Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

What Seth Godin Got Right – and What It Means for Management

Monday, May 9th, 2011

“The easier it is to quantify, the less it’s worth.”

- Seth Godin, Linchpin

Seth Godin has built a terrific career by giving us new lenses through which to view ourselves and our culture. He shown us all how to be marketers, leaders, and artists. I disagree with many of his generalizations and simplifications, but sometimes I read something from him that takes my breath away. The quote above certainly did.

Early in my career, I ran across Peter Drucker’s famous dictum “What gets measured gets managed.” Over the past many years, this has proven true more times than I can count. And yet, it begs some crucial questions: Read the rest of this entry »

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What Makes a Great Organization?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

My friend Dan Rockwell writes a terrific blog, LeadershipFreak, which regularly challenges me to better define my thoughts about key leadership issues. A recent post titled “Six Steps to Organizational Excellence” based on work by Dr. Muriel Asher provoked me to come up with my own list. Here are my Six Drivers of Organizational Excellence: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Doesn’t Leadership Training Work?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

While listening recently to an excellent audiobook by James Hunter (The Servant Leadership Training Course), I was not surprised to learn that on average only 10% of corporate leadership training attendees implement sustained behavioral change. This factoid confirmed what I have observed over the past 30 years: that training programs often get people’s heads nodding about the need for personal change, but then fail to drive change.

Now I find a fine article by Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith that argues that the problem is not with the training, but with attendee’s level of caring and commitment. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Great Leaders Have in Common

Monday, March 28th, 2011

There is a pretty clear consensus among writers and researchers on Leadership that great leaders do not come in one flavor. Still, there do seem to be important qualities that most have. Importantly, these qualities can be learned and developed. That means that anyone can learn leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

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Get Better Results by Adapting Your Style

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Leaders have an arsenal of useful tools to help them better understand themselves, ranging from Meyers-Briggs (which suggests our personalities are pretty much hardwired through life) to DiSC (which suggests who we are at any given moment depends on the situation). In between there are models such as Big 5, Birkman, CRG, and many others. Each one lets you look at yourself from a different perspective.

What they all have in common, however, is the assertion that when we are aware of our dominant behavioral style, we can choose to adapt to the situation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lessons from Libya: When to Do Nothing

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Sometimes, your best choice of action is to do nothing, and sometimes that is not an easy decision. I was reminded of this during the world’s recent challenge to decide how to deal with Gadhafi in Libya.

Julie Straw in The 4-Dimensional Manager discusses when doing nothing is your best choice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Leadership, Learning, and Maturity

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am an advocate of other-orientation, or service, as the foundation of effective leadership, also known as the Servant Leadership school of thought (expounded by Greenleaf, Covey, Senge, Blanchard, et al.). This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook by James Hunter called The Servant Leadership Training Course, and have learned a number of powerful concepts.

Hunter examines the implications of the following facts: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why You Need a Strategy for Innovation

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Companies that believe they must choose between organic growth and innovation will inevitably fail – it is a false choice. In a recent post, we defined organic growth and discussed what it can and cannot accomplish. Here, we continue with innovation. Sustainable success is all about balancing the two.

Innovation was last decade’s business buzzword, and for good reason. Real innovation is hard, but the potential payoff is huge. High risk, high reward.

We define innovation as the commercialization of a marketplace discontinuity. By definition, then, innovation has unpredictability built in – no one is good enough to truly disrupt with planned regularity. And that makes many managers uncomfortable Read the rest of this entry »

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The Negotiating Wisdom of Vito Corleone

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

One of my favorite leadership philosophers was the late, great Vito Corleone, immortalized in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. Don Vito rose to power because of his talent for engaging almost anybody in productive negotiation.

The Don was committed to reasoning with others to find win-win solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Makes P&G Great

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Last summer I was invited to visit Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati. I was filled with nostalgia, for that is where I began my career in marketing and general management long ago, and I had not been back in over two decades. At first I was struck with the strangeness of the place. There was a coffee bar in the lobby, turnstiles blocked the elevators, and I recognized few faces. But by the time I left, I realized that the truth was more complex, and therein lies the secret of P&G’s continuing success.

