HR driven social agenda.

2. Set expectations and help align their priorities.

Establish clear, measurable, non-negotiable expectations. Then get rid of all the lower priority stuff that’s filling up their days. We can’t just tell managers coaching is important and hold them accountable for it, and not eliminate the non-value activities that are often driven by their own managers and HR.

3. Teach them how to do it.

While it’s hard, it’s not impossible. Good managers are not born with a coaching gene… they are good at it because they know what key behaviours make the most difference and they practice those behaviours relentlessly. There is no 3x5 laminated card short-cut solution to teaching and learning coaching skills – it’s a significant investment of time and effort.

4. Use internal and external experts.

Create a pool of internal and external coaches as a temporary or permanent “work-around”. These experts could be from HR, training, professional external coaches, or anyone that has a knack and passion for bringing out the best in others. Over time, this capability can’t help but be transferred… it’s a quicker way to infuse an organisation with coaching expertise, while you are building your manager’s skills at the same time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heavy-Handed Management?

The true leader understands that all the elements within an organisation must work in harmony. So it's not helpful when managers take a confrontational route. Good leaders never extract things from their workers. Otherwise, they create acrimony that lasts for many, many years. You simply can't beat up on people in contract negotiations and then expect them to feel good about working for you after the dust has settled.

Companies have to enter negotiations with disclosure, transparency, and accountability as their guiding principles. They must be prepared to answer a number of key questions: What kinds of sacrifices is management willing to make? Why is it important for the workers to sacrifice? How would these cutbacks and givebacks improve the company's profitability? When can workers expect to see a reversal of their declining pay and benefits?

It's not enough for management to issue ultimatums, or to say, "Look how much we're bleeding. We're cutting to the bone, so the unions have to do the same." Management needs to think more in terms of sacrifice. Before you ask someone else to take a cut, you have to take one yourself. Sacrifice must happen across the board, or you'll get nowhere.

A heavy-handed style of management can be dangerous. In the present Royal  Mail dispute, management say they're fighting over a shrinking pie, but they would be smart to negotiate with the goal of a win-win agreement for both the company and the workers. Then both sides could start to work at finding ways to expand the pie.

Want to find leaders for your organisation?

John Maxwell, Ph.D., is an expert on leadership and author of more than 30 books on the topic, including the 360 Degree Leader.

Here is his answer to the question, “How can I be sure to hire the right person?”

To accomplish anything of significance, you must have the right people by your side. Finding a great hire often goes hand in hand with identifying potential leaders. Maxwell credits his friend Fred Smith with helping him arrive at these 11 questions to ask when looking for a leader:
  • Does the person question existing systems and push for improvements?
  • Do they offer practical ideas?
  • When they speak, who listens?
  • Do others respect them?
  • Can they create or catch a vision?
  • Do they show a willingness to take responsibility?
  • Do they finish the job?
  • Are they emotionally strong?
  • Do they possess strong people skills?
  • Will they lead others with a servant’s heart?
  • Can they make things happen?


Learning from Failure - What makes Silicon Valley different

In Silicon Valley, failure isn’t an option. It’s mandatory. A whole conference earlier this week, devoted to failure, FailCon, may be a first, but it’s looking like a success, with the likes of PayPal co-founder Max Levchin talking about how he failed repeatedly before making billions making the payment platform for the web.

“The one liberating thing with failure is that you start at like -5 the next time,” Levchin said. “Failure? I can fail tomorrow and I don’t care, I’m failing now.” That doesn’t mean that Levchin, now CEO of Slide — a Facebook app maker — or any one else at the conference likes failure.

“Failure sucks,” Levchin said. “I don’t have a cathartic moment. When I failed and I found that my credit cards were maxed out and my adrenaline that let me ignore all those things wore off.”

The point of the conference wasn’t to celebrate failure, but to learn from it.

For more, see - http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/failcon-succeeds/

Confronting Threats

Effective leaders realise that survival and success lie in having the courage to confront threats. At moments in our lives we are called to account in a way that forces us to decide whether we will stand for our values. While we appreciate the need for courage in other areas of our lives, we may not appreciate how much courage it takes to lead in the workplace. The following practices of effective leaders all take courage. They are not all instinctual, however. Many must be learned.

