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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bringing Global Citizen Corps to Scotland

This Facebook article is worthy of note and says much about the leadership being displayed currently by many young people in Scotland and throughout the world:

'Monday, 27 April 2009

Global Citizen Corps Leader Sinead talks about the program and why she feels it is important to join the fight against global poverty.

At 16, I am part of a generation that is internet obsessed. For some, this means an addiction to internet game sites and for others, a reliance on Facebook or Bebo. For me, it has opened my eyes to the world and allowed me to explore.

As a child the news was always so depressing, and so often led to nightmares that I frequently flicked the channels. Later when I was no longer such a kid, I got so fed up of hearing about the economy, or a party conference for 10 minutes and only getting civil wars as sideline stories that I again grew restless with the news. This is where the internet comes in. Suddenly I discovered internet news websites. They presented the same news, but I could filter through the stuff that bored me and I was able to read the headlines in my own voice and make my own conclusions. And then a quick Google search could reveal 20 new dimensions to each story. The world was suddenly much smaller than I realised.

All of this made one thing clear. it was that life really isn't fair. I could read about starving children and then sit down to an incredible meal. I no longer wanted to be a vet; I now knew that I wanted to do something to tackle poverty. However, I didn't really know what I should do to get there. My future seemed so exciting, I envisaged travelling to far off lands and really doing something with my life – I couldn't wait! It was again through the internet that I took a further step.

The leader of a youth group I attend sent round an email about an opportunity she had heard about, and attached a link. This was the Mercy Corps initiative. Global Citizen Corps, and without really properly finding out what it was I applied to become a Global Citizen Corps leader - something I am now very glad of. From what I knew it was a chance to be educated about issues surrounding poverty and to be given help in arranging action within the local community to tackle it. That was enough for me, and it's actually a pretty good description.

Arriving for the first summit in November was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, I wasn't certain what I was to find and was wondering if I had made the right choice in going. When I got there I was a little daunted by the size of the hotel, and I quickly got lost. When I eventually found my way I found myself in a carpeted business-like room. Immediately I started worrying - does everyone else know each other? Will I actually manage to start a conversation? However, it was all just me worrying and the weekend was much better than I had expected. We learnt about HIV globally and locally and I soon found inspiration for what I could do in my school. Global Citizen Corps has provided me with an excellent opportunity to actually do something about issues that we normally brand hopeless. It has made me see that helping those most in need isn't a far off dream but a realistic goal. Hopefully a goal that my internet obsessed generation will be able to meet.'

For more on Global Citizen Corps see - http://www.globalcitizencorps.org/about.htm?page=about_leadership

Lance Armstrong and Livestrong

October 2nd was the 13th year anniversary of Lance Armstrong’s cancer diagnosis. As the saying goes, it was a blessing in disguise. In many cases, we hear that but don’t really see the blessing-only the disguise. But for Lance, his cancer helped him win the Tour de France. Unbelievable as it may sound, the cancer helped Lance get lighter on the bike. The cancer stripped some of his muscle and in turn, his weight dropped. However, the real blessing was for us. Lance and his mother started the Livestrong foundation and brought a new awareness and a new life to leading the fight to beat cancer in our lifetime. Lance has created a legacy, both off and on the bike, and it happened in the guise of a cancer diagnosis.

Don't Lose Faith - Find What You Love

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urges graduates to pursue their dreams in this 2005 Commencement Address to Stanford University students:


Great Leaders Are Great Communicators

In a recent New York Times article, Delta Airlines CEO, Richard Anderson, says leadership is about effective communication skills. When asked about what he looks for in a job candidate, Anderson said, “Typically, when you’re hiring a vice president of a company, they already have the resume and they already have the experience base. And so what you’re trying to find out about are the intangibles of leadership, communication style and the ability to adapt to change. I'm looking for really good communication skills"

Anderson’s response brings to mind a book titled, “Jacked Up”, by former General Electric speechwriter, Bill Lane. In the book, Lane recalls that each of the 23 candidates in line at GE to succeed Jack Welch were considered “good to great” presenters. Anyone who seeks a position of leadership in today’s global economy should strive to improve the way they write, speak and present.

During job interviews, Richard Anderson says he’s listening for really good communication skills. “More and more, the ability to speak well and write is important. You know, writing is not something that is taught as strongly as it should be in the educational curriculum. So you’re looking for communication skills.”

Anderson doesn’t end there. He goes on to say “I think this communication point is getting more and more important. People really have to be able to handle the written and spoken word. And when I say written, I don’t mean PowerPoints. I don’t think PowerPoints help people think as clearly as they should because you don’t have to put a complete thought in place. You can just put a phrase with a bullet in front it. And it doesn’t have a subject, a verb and an object, so you aren’t expressing complete thoughts.”


Why Talent is Overrated

Everybody’s talking about how to find opportunity in the current economic chaos, but here is an angle that might be getting overlooked. Times of crisis present genuinely great opportunities to develop leadership. Not to demonstrate leadership; that opportunity is obvious. What we are talking about is building leadership capabilities beyond what you or others in your organisation possess now. While it’s difficult to be happy about tough times, this opportunity is so large that it’s almost worth being grateful for.

Here’s what we mean. Scientific research on great performance has shown persuasively that high abilities of all kinds are developed. They don’t occur naturally. The question of whether great leaders are born or made is settled: They’re made.

