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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Are you planning to make some new goals for next year? Do you make New Year's Resolutions? How about setting some milestones or objectives? Do you have a dream or is it all just a wish? Are all of these terms about goals and goal setting the same? Let's take a look.
A wish is something you set with no plan to get it and you do not change your behaviour even a little bit to do anything about moving toward it. Example; you think, "I wish I could make more money!" That is a wish if you do not begin to do anything to move toward it.
A resolution is something you set that you know you need to do this year but you will abandon long before you get close to achievement. Example; you say, "This year I'm going to lose 30 pounds so I can get into the new clothes I bought last year that I was going to lose 30 pounds to get into."
A goal is something you set that you actually have a plan to attain. You might even have it written down if you are really committed to it. A goal has a definite finish line. It is defined so well that if someone asks you if you have a goal for the year you do not hesitate to say so. For it to qualify as a real goal it must have a suspense date. Example; you write "I am a master class golfer by the end of this year."
A dream is the kind of goal that evokes emotion in a person. It's more than just a big goal; it is life defining and something that often requires sacrifice. Example; you dream "Within the next five years I want to wear GB&I on my back competing in a World Championship."
All goals require milestones or objectives to be reached along the way. Setting short term, mid and long term objectives makes the big task manageable. We cannot always foresee the obstacles and opportunities that lay ahead but we can get moving down the road.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Passion separates good intentions and opportunism from real accomplishments.
To determine whether your passion matches your aspirations, try these 12 questions.
1. Do I feel strongly about the need for this?
2. Does the idea fit my long-held beliefs, values, and convictions?
3. Have I dreamed about something like this for a long time?
4. Do I think that this is vital for the future of people I care about?
5. Do I get excited when I think about it, and convey excitement when I talk about it?
6. Am I convinced that this can be accomplished?
7. Am I willing to put my credibility on the line to promise action on it?
8. Am I willing to spend time to sell it to others who might not understand or support it?
9. Can I make this the major focus of my activities?
10. Am I willing to devote personal time, above and beyond organisational time, to see that this happens?
11. Do I feel strongly enough to ignore negativity and fight for this?
12. Am I committed to seeing this through, over the long haul?
Passing the passion test is doesn't guarantee success, but without it, the journey can't even begin.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
‘If I had one piece of advice for a young person, it would be to make a careful evaluation of the circumstances in which they find themselves, and locate in that setting whatever they can possibly locate that gives them a positive attitude about the life they have to live.’ Sandy Tatum (USGA Past President)
Thursday, December 22, 2011
“Another great example is the Scottish rugby team. They have never beaten the All Blacks and I genuinely wonder if – deep down – they really do want to. If they do, then perhaps they talk themselves out of it before they even go out onto the pitch. They have lost games by 30 points and talked about playing well. It seems to me that the players are just happy to have played against the All Blacks, and that their focus is more on playing well than getting the result. I have a peer from my playing days – a highly respected Scottish international – who still talks about the time that they played the All Blacks in 1990 and lost. He tells me that they should have beaten us. My answer is simple: maybe so but you didn’t. Even 20 or so years later, he is still bringing it up; in fact I heard him speak at a rugby function a few weeks ago and he said – I kid you not – ‘one of my greatest memories was when we almost beat the All Blacks.’” Sean Fitzpatrick, Former All Black Captain
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
In 1955, Arnold Palmer played with Gene Sarazen, the 1935 winner, in his first competitive round at the Masters. He dined frequently with Bobby Jones, battled Jack Nicklaus in his prime and has known every significant golfer since.
What is it about golf that he most values and wants to pass along to a younger generation?
"The integrity of the game. It's hard to describe what I mean by that. You immediately think of honesty, but it's more than that. It's a lifestyle. It's something people see. It's something that golf delivers to the public like no other sport.
Truthfulness is part of it. Most of the golfers I've known along the way had good character. Certainly the best ones did. That doesn't mean they never did anything wrong. They all had a drink now and then, but the top golfers generally have all been upstanding. I think that's very important to impress on the young players.
Integrity, in Palmer's mind, isn't far removed from style. The way a player dresses and walks and comports himself feeds into the way he plays. You could spot Hogan or Nelson halfway across the course, just walking, not even swinging, and know instantly who they were. They owned who they were.”
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
When comparing the Global Top Companies for Leaders to more than 470 companies worldwide, the ‘Top Companies for Leaders’ study identified a strong connection between business strategy and leadership strategy.
All of the Global Top Companies have articulated a clear business case for investing in leadership as a strategic imperative.