Empower the Frontlines

The “ivory tower” mentality of many chief executives amounts to cowardice. Effective leaders regularly meet with and solicit information from frontline employees, seeking them out and approaching them even when it feels awkward or unnecessary.
Resolve Conflicts
It’s easy enough to say that you shouldn’t run away from conflicts. The reason so many of us do, however, is because we treat resolving conflicts as an A versus B scenario. A contest of wills. A question of who is going to be torn apart. Rather than framing conflict negotiation in win-lose terms, effective leaders approach conflicts from a problem-solving perspective.
Communicate Responsibility
Facing a person one-on-one to help clarify his or her responsibility takes courage. The difficulty comes, in part, from the fact that when a person fails to take responsibility for his or her work it often indicates a deeper problem.While it takes courage to confront an employee about his or her productivity, the message about taking responsibility aims to empower and give the employee a greater sense of control.
Take Responsibility Yourself

Sometimes a leader must confront a problem head on, even when the natural inclination might be to turn the other way. The problem with ignoring the problem is that it could eventually cost the leader even more: his job, the respect of employees and clients, and his integrity.

All of these acts of courage involve confronting someone or something directly—frontliners, individuals in conflict, irresponsible associates, or your own values. Here’s the simple logic: threats rarely disappear on their own so running from them won’t help. Facing them will get you much further.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Business can help develop the Leaders of Tomorrow

Here is a great example of business collaborating with education to help develop the leaders of tomorrow:

"Leaders are defined by their ability to make a positive impact on the world and their local communities," said Joe Adachi, president and chief executive officer, Canon U.S.A.

The Christopher Newport University - Canon Leadership Scholars Program is continuing to provide the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their leadership potential and one day become top decision makers in America.

"The Canon Leadership Scholars Program is an example of Canon`s commitment to encourage the young people of today to assume important leadership roles tomorrow," said Takayoshi Hanagata, president and chief executive officer, Cannon Virginia, Inc.

"It is critical that the business community take an active role in educating, training and developing future generations to assume important roles in guiding our institutions, our government and our community organizations in the years ahead. Canon is proud to partner with Christopher Newport University in this important mission that impacts the future of us all."

"Each Canon Leadership Scholar receives a $5,000 merit scholarship for four years, for a total of $20,000. Through leadership studies, prominent guest speakers, study abroad opportunities, an outdoor leadership program, internships and a public service requirement of at least 100 hours, Canon U.S.A., CVI and CNU will give the students the tools and experiences needed to become leaders of the highest-calibre."

Congratulations to Canon on its fine initiative.

For more, see - http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS220075+27-Oct-2009+BW20091027

What Business Leaders can Bring to Education

Joel Klein's title is New York City school chancellor, but he's really a CEO. He oversees America's largest public school system -- 1.1 million students -- with more authority than his counterparts in most other major cities, thanks to a landmark 2002 law that was just renewed for another five years. With power comes accountability, and Klein has delivered impressively: Test scores have improved, graduation rates have risen, and the racial and ethnic achievement gap has narrowed.

Klein's progress in a chronically poor system has been so remarkable that two years ago his department won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, America's top education award. When Arne Duncan was confirmed as the new U.S. education secretary earlier this year, his first visit was to Klein.

Klein is a product of the schools he now runs. He attended New York City public schools for 12 years, then went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell and eventually became the Justice Department's antitrust chief under President Clinton. In that role Klein launched a major antitrust suit against Microsoft -- yet founder Bill Gates' foundation has since given millions to Klein's school system. Klein was the CEO of Bertelsmann's U.S. operations when New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg asked him to become school chancellor in 2002.

Fortune's Geoff Colvin talked with Klein recently about why U.S. education is falling behind globally, how to bring business leadership training to public schools, ways New York City schools transformed Klein's own life, and much else. Here's what Klein had to say about how business leaders have helped him transform the school system:

'Another big change you made was bringing in figures from the corporate world, such as Jack Welch and others, to help train school principals in leadership. Why did you do that?
From the beginning we said there's no such thing as a great school system; there are only systems comprising great schools. The unit that matters is the school, and no unit is going to succeed without great leadership. That's an important concept. In education the principal is the weakest link in the chain. Bureaucracy has a lot of power; politics has control of money; the teachers have power because they have a very strong union. But the principals are in a union with the assistant principals, and there are more assistant principals than principals.

