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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Positive Leadership: What is 'True Leadership'?

Rajeev Peshawaria is the CEO of the ICLIF Leadership & Governance Centre and the author of 'Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders'. He has previously served as chief learning officer at Morgan Stanley and Coca-Cola and is one of the founding members of the Pine Street Group leadership development programme at Goldman Sachs. In this article, he talks about why there is a lack of strong leadership and what can be done about it.

There is a ton of leadership advice out there, yet, as you point out in the book, on average people say they have worked for between zero and two good leaders. Why aren’t traditional techniques working?

First, we spend a huge amount of time and money trying to teach something that cannot be taught.  True leadership is about having the lasting energy to create a better future — that’s not something you can learn in a classroom or training module.

Further, not only are we trying to teach the unteachable, we are also using methods that don’t work. Let’s walk through a few of the most widely used techniques. First, most leadership training is based on competency models. These capture what made someone successful in the past, and argue that if one repeats those same behaviours, one will be successful in the future. But today, when the world is changing faster than ever before, past behaviour is no predictor of future success.

Another popular tool to teach leadership is psychometric testing — this is meant to determine if someone has a personality suited for leadership.  But a quick look at successful leadership through the ages will reveal that good leadership comes in all personality types and styles, and that here is no correlation whatsoever between a certain personality and effective leadership.

The third popular technique is one used by every business school — the case method. But if we could become great leaders by discussing cases with strangers in a classroom, we would all be leaders by now.

Then we have copycat role plays based on the notion of “best practice.” Leadership experts tell stories of great leaders (like Jack Welch) and translate their greatness into three-step formulas. The truth is that there is no such thing as a three-step formula to good leadership.  And last I checked the dictionary, copying someone else’s behaviour was an act of followership, not leadership.

Leadership is not about competency models, two-by-two matrices or best practice role plays.  Leadership is about finding and maintaining the energy to create a better future.  To become a leader, one must feel deeply about the inadequacies of current reality AND decide to do something about it — and these things come from within.

What does a good leader actually spend his or her time on?

The first step for any leader is to discover their personal source of energy. In order to do this, she must develop laser sharp clarity about two things — her purpose (the results she wants to create) and her values (the principles that will guide her when tested). Clarity of purpose and values are the only sources of long-lasting leadership energy.

After a leader has uncovered her own energy by clarifying her purpose and values, she must spend most of her time aligning the energy of others towards shared purpose.  There are three pillars that a leader must proactively shape to make this happen, particularly in large organisations: the brains, bones and nerves of the organisation.

The brain of an organisation is its vision and strategy. The bones are the organisational architecture, which means having the right people, processes and structure.  Finally, the nerves refer to the organisation’s culture. We have found that those leaders who proactively and regularly pay attention to these three pillars drive sustainable success.

You define a company’s culture as “what your people do when no one is looking.” What makes for a positive culture, and what is a leader’s role in bringing it about?

A leader must first define what the culture stands for in terms of clearly recognisable behaviours.  Unless there is a clear definition of expected behaviour, there is no common culture.  Once defined, the leader must socialies the culture by communicating expected behaviours regularly.  While verbal and written communication is good, the most powerful communication is walking the talk — a leader’s actions speak much louder than her words.

Finally, the leader must reinforce the culture by aligning reward and recognition systems to the desired cultural behaviours. When I was at American Express many years ago, 50% of my bonus depended on my leadership behaviours. I had no doubt in my mind that they were important.

Your book talks about the importance of communicating company goals and strategy. What can leaders, especially those who oversee large numbers of employees, do to make sure their communication efforts are successful?

The key is to make the communication both simple and powerful at the same time.  I have seen many brilliant minds fail because they could not communicate brilliant ideas simply enough.  And while making things simple, one must not make them simplistic. Vision and strategy must be communicated in a way that is simple to understand but powerful enough to motivate people to action.  If leaders can ensure everyone in their organisation has a common understanding of the vision and strategy, and are inspired by it, they will unleash the energy of a large number of people towards shared purpose.  This is easier said than done, and the only way to become good at it is to consciously try.’


Monday, August 29, 2011

Positive Leadership: What is Your Purpose?

How is your energy level? Do you sometimes wish you had more get-up-and-go? Today let’s look at how high-energy people get that way.

Why is it that some people seem to have a never-ending supply of energy? They get up feeling eager to get started and they radiate good spirits and high energy all day long. Did you ever stop by the vitamin counter at the chemist, wondering what you could take to get that kind of energy?

This is what we think. Assuming you are in good health, your strength and energy will come from having meaningful and clear lifetime goals. In other words, a purpose in life. You see, high-energy people know what they want and have an unshakable belief that what they want is possible. They have a purpose that they have chosen freely, and they set goals and develop action plans to help them achieve it.