Nearly 85% of Top Companies say their leaders can explain how the investment in leadership affects financial performance, while only 54% of all other companies in the study can say the same. In fact, 92% of Top Companies say their stakeholders understand how their leadership strategy creates value, compared to just 78% of all other organisations in the study.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
What if leadership in your organisation were like a pot of boiling water?
It begins with a pool of cool water. When you apply heat, one or two little bubbles (leaders) begin to appear. Then there are four, then 16, then 256, then a potful of bubbles. This leadership "bubble effect "creates "hot molecules" - individuals who model and pass on leadership qualities to others. Then it becomes contagious throughout the organisation, one person to another.
Before long you will have created an organisation of Contagious Leaders.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Gary Player is one of the greatest golfers of all time. He has lived his life based on the following commandments, enabling him to realise success achieved by very few.
- Change is the price of survival.
- Everything in business is negotiable, except quality.
- A promise made is a debt incurred.
- For all we take in life we must pay.
- Persistence and common sense are more important than intelligence.
- The fox fears not the man who boasts by night but the man who rises early in the morning.
- Accept the advice of the man who loves you, though you like it not at present.
- Trust instinct to the end, though you cannot render any reason.
- The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but that while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night.
- There is no substitute for personal contact.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again
Friday, December 09, 2011
The Global Leadership Forecast 2011 is the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind. Over 2,600 organisations across 74 countries have provided perspectives on the current state of leadership in their organizations and future talent-related needs. The study is based on data from 1,897 HR professionals and 12,423 leaders.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
As Stanford University Quarterback Andrew Luck awaits Saturday's Heisman Trophy ceremony, his father, Oliver, a former NFL quarterback and current athletic director at West Virginia University, shares his thoughts on life lessons through sports:
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
What do US companies, Zappos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Southwest Airlines have in common? They are all financially successful, values-driven companies.
A lot of companies claim to be values-driven. They publish their values and use them in marketing messages. However, this does not necessarily mean their values guide decision-making and behaviours company-wide on a day-by-day basis.
To know for certain, you can investigate whether leadership practices and company policies are aligned with their published vision and values. But there’s a simpler and quicker way to tell: pay attention to your own experience as a customer.
Here are five quick ways you can tell if an organisation is really values-driven.
1. Employees remember what the company’s values are.
Ask three employees what the values of the company are.
Can they quickly recall them?
Do they repeat the same values?
2. Employees can describe specific activities and behaviours that demonstrate what the values look like in action.
Ask the employees to give you examples of how the values they listed are lived in the company –what behaviours or actions do they see that exemplify each of the values?
It’s not enough to just have a list of values. The same words can mean different things to different people.
Values like “teamwork” “innovation” or “ownership” need to be clearly defined so they are understood by all and can be implemented consistently.
3. The company’s values are visibly integrated into how they do business and are not just something extra they do on the side.
It is common knowledge that since its inception, Ben and Jerry’s has built a reputation for caring more about people than profit, providing leadership in social and environmental responsibility. And although the company was sold to Unilever in 2000, CEO Jostein Solheim recently provided reassurance that the essence has not changed, stating:
“The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”
4. The company’s public message matches your own experience as a customer.
Our advice to companies is Don’t make a claim and then miss the mark, consistently. We consumers resent it and you actually lose credibility.
5. Use your own personal experience to identify the real company values.
Anyone who has flown on Southwest Airlines can tell you without reading their ads that having fun is one of their core values. And indeed, on the careers page of their Website, Southwest Airlines recruits specifically for people who “want the freedom to be creative, dress casually, and have fun on the job.”
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Do you know people who talk about children who can learn and ones who can’t? Or, children who can be helped and ones who can’t? Well, they are wrong, and we will tell you why.
Some 30-odd years ago, the great Japanese teacher, Dr. Suzuki, who taught over 20,000 children to understand and play the violin like virtuosi, had some words of wisdom to share with us. He said, “People today are like gardeners who look sadly at ruined saplings and shake their heads, saying the seeds must have been bad to start with – not realising that the seed was all right, and that it was their method of cultivation that was wrong. They go on their mistaken way, ruining plant after plant. It is imperative that the human race escape from this vicious circle.” These words have value even today.
You see, Dr. Suzuki did not believe that some children were gifted while others were not. He believed that every child could be superior, and that every child could be educated. Talent, he believed, was no accident of birth, but a purposeful effort, a powerful creation.
Let’s teach our children to understand that when they see someone of ability, they see a person who has been carefully taught, and who has worked hard to realize their unlimited potential. Let’s teach them that they have the same unlimited potential. And let’s teach them to believe in sustained effort, self-discipline and self-determination.