So the leader, in a weird way, is the weakest link. We really started to focus on leadership training, and we have a program now that was built on the Crotonville model [from General Electric] where we have boot camp for principals and aspiring principals over the summer, and then they mentor and intern with one of our more successful principals. It is amazing to me that the same school with two different principals can get entirely -- entirely -- different outcomes.

Jack [Welch] did something that was great: He challenged all my senior leaders. We had a retreat, and he said, "You guys keep talking about 'instructional leaders.' That's because you're uncomfortable talking about leadership. In the phrase 'instructional leader,' the more important word is 'leader.'"

Don't you have to change the system for any of this to work?

If you want great leadership, you've got to empower your leaders. When I started, superintendents used to pick the principals and then pick the assistant principals. I said, "If the principal can't put together his management team, it's not going to work." And they said, "Well, Chancellor, you shouldn't do that because our principals can't pick assistant principals." I said, "If they can't pick assistant principals, we've got to get new principals."

Isn't that ridiculous? Shouldn't principals be deciding which administrators they need, which guidance counselors they need, what community programs they want to bring in, whether they want to have extended day, extended week, extended year, and start to differentiate based on their challenges and also maybe take some risks in this game?

To what extent are they allowed to do those things today?

Much, much more now. Principals in New York City have significantly greater discretion on issues like extending the day, having Saturday programs, hiring a teacher, hiring another assistant principal. By the same token, there's far more accountability, and that's a big change. I think people would be surprised by this: Every principal in New York City signs an agreement saying what their prerogatives are, what discretion they have, and also what their accountabilities are. And if they don't meet their accountabilities, we can terminate them or close their schools. We do that. And that's a very different way of doing business.

Most people who came to public education think that if you show up on day one and just stay out of trouble, you can be there forever. We're trying to develop a performance-based, accountability-driven culture, and we've had quite a bit of success with our principals.'

For the full text of this fascinating and highly instructive interview, see - http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/30/news/economy/joel_klein_nyc_schools.fortune/index.htm

The Blind Loyalty of a Leader

Emmy award winning journalist Charlie Rose has been praised as "one of America's premier interviewers." He is the host of Charlie Rose, the nightly PBS program that engages America's best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers. USA Today calls Charlie Rose, "TV's most addictive talk show." New York Newsday says, "Charlie's show is the place to get engaging, literate conversation... Bluntly, he is the best interviewer around today."

Here is an interesting interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street about the blind loyalty of Lehman Brothers final chairman and ceo, Dick Fuld:

For more interesting interviews with business, political and sporting leaders, see - http://www.youtube.com/user/CharlieRose

Planning for the next recession

Geoff Colvin is a senior editor at large for Fortune magazine. He has the following interesting perspective in a recent article:

'Don't go soft on evaluations. Expansions make it easier for everyone to look like a star, leading undisciplined managers to believe that somehow everyone just got better. The best companies, including Procter & Gamble and McKinsey, are as rigorous in evaluating people during good times as bad. Otherwise, they'd find themselves with a roster of C players when the next downturn arrives.

This whole way of thinking may seem backward. Good times seen merely as preparation for the bad? But managing intelligently during the next expansion will be much more than a chance to clobber competitors. At least as important will be preparing the organization for the make-or-break environment of the next recession.'

For more, see - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/28/AR2009092803694.html?hpid=news-col-blog

What is Success?

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is Ford or GM throwing good money after bad?

When bad decisions force business leaders to leave their jobs, organisations often rush to replace them with insiders, who are familiar with the original problem and the former leader. In times of turmoil, the choice seems natural and even obvious: Because insiders know the past, they should be less likely to repeat it. General Motors pointedly replaced Rick Wagoner as its chief executive officer with his protégé Fritz Henderson, a career GM employee.

However, recent research reveals that despite the natural inclination to opt for an insider with connections to the old boss, a failing leader is often better replaced with a completely unrelated outside party. The research implies that business organisations trying to shed failed legacies might want to follow Ford's example by appointing an outsider, Alan Mulally from Boeing, as the new ceo.

Organisations hoping to escape past failures need to balance their preference for the familiarity and knowledge that an insider affords against the entrapment an insider may suffer. Although outsiders undoubtedly take longer to understand a problem, the research suggests that once they do, their psychological independence can limit their tendency to throw good money after bad.