What is your purpose? When it comes to energy, it doesn’t matter so much what you want, as long as you want something. You’d be surprised how energised you can become once you know the answer to this question. When you have chosen your purpose, and you have a clear idea fixed firmly in your mind of what it is you want to be and do, you will be surprised at how your energy level will grow to help you find ways to get there.

You will become very resourceful and creative, and you will discover that having a purpose is the best vitamin in the world! Again we ask you, what is your purpose in life?


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Positive Leadership: Culture v Strategy

Building great corporate culture is more than just metaphors; it's what motivates a winning team. Most people at corporations in the US are unhappy, says Silicon Valley Bank CEO Ken Wilcox. But the organisation can craft a pleasant and productive environment by hiring diverse and intelligent people and keeping them on-board. Knowing how to work together under an organisation's guiding principles is critical. Past experience in commercial banking is not.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Positive Leadership: Behaviour v Self-Worth

Whether you are raising children or trying to improve your own self-esteem, the relationship between who you are and what you do is important. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or simply trying to build your own self-esteem, it is important to realise that we need to separate our sense of self-worth from our behaviour.

Imagine this scene: A three-year-old asks repeatedly, “Mummy, do you love me?” Each time, Mum answers, “Of course I do.” Then the child takes her hand and leads her to a broken flowerpot or shattered toy and looks at her questioningly.

Here is a little child, on this earth only three short years, already asking one of the most profound psychological questions any of us can ask: “Is my ability to be loved tied to what I do? Am I the same as my behaviour?” The answer for all of us, no matter how old we are, should be the same, “No, indeed!”

The importance of this point can’t be overemphasised. To increase self-worth, it is vital that we respond to behaviour while remaining friendly and respectful toward the person. This means that when a child misbehaves, we don’t call him a “bad boy.” And when a child does what we want her to, we don’t say, “What a good girl!” Instead, we praise the behaviour and hug the child.

The same goes for how we treat ourselves. Remember that you are not simply what you do any more than you are what you wear.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Positive Leadership: Failure of Leadership among UK Bosses

Most British bosses do not exhibit the key skills of good communication, integrity and the ability to motivate, a survey of just over 1,000 UK employees by executive recruitment business Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann has found.

Being a good communicator was the quality most commonly associated with an effective leader among the survey sample, but just 21 per cent felt their boss had this skill. A mere 13 per cent felt their boss was a good motivator, although this was seen as the second most important attribute for effective management.

Only 14 per cent of those asked felt their company head had integrity and 9 per cent felt their boss was inspirational.

There was an acceptance that the portrayal of business leaders on television and in films did not help raise their image among staff with 29 per cent saying that the reputation of bosses was diminished by their media portrayal compared with just 10 per cent who said it enhances it.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Positive Leadership: Resolving Conflict

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” - Joseph Joubert

Take a moment today to think about an argument or heated discussion that you have had recently.  It might have been a disagreement with a colleague or a conflict with a friend.  Whatever the case, think, not about the subject of the conversation, but about your underlying motivations.

How much of the conflict centred around your own ego?   If you are really honest with yourself, as the conversation progressed, wasn’t the disagreement less about the topic at hand and more about your need to be right?

As a leader, you must work on your ability to take others’ views and opinions into account.  If the topic involved was important enough to invest your energy in the argument, then what you really seek is resolution not revolution.

So, the next time you find yourself embroiled in an argument, stop and check your ego.  Before you vigorously defend your own position, take a moment to consider the opposing perspective.  After all, it’s not about being right, it’s about making progress!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Positive Leadership: Talking Leadership

The Aspen Summer Celebration 2011 honoured Brent Scowcroft, co-chair of the Aspen Strategy Group and National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and a public forum featuring Brent Scowcroft in conversation with Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard Professor, moderated by Nicholas Burns, Aspen Strategy Group Director.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Positive Leadership: Building Trust

Here are seven steps people can take to trust more prudently:

Know yourself. Some people are overly trusting; others tend to assume the worst about others. Find out which category you fall into so you know what to work on.

Start small. Trust entails risk. There's no way to avoid that, but you'll minimise the risk if you begin a relationship by taking small risks. This lets you assess the other person's trustworthiness while sending signals that you are interested in a mutually trusting relationship.

Write an escape clause. If both you and the other party know that you have a backup plan, you'll be able to engage with more commitment, knowing that the system is set up to withstand the occasional, unavoidable mistakes that permeate any complex organisation or social system.

Send strong signals. If others see that you are diligent, it will deter potential predators, who are looking for easy victims.

Recognise the other person's dilemma. To build trust, you have to put yourself in the other party's shoes and reassure him that you are trustworthy. A lot of leaders don't realise that they should be doing more to communicate the importance of trust and the fact that they are trustworthy themselves.