We have the opportunity and the ability to raise an entire generation of superstars every day. Why would we settle for less?
Monday, December 05, 2011
One of the best ways to identify a potential leader is to ask people: “Who do you enjoy working with? Who do you respect in the workforce?” The names you hear in answer to those questions are the kind of people you want to identify as potential leaders and promote.
Great leaders are great because their people trust and respect them, not because they have power. So think about it: Who do people trust and respect in your workplace? Who do people go to for advice who might not be a leader now? Those are the ones you want to identify. Those are the ones who have the potential to be leaders, because people are already attracted to them.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
The judging panel quite rightly said “Macfarlane Gray has achieved success driven by constant innovation and won with the development of client focused programmes, which allows it to provide bespoke and targeted service. It is clear that its success over many years has been based on its motto “growth through quality”
Congratulations to everyone in the Macfarlane Gray team!
Saturday, December 03, 2011
The most outstanding player in college football this generation, Stanford senior quarterback Andrew Luck has redefined his position by being the coach on the field and consistently putting the Cardinal offense into the perfect play. Andrew's individual QB success, the offense's success and the team's success at Stanford are incomparable. He is a true winner on and off the field!
Friday, December 02, 2011
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
There was a time in most of our lives when we had no fear-that feeling when we jumped from the jungle gym and slammed our little bodies to the ground. Perhaps it was when we went on our first fairground ride, or when we were in school or university and felt that there was nothing we couldn't do. No goal was unattainable. We were an unstoppable force that would think of something and then make it happen.
Then, as time goes by, the world tells us more frequently that we can't do what we want. The doubters laugh at our goals and try to persuade us from going after our dreams. They say, "You're crazy. It's too hard. Why don't you do this instead? You should play it safe." They act as if dreams were meant for others but not people like us. They surround us with negative energy and try to instill their own fears and insecurities in us. We not only begin to know the word "fear," we start to understand what it's like to be fearful. With so many people telling us we can't do something and so few telling us we can, it's hard not to let fear into our lives. Unfortunately this is how many of us go through life.
Whether you are 20 or 50, many of us become so scared of losing what we have that we don't go after what we truly want. We play it safe and hold on so tight to the status quo that we never experience what could be. We believe the doubters and don't take chances that will move us one step towards our dreams. We call this "playing to lose." We see this in sports all the time when a team has the lead. They start to think about how not to lose instead of how to win. They hold on so tight to their lead that they start playing safe and scared. You can see it in their energy and body language. As a result the other team takes chances, plays with no fear and eventually gains the momentum and wins.
To live a life filled with positive energy we must learn to repel the energy of fear. Whether it comes from within or from another person, we must overcome fear and adopt a "Play to Win" mindset. Playing to win requires a commitment to yourself that even if you fail, you will never give up and never let your goals and dreams die. Those who play to win know that success is not given to us. It is pursued with all the energy and sweat we can muster. Obstacles and struggles are part of life and only serve to make us appreciate our success. If everything came easy we wouldn't know what it felt like to truly succeed. Obstacles are meant to be overcome. Fear is meant to be conquered. Success is meant to be achieved.
They are all part of the game of life and the people who succeed play to win and never give up until the game is over.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Arturo Condo, professor, INCAE Business School
David Rock, founder, NeuroLeadership Institute
Buie Seawell, professor, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver
Erin Lehman, senior researcher, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Christopher Adkins, director, undergraduate program, Mason School of Business, The College of William & Mary
Maj. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, US Army
Susan Clancy, associate professor, INCAE Business School
Jonathan Gosling, professor, University of Exeter Business School
Monday, November 28, 2011
Positive Leadership: Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies
Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
In the spirit of Thanksgiving we would like to share with you the benefits and power of two simple words. THANK YOU.
They are two words that have the power to transform our health, happiness, athletic performance and success. Research shows that grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain good friendships.
A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart's rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It's actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. When you are grateful you flood your body and brain with emotions and endorphins that uplift and energise you rather than the stress hormones that drain you.
Gratitude and appreciation are also essential for a healthy work environment. In fact, the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don't feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation can make all the difference.
Gratitude is like muscle. The more we do with it the stronger it gets. In this spirit here are 4 ways to practice Thanksgiving every day of the year.
1. Take a Daily Thank You Walk - Take a simple 10-minute walk each day and say out loud what you are thankful for. This will set you up for a positive day.
2. Meal Time Thank You's - On Thanksgiving, or just at dinner with your friends and family, go around the table and have each person, including the children at the little table, say what they are thankful for.