For more, see - http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/22/insider-succession-planning-leadership-ceonetwork-governance.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Practicing Positive Leadership in a Small Business

Practicing successful positive leadership in a small business, especially for the founder/owner, takes great skill and talent. In order to know what to do successfully in the start up phase and beyond takes understanding and self analysis. Some entrepreneurs do not know themselves well enough to see their own faults. These faults can and will interfere in the success of the business.

The most crucial point in a small business where self analysis of the leader is necessary is during the transition to the professional management stage. The three important elements of people management, planning and the customer are built around the vision, mission statement and values of the company. As the entrepreneur grows the company, the leader must identify his/her need for control, sense of distrust, need for applause and defensive operations, also known as the “darker sides of the entrepreneur".

These characteristics if not monitored or unbeknownst to the leader can result in distorted reasoning and action making the transition (which is necessary for organisational growth) extremely difficult, if not impossible. Due to the leader's inability to recognise his/her destructive behaviours, the organisation may be destined for perpetual smallness or destruction. Needs such as hiring more employees, growing additional branches and hiring managers to oversee teams of employees begin to appear. As a small business earns success and recognition, issues arise.

The entrepreneur generally desires such growth and success and happily appoints managers to continue training and developing and maintaining business relations. If the leader is unable to relinquish control, the managers will be unable to accomplish goals in alignment with the vision and mission of the leader. A large part of providing a successful mission statement is emulating the freedom to accomplish those actions as well as relinquishing control to those the leader hired. Inconsistencies and deficiencies of the leader are well documented factors which limit the growth of entrepreneurial firms. An entrepreneur struggles with issues of authority and control and structure can be stifling. If the leader is unaware of this behaviour, the employees will disengage and eventually leave, which costs the company money in recruiting and training of new employees.

If the control issues are allowed to continue, the leader may attempt to pull back the reins on those he/she hired to manage his/her small organisation's growth. Thus, micro-managing and removing any control or power from the managers themselves. As entrepreneurs sometimes do, planning is done on a gut instinct. The transition to a professional management organisation is no longer based solely on gut instinct. This transits the organisation to rely upon several professionals sharing their knowledge and experience to guide the small business planning. If the entrepreneurial leader is unable to allow this to happen, the transition to a professional management organisation ceases.

This behaviour also affects customers. The integrity and enthusiasm that once existed deteriorates with the controlling, distrusting and defensive characteristics of the entrepreneurial leader. As customers receive lower quality service, unmet expectations and dissatisfied employees, the overall organisational reputation may be lost. The darker side of the entrepreneur negatively affects the small business, the employees and customers. It is vital for a leader to analyse his strengths and weaknesses in order to maintain a successful small business.

Go Phillies! A Lesson in Positive Leadership

With the World Series in baseball due to start this week, it is interesting to follow the story of the manager of one of the teams in the Series, Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Leaders in sports and business have one thing in common," said Bill McDermott, the Newtown Square-based president of global field operations for the software giant SAP. "They have committed followers. If you look at Charlie Manuel, his team is fully behind him."

"People always want to judge a book by its cover, and that was the case here with Charlie his first few seasons," said Kenneth Shropshire, director of the Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

"The most important thing a management type can do is figure out what he does best and not change from that approach," Shropshire said. "Charlie looks like he's one of those leaders who says: 'Look, this is who I am, and this is who I'll always be. I'm not changing.' "

According to Shropshire and others, while Manuel might manage by the seat of his red-pin-striped pants, instinctively he's been true to the best management principles.

"The closest analogy in business management to what he's done might be what happens on Wall Street," said Peters, a management consultant, author, and Baltimore Orioles fan whose best-selling In Search of Excellence is a business bible. "The same sort of star mentality that exists in a baseball dugout is at work there. The best managers in both places know how to handle those stars."

With all the talent on the world champion Phillies, Shropshire said, there could easily have been crippling jealousies and feuds. "With someone less adept at managing people," he said, "it could have been a real disaster." Manuel's most valuable managerial asset, those interviewed said, was knowing both his players and himself. That self-knowledge especially, Shropshire said, was something only the most successful business managers ever achieved.

