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

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Great Teams Should Always Have an Enemy

In addition to being an extraordinary CEO and marketer, Apple’s Steve Jobs is without a doubt one of the great pitch-men of our time … or any other time, for that matter. He can create a buzz like nobody’s business and he gives the most inspiring commencement speech, as we’ve noted in the past.

Recently, in an “employees only” town hall style meeting a few days after the iPad launch, Jobs demonstrated that he’s also a master motivator of employees.

This excerpt, as reported by Wired, is a stunning example of uniting the troops against a common enemy:

'Jobs, characteristically, did not mince words as he spoke to the assembled, according to a person who was there …

On Google: We did not enter the search business, Jobs said. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them, he says. Someone else asks something on a different topic, but there’s no getting Jobs off this rant. I want to go back to that other question first and say one more thing, he says. This don’t be evil mantra: “It’s b***s***.” Audience roars.

In addition to taking some pretty pointed stabs at software-maker Adobe, mostly related to its notoriously buggy Flash software - which the iPhone still does not support - Jobs throws down the gauntlet when he challenges Android/Google to ”keep up with Apple’s iPhone updates.” '

In retaliation, the Google faithful are shooting back at Jobs, according to gawker.com’s Valleywag blog:

“I don’t know where people get the idea that competition is evil,” writes Paul Buchheit, the ex-Googler who invented “Don’t Be Evil,” along with Gmail and FriendFeed. One current Googler says he plans to tack up Jobs’ “very motivational” quote beside his monitor; another says Jobs myopically “sees all competition as zero-sum.”

Rivalries like this one, while appearing to be somewhat juvenile and over-the-top, can have a powerful impact by galvanising employee’s resolve to develop groundbreaking products and meet critical and often extremely challenging product deadlines.

While we hoist Apple’s Steve Jobs up on a superstar-CEO pedestal, one of his relatively unexplored talents is his ability to inspire groups of developers to great heights. For example, he told the first Macintosh design team that they were there to “make a dent in the universe.” And they did.

It should come as no surprise therefore that we think it is important that: “Great teams always have an enemy.”

How Leaders Can Develop More Effective Thinking in their Organisation

"Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking." David Schwartz

Here are 5 ways for leaders to devlop more effective thinking within their organisations:

1. Cultivate big-picture thinking - this means clearly outlining the team vision and promoting teamwork in such a way that team members see the "big-picture" and how their individual roles fit with that of their teammates. Remember, big-picture thinking can keep you and your team focused (on target), striving for what many others cannot see (beyond the here-and-now), and ready to seize the moment at just the right time.
2. Engage in focused thinking - this means thinking about issues with a sense of clarity. In doing so, be sure to prioritise any short- and long-term goals, remove any potential and existing distractions, and maintain a "strength focus" (i.e., spend the majority of your time using your gifts, talents, and best skills). Take the time to focus your thinking (especially when surrounded by multi-taskers). In the long run, you will be more efficient and get more done by focusing on one task at a time.

3. Harness creative thinking - this means taking what you have learned and experienced in the past and turning these experiences into something even better. Your creativity (i.e., ideas) might very well be your most valuable coaching resource. And your ideas do not have to be original or new. Creativity generally has its seed from the past and is often modeled from those whom have gone before you. In the end, creative thinking will help you learn more, challenge the status quo, and draw others toward you and your ideas; especially those that are looking for "options" on the road to success.

4. Employ realistic thinking - this means understanding the difference between what you wish to happen and what is most likely to happen. It is absolutely necessary for you (the coach) to define reality and set the stage for what is to come. Realistic thinking takes away the "wish factor" and helps to provide a solid foundation from which to start. Realistic thinking also takes away the "hope factor" as it requires your team to face reality, better define their goals, and more clearly understand the strategies needed to carry out the game plan. In addition, you can help to alleviate unneeded worry and doubt by assessing the pros and cons of the situation and examining the "worst-case" scenarios (so that you are ready for things if they don't go as planned).

5. Utilise strategic thinking - this means planning beyond one day at a time. And it's more than planning one week at a time. Strategic thinking is about looking far enough "down the road" to have the needed time to develop the most direct path toward achieving your goals and objectives. Such thinking allows for efficiency in planning, time to maximise strengths, and time to customise the best plan of action. So, be sure to break down the long-term plan, identify the real issues ahead of you, match your resources and personnel, and build on the fundamentals that are already in place.