3. Gratitude Visit - Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology, suggests that we write a letter expressing our gratitude to someone. Then we visit this person and read them the letter. His research shows that people who do this are measurably happier and less depressed a month later.
4. Say Thank You at Work – When Doug Conant was the CEO of Campbell Soup he wrote approximately 30,000 thank you notes to his employees and energised the company in the process. Energise and engage your colleagues and team by letting them know you are grateful for them and their work. And don’t forget to say thank you to your clients and customers too.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
If you’re fortunate as a leader, there will be times when you can see a big win coming up before it happens. In Coach K’s case, it was certain that he was going to break the record this season, it was just a question of when. By thinking in advance how he wanted to handle himself if he won at MSG in front of his old coach, he created an opportunity to show leaders how to win gracefully.
Here are three lessons from the coach that stood out:
Show grace - When the buzzer sounded, Coach K hugged his staff, walked down the sideline and hugged his long-time friend and rival, Spartans coach Tom Izzo. He then proceeded to shake the hand of every MSU player just like he does at the end of every game. He then walked over to the broadcast table for a long embrace with Bob Knight. Coach K recognized that all the eyes and cameras were on him and conducted himself with grace and dignity.
Show gratitude – When the time came for the post-game interview at centre court, the first question was about what he said to Knight during their hug. Coach K said, “I told him I love him and that I wouldn’t be in this position without him.” He then expressed his appreciation for his circumstance and shared the credit by saying, “When you have really good players and a great school, you’re going to win a lot of games.” On a night when it could have been all about him, he didn’t make it all about him.
Show perspective – One of the last questions for the Coach was after setting this record, winning championships and Olympic gold medals, what are you going to do next? His simple, quiet and immediate response was, “Developing this team. We have some great kids and we want to have a really good season.”
Coach K is clearly a winner and a leader. He’s not perfect. None of us are. That said, he set a good example on Tuesday for leaders who experience a big win.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
To some extent, each of us is affected by the environment around us. But when your happiness depends on what goes on around you, you are in trouble.
Have you ever thought about what happens when we let what goes on in our environment determine how we feel on the inside? When things are going well, we feel good, cheerful, positive, and full of enthusiasm. But when the least little thing goes wrong, we start to come un-glued.
If this happens, we can start feeling like a victim, and when we feel this way we give up control of our lives.
If you are not having problems, you are missing an opportunity for growth; an opportunity to take charge of how you respond and what you do, regardless of what is happening in your environment.
You know, there is only one thing in life over which we have complete control, and that is what goes on inside our minds. When you choose to take charge of your thoughts, of the things you tell yourself, you become very powerful. Certainly, you may feel disappointment when things go wrong, but you can choose to see all the setbacks as temporary. You can choose to use them as opportunities to grow, and you'll develop the ability to quickly bounce back when you hit an obstacle, as well as the incredible strength that comes from standing up to adversity.
The choice really is yours to make - it has been, and will continue to be.
Monday, November 21, 2011
‘When the moment comes – when we’re afraid, exhausted, or tempted – what choice do we make? Do we abandon our values? Do we give in? Do we accept average performance because that’s what most everyone else accepts? Do we capitulate to the pressure of the moment? Do we give up on our dreams when we’ve been slammed by brutal facts?
What is clear about great leaders is that they care as much about values as victory, as much about purpose as profit, as much about being useful as being successful. Their drive and standards are ultimately internal, rising from somewhere deep inside.
We are not imprisoned by our circumstances. We are not imprisoned by the luck we get or the inherent unfairness of life. We are not imprisoned by crushing setbacks, self-inflicted mistakes or our past success. We are not imprisoned by the times in which we live, by the number of hours in a day or even the number of hours we’ve granted in our very short lives. In the end, we can only control a tiny sliver of what happens to us. But even so, we are free to choose, free to become great by choice.’
Jim Collins & Morten Hansen
Friday, November 18, 2011
Clutch, Paul Sullivan answers: “Yes and no. (…) I’ve been clutch in my personal and professional life, and these have been the areas that have mattered most. But not in golf. What I learned, alas, was that since being clutch isn’t a mystical ability that can be bestowed on somebody, it takes work. But at least for me I know what to do now.”
These are the five traits of people who are 'clutch':
- Being present
- Plus the push and pull of fear and desire.
In this video, Paul Sullivan explains what it means to be Clutch, and how you too can thrive in high pressure situations.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Jim Collins — the author of the legendary Good to Great and co-author of the new and equally compelling Great by Choice – has an insightful 3-minute video describing three ways organisations demotivate their employees.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer calls the "OK Plateau," where we have gained sufficient skills for our needs and we stop pushing ourselves.