"One of the hardest things our management students face is the leadership assessment test, where we ask them to evaluate themselves as leaders," Shropshire said. "They all think they should be Donald Trumps. They don't see and can't identify their own strengths. "Charlie knows who he is. He revels in it, and he uses it to his advantage. He doesn't try to be anyone else. And his players grasp that. They respond to that. That's great management technique."

And this from one Philadelphia area blog:

'For several weeks now I have been thinking of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as a model of excellent top management that can truly be called leadership, positive leadership.

Oh, Charlie can make the tough decisions when necessary. This year's Brad Lidge story should find its way into every management and leadership text. For those of you who don't follow sports, Lidge had one of the best year's in baseball history for a man at his position last year, and this year he had one of the worst. Manuel removed him from the most critical moments, but never lost confidence in him and now Lidge is nearly his old self. There are many more examples.

So I was surprised and pleased to see a front-page article on Charlie's leadership style in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer in which a Wharton professor and an important Philadelphia-area CEO talked about what exceptional leadership and management skills Manuel has. Leaders who stay positive can accomplish much. Charlie's team is the current world champion that now is the first National League team in more than 30 years to return to the World Series the following year to defend the title.'
For more on this fascinating story, see - http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/65922642.html and http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/66285207.html

The Significance of Positive Leadership Within an Organisation

When leaders display positive emotions, others take note -- and take action. Positive leaders don't sit back and wait for things to get better on their own. Instead, as they walk around the office, make calls, or write e-mails, they are always trying to catch excellence in action. When they spot a job well done, they call attention to what is right. This in turn raises the entire organisation's positive to negative ratio and its productivity.

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.

In sum, positive leadership refers to an emphasis on what elevates individuals and organisations (in addition to what challenges them), what goes right in organisations (in addition to what goes wrong), what is life-giving (in addition to what is problematic or life-depleting), what is experienced as good (in addition to what is objectionable), what is extraordinary (in addition to what is merely effective), and what is inspiring (in addition to what is difficult or arduous).

How to Find Joy at Work

Here is some great perspective from Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter:

'Although some studies report growing employee cynicism, job satisfaction polls show high satisfaction rates for those still employed. Job security has been the most important factor in an 80% satisfied rate for the past two years, followed by compensation and benefits, in Society for Human Resource Management surveys.

Clearly, people report job satisfaction simply because they get a paycheck. But are they getting joy? OK, maybe work was never all that joyous, and that's why it's called "work." But the post-crash daily grind is grinding some people down to a pitiful pulp. People in secure jobs they once liked report working harder with fewer resources just to hold their own, like treading water in an endless swim machine. If current economic trends continue, we might face not just a job-less recovery but a joy-less recovery.

Here are some clues about joy. On a recent Gallup Healthways survey of 100,000 Americans, business owners outrank 10 other occupations in overall well-being, despite working longer hours and earning slightly less, on average, than professionals and managers/executives, who rank second and third. The surprising fourth is farming, fishing, and forestry, despite the lowest income of any group. (Maybe not surprising, given how many leaders unwind by fishing or brush-cutting.) More confined service, clerical, transportation, and manufacturing workers are at the bottom, in the low 40s on Gallup's 100-point well-being index compared to over 70 for business owners.

Autonomy, influence, and a sense of meaning are associated with lower stress and fewer work-related illnesses, regardless of hours worked. Supervisors are better-off than the supervised, and entrepreneurs are the best-off of all.

This suggests that exerting leadership is the surest route to joy (other than going fishing). The key is setting the agenda and starting the pieces moving towards a purpose-driven goal. If 90% of success in life is just showing up, Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor advises that when you show up, you might as well run the meeting.

So here is a list of top ways to find joy at work.

10. Identify long-term personal purpose. Write a personal mission statement, to review often.
9. Be an entrepreneur from anywhere. Even if you don't start a business (now), imagine starting a project that will improve your current job, workplace, or community.
8. Discuss the idea informally to find others feeling the same way. Enlist them in the quest. Now they're counting on you not to let them down. Describe it as an experiment that will benefit others. Incorporate feedback so that others hear their ideas in yours.
7. Get a Big Name to endorse giving it a try.
6. Negotiate out of demands that don't contribute to the goal. Keep doing what you must to keep your job, but simplify.
5. Find every supporter a task, however small. Show that you're working for their goals, too.
4. Widen the circle of the informed. Involve people not usually included.
3. Remain positive. Smiling takes fewer muscles than frowning and is contagious. Ignore skeptics unless easily converted.
2. As the bits of the cube start moving, keep communicating and coordinating.
1. Celebrate each breakthrough moment of accomplishment. Share the joy to multiply it.

