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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Positive Leadership: What is Required to Produce Innovative Leaders?

Innovations result from unique ways of looking at problems that produce original solutions. 

However, because research and innovation require long time frames, the pressure on business-unit leaders to produce near-term success often results in funds being shifted from innovative projects to product development and product extensions. Large organisations that are heavily dependent on previous successes frequently squeeze out innovative ideas and the innovators who create them. Not infrequently, the most innovative ideas run into significant difficulties in their infancy and get killed or underfunded in favour of high-profitability development projects.

To overcome these pitfalls, organisations need innovative leaders at the top willing to sacrifice near-term financial results to support their innovators through success and failure. The characteristics of great innovative leaders are dramatically different from traditional business managers. 

Here are five essential qualities they must have to lead innovation:

Passion for innovation. Innovative leaders not only have to appreciate the benefits of innovation, they need a deep passion for innovations that benefit customers. Just approving funds for innovation is insufficient. Leaders must make innovation an essential part of the company's culture and growth strategy.

A long-term perspective. Most investors think three years is "long-term," but that won't yield genuine innovation. Major innovations can change entire markets as the iPod and iTunes did, but they take time to perfect products and gain adoption by mainstream users. Leaders cannot stop and start innovation projects as if they were marketing expenses; they must support innovation regardless of the company's near-term prospects.

The courage to fail and learn from failure. The risks of innovation are well known, but many leaders aren't willing to be associated with its failures. However, there is a great deal to be learned from why an innovation has failed, as this enhanced understanding can lead to the greatest breakthroughs.

Deep engagement with the innovators. Innovative leaders must be highly engaged with their innovation teams: asking questions, probing for potential problems, and looking for ways to accelerate projects and broaden their impact. That's what HP's founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard did by wandering around HP's labs and challenging innovators.

Willingness to tolerate mavericks and defend them from middle management. The best innovators are rule-breakers and mavericks who don't fit the corporate mould and are threatening to middle managers following more typical management approaches. That's why innovative leaders must protect their maverick's projects, budgets, and careers rather than forcing them into traditional management positions.

How can companies develop innovative leaders capable of ascending to top management? They need to identify these emerging leaders and then give them their most challenging projects, while protecting them from failures and organisational conflicts.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Positive Leadership: True Leaders


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Positive Leadership: Irrational Optimism

In Bounce, Matthew Syed quotes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, one of the most successful football (soccer) coaches in the English Premier League, on how athletes must approach competition:

'To perform to your maximum you have to teach yourself to believe with an intensity that goes way beyond logical justification. No top performer has lacked this capacity for irrational optimism; no sportsman has played to his potential without the ability to remove doubt from his mind.'


Monday, January 28, 2013

Positive Leadership: How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused

As a businessperson, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.

Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, so today's digital environment makes it especially hard to focus. "Distractions signal that something has changed," says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work. "A distraction is an alert he says, 'Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'" The brain's reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.

While multitasking is an important skill, it also has a downside. "It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ," Rock says. "We make mistakes, miss subtle cues and fly off the handle when we shouldn't, or spell things wrong."

To make matters worse, distraction feels great. "Your brain's reward circuit lights up when you multitask,” Rock says, meaning that you get an emotional high when you're doing a lot at once.

Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. "Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative," Rock says.

Try these three tips to help you become more focused and productive:

1. Do creative work first. Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus. "An hour into doing your work, you've got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning)," Rock says. "Every decision we make tires the brain."

In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, like deleting emails or scheduling meetings, later in the day.

2. Allocate your time deliberately. By studying thousands of people, Rock found that we are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. "You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours," he says.

Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock's studies show that 90% of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.

3. Train your mind like a muscle. When multitasking is the norm, your brain quickly adapts. You lose the ability to focus as distraction becomes a habit. "We've trained our brains to be unfocused," Rock says.
Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. "It’s just like getting fit," Rock says. "You have to build the muscle to be focused."


Friday, January 25, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Leader is There to Enable Others to Flourish

The Rev. Nicky Gumbel , Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton (the largest Anglican church in the UK) and a former barrister, tweeted his take on leadership as his opening to 2013 (@nickygumbel). 

This is a pin-the-on-the-wall-and-look-at-it-every-morning checklist.

•             L ove
•             E ncouragement
•             A uthenticity
•             D aring
•             E nthusiasm
•             R espect
•             S ervice
•             H ope
•             I ntegrity
•             P erseverance

Ancient scripture wisdom repackaged for the modern age. The Rev. Nicky is known internationally for developing the Alpha Course – the most popular introduction to Christianity course in the world. He has been described as a natural leader – confident but self-effacing holiness.