But experts do it differently.
Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.
Watch this fantastic talk to learn strategies for developing expertise in any field.
But experts do it differently.
Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.
Watch this fantastic talk to learn strategies for developing expertise in any field.
Everyone wants to be happy, but not everyone knows how. Today, we will share with you two ways to be happy.
How do you define "happiness"? Some people think happiness is getting all or most of the things they want. They always have lists of new things they want or are about to get: cars, holidays, fancy clothes, new furniture, or the latest electronic toy.
But often these people are deeply discontented, for no matter how much they acquire, they never seem to have enough. A new acquisition brings them pleasure, but only for a little while. Happiness is always in the future, always appearing, and then disappearing.
Someone once said that there are two ways to be happy: the first is to have all the things you want; the second is to have the wisdom to enjoy the things you have. We even heard someone, recently, say that happiness was wanting what you have. So many ways to define "happiness."
When you practice the "wisdom" way, you are able to appreciate the beauty that exists in the simplest elements of life. Even in hardship, you'll find many reasons to feel joy on a daily basis. Of course, you'll feel good when you acquire something new, but your real and lasting happiness will be found in relationships, in simple pleasures, in nature, and in actions that show love.
If you remember that the time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is where you are, you'll find a joy that no amount of money can buy.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
‘Pressure is a heavy feeling that weighs upon your shoulders and it’s brought upon yourself. A lot of other people think it’s brought upon you. Pressure is something you bring on yourself because of your insecurities, your own lack of form, and your concern about the opposition. It can be very different for different people. One person won’t feel it under in any given circumstance and another will feel it greatly. It’s hard to define but when we are feeling it we all know it’s there.’ Andrew Strauss, England Cricket Captain
Events do not create pressure it is only our internal thoughts that do that. We are responsible for our mind and how it behaves. Therefore the more we train our mind, the better we are able to deal with pressure.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
In May 2011, Betsy Myers was appointed Founding Director of the Centre for Women & Business at Bentley University. The centre is a repository of best practices for corporate America to recruit and retain women leaders. Betsy served as a senior adviser to Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign. Here she gives her advice on everyday leadership from her new book, Take the Lead -
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
You can't get what you want in life until you know what it is you want. And, you'll have a hard time knowing what you want, if you are not clear about what your values are. You see, if we were to ask you what you really want, what we are actually asking is, "What do you value?"
Values are guides for daily living that influence your thoughts, feelings, words and deeds. They shape your personality and give direction to what would otherwise be an aimless, purposeless life. Your values are reflected in your goals, hopes, dreams, attitudes, interests, opinions, convictions, and behaviour as well as in your problems and worries.
Values are choices you make from the available alternatives. Therefore, well-chosen values require an open mind, because you can't choose freely if you don't know what your options and consequences are. Values are cherished and we fight to keep them because they mean so much to us.
Finally, to be truly significant, values must move from fantasy into reality and be acted upon. They cause us to do something, so that we can get and keep what we prize so highly.
What do you value in life? Have you spent much time thinking about it? If not, we strongly suggest that you take time to do so. Start today. Sit down and make a list of all your values. Then make a list of all your life goals. Do they coincide? If not, maybe you should re-define your goals to match your values, because it is more likely that you will get what you want in life if you do.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
In our view, the best way to develop leaders for the challenges of today is to deliberately introduce chaos into the development process.
In leader development today, chaos is an imperative.
Think about that—the idea that you would deliberately introduce chaos into leadership experiences and see how different leaders react to it.
While we may have enough chaos in our lives, the only way to really test leaders is to see their response when confronted with turmoil. A wise idea in a tumultuous world?
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Here, he speaks about Steve Jobs at the recent Apple celebration of Jobs' life.
For more, see - http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/10oiuhfvojb23/event/index.html#
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
For 10 years, Tom Peters wrote a syndicated column—"On Excellence"—for the Tribune Media Services. It was carried by over a hundred papers—the flagship carrier was the Chicago Tribune. After Steve Jobs' death, one of his old columns surfaced—on Jobs. It appeared on 8 November 1993, when Steve was still "in the wilderness"—before his subsequently triumphant return to Apple.
Herewith, in full ...
Marathoners call it "hitting the wall." You get to a point where you can't go on. But you do. And, miraculously, you come out the other side and finish the race.
Truth is, damn little of merit, in a profession or a hobby, is accomplished without running through a wall or two.