More jobs with more joy - now that's an agenda the public should rally behind. Let's not wait for employers to make changes, necessary as those are. A few good breakthrough moments can keep us going - and influence employers to see why joy matters.'

For more, see - http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/kanter/2009/10/top-ten-ways-to-find-joy-at-wo.html

A Formula for Success

Failure. We don't like to talk about it. But we all worry about it. What makes successful leaders stand out is that when faced with failure, they stay in motion. They quit the bad job, they separate from investors they conflict with, they get up off the floor and go back to work.

As Tom Watson, the founder of IBM said:

'Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you will find success.'

The Four Capabilities of Leadership

Here is some excellent material on the four capabilities of leadership, from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow:

1. Sensemaking - understanding the context in which a company and its people operate.
2. Relating - building relationships within and across organisations.
3. Visioning - creating a compelling picture of the future.
4. Inventing - developing new ways to achieve the vision.

The four capabilities are interdependent and you need each one in your organisation for it to be successful.
  • Without sensemaking, there's no common view of reality from which to start.
  • Without relating, people work in isolation or strive toward different aims.
  • Without visioning, there is no shared direction.
  • Without inventing, a vision remains an illusion.


Leaders are Dealers in Hope

Fear is an incredibly debilitating emotion and it is only heightened by the media during difficult times. Napoleon Bonaparte has some advice for leaders during times like these. Napoleon said, "Leaders are dealers in hope."

In fact, leaders if they are doing a good job, have significant influence in the lives of their staff. These are good times to reassure your people that everything is going to be OK. Now you might be wondering how anyone can really say for sure that everything will be OK. With huge job losses in the manufacturing industry, and layoffs because of the credit crises, how can anyone reassure their staff of anything? Well, what you can do is reassure people that they are going to be OK regardless of what happens. Remember fear exaggerates over time, and one of a leader's jobs is to help people see past their fear.

Leaders need to help their people see their strengths and resources and remind them that whatever happens, they have the inner strengths and tools to adapt, adjust and succeed. As a leader right now, it is a good idea to find out how your staff is feeling about the current recession. There is bound to be some apprehension among them, which definitely affects workplace morale and productivity. Even being able to talk about it during a meeting will help people unload some of their stress. It is in these times when true leaders seize the opportunities to instil hope, confidence and optimism.

During WWII when things seemed very dark for Britain, it was Winston Churchill who said:

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Churchill was instrumental in rallying the emotional resolve of Britain during the war. This is what leaders do. They strengthen the resolve of their people. This is a good time to check the pulse of your employees and if any of them seem a bit deflated, take Napoleons advice and deal out a little hope.

Challenging Young Employees

To develop the next generation, challenge young employees and give them clear, real-time feedback, says Peter Darbee, ceo of PG&E in this Wall Street Journal video:


How Lessons from Sport Shape a Leadership Style

In this Wall Street Journal video, Thomas Werner, an Ironman tri-athlete, shows how lessons from his sport shape his leadership style as Sun Power ceo:


Focus On What You Do Best

In this Wall Street Journal video, Sharon Allen, Deloitte's chairman of the board says that 'focusing on what you do best helps you to become a better leader'.


Styles of Leadership

Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organisation you are leading.

Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organisation.

In the book Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

1. Visionary. This style is most appropriate when an organisation needs a new direction. Its goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. “Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, take calculated risks,” write Mr. Goleman and his coauthors.

2. Coaching. This one-on-one style focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals of the organization. Coaching works best, Mr. Goleman writes, “with employees who show initiative and want more professional development.” But it can backfire if it’s perceived as “micromanaging” an employee, and undermines his or her self-confidence.

3. Affiliative. This style emphasises the importance of team work, and creates harmony in a group by connecting people to each other. Mr. Goleman argues this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.” But he warns against using it alone, since its emphasis on group praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. “Employees may perceive,” he writes, “that mediocrity is tolerated.”

