Posts tagged ‘Leadership’
I’ve been blogging here and at CEO2CEO.wordpress.com for quite a while. This was my first blog, and it soon became my place to speak out on matters from technology to economics to politics to just about anything that touched on human potential and its achievement. Then I needed a place just to speak out on matters that were interesting to CEOs but not necessarily other readers, so CEO2CEO was born.
It’s time for a merger, but not the usual kind where at least one of the merged organizations loses its identity. (I never understood why anyone called those mergers, other than in the very rare case where both entities bring equal assets to the table.) They are acquisitions.
This merger will be different. Each entity – the two blogs involved – will continue to stand on its own, and I will even be back at some point to add some commentary. But time being limited, I need to focus on one entity only. Hence, the acquisition.
The new blog focuses on leadership, but leadership in a way that is counter to what most of us learned in school. It is leadership that is based in understanding what motivates people to come together to do more as a team than they ever could accomplish on their own. It is leadership of a Coherent Human Infrastructure.
Welcome to Leadership is a Team Sport!
I was looking for a speech I gave a long time ago and found this instead. It seems timely for today, America’s birthday. It was taken from a story I told to a modern day group of ‘game-changers’. There were the mystical-sounding ‘rules of engagement’ and then my translations into what I thought they needed to know about applying them to the achievement of their vision of liberty.
Liberty Warriors: The Rules of Engagement
- Water moves over rocks and ground; it parts around boulders and carries the sand. The warrior is persistent, even in the face of ignorance, adversity and derision, and is flexible enough to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
- Recognizing the futility of separating logic from emotion, the wisest leader enters the mind with the heart and the heart with the mind. The warrior stalks the quarry in the most vulnerable places with the most effective tools. Where there are few warriors, they remind themselves all that they must be both warriors of the mind and warriors of the heart.
- The elders have advised, act as though you have two faces on the same head, one to lead, one to follow; one to look forward, one to look back; one to listen and one to see. The warrior is not solely a leader or a follower, but embodies the best characteristics of both.
- That which the farmer sows is not what the sorcerer reaps, nor does the brewer feel the intoxication. Each warrior brings a context for warriorhood: a lived life of circumstance. The race is not to the swift… time and chance happen to all.
- A corner brings together the three dimensions, yet itself has no volume. Such is the warrior a container for valued treasures; the size is unknowable, but humility and self-knowledge increase it. The warrior knows his own box well before attempting to think out of it.
I concluded by exhorting them to go forth, knowing their own minds and their own hearts, and then guide others in discovering that their hearts and their minds crave liberty as they do. I expect that a good many did and I hope they are celebrating today, together in the hope that we will all come out of our challenges, stronger and more flexible, as individuals, teams, a nation, and a global family. As I hope you are.
Around the fourth day after Mr. Sperm meets Miss Egg, differentiation begins. (If you slept through high school biology, differentiation is when cells start to get specialized.)
Ok, biology lesson is over. I was just mulling over how week four of the Interns could be subtitled, The Week of Differentiation. It isn’t that they weren’t fully formed individuals when they arrived. It’s how we see them and assign work to them that’s undergone some subtle changes.
Lindsay is continuing to work on social marketing optimization because she’s a star Communicator. Not surprising. This line from her Role-Based Assessment pretty well covers why I wanted her for this project:
She will quickly make contacts throughout the organization and get to know almost everyone. She is especially cooperative and will also try to do almost anything she is asked to do. Her focus is on interpersonal interaction and trying to get everyone to work together harmoniously. She won’t do this by direct means but by attempting to broker the arrangements that bring people together in a positive manner. As a result, she is likely to be respected by those she has contact with.
But we needed to get the database cleaned up so despite the fact that she also had this in her report: “She will not want to do organizational tasks…”, there she was in the conference room with some others, working on exactly that task, with music emanating from someone’s laptop, a pile of snacks, and the sunniest of good natures.
Meanwhile, Kartik, the Action Former, whose report included the following, managed to reorganize, clean up, and optimize my consultant certification files. Here’s Kartik in a nutshell:
This candidate is the type of employee who can be found in the front of the group with marker in hand, developing a list of things that need to be done or important points or assignments. He is the consummate organizer. The key is that he does not organize for the present but as a way of getting things ready for the future. His style is one of handling many things simultaneously. He believes that multi-tasking in a rapidly evolving environment is essential to keep on top of everything.
The others too have their unique qualities and it’s amazing how much more productive they are when we recognize them, give them work they enjoy, and celebrate the results.
It just makes good business sense.
Happy ending: Lindsay has a project beginning Monday that is totally about communicating with people, while Kartik will get a great new organization project!
Last week was a nice one for women in business. Xerox named Ursula Burns the successor to Anne Mulcahy, effective keeping the magic number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies on an even keel. This is no small thing for my generation, the ones who gathered in ‘consciousness raising’ groups and thought about how our sons and daughters lives should give them the same freedoms and responsibilities. We were not as happy when eBay’s Meg Whitman was replaced by a man. Back then in the early seventies we’d hoped by the new millennium it wouldn’t matter. We thought things would even out more than they have.
But enough of this whining, Dr. Janice. You got recognized this week too. Jayson Saba, a top analyst in the human capital industry, cited your company’s product in a LinkedIn discussion of assessments and integrity.