I got to thinking about that while reading Fortune's recent cover story, "America's Toughest Bosses." Some turn "beet red." Others "scream." Some engage in "sadistic" behavior and use tactics that amount to "psychological oppression." While I hardly countenance "Jack Attacks," the tirades by Jack Connors, head of the ad agency Hill Holliday, I also don't believe the best bosses are sweethearts.
The best leaders take their firms and followers to places they've never been before-and, more important, places they never imagined they would reach. The chief's voice may be subdued or, more likely, strident at times. The reason, Fortune acknowledges, is the incredible demands these honchos place, first and foremost, on themselves.
Take Steve Jobs, one of Fortune's seven nasties. I've seen him, in his days at Apple, lose his cool on occasion. Not a particularly pretty sight.
Yet I was thoroughly taken aback by one of Jobs' "excesses," as chronicled by Fortune. A subordinate at Next Computer was showing Jobs shades of green for the company's logo. More precisely, she produced some 37 shades of green before coming upon one that pleased the master. "Oh, come on," the minion recalled thinking, "green is green."
Oh, no, it isn't!
Almost every step Jobs took at Apple (and Next) broke the mold; moreover, it defied industry tradition as set by the all-powerful, undisputed master of the universe (IBM). To say Jobs was fighting an uphill battle is to suggest that Charles Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic was "challenging." Jobs was reviled and ridiculed. Yet he reinvented the computer world, in a way that makes Bill Gates' more recent contributions at Microsoft seem meager by comparison.
How did Jobs do it? By worrying about which shade of green was "right." He triumphed with the Apple II. Then the Macintosh. It was precisely his stratospheric standards ("insanely great" was a common Jobsism in days past) that allowed him and his enormously spirited teams to push past the existing frontier time and time again.
No, sir. Green is not green. Not if you're reinventing the planet. Which is not to applaud his tirades. But it is to suggest that for every disaffected Apple or Next employee burned by Jobs, there are probably 10 who by age 28 achieved Neil Armstrong-like lifetime highs at his side. Perhaps the bitterness of some stems from the subliminal realization they'll never soar so high again. It's a nightmare for a 28-year-old software designer, just as it is for 30-year-old Michael Jordan.
My two best bosses were my two toughest bosses. Neither was a screamer, although one came reasonably close. Both practiced psychological terrorism-though neither knew he was doing so. Both set mercilessly high standards for themselves. And neither believed in barriers to achievement, including acts of God (which were seen simply as opportunities to demonstrate one's mettle as never before). Both sent me home screaming. I recall literally a year of just about non-stop headaches in one case.
It doesn't jibe with the perfectly balanced life. But I'll tell you, I learned more, faster, from these two than ever before or since.
The perfect boss is, of course, aware of individual differences and knows exactly how far to push each individual to "attain maximum performance," or some such ideal.
Except I very much doubt bosses like that exist. Those with shockingly high standards undoubtedly cause casualties among their followers. Yet without these outrageous pioneers, we wouldn't get anywhere.
Am I callous? Yes and no. To countenance, under any circumstances, the infliction of pain is callous. But to fail to understand that no epic bridge or dam has ever been built, or fighter aircraft tested, without casualties is to fail to comprehend the real world of high-performance anything.
Fortune quotes experts who say these executive thugs suffer from low self-awareness. I'm sure that's true, and perhaps the toughies would benefit from counseling by a trusted peer (unlikely) or elder (slightly more likely) who would clue them in on the havoc they've left in their wake.
But, let's face it. If these chiefs were thoroughly self-aware they would probably not realize how insane (literally) their towering quests are. And the world would be a poorer place for it.’
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Managers work to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper.
Leaders, on the other hand, know where they'd like to go, but understand that they can't get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen.
Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.
We need both. But we have to be careful not to confuse them. And it helps to remember that leaders are scarce and thus more valuable.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
In both 2010 and 2011, Bridgewater Associates (www.bwater.com) ranked as the largest and best performing hedge fund manager in the world.
Bridgewater’s unique results are a product of its unique culture. Truth and excellence are valued above all else.
As Bridgewater founder, Ray Dalio says:
'In order to be excellent we need to know what’s true, especially those things that we would rather not be true, so that we can decide how best to deal with them. We want logic and reason to be the basis for making decisions. It is through this striving to be excellent by being radically truthful and transparent that we build meaningful work and meaningful relationships.
At Bridgewater, our overriding objective is excellence, or more precisely, constant improvement. We believe that producing excellence requires approaching both work and people in a principled way. Above all else, we want to find out what is true and figure out how best to deal with it. We value independent thinking and innovation, recognizing that independent thinking generates disagreement and innovation requires making mistakes.
