The “Thou Shalt Not’s” of Leadership

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Blog, Featured, Leadership | 1 comment

Recently Jack Welch (former GE CEO) and his wife Suzy Welch (bestselling author) wrote an article on linkedin.com on called The Six Deadly Sins of Leadership.  It proved to be a worthy read and brought up several points that are easy to change if you current management style requires it.  We have given some of our thoughts on the sins below.

1. Not Giving Self-Confidence its Due.

Ryan’s Take:

Many Type-A personalities natually stifle self-confidence in others because they percieve it as a threat.  Managers with these traits need to be cognicent of this and do their best to build up those around them.  As the Welches point out, confidence gives people the ability to make bold moves.  In many ways self-confidence is like liquid courage (alcohol), only without all the embarrasing party antics and crushing headaches the next day.

Ken’s Take:

Self confidence can be encouraged by leaders in the way they respond to questions.  Using every question as a teaching opportunity, the leader creates confidence in the employee to continue to ask questions.  When questions are asked mistakes are avoided, communication increases and relationships of trust are forged.

2. Muzzling Voice.

Ryan’s Take:

This may come as a no surprise to many of you, but I regularly watched Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I think Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a model leader.  He makes the hard decisions, but he always consults his knowledgeable staff. Whether it’s Geordi La Forge’s knowledge of the ship or Worf’s expertise on security issues, Captain Picard carefully listens to recommendations without ego.  One person can’t know everything, even if he is the boss.

Ken’s Take:

Know-it-alls seem to demand respect for their knowledge.  Respect needs to be earned, not demanded.  Humility with a listening ear creates an environment of group accomplishment and pride.  All voices being heard makes for a strong company.

3. Acting Phony.

Ryan’s Take:

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid seeming like a phony when you are legitimately trying to change your bad leadership habits.  Employees might recognize the change and not trust it.  In this case, transparency is key.  Tell them you want to change and why, to gain their trust.

Ken’s Take:

Acting phony is saying I am all of that and a bag of chips.  I like to keep it fun and real. I try to focus on laughing and caring.  Whether in business, church or family lets start by laughing at me and caring about you.  It works.

4. Lacking the Guts to Differentiate.

Ryan’s Take:

Differentiating is wearing an orange shirt when everyone else is wearing white.  If you are wrong, your error is completly exposed.  The fear of this exposure leaves people frozen in their tracks  They do nothing, which in the end, is the worst thing they could do.

Ken’s Take:

My mentor also taught you must be able to fund the winners and close the losers.  You can’t let the losers drag you down.  This is actually more difficult than you might think.  You want every investment decision to be correct.  Closing down is an admission something went wrong.  Mix that with playing a large role in people’s lives and you have the reason why leaders deserve the big bucks.

5. Fixation on Results at the Expense of Values.

Ryan’s Take:

You need to know who you are to succeed.  However, nobody else places much stock in your values, just your results.  Have you ever heard of an earnings call that went like this,  “We are sorry to report that earnings are down 10% year over year.  We would have met our guidance had we bribed a Russian dignitary, illegally dumped toxic chemicals and used more child labor.”  Taking shortcuts has tempted many managers, but skirting your values will eventually lead to disaster.

Ken’s Take:

I am fixated on results!  The only question is timeline.  Positive long term results will always be supported by the real values of an organization.  A transparent, honest, positive passion for excellence creates a foundation for long term success.

6. Skipping the Fun Part

Ryan’s Take:

I went from a company that never celebrated to one that celebrates often, but with a style so canned I can tell you exactly what will be served (cupcakes), the color of napkins and the music that will be playing.  It’s a little like watching the movie Ground Hog Day.  While I do appreciate the gesture, I think these formalized celebrations are only marinally better than doing nothing.  It is akin to receiving a form email versus a handwritten card (with money stuffed in it).  As an employee, I realize how much a personal touch can make.

Ken’s Take:

Owners don’t like to celebrate because at the top of every mountain is the danger of falling.  It feels like we might be letting our guard down,  thinking we have arrived and we don’t need to work as hard.  I am not saying this is right, I am just saying I understand why celebrations make leaders nervous.

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Have You Gone Tribal?

Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Blog, Featured, Leadership | 0 comments

A few months ago I was in a little bit of a funk.  I was bored at work and was not really sure what my next move was going to be.  My co-worker, Dan recommended the book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us , by Seth Godin.  It had been a while since I read a book, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  It turned out that this book gave me a huge boost in confidence and creativity.  It actually spurred me to start this blog.

The basis for the book is that our world is built around tribes.  Tribes are a group of people linked by a common interest.  This could come in the form of a country club, a large corporation, a blogging community, or a political party.  A core part of a tribe is communication. Tribes talks about how technology has lowered the cost of communication and provided unprecedented power to tribes of all forms.   Who knew 5,000 knitting-loving people could unite themselves online and trade ideas?

Tribes is not your typical book on management or leadership.  It’s really a call to action.  It provides no step-by-step tutorials and does not even have chapters. Godin does not build up a framework, nor does he try to explain anything in detail.  It is full of small sections of anecdotes on how to utilize tribes to do great things.

Godin explains that the world is in need of leaders and that you can be one of them.  People often associate leadership with a title or an elevated status, but technology and changing cultural norms have made it possible for anyone to lead.  The author also notes that people in elevated roles want to keep things the same, sponsor the status quo, because that serves them the best.  The only problem is that the status quo is not enough to win these days.  People want new and they want it now.  If you want to win you must be part of the tribes that are bringing forth new ideas.  Some of these tribes you will follow and some you will lead.

The one thing that stuck with me from the book is the notion that most people with good ideas are paralysed by fear-  fear of failure, rejection and the unknown.  Godin succinctly explains that fear is usually not based in reality.  The worst case scenario is you find out that there is not a tribe willing to follow your cause.  I overcame my fear and started a group to promote innovation at work.  The group is growing and has started to create some buzz among managers and executives.  It took surprisingly little work, just a little initiative and the willpower to overcome my fear.

I found this book to be highly motivating and worth the read. It is short, however, I believe it contains many little nuggets about leading a tribe that I will carry forward.

 

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