Look at roles as well as people. Deep trust in a role can be a substitute for personal experience with an individual. We trust engineers, for example, because of their training.

Remain vigilant and always question. Questioning people we have already decided to trust is uncomfortable but essential in cases where the stakes are high.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Positive Leadership: The Importance of Core Values

Jeanne Bliss, Author of  I Love You More Than My Dog visited the Zappos headquarters to talk Customer Loyalty with ceo, Tony Hsieh. In this video, Tony talks about the importance of the 10 Zappos Core Values.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Positive Leadership: Purpose

Do you believe that having a purpose in life is important? We do, and our experience has taught us that having a purpose contributes a great deal to the quality of our lives. Not only that, having a purpose can actually prolong your life.

Several years ago, a study done by Harvard researchers followed two groups of patients in a convalescent home. Members of one group were asked to care for a potted plant during that time. Members of the other group had no such purpose. Those who were plant caretakers lived, on average, twice as long as the others did. You see, a sense of purpose fosters hope, self-motivation and positive feelings about oneself and others.

Viktor Frankl, in his book Man's Search For Meaning found this same result during his time in Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Purpose, or goals if you will, provided the will to live.

Now it is important to remember that, if it’s going to be truly meaningful, your life’s purpose must be something that is chosen freely by you, not something that is chosen for you. And it may have nothing whatever to do with what you do for a living, although, if it does that would be ideal.

Have you thought about what your purpose is? Have you tried to put it into words? If not, take the time to do so, and then use that purpose as a compass to guide your activities. You will be surprised at how much energy and clarity you’ll feel.

And by the way, age has nothing to do with finding purpose in your life. And if you are wondering when you can start – today will do!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Positive Leadership: Power & Influence

Rod Kramer of the Stanford School of Business speaks to students about "Power and Influence: psychological perspectives on leadership."


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Positive Leadership: Pyramid of Values

The Values of Positive Leadership™ operate throughout the 5 levels of leadership depicted in Jim Collins' book Good to Great :


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Positive Leadership: 'Trying Too Hard'

Have you ever had anyone tell you that you were trying too hard to succeed? What is it about trying too hard that just doesn’t seem to work?

Now, don’t misunderstand what we are saying. We are not saying that it is a mistake to put your energy into something, or that you shouldn’t try at all. But we are saying that there’s a point at which we can try too hard, and when that happens we tend to get in our own way.

Why do you suppose that is? Here’s what we think. All of us have a self-concept or self-image – our idea of what we are like. And, we don’t have to think about behaving like the person we know ourselves to be. It is something we do easily and effortlessly.

For example, if you see yourself as an outgoing person, you don’t need to work at being outgoing, correct? It just happens naturally. And, if you see yourself as shy, you don’t have to be reminded to be shy when you are in a group.

But what happens when you try to behave in a way that contradicts your self-image? “That’s not like me,” you think, even if it’s a positive change. And, you go back to behaving like the “real” you as soon as possible.

Now, it’s a fact that all meaningful and lasting change starts on the inside and works its way out. So if you want to be different than the way you are now, first work on changing your self-concept. You can use affirmations and visualisations to help you do it, and once you change the inside, you don’t have to “try” to behave differently. It will happen naturally, all by itself.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Positive Leadership: Replacing Fear With Faith

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.  He wrote this for CNN Opinion last week:

‘Before returning to the States this weekend, I and others in my family spent enthralled hours at the Churchill War Rooms in London, along with the new museum in his honour next door. Now, there was a leader! There was a man whose example shouts out to us now in our hour of trouble.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the turmoil of this past week has sparked cries for those in political power to step up and for God's sake, lead. Fears are spreading across Europe as well as the U.S. that not only are our economies teetering but our politicians are ineffectual.

In their summit a short while ago, leaders of European democracies promised they had fixed the problems of their weakest player, Greece. Instead, their solution was so timid that fears of default have spread to Italy and Spain, the third and fourth largest economies in the euro zone. In the U.S., President Obama and Congressional leaders assured us that their budget deal would put us on a safe path. Instead, markets plunged and Standard & Poors stripped our county of its AAA credit rating for the first time ever.

It's not that you don't have the economic capacity to pay your bills, said S&P; we're just not sure you have the political capacity to pay them. One can well object to the decision, as the White House has, but the damage is done in international eyes. Gloom is thick across the waters.

Winston Churchill would have rejected this pessimism in an instant. He was offered the prime ministership in May 1940 when Hitler had marched across much of Europe and chased British troops off the mainland. Many of Britain's older political leaders were so despondent they wanted to capitulate to Hitler and had signed a peace treaty.