To foster this thinking and innovation, we maintain an environment of radical openness, even though that honesty can be difficult and uncomfortable. At Bridgewater each individual has the right and the obligation to ensure that what they do and what we do collectively in pursuit of excellence makes sense to them. Everyone is encouraged to be both assertive and open-minded in order to build their understanding and discover their best path. The types of disagreements and mistakes that are typically discouraged elsewhere are expected at Bridgewater because they are the fuel for the learning that helps us maximize the utilization of our potential. It is through this unique culture that we have produced the meaningful work and meaningful relationships that those who work here and our clients have come to expect.'
Underpinning the Bridgewater philosphy are Ray Dalio's Principles, which the organisation uses, debates and changes to agree on how individuals should be with each other in their collective pursuit of excellence.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
How do you lead successfully in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), disruptive, even chaotic world?
In their new book Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen pondered that question. To get some empirically derived answers, they studied leaders of companies that grew to become great in highly uncertain, even chaotic, industries. They include the biotech, semiconductor, personal computer, and airline industries. Over the years, the CEOs of these companies faced massive technology disruptions, deep industry recessions, sudden collapses in demand, price wars, oil shocks — you name it. But even so, they led their companies to great long-term financial performance. Their experience can guide leaders who now must lead in today's disruptive world.
Some of these leaders have become legends, such as Andy Grove of Intel and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. Others remain fairly unknown outside their industry, such as John Brown of Stryker and George Rathmann of Amgen. What then were the leadership characteristics that separated the winning leaders from their industry peers?
Surprisingly, they were not more visionary (they did not stand out for their ability to "see" the future), and they were generally not more charismatic (yes, a few were, like Herb Kelleher, but not all, and so were some industry peers).
Instead, the researchers found three other characteristics:
Productive Paranoia. Bill Gates was hyper-vigilant about what could hit and damage Microsoft. "Fear should guide you," he said in 1994. "I consider failure on a regular basis." Herb Kelleher predicted eleven of the last three recessions. Andy Grove ran around "looking for the black cloud in the silver lining." Productive paranoia is the ability to be hyper-vigilant about potentially bad events that can hit your company and then turn that fear into preparation and clearheaded action. You can't sit around being fearful; you must act, like Herb Kelleher, who insisted on cutting costs and running lean operations in good times, so that they would be prepared for the next storm, imagined or real.
Empirical Creativity. Well, just staying alive does not produce greatness. You must also create. So we should expect these leaders to be highly creative — to create new, wonderful products. Yes, but here's the rub. The leaders of the average industry peers also displayed lots of creativity. The researchers found that the differentiating leadership principle was a certain approach to creativity, what we call empirical creativity — the ability to empirically validate your creative instincts. This means using direct observation, conducting practical experiments, and engaging directly with evidence, rather than relying on opinion, whim, and analysis alone. When Peter Lewis of Progressive, the car insurance company, had the idea of expanding into the safe-driver market, he did not move in one big swoop. Rather, he started with trials in Texas and Florida, then added more experiments in other states, and finally, three years later, when the concept was validated, he bet big on the new business. His idea was rooted in empiricism, not analysis alone.
Fanatic Discipline. Discipline can mean many things — working hard, following rules, being obedient, and so on. However, the researchers mean something else: The best-performing leaders in the study exhibited discipline as consistency of action — consistency with values, long-term goals, and performance standards; consistency of method; and consistency over time. It involves rejecting conventional wisdom, hype, and the madness of crowds — essentially being a nonconformist. When John Brown of Stryker set the long-term goal of 20% annual net income growth, year in and year out (he hit it in more than 90% during 21 years), he was so committed to this quest that it could only be described as, well, fanatical. Markets down? Competition severe? Recession? Market hype? He did not care. He built a system of fanatic discipline to achieve the quest, no matter what. He was highly disciplined by showing consistency between his words (the goal) and his behaviours (everything he did to make it happen).
You need all three leadership skills in an uncertain world: Fanatic discipline keeps you on track; empirical creativity keeps you vibrant; and productive paranoia keeps you alive.
When we speak to leaders, we find it helpful to ask: When you consider these three leadership skills, which do you perceive as your weakest one, and how can you turn that into a strength?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
What makes a great leader? Here are three alternatives to consider:
Someone who has managed to overcome any weaknesses that she may have had.
Someone who is really well rounded and good at a large number of things.
Someone who is exceptionally good at a relatively small number of leadership competencies.
While there are good things to say about each of the alternatives above, the research is quite clear. The last choice is the hands-down winner. Extraordinary leaders are those who possess and regularly utilise three or more powerful strengths. There are those who have believed that there are other ways to get there.
