Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Leadership: Awakening the Best in People
by Carl H. Neu, Jr.
1. Leaders engage people and their energies rather than give them ready answers and “quick-fix” solutions.
2. Leaders inspire themselves and others to their very best efforts.
3. Leaders focus on the future and get agreement on common vision, goals, priorities and direction.
4. Leaders empower and support - rather than control and direct - people toward achieving desired outcomes.
5. Leaders engender a perspective of “we” and partnership.
6. Leaders are principled persons possessing moral behavior, character, values and integrity.
7. Leaders promote mutual respect and civility in all relationships.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
You may have had this experience: You alter an employee's routine or change the way he's evaluated, and you get a reaction that's far bigger and more negative than anything you expected.
What did you do wrong? Probably nothing except underestimate his fear of death
Sounds strange, but a fascinating field of research known as terror management theory has shed light on the connection between people's reactions to change and their awareness of the big change that awaits us all
The basic idea is that people go to great lengths to repress awareness of mortality. Studies show that we create three existential buffers to protect us from this knowledge: Consistency allows us to see the world as orderly, predictable, familiar, and safe. Standards of justice allow us to establish and enforce a code of what's good and fair. Culture imbues us with the sense that we have contributed to, and are participating in, a larger and enduring system of beliefs.
Anything that threatens these buffers exposes us to the looming reality of death. Change an employee's routine, and you've undermined the consistency barrier. Tell a salesperson he'll no longer be evaluated on the basis of revenue and now must hit certain cross-selling and teamwork targets, and you've attacked his standard of justice. Alter the company's mission, and you've pierced the culture buffer by requiring him to reconstruct his worldview.
Faced with any of these changes, an employee is likely to feel deeply threatened. The more people feel threatened, the more they dig in — or try to escape. One of us (Bailey) took the latter route when the university where he was working as a young professor merged its separate business schools. Faced with the prospect of new colleagues, new students, new campuses — and, most distressing, new promotion committees — he left the job within months.
Fortunately, there's a lot leaders can do to ease employees' unconscious fear of death. Be consistent — make sure employees are informed about, and trained in, new operational procedures well in advance of any change, allowing them to acclimate. If there are to be changes in performance measurement, painstakingly explain the shifts to illustrate their implications. If there's to be a rethinking of culture, create a detailed and nuanced justification for why beliefs and values need to change — culture shift is less threatening if it's honestly framed as a needed adaptation. And leaders should acknowledge that change equals loss. Otherwise they'll appear clueless.
Change is necessary, but so is an understanding of how it invades people's critical bulwarks against the awareness of mortality. We can't stave off death forever, but good leadership can temper the debilitating effects of being reminded of it at work.
James R. Bailey is the Ave Tucker Professor of Leadership and chair of the Department of Management at the School of Business, George Washington University. Jonathan Raelin is an assistant professor at the University of Bath in the UK.
Monday, November 22, 2010
- Leaders exist to give followers what they need to get their job done. It is the followers who go into battle and accomplish the tasks assigned.
- The most important part of leadership is instilling trust in those you command.If you have their trust, they will follow you anywhere. “Every human endeavor has leaders and followers, and your job as a leader is to inspire,” he said.
- Leadership begins with goals. When the followers know what the goals are, everyone understands the importance of their own role for the common purpose.
- People want to know that you are serving a greater purpose than just your own.“Increasingly, our people want to see leaders who are respected, leaders who are selfless,” Powell said.
- Express appreciation. Make sure that those under your command understand that you appreciate what they are doing, Powell said. While serving as secretary of state, Powell said, he let people know he appreciated their work through personal visits and thank-you cards.
- Solve problems. A leader also needs to recognize when someone is not performing well. It is a leader’s job to identify the source of the problem, and fix it. “Leadership is problem-solving, and you are expected as leaders to know what’s going on throughout your organization,” he said.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
*Names have been changed
Friday, November 19, 2010
The positive power of confusionBy Dan Rockwell
creating moderate levels of confusion.
This impacts us as leaders too. It develops a kind of leadership lock-in. We get so locked-in to the values, beliefs, behavioral norms, habits and routines that it is hard to lead intentionally—the way we know we should—the way we want to. We just go through the motions of leadership without really thinking about what we are doing or the long-term consequences of our actions. Instead of adapting and learning, we plow ahead with behaviors that we are comfortable with.