When I read this, my first thought was, score one for women CEOs! Then I came to my senses. No one does any of this themselves. It’s the team that was recognized and the team has no gender.
Ursula, I hope your team, too, has no gender, no race, no age, no singular culture. And I hope you get to feel like it’s great to be a CEO when you have a great team that celebrates with you every moment of recognition.
As a coda to the conference on women entrepreneurs, last night there was a gathering at the Innovation Center in Philadelphia to hear the results of a survey on the same subject. I was still on a roll from the previous day, which was a flashback to my first consciousness-raising group in the early 70′s.
As I went on about finding alternative ways to do business when you get blocked, Gloria Rabinowitz, the managing director of Golden Seeds in Philadelphia, an angel venture group that supports women entrepreneurs, said to me “I like your ‘take no prisoners’ attitude.”
So I have to ask myself, why do I not take prisoners? Are women expected to? I haven’t ever been accused of ‘emotional blackmail’ but I guess that would be the equivalent of prisoner-taking.
So here it is, the whole truth, albeit according to me:
If you take prisoners, you take on burdens and distractions.
You will become the imprisoned one.
And my simple advice, whether you are an entrepreneur or not:
Take No Prisoners.
Jason Zweig (aka WSJ’s Intelligent Investor) had a great article in the weekend Wall Street Journal. After giving examples of bad group decision making (as they say on Law & Order, ‘ripped from the headlines’) he concludes that the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is an illusion, that it depends on the competency of the group.
I’d like to add here that what he’s talking about is entirely measurable.
Ineffective groups (aka committees) start out designing a horse and give you a camel. Let’s just refer to that as being two humps off. (This measure, of course, assumes they have designed a bactrian rather than a dromedary.) You can quantify that in pounds of weight the horse would find burdensome, or the extra expense of feeding the resultant lumpy-backed horse or the lessened productivity caused by the extra weight.
It’s all entrely preventable if you select members of the group for their teaming characteristics and leave off those who are either rigid or diffuse. It also helps to have Role diversity to avoid the tendency to jump in with agreement too early.
Moral of the story: If you always see things my way, you probably aren’t needed on my team.
Another week, another crop of downsizings, and with few notable exceptions, HR people are telling me how they’re choosing the leaders over the non-leaders as the keepers. And I’m groaning inside.
Has anyone figured out how companies run when everyone’s a leader?
For one thing, no one’s willing to make the coffee.
For another, the self-promotion rises and the effective internal communication falls.
There are loads of strategic plans (if they ever get out of the planning stage, that is) but there’s no one who actually prefers to DO something.
And no one fixes the little annoying things that threaten to jam the progress and no one loves tracking the instructions that tell you what to do to unjam them.
But it’s like someone made it a rule that being a leader is the only worthwhile position. I’m going to riff on John Coltrane now and declare, unequivocally:
Damn the Rules, it’s the Team that Counts. You need all the Roles in your song, anyway.
Just give me some improvisation, baby.
Every so often I think about succession planning. My own. But I’m not planning on leaving. I’m planning on sharing. Let me explain.
I’m thinking that a lot of CEO problems are caused by people who think they can do a huge job well, all by themselves. Up till now, our company has been small enough that I could do a credible job myself. But as we grow bigger, I find it makes much more sense to work with someone else as sort of an extender. If it was on a shelf at the supermarket it would be called CEO Helper. I prefer the term VisionMeld(tm).
So how do you find someone to share? Role-Based Assessment to start, for sure, but I think asking the candidate to write a Vision Paper really should be part of every recruiting process.
The Vision Paper is a way of explaining to the leadership team of an organization what it is that they are expected to accomplish, the purpose for the venture. It does not go into precisely how they to achieve it since that isn’t a problem for the CEO to solve alone. It begins with a bit of the history behind the product or service and goes on to simply describe the end, the goal or the long-term, desired outcome for the organization. Where most mission statements are vague and general, the Vision Paper is personal. It’s the best measure of the ability to be an inspiring leader I have ever seen. And the knack of inspiring and motivating others to follow your dream is the sine qua non of the successful CEO.
I asked a friend what he thought. Ever practical, he concurred and pointed out that it’s a way of getting to agreement as to what the performance expectations will be. “You’re just trying to find someone who can do the job. To lead a company successfully, you need to know where you’re going and the Vision Paper is your roadmap,” he said.
I guess I’m just more mystical than he is. For me, the energy that goes into writing a Vision Paper reflects back on the author in an almost magical way. If it resonates, you probably have a good basis for a VisionMeld(tm) – and for sharing and succeeding.
I gave the keynote at Philadelphia SHRM‘s meeting this week and since I’ve been getting a lot of calls and LinkedIn requests from senior HR people lately, I figured I’d offer my help to anyone who’s looking. I never expected there would be that many. More to the point, I never expected to be that many senior level, highly experienced, knowledgeable people with no prospects in sight.
One person lamented that companies just don’t care about people any more. I’m not convinced that they ever did, at least in the sense that HR professional thought they should.
Seems to me that when we think that way, we pit HR, the protector of the worker, against the company’s stakeholders – often a whole lot of people who have a little bit of that company’s stock in their (dwindling) 401k.
What if we had a way of thinking about all the people involved in an organization – those who fund it, those who it serves, those who manage it – as if their interests were compatible? If we did, I wouldn’t have to ask myself, what will happen to HR?