New areas of leadership study – Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership – emphasise a deep sense of morality in the leader, and a concern for the welfare of others that is greater than the desire to self promote. The leader is there to enable others to flourish.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Positive Leadership: Our Youth Must Be Ready to Lead

Colin L. Powell was appointed Secretary of State by George W. Bush on January 20, 2001, after being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He served for four years, leaving the position on January 26, 2005. He was the first African-American to serve as Secretary of State.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Positive Leadership: What Makes Us Truly Happy?

Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, discusses her research into what makes us truly happy, and how our concept of happiness changes as we age.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Positive Leadership: Getting to Self Mastery

Here are some reasons why you may not be managing yourself well:

·         You are comfortable and we all tend to stay with what is comfortable
·         You don’t know what else is possible
·         You don’t know that there are other ways to do what you are doing
·         You may be getting energy (and possibly identity!) from being stressed and overworked.

Now let’s put you on the path to better self-management.

1. Clarify your personal goals. Many of us lose sight of these as we get immersed in rush of day-to-day life. Do your personal goals complement your business goals? Asking yourself this question will root out any dissonance between these two areas of your life. And remember, you do have two areas; professional and personal. If they are not in harmony, determine whether the business goals can be re-oriented or modified to support what you would like to achieve personally.

2. What role do you want to have? Imagine yourself three or four years from now. Think about who you want to be. What role do you want to have in the business? Thinking about what you want in the future can give you great insights into what strategies you may need to put in place now.

3. Look at how you are actually spending your time. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you really are true to yourself when you do this exercise you will learn a lot about where the potential lies for making changes. How are you really spending your time?

Break your day down into at least half hour slots and write down exactly what you do in each 30 minutes. Imagine that you are on a diet and your doctor has asked you to keep an honest food journal, to reveal your major calorie intake times of the day. This is what you want for your time journal.

This is your life. Be conscious of how you are living it.

There is never a better time than right now for planning to do things differently. Take charge of yourself and your business by choosing a direction that allows you to meet both your personal and business goals, and still retain your sanity!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Positive Leadership: Overcoming Presentation Fears

Here are some helpful and real life tips and techniques for working with nervousness while presenting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Positive Leadership: A Fool With A Plan Can Beat A Genius With No Plan

Legendary US investor, oil entrepreneur and billionaire T. Boone Pickens recently gave a TED talk at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, and in about 16 minutes gave the audience his 10 Big Leadership Rules:

  • Have a good work ethic
  • Make a plan
  • Look for big things
  • Take advice from smart people
  • Make your case in 3 minutes or less
  • Don’t be afraid to make a decision
  • Embrace change
  • Don’t cheat
  • Have patience
  • Be generous


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Positive Leadership: What Kind of Leader Are You?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Positive Leadership: Steve Jobs on Saying No!

Two segments in the video below are worth watching.  The first is Steve Jobs explaining his philosophy.

The second is him responding to a question about why they cut OpenDoc.  The interesting observation is that OpenDoc was probably better than anything else at some things.  That, by itself, wasn't enough.  It had to be part of a larger vision or it had to go.

He ends with a great observation about how you have to let the vision dictate the technology and not the other way around. 

An excellent example of predicting success!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Positive Leadership: Chase Your Dreams!

In his TED Talk, former investment banker turned amateur speed skater, Kevin Jagger, shares his story and his passion for the pursuit of competing.

The financial crisis of 2008 taught Kevin that results are not all they are cracked up to be and one must enjoy the daily pursuits that life presents. It’s not about floating through life with your eyes set on your next vacation, salary or bonus. It’s about springing out of bed and facing the day’s challenges head on–knowing that life’s little battles, if fought hard, will lead to something great. Don’t count the days, make the days count.

McGill University (Canada) alumnus, Kevin Jagger is a former investment banker and media professional who, after watching the 2010 Olympic Games in his hometown Vancouver, decided to take a break from the corporate world and get into high performance sports. Kevin chose long track speed skating as his pursuit–because it’s the only sport he could physically do and wanted to pursue.

Having never tried the sport before, he quit his job and moved to Calgary, Alberta to train full time at Canada’s National training centre. Kevin has maintained a blog since day 1 called Long Track Long Shot, which chronicles his journey from a slightly pudgy cubicle dweller to competing on the Canada Cup circuit–and hopefully one day taking a shot at representing Canada in the Olympics.

Kevin’s blog and highly engaged social media platforms have attracted plenty of attention to his story well beyond the speed skating community, which has resulted in a strong financial support base allowing him to pursue his dream. Recently, Kevin launched a new online sponsorship resource, www.PodiumPlatform.com , that aims to share his experiences successfully connecting with the corporate world to help other amateur athletes do the same and improve their own financial standing.