The key to this development is pushing people – or people pushing themselves – just beyond their current abilities, forcing them to do things that they can’t quite do. Companies that are famous for developing leaders - PepsiCo (PEP), Procter & Gamble (PG), General Electric (GE) - are continually moving managers into jobs that accomplish exactly that. But the process is slow and can accommodate only so many people at any time

The great thing about a financial crisis and a recession is that they offer everyone the opportunity to be stretched in their current jobs. Such CEOs as A.G. Lafley, ex of P&G and Jeff Immelt of GE have said that being forced to manage through crises earlier in their careers built their abilities so much that it was critical to their becoming CEOs—and that, in fact, they wouldn’t have become CEOs otherwise

Certain practices can make the experience especially productive. Coaching helps. Getting specific in your own mind about exactly which abilities you want to improve, and how, will turbocharge the results. But the main thing is continually trying things you can’t quite do. This is what makes you better. And doing it for a long time is what makes you great

And now, thanks to a bunch of subprime mortgages, you’re being handed a great big chance to get a whole lot better. Please grab it. You will, truly, be a better performer as a result.

For more on this fascinating subject, see this excellent FORTUNE video featuring the author of the book, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin:


How Should Leaders Manage Crisis and Resolve Disputes?

Do you find yourself in a constant state of crisis at work? Are you bombarded with petty little to resolve? Do people regularly come to you with problems that they could easily solve, but don’t. Why is it they want you, their leader, to fix it? How should leaders manage crisis and resolve issues?

Many executives find themselves in a daily crisis management mode? Learning to make issue resolution a shared responsibility throughout the company is the key to changing this scenario.

A crisis is a turning point or a conflict that is emotionally volatile. How does a simple issue become a crisis that requires executive leadership action? The system of management in many organisations requires issues to be resolved by the senior most person. This need for a high level of control forces issues to bubble up to the top, developing into a crisis by the time they get there.

High control leadership cultures are crisis-centric ones. Not only is a crisis created out of a resolvable situation, but the crisis is allowed to develop to justify the high control in order to maintain the illusion of leadership. Yes, the illusion of leadership.

Effective leaders expand the leadership capacity of their organisation through the development of people. Training them in the attitudes and behaviours of leadership is part of the solution. Changing the system of issue resolution is also needed if the culture of crisis is to change.

Here are five principles to guide the development of a leadership system of issue resolution:

1. Issues should be resolved where they begin and by those who are empowered to resolve them.

This is the first and most important principle of issue resolution. The only exception to this principle is when a change in policy or strategic direction is required. Otherwise, the high-control executive has created a culture of disruption and division. If there is only one person who can save the day, it means no one else is allowed to do so. In effect, the system is designed to constantly make the executive look strong and able, and the rest of the company weak and needy. The system has to change. Issues should be resolved where they begin.

Ever had a misunderstanding with someone, and immediately, you knew it, and resolved the issue. You clarified your statement. Apologised for the misunderstanding. Reconciliation made. Issue resolved, and crisis avoided. This happens when the two or more parties to the issue take initiative to resolve it. This is the leadership capacity that every organisation needs from top to bottom.

Genuine leadership requires each person to take initiative in the three dimensions identified in the diagram above. An issue originates in either the Ideas, Relationship or Organisational Structure dimension, and is resolved by bringing all three of them together.

2. The manager or supervisor at the next highest level in the organisation is responsible for making sure that issues get resolved at their source.

Supervisory leaders need to understand that they are the company’s first line of defense against an issue becoming a crisis. The problem is that most supervisors are not trained to be leaders, but are trained to manage work processes. Leaders lead people. Managers manage processes. People need people who function as both leaders and managers.

3. Train middle managers and supervisors to identify and resolve issues as they arise.

If your supervisors and managers are not equipped to lead people through issue resolution, then you must train them to do so. Leadership training for middle managers and supervisors in many companies is viewed as a non-essential expense, and is cut when budgets are tight. This is short sighted, non-strategic and creates the conditions where issues become a crisis. Training the leaders from the middle of the company is an investment in a more adaptive workforce.

4. Issues should be resolved to enhance communication and coordination.

Issues are a function of the dynamic context seen in the diagram above. The Circle of Impact is a simple set of guides for assessment, problem-solving and planning that are best used in conversation. Here’s a real world example to illustrate.

A leadership team meets at 1pm every Wednesday. The members of the team arrive and the team leader, their boss, presents the agenda for their meeting. Week in and week out, the meeting is about her issues. The issues of the other members are rarely addressed. Team members express feelings of a lack of respect from their boss. Issues remain unresolved and poorly understood.

What is the issue here? Is it a relationship issue where the senior leader truly does not respect her team? Is it a lack of awareness that there is an issue? Is it a problem of poor communication or organisation of the weekly meeting?

Identifying the issue doesn’t resolve it. The team leader telling them she does respect them doesn’t resolve it. Vague promises of doing a better job of communicating doesn’t either. Changing the structure of the meeting to enhance communication and issue awareness is the solution.

The team makes a simple and strategic change in their meeting structure. Each team member submits agenda items for Wednesday’s meeting by 1pm on Monday. By 1pm on Tuesday, an agenda is distributed to the team so they know the topics to be discussed and how to be prepared to contribute.

The solution impacts the team beyond their initial expectations. Over several months, the team finds that issues begin to be resolved prior to the meeting. As their awareness of issues increases, communication improves, and decisions are made and implemented more effectively. Meetings are less issue oriented and more strategic as a result.

5. Senior leaders create an environment of confidence and personal responsibility by not resolving issues that should be resolved at their source, and supporting the parties in their issue resolution process.

Leaders create a culture of leadership with a system that validates personal responsibility and initiative. People gain confidence and accept the call to a higher level of participation and contribution when their decisions are supported by the company’s leadership.

A culture of leadership is not created by policy making alone. Leaders in the middle need to be trained to lead. They are the key to future strength of the business. Equip them to lead within their role and responsibilities, and they begin to equip the people who work with them to lead as well. Issues occur everyday. The crisis level of issues is minimised by developing responsibility for issue resolution throughout the organisation. As a result, developing a system of issue resolution as described here should be one of the key goals that executive leaders pursue.