4. Democratic. This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals. It works best when the direction the organisation should take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group. Mr. Goleman warns that this consensus-building approach can be disastrous in times of crisis, when urgent events demand quick decisions.

5. Pacesetting. In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is “obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.” But Mr. Goleman warns this style should be used sparingly, because it can undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing. “Our data shows that, more often than not, pacesetting poisons the climate,” he writes.

6. Commanding.  The classic model of “military” style leadership – probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Because it rarely involves praise and frequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Mr. Goleman argues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed. Even the modern military has come to recognise its limited usefulness.

Just Enough Leadership

Here is an extract from a recent article by Professor Henry Mintzberg in the Harvard Business Review (http://hbr.harvardbusiness.org/2009/07/rebuilding-companies-as-communities/ar/1 ) - it is certainly thought provoking:

'Beneath the current economic crisis lies another crisis of far greater proportions: the depreciation in companies of community -- people's sense of belonging to and caring for something larger than themselves. Decades of short-term management, in the United States especially, have inflated the importance of CEOs and reduced others in the corporation to fungible commodities -- human resources to be "downsized" at the drop of a share price. The result: mindless, reckless behavior that has brought the global economy to its knees.

Government stimulus programs and the rescue of the biggest and sickest corporations will not alone resolve the problem. Companies need to re-engage their people. The practice of both management and leadership needs to be rethought.

Community means caring about our work, our colleagues and our place in the world, geographic and otherwise, and in turn being inspired by this caring. Young, successful companies usually have this sense of community. They are growing, energized, committed to their people, almost a family. But sustaining it can be another matter. In our hectic, individualist world, the sense of community has been lost in too many companies and other organizations. In the United States in particular, many great enterprises, along with the country's legendary sense of enterprise, have been collapsing as a consequence.

"Communityship" is not a word in the English language. But it should be -- to stand between individual leadership on one side and collective citizenship on the other. In fact, I believe that we should never use the word "leadership" without also discussing communityship. Sure, leaders can engage and involve others. But the concept remains focused on the individual -- on personal initiative.

We make a great fuss these days about the evils of micromanaging -- managers' meddling in the affairs of their subordinates. Far more serious is "macroleading": the exercise of top-down authority by out-of-touch leaders. Communityship requires a more modest form of leadership that might be called engaged and distributed management. A community leader is personally engaged in order to engage others, so that anyone and everyone can exercise initiative. If you doubt this can happen, take a look at how Wikipedia, Linux and other open-source operations work.

So maybe it's time to wean ourselves from the heroic leader and recognize that usually we need just enough leadership -- leadership that intervenes when appropriate while encouraging people in the organization to get on with things.

In large, hierarchical organizations, certain conditions help to facilitate a transformation to communityship:

  • the remnants of community....
  • an atmosphere that promotes trust.....
  • a robust culture......
  • leadership at the center......
This does not mean that we have to put communityship on a pedestal, in place of leadership. We would do well to see both these forces as working together in a socially responsible way to get past the insularity that exists in many organizations. A healthy society balances leadership, communityship and citizenship.'

Inspirational Leaders

In an effective organisation, managers and leaders have a key role in influencing the culture and climate of the organisation. An inspirational leader should:

  • Create a sense of vision in a fast changing environment.
  • Motivate people and lead them through change.
  • Be innovative in products and services and ways of working.
Here are six recurring features of inspirational leaders:
  • They genuinely care: they approach work and their colleagues with openness and honesty and both inspire, and invest trust.
  • They involve everybody: offering people both the support they need to be effective, and the freedom to put it into practice.
  • They listen a lot: to peers, subordinates and customers.
  • They show lots of appreciation: including small gestures.
  • They ensure work is fun: by celebrating achievement and using lively social events to reward effort and commitment.
  • Along with their people, they are deeply committed: they are passionate about the organisation and its work, and always looking for opportunities to improve.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Inspirational leaders … Mandela, Moses, Martin Luther King, and, er, Simon Cowell

Here is an interesting article from today's Scotsman newspaper ( http://news.scotsman.com/celebrities/Inspirational-leaders--Mandela-Moses.5764802.jp ):

'The power of modern pop culture has been underlined by a survey of teenagers who ranked Simon Cowell alongside Moses and Martin Luther King when asked to name the world's greatest leaders. The Youth of Today survey, commissioned by The Prince's Trust, found that the reality TV and music mogul won the same percentage of the vote as Mother Teresa and the 16th-century monarch Henry VIII.