Take a look at his video and try to learn from Kevin’s experiences.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Positive Leadership: A Broken Body isn’t a Broken Person

Janine Shepherd is a walking paraplegic; she is also a pilot and aerobatics instructor, as well as a motivational speaker and author.

A champion cross country skier in training for the winter Olympics, Janine’s life changed forever when she was hit by a truck during a bicycle ride in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Doctors did not expect her to survive and, when she did, they warned her that she would never walk again.

Janine focused intently for years on healing both her broken body and crushed morale. A turning point came watching small planes flying overhead. She decided: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” While still in a full body cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Later, she earned her commercial pilot’s license and instructor’s rating. Janine recently served on the board of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and became its youngest -- and only -- female director. 

Janine is the patron of the Australasian Spinal Research Trust and is committed to helping find a cure for spinal cord injury in the near future. In the meantime, she seeks to inspire those coping with physical disability. She is the author of five books, including The Gift of Acceptance and Never Tell Me Never. And while doctors told her after her accident that she would never have children, she now is a mother of three.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Positive Leadership : Talent is Everywhere

You should watch this short clip — not because it’s a remarkable story (which it is) or because it will make your eyes well up (which it might), but because it’s a good reminder of two basic facts we tend to overlook:

1) Respecting and caring for the tools of your skill — what some educators call “the enchantment of everyday objects” — ignites powerful motivation

2) Talent is everywhere.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Positive Leadership: Values in Business

Management thought leaders share their ideas on values in business.

Featuring: Arturo Condo, David Rock, Buie Seawell, Erin Lehman, Christopher Adkins, Maj. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, Susan Clancy, and Jonathan Gosling.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Positive Leadership: Corporate Culture and Connecting to Purpose and Mission

Bernard Tyson is president and chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading health care providers and the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, with annual operating revenue in excess of $45 billion. Kaiser Permanente is often referred to as the model for the future of health care. Its focus is on prevention and affordable health care delivered through evidence-based medicine and industry-leading technology.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Positive Leadership: Classic Dilbert


Monday, January 07, 2013

Positive Leadership: Service - Invest in Your People

Tom Peters reminds us that improving the appearance of a business is wasted effort if employee attitude isn't similarly upgraded.


Friday, January 04, 2013

Positive Leadership: Leadership Starts at the Top


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Positive Leadership: The Antidote to Feeling Sorry for Yourself!

Five rules for happiness:

Live in the moment.
It’s better to be loving than to be right.
Be a spectator to your own thoughts (especially when you become emotional).
Be grateful for at least one thing every day.
Help others every chance you get.


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Positive Leadership: How Values Can Make You A Great Leader

In the wake of many recent high-profile corporate and public sector scandals in the UK and in the USA, many organisations are focused on rebuilding damaged reputations and restoring trust. Leaders' values are increasingly important as businesses seek to become more responsible, accountable and transparent.  

Values-based leaders can help others (employees, customers and other stakeholders) find meaning and purpose in what they do. 

There are very real, commercial benefits to developing and putting into practice values-based leadership in your organisation. As well as increased motivation and engagement, if there had been more true values-based leaders around before the financial crisis, many of those high-profile corporate scandals would never have happened in the first place.

Know yourself

Develop your self-awareness. You may have role models you can learn from, but don't try to copy them. Think about what you stand for and what matters to you.

Identify your business values

Your business values should resonate with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders. When defining or refreshing your values, ask different groups of people for input. Test your values out. Are they meaningful? They should be easy to communicate, easy to understand, and easy to buy into.

Be authentic

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Authentic leaders are true to themselves and operate with integrity both in and out of work.

Be open minded

Consider other points of view. Explore each challenge from a range of perspectives, such as thinking what customers or colleagues think. This helps you and your team gain a broader understanding and make balanced decisions.

Be confident

Self-confidence is not about being arrogant; it's about recognising your strengths and the areas you can improve. You need confidence to be true to your values. 

Have some humility

Remember who you are and be true to your roots. Humility helps you treat others with respect and keeps things in perspective. It's one of the key factors missing from autocratic leadership and a critical element of values-based leadership.

Be a role model 

As a leader, you should aim to live your organisation's values. You've got to walk the talk.

Be brave

Values-based leaders have the courage to speak up and to stand up for what they believe is right. At times this can be difficult.  Often it's a lot easier to keep your head down and choose the easiest path. If you stick up for what's right it encourages others to do the same.

Reward values-based behaviour

Is your reward strategy in line with your values? Recently, some big banks have announced plans to reward employees based on their ability to develop mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with customers and other stakeholders, rather than rewarding a short-term focus on profit. Does your business reward values-based behaviour?

Stick to your values

People will really notice if you don't. If you say you believe in a green agenda and conserving energy but fly everywhere in a private jet, the people around you will become cynical and stop trusting you.  


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year from Positive Leadership!