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Education’s Challenge Is Finding the Right Metrics

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch, but he certainly stimulated thoughts. He has spent his career as a specialist in Education Leadership and Policy. We were both old enough to chuckle over the current deja vu in education policy discussions. It feels like the early 80s again. He recalled Reagan’s denunciation of our educators as possibly criminal because of our students’ low scores on international tests, while I remembered the fear of an engineering-driven Asian giant that was about to surpass us (Japan then, China now). Of course, what the hand-wringers didn’t know was that we were at the dawn of one of America’s greatest growth eras, spurred by the very skills which our education system excels at fostering, like creativity and innovation.

American education remains one of our economic treasures, a net exporter of services as foreign students flock to our schools. Yet we have this sense of failure. Why? Read the rest of this entry »

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From Bud to Boss: Kevin Eikenberry’s Book for New Leaders

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Recently, we published part one of an interview with Kevin Eikenberry of the Kevin Eikenberry Group, whose new book, From Bud to Boss (co-authored with Guy Harris) is launching this week. Following is Part 2 of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

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E-Myth, Rework, and Truth

Friday, February 11th, 2011

A couple of the most popular business books irk me. Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited and 37signal’s Rework disagree about many things, yet both make the same fundamental error: they over-reach.

Let me make the point by citing a book that never over-reaches, Good to Great by Jim Collins. Read the rest of this entry »

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From Trainer to Guru: Kevin Eikenberry’s Leadership Journey

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Kevin Eikenberry of the Kevin Eikenberry Group is well known in leadership development circles, so it is no surprise that his new book, From Bud to Boss (co-authored with Guy Harris), is creating a lot of buzz. I recently got to chat with Kevin about his career, his goals, and especially his current project. Following is Part 1 of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

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Numbers & Business: Whose Reality Is Reliable?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Organizations mix “facts” into a tasty Kool-Aid that everyone drinks. How reliable is fact-based decision making? What is really real, and which reality should we believe?

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The Power of Doing Nothing

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I spent the holidays doing nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I read the kind of mindless novels I never make time for. I skied for the first time in 16 years. I went to parties and watched football and planned outrageous surprises for the kids and conspired with them on outrageous surprises for their mom. Made playlists. Exercised.

But I didn’t read business books or blogs. I unplugged from Twitter. I didn’t write. Cancelled client meetings. Closed for business.

I felt borderline depressed for the first week. I didn’t know who I was. Then one day I woke exhilarated. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Art of Being Inconsistently Consistent

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Effective entrepreneurs keep their organizations focused on unchanging goals. At the same time, they cannot become married to specific plans because conditions change. While striving to balance consistent vision with adaptable plans, leaders must also ensure all stakeholders opt in. Whoever said it was easy?

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Vision: Finding Your Sweet Spot

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

If you could create your perfect career or company, where would you begin? If you had to choose, would you pick something that makes a lot of money over something you care about? How about something that you excel at?

Why choose? In fact, Jim Collins argued in Good to Great that the great companies don’t choose. They insist on having it all.

Regular readers know I am a big fan of Jim Collins. However, I have never been completely comfortable with the language he uses when discussing his Hedgehog Concept and the “sweet spot” where excellent companies take germinate and grow.

Here is how I explain it to clients. Read the rest of this entry »

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Managing the Free Agent Job Market

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Are you old enough to remember how free agency revolutionized baseball in the 70′s? Suddenly the whole concept of “team” was up for grabs. Many of us purists were horrified as the Yankees found they could buy championships by snapping up available stars.

Today, there is no more debate. Free agency is the water all sports teams swim in. And despite our fears, professional sports remain fascinating. Despite rapid turnover of players, teams command loyalty.

Less commented on has been the revolution of free agency in the business world. After brutal rounds of downsizing and restructuring in the 80′s and 90′s, most businesspeople no longer regard their companies as family but rather as stepping stones. And you know what? It’s OK. Read the rest of this entry »

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Entrepreneurs, Where Can You Find Help?

Monday, December 20th, 2010

It’s a big bad world out there. Anyone who says they never need help is either lying or in denial. But when it’s your company, it is often difficult to know where to turn. Here is a brief list of thought-starters. Read the rest of this entry »

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