Churchill rallied younger ministers, turned around the cabinet, and inspired his people to fight to the end. He had few weapons but, as it was said, he mobilised the English language and sent it into battle. What we would give for leaders today who are as defiant in the face of trouble.

Churchill also understood the importance of banishing fear and steadying a country. The war rooms are the fortification where he, his ministers, military advisers and secretaries worked below ground, as German bombs rained down on London streets. In taped interviews, those who had duties there spoke of cramped quarters, short rations, long hours and claustrophobia -- but to a person, they dismissed that as nothing. Churchill drove them hard and could be overbearing, but they loved him for his courage and resolve. (Stiff upper lips, chaps!)

On several walls hang posters from those days: "Keep Calm & Carry On." That is very much the spirit that leaders of today need to instil in peoples across the Atlantic. They must replace fear with faith in the future.

In Europe and especially in the U.S., the public is disgusted with politics because their leaders squabble like kids in a sandbox. Churchill lived in a day when there were bitter fights too. But upon taking the reins, he immediately formed a coalition government.

We must not let our arguments over the past dominate the present, Churchill said, or we will lose the future. There in the war cabinet room, one sees chairs reserved for Labour as well as Conservative ministers -- coming together, they could stop Hitler. Isn't that a lesson for us today, too?

Finally, Churchill understood the importance of a leader raising a banner, setting clear goals and marching out in front -- especially in a crisis. None of his advisers would have ever said he "leads from behind;" that was inconceivable. Nor would he, as the European Central Bank has just done, have ever said that his approach to a problem was one of "constructive ambiguity." Who can take confidence in that?

Churchill had his flaws -- he was human. But his leadership turned Britain's darkest hour into its finest hour. Can our American and European leaders please schedule their next meeting in his war rooms?’


Monday, August 15, 2011

Positive Leadership: Resilience

Spending most of his career out of the spotlight, Keegan Bradley won his first major championship on Sunday as a rookie on the PGA tour. At just 25 years old, Bradley wowed viewers with a resilience and grace under pressure that led him to the sweet victory everyone is buzzing about. With such a startling win after quite the nail-biter, people can’t help but ask: who is this chap?

Make people ask the same question about you as a new business leader.

It’s easy for a brand new business leader to fly under the radar instead of really being noticed. Avoid a run-of-the-mill reputation and wow people with your leadership.

What are some ways you can exceed your follower’s expectations?

How can you achieve your first victory as a new business leader?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Positive Leadership: Immortal Advice

In his last interview, the legendary coach John Wooden gives former NBA basketball player Juaquin Hawkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juaquin_Hawkins) some simple advice: open your heart.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Positive Leadership

'In an unknown territory look for a compass not a map.'


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Positive Leadership


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Positive Leadership


Friday, August 05, 2011

Positive Leadership


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Positive Leadership: Success

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think that you dare not, you don't
If you'd like to win, but you think you can't
It's almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost
For out in the world you'll find
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Positive Leadership: Winning

Positive Leadership director, Gavin Hastings, endorses the Bioflow Sport wristband, worn by recent Irish Open golf championship winner, Simon Dyson - for more, see: www.bioflowsport.com

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Positive Leadership: Staying on Track

Ensure you stay on track by asking yourself the following questions at the beginning of every month.

What are my top three priorities this month?  Your monthly priorities may include completing a work assignment, starting a home-improvement project or spending some quality time with your family or friends.  Whatever the case, identify your three most important priorities for the month.

What must I accomplish to ensure that my priorities are met?  Once you have identified your most important priorities, look at your calendar and discern what you need to do to accomplish them.  If spending quality time with your family this month is at the top of your list, there may be several small work assignments that you need to get done ahead of time to ensure your family gets your full attention during your time off.  Or, if you have a large work project due at the end of the month, assign yourself incremental deadlines throughout the month to ensure you stay on track.

What are the obstacles that I may encounter?  Take a hard look at your monthly calendar and seek out those things that may throw you off track.  Are two of your priorities competing for your attention this month?  Is it likely that your boss will have last-minute demands?  Attempt to anticipate likely obstacles whenever possible.

How will I handle those obstacles?  Decide now what actions you will take to surmount anticipated obstacles.  If you have two competing priorities such as the completion of a work project and a much anticipated family vacation, decide now how to best allocate your time.  Perhaps that means working the first two weekends of the month to ensure a stress-free, family focused holiday.  Plan ahead for likely last-minute demands on your time.

Where is the “me time”?   As leaders and as human-beings, we are constantly looking out for the needs of others.   However, in order to rejuvenate and refresh, you should ensure that you set aside at least a few hours every month for yourself.  Whether it is a free Saturday afternoon to spend with a favourite book or week-night ceramics class just for fun, make sure that you have some monthly “me time” on your calendar.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Positive Leadership