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

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Crazy Bosses!

Since the latter part of the century just past, Stanley Bing has been exploring the relationship between authority and madness. In one bestselling book after another, reporting from his hot-seat as an insider in a world-renowned multinational corporation, he has tried to understand the inner workings of those who lead us and to inquire why they seem to be powered, much of the time, by demons that make them obnoxious and dangerous, even to themselves.

In Crazy Bosses, Bing is back on his home turf in this funny, true, and essential book, peering with his keen and frosty eye at the crazy boss in all his guises: the Bully, the Paranoid, the Narcissist, the Wimp, and the self-destructive Disaster Hunter. If you are new to Bing, strap yourself in: it's going to be a crazy ride!!!

This is what Stanley himself says about the research underpinning his book:

'In a stunning example of science telling us something we already know, a new study finds that bad management may be bad for your heart.

The BCC reports that “A Swedish team found a strong link between poor leadership and the risk of serious heart disease and heart attacks among more than 3,000 employed men.” The study found that people with lousy managers had higher stress, were more likely to smoke and suffer from high blood pressure, particularly when they were yelled at.

“The staff who deemed their senior managers to be the least competent had a 25% higher risk of a serious heart problem. And those working for what was classed as a long time – four years or more – had a 64% higher risk,” the BCC reports, citing the study, which was originally published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which will clearly be on our mandatory reading list along with “Who Moved My Cheese” from here on in.

We were there first, of course. But it’s always nice to see science catch up with reality a little bit.

Now get back to work, you lazy slugs!!'

Listen to Stanley talk about Crazy Bosses here - http://www.caliperonline.com/radio/StanleyBing.htm

Stanley Bing is the pen name of Gil Schwartz, a business humorist and novelist. He has written a column for Fortune magazine for more than ten years, after having spent a decade at Esquire, and has written many books. Schwartz is the executive vice president of corporate communications for CBS.

The Power of Full Engagement

For 25 years, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz have conducted intensive training with professional athletes to help them perform at peak levels under intense competitive pressures.

Elite athletes who have worked with Loehr and Schwartz include: Mark O’Meara in golf, Jim Courier and Monica Seles in tennis, Jim Harbaugh in football, Mike Richter and Eric Lindros in hockey, Grant Hill in basketball, Eddie Cheever, Jr. in race car driving, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in boxing, and Dan Jansen in speed skating.

Loehr and Schwartz are not involved in the physical training process, however. Their intervention focuses on effective management of our most precious resource, our energy. They have found to their surprise that the performance demands most people face in their everyday work environments are often tougher than those professional athletes face. Because athletes train constantly, they are more prepared, whereas most people are in the work game 8 to 12 hours a day with little or no training at all. Most of us are constantly trying to manage time.

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, the authors have instead set out a prescription for managing energy on every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Complete this free profile to see how engaged you are with your work - http://lge.perfprog.com/

Leading at the Edge

Part adventure story, part leadership guide, Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Limits of Human Endurance - The Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition examines Shackleton's legendary Antarctic expedition through the lens of business—to reveal a set of powerful strategies for corporate leaders.

In the chronicles of extraordinary adventures and against-the-odds survival, nothing compares to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of South Pole explorers. Stranded in the frozen sea for nearly two years, they endured extreme temperatures, hazardous ice, dwindling food, complete isolation, and perpetual blackness.

Yet, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the group remained cohesive, congenial, and mercifully alive—a fact that speaks not just to luck but to an unparalleled feat in leadership.

'Leading at the Edge' draws on this amazing story to reveal the power of effective organizational leadership under conditions of uncertainty, ambiguity, and rapid change. The book uncovers 10 lessons—complete with stirring examples from the Shackleton expedition, as well as contemporary business case studies of the strategies in action—on what it takes to be a great leader. Readers learn how to:

  • Set a personal example with vivid symbols and behaviours
  • Instill optimism while staying grounded in reality
  • Reinforce the team message constantly
  • Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about
  • Have the courage to take big risks, and more.
For managers and executives who feel stressed out or stretched thin, these memorable strategies will help bring order to chaos—and success in the face of the most daunting adversity.

Knowledge Transfer Using Peer Mentoring

Any major organisational transition requires intensive knowledge transfer, at the heart of which is someone who possesses specific knowledge, and someone who needs to learn that knowledge in order to perform their job and grow professionally. But training programs are by nature limited in scope, and most job-specific learning has to come from co-workers who are busy trying to get their own jobs done. Peer mentoring is often done haphazardly, without planning or structure, leaving both mentors and their apprentices to fend for themselves.

Steve Trautman, who honed his teaching skills internally at Microsoft Corporation before becoming a consultant with widespread clients across the globe, wants to fix this problem with a simple methodology and an extensive set of teaching tools. In his book, Teach What You Know: A Practical Leader's Guide to Knowledge Transfer Using Peer Mentoring, the first step, he says, is for managers to clearly identify who is going to teach what to whom, and make sure each party understands and accepts his or her role as mentor or apprentice. Once the roles are clear, the basic process for the mentor to follow is as follows:

◦Quickly assess what the apprentice already knows and wants or needs to know and define a measurable learning goal.

◦Ensure that the apprentice has the minimum required setup to be successful (suitable workstation, documentation, vocabulary).

◦Break down the needed information into manageable chunks, creating a brief lesson plan before each meeting.

◦Teach from the lesson plan in a manner that matches the apprentice' learning style.

◦Assess his or her progress along the way using quizzes, paraphrasing and demonstration of new skills.

◦Send the apprentice off with specific instructions on what to do next, then follow up with peer-appropriate feedback.

Mentors are often afraid all this will take too long-after all, they barely have enough time to do their own jobs. To answer that need and the general lack of knowledge on how to teach, Trautman has designed a series of planning and teaching tools that should not take more than 5-10 minutes each.

The first step for planning is for the mentor to determine, with his or her manager, whether he is to be the primary mentor or a "silo" mentor-someone who has deep subject matter expertise and will focus on teaching others only that subject. A manager may want to set up teams of consisting of a primary mentor and several silo mentors; this team can share the load of teaching a new hire or, in the case of a reorganization or a need for better consistency across a department, switch roles for cross-training an entire department.

As part of preparation for teaching, Trautman asks the mentor to plan for managing his or her time with the apprentice and communication. He suggests taking a close look at you like to communicate versus what is an unwelcome interruption. The tools he provides for this purpose include worksheets that will help you determine how you want your apprentice to interact with you, how he or she should structure emails and write status reports, how often you should meet, how to pre-plan meetings, what makes a good question, and what problem-solving protocols to use-including steps the apprentice should take before turning to you. These worksheets take time to work through, but they should save a lot of time over the long run.

Before the first meeting the primary mentor should also take 20 minutes to develop a customized training plan. For this, Trautman offers a "Training Plan Template," which is a five-column chart breaking down the skills or tasks your apprentice needs to know how to do, the sequence or order in which you think the apprentice should learn them, the success metric or test questions that must be answered to prove he or she has learned the skill, the date by which he should be able to pass the "test," and the list of resources that are available.

For individual teaching sessions, Trautman stresses taking five minutes beforehand to create a quick outline of the meeting to provide structure and avoid overload. He also provides a Demonstration Technique Worksheet to use every time you need to demonstrate a specific task. Other tools and worksheets in the book involve individual learning styles, asking assessment questions, requesting and providing feedback, and more. You can read the book all the way through or pick and choose the chapters and tools that are pertinent to where you are in the teaching cycle.