However, the data suggests that the first two items above simply do not work:
Not possessing any failings or faults.
(This is a bit complicated, because it is also true that extraordinary leaders most certainly have some failings and flat sides, but they don’t possess fatal flaws.) You just can’t be awful at some leadership competency and still succeed in being a highly effective leader.
We all know horror stories about bad bosses. These range from the boss who screams, shouts, berates and throws things across the room; to bosses who will never make a decision or take responsibility for their actions. A currently popular TV show, The Office, painfully spoofs a bad boss who totally lacks self-awareness and constantly engages in highly inappropriate interactions with his subordinates.
But let’s assume for a moment that we could eradicate these really bad behaviours. Would that create an inspiring, highly motivating leader? The answer is obviously “No”. Simply removing inappropriate behaviour brings you to ground zero.
Being exceedingly well rounded and good at the great majority of leadership competencies.
(Yes, that’s also better than not being good at a wide variety of leadership competencies. But that does not cut it either.)
In most larger organisations that have existed for a decade or more, there is some very pleasant, generally well-liked manager who is also known as “good old ______.” (You can fill in the name.) He doesn’t initiate new projects. Or his group is performing adequately, but not brilliantly. Nothing stands out about this individual, nor the performance of the group they lead.
We trust that this will be an encouraging message to most readers.
Because it says that a person doesn’t need to be outstanding at a wide range of competencies in order to be highly effective in a leadership role.
Instead, being really effective at a small number of competencies is all that is required. Better yet, it doesn’t seem to make much difference which ones these are. A wide variety of combinations work. If someone is at the 90th percentile at displaying high integrity and honesty, and along with that also is at the 90th percentile at taking initiative, then 91% of the time that person will be in the top 10% of all leaders in their organisation. The same thing is true for someone who communicates powerfully and prolifically and also sets stretch goals with the team that they manage, only their odds increase to 94% of the time.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Businesses communicate a lot of things. Many love to boast when their revenues soar, or publicise the strategic restructuring of their organisational response committees (whatever that means). But often missing from a firm's communications is something absolutely fundamental to its operations: its values.
If a company doesn't take the time and effort to communicate its values in a meaningful way, then it's like the old tree-falling-in-the-forest cliché: It makes a big splash, but no one is around to appreciate its impact.
Recent high-profile scandals and crises have made it clear that many businesses do not properly or openly communicate their values. That has direct and indirect effects on the economy, which is made all the worse by rising fears of a double-dip recession and angst over the state of global markets.
Just look at how The News of the World phone-hacking scandal has exposed News Corp. to accusations over the company's values and the efficacy of its leadership. Had the company more openly communicated what it stands for and the moral compass its employees follow, it likely would not have been vilified so thoroughly in the press. Despite numerous protestations from Rupert Murdoch and his top lieutenants that the company's values align perfectly with the public's best interests, the damage has been done. The public is left questioning what, if anything, does this company stand for?
Even NewsCorp. purports to have values, but like many other companies it fails to effectively communicate them to the outside world. Having strong corporate values is admirable, but values without proactive employee communication of their importance might as well not exist. A firm might host a company-wide meeting to reaffirm the employee-engagement programme or to deliver the annual report, but how often have you seen that effort start with a bang and quickly fizzle out as people move on with their day-to-day tasks? Employee communications has never been a more important component of a CEO's management toolbox, and we must educate our employees on how to effectively communicate values and make them resonate.
What else can businesses do to better communicate their values? A few key ideas to keep in mind:
Ask employees what is important to them. Seek their input on how well the company's work, and in turn, its employees, reflect their value system. Remember that generalised concepts — even oft-used words found in mission statements like "integrity" and "commitment" — have different meanings to people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Establish core values across the company, not just within management. If management sets values, who would own them? You need buy-in from employees; they have to feel a certain ownership over value creation.
Develop a values communications plan. Employee communications has to be at the forefront of your value-setting agenda; too often, executives fail to proactively seek employee input and buy-in before values are put in place. This leads to antipathy and resentment among those employees who don't feel a company's values align with their personal and professional aspirations.
Live your values. Embrace the corporate values and be mindful of them in every decision you make — both in good and bad times. Never forget that actions speak louder than words.
Few companies get every component of "the business of values" just right. Value setting is a tough business, often fraught with multiple challenges and divergent agendas. But once those values are set, right or wrong, every CEO would be wise to communicate them and live them as though his business depends on it. Because it just might.
Now is the time to take the whole business of values, and the values of our businesses, a lot more seriously.