It led commentators to suggest young people can no longer distinguish between leadership, celebrity and fame.

The survey of 1,095 13-to-19-year-olds coincides with a new government-backed campaign to create a generation of inspirational young leaders. The top ten chosen is a mix of historical and contemporary figures, with Martin Luther King in pole position, obtaining nearly a quarter of the vote. US president Barack Obama was second and Nelson Mandela third. Alan, now Lord, Sugar is fourth while Moses and Bill Gates tied for fifth. The list also includes England footballer John Terry and actress Joanna Lumley.

Some 70 per cent of teenagers claim they are more likely to be inspired by someone they know than by a celebrity, challenging popular perceptions of British youth. Sixty-four per cent were inspired by someone in their family. Two in three (67 per cent) believe there are more celebrities setting a bad example than a good one today.

1. Martin Luther King 23%
2. Barack Obama 14%
3. Nelson Mandela 12%
4. Lord Sugar 7%
5= Moses and Bill Gates 4%
7. Joanna Lumley 3%
8= John Terry, Simon Cowell, Mother Teresa and Henry VIII 2%.

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris, from the Centre for Urban and Community Research, said it might sound cynical, but he would expect a young person to be less familiar with Mother Teresa than Cowell. He said: "I'm not sure why Henry VIII is on that list. Young people probably have very little sense of what makes a leader. You would think pop stars would be on there. We are living in a celebrity culture and it's very easy to confuse that.

"People learn important figures in school so this list is just a bizarre combination. It's quite clear who's more important, Nelson Mandela or Simon Cowell."

Lumley said last night: "I'd never thought of myself as a leader but I'm thrilled and touched that young people think of me that way."

Adam Nichols, from The Youth of Today, said: "People think young people only aspire to be like celebrities but they're wrong. Shows such as The X Factor prove that Britain really does have young talent – but we cannot rely on The X Factor alone. We need to find new ways to unearth the next generation of potential."

For more on this English based initiative, see - http://www.theyouthoftoday.org/fund-great-projects

From a Scottish perspective, Positive Leadership would like to suggest that the Scottish Government should consider a project similar to The Connector Project, launched by Leadership Philadelphia in 2006 (http://www.leadershipphiladelphia.org/connect_press.html ).

The Connector Project took its cue from The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, a highly successful sociological study of sudden and pervasive social change by Malcolm Gladwell, which popularised the notion of “connectors” - people in a community who know large numbers of people and make a habit of connecting them. Connectors usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional and economic circles, and frequently introduce people who work or live in different circles. Connectors, Gladwell wrote, are the “hubs” of human social networks and are often responsible for the bringing about rapid and widespread change.

The Connector Project, which has now been replicated in other cities in the USA, is a rigorous effort to identify and understand more of the region's trusted ‘leaders next door,’ to map the connections that link them and to foster dialogues among them. The ultimate goals are 'to spark a regional conversation about leadership, find out what makes good leaders tick and teach our children the lessons we’ve learned'.

Such a project could be of huge value in Scotland, particularly at the end of Homecoming Scotland 2009.


Your Choices are Being Watched

As a leader, you are being watched for the choices you make and for the meaning behind your choices. Your followers want to know if you are making choices that express your values, those of your organisation, and those that are in their interest. Even the smallest choices you make in your every day are being watched, and can lead down a path that is affirming or destructive:
  • the three minutes that you stop, turn, and really listen to an employee rather than choosing to check your Blackberry
  • the expression of gratitude to someone for a job well done instead of choosing to find small faults in how they did it
  • credit deflected to the individuals who actually did the work instead of choosing to take personal credit for it
  • firm belief that your employees are capable of stretching themselves rather than choosing to assume that they aren’t capable
  • rolling up your shirtsleeves and pitching in when the going gets tough instead of choosing to get frustrated
  • living in the questions instead of choosing to have all the answers
  • and yes….. even choosing to have a great day when you would rather wallow in self pity.
Think about it. All the choices you make in a day without conscious thought impact your leadership. Stop, think and become intentional in your choices. What small choices will you make today that will make a positive difference in the way you lead?