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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poll Shows Americans Still Disappointed in Leaders

Americans’ confidence in the country’s leaders remains below-average for the third consecutive year, according to National Leadership Index (NLI) poll results released by the Centre for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Surprisingly, however, Americans’ predominant emotional responses to their leaders’ ability to handle crises are disappointment and hopefulness—not something much worse, such as anger or fear.

After a steep decline in 2008, confidence in America’s leaders has not returned to the “average” levels identified from 2005–07. Belief that we have a “leadership crisis in America” remained high at 68 percent; 71 percent of respondents believe the U.S. will “decline as a nation” without better leadership.

“This survey represents yet another cry from the American public for more effective leadership, not only in politics, but in many other fields,’” said David Gergen, public service professor of public leadership at HKS and director of CPL. “For three straight years, two-thirds or more Americans have said that we have a leadership crisis and a significant majority believe that unless we address this crisis, the country faces a bleak future.”

On a more granular level, only four of the 13 sectors—non-profits & charities, the Supreme Court, and medical and traditionally high-rated military sectors—garnered at or above-average levels of confidence. Leaders of news media, Congress, and Wall Street remained the lowest rated.


Mentor Leadership

Former Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy, author of The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently, talks about how a mentor changed his life.


Failing Successfully

Do you ever feel that half the things you do turn out all wrong? 

One of the reasons leaders are successful is the same reason that Ty Cobb, one of the greatest baseball sluggers of all time, was as good as he was. If you look in the record books, you will find that Ty Cobb's lifetime average was only .367. That means he got a hit once out of every three times at bat. It's the same story for Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and for virtually every other successful person in the world.

Successful people are not afraid to try and are not afraid to fail. In fact, for them, the only real failure is not trying at all. It turns out that people really don't remember the times Aaron swung and missed, only the times the ball sailed out of the park. 

The fact is that successful people try more things more often than average folks do. Whether it's playing baseball or building an international business, if you try enough things, you're going to succeed a lot. And if you don't try anything, you are guaranteed to fail. So go for it! What do you really have to lose?


How Positive Leadership maximises your opportunity for success in conducting change

'Rebecca came into my office smiling and bouncy. She chuckled to herself as she sat down. I asked her how she was doing.

"I am great. My business just closed out the best year ever. I’ve done three award-winning projects this year. I am finding that I don’t even really need to do any marketing anymore; people are seeking me out to do business. I think part of it is the environment, and part of it is the good job my team does."

Would it surprise you to know that Rebecca then proposed a radical redesign of her business?

I was surprised. Why redesign a business that was so obviously successful? Rebecca explained it this way:
"When things are really good, that’s a great place to make decisions from."

She is right. Consider that recent studies in brain neuroscience confirm that positive emotional and social approaches to work are correlated with creativity, open-mindedness and insight.

It is advantageous to be in a "great place" when facing business decisions. Yet creating that great place isn’t just a coincidence. A positive leadership approach maximises your opportunity for success in conducting change.

Rebecca focused on three things in an effort to create a "great place" in her organisational environment: 

Strengths-focused management. Positive leaders change the nature of the conversations they have with their teams and organisations. Rebecca consistently directed her conversations to discover what strengths could be found in a situation - these can be individual strengths, team strengths or organisational strengths.
Rebecca’s goal is to always work to best align professional tasks with strength-based talent on her team.

Seek solutions. Second, positive leaders encourage solution seeking rather than problem solving. To succeed with solution seeking, Rebecca would encourage her team to envision a problem as already solved. What would be different if it were? What would people be doing differently? What processes would be changed? Once these are identified, Rebecca challenged her team to find ways to begin to act in these new ways now - jumpstarting the change to the solution.

Celebrate successes. Finally, a success orientation means recognising success wherever and whenever it occurs. It makes no difference if the success is small or large.

Leadership is not static, and team members and organisations require feedback. Rebecca’s persistent recognition of true success built a clear pathway to more success.

Rebecca credits her positively-minded leadership with helping her team sustain their vision and goals, which supported them as they weathered the challenges they faced in their radical redesign of the firm.'

You may not be able to wait until the "great place" arrives before making critical decisions about your organisation. Putting some of these positive practices in place, however, may just lead you to a better place and put you and your team in a position to seek successful solutions to your business challenges.