The more we behave or think in a certain way, the less likely it is that we will do anything to change it, even when we can see that it is not serving us well. Instead of “learning” from experience, we really only “see” from experience the effects of our behavior. Learning is an action step. But leadership lock-in contributes to our desire to avoid the effort needed to change our behavior in a way that would get us the results we truly seek. To escape the old, locked-in behaviors, we must consciously practice what we have learned until it reaches a critical mass—until feedback reinforces/rewards that new behavior—and it becomes self-sustaining.
The comforting feel of immediate gratification plays into much of the problem presented by leadership lock-in. For example, self-serving behaviors, emotional outbursts, expediency, unrealistic pacing, and control issues, all give us immediate—momentary—gratification, but in the end, masks the long-term consequences of such behavior and thinking. And we get locked-in to what we think is working or more likely, is only working for us.
Leadership lock-in is at odds with sustainable leadership. That’s why it has been estimated that well over half of leaders don’t finish well. They get tripped up by their own thinking. The cumulative impact of their behavior derails them and eventually neutralizes their influence.
Escaping leadership lock-in begins with asking yourself, “Do I believe in this approach? Is this how I would want to be treated? Is what I am saying or doing expressing the values I believe in?”"
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Good Boss, Bad BossBy Dan Rockwell
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
10 reasons you’re an overthinkerBy Dan Rockwell
Focus on doing, you’ll get results.
Do you remember the first time your boss asked for your opinion? Do you remember how it made you feel? This happened to me just the other day. Well, it wasn't the first time she had asked — at this point we've been around the block a time or two together — but it still had a big impact, and I think it always will. It made me feel like I really mattered. It made me walk a bit taller for the day. And it even made me work a bit harder, knowing my opinion was valued.Let's face it, most of us don't want to be spectators at work. We want to be involved. We want to contribute. We want to participate. And those organizations that figure how to harness that desire are the ones that will get the most out of us.
Earlier this month the boss I refer to, Cathy Benko who leads talent at Deloitte, posted her conviction about the evolution from the corporate ladder to the corporate lattice. Part of this shift is an expansion of what she calls "lattice ways to participate." You might remember how orderly things were in the corporate ladder world — who knows, you might even work in an organization still clinging to this old way of life. Does top-down communication and information shared on a need-to-know basis sound familiar? Or a sense that only those at the top have worthwhile opinions? I don't know about you, but that world just doesn't work for me, and that kind of organization is not likely to get my best efforts.
What does work for me is how corporate lattice organizations invite, and even expect, participation from all of their people regardless of position on the organizational chart. In these organizations information flows every which way and people are encouraged to offer ideas and communicate across levels and other invisible boundaries. People form relationships with others who are down the hall as well as around the world. As a result, lattice organizations have an entire workforce of people who are engaged, sharing their best ideas, and working together to help the company succeed. Doesn't that sound like it makes a lot more sense? I know it's the kind of atmosphere I thrive in and you probably do too.
If you work in an organization that hasn't figured out how to do this, there are some great models — maybe you could start a discussion about them in your own company. Or maybe you're in a role where you could start the transformation yourself. Take for example, British telecommunications giant BT. They started to encourage participation with an experimental wiki called BTpedia, designed to facilitate information sharing across the company. On its heels they launched a second experiment that introduced blogging, and a third that created a small-scale social network.These ad hoc efforts then evolved into a robust internal social network, called My BT, that lets individuals customize their own pages.
My BT provides one-stop shopping to access all the content employees have posted on BTpedia, in blogs, and elsewhere, and also shows what other colleagues in someone's network are up to. Involving people through new mediums has been a big hit with BT's people for sure, but the company is seeing an even bigger payoff from their investment. Richard Dennison, principal business partner at BT, described it to us like this, 'I don't think that you can have an innovative company unless every single employee thinks they can make a difference to the organization. These tools are a key enabler for people to think they can make a difference.'
I want to point out that while new technologies enable more interactive communication and collaboration, it's the change in mindset that really matters. Lattice organizations have expanded their views of whose voices can make a difference and where good ideas can come from. While wikis, blogs, and social networks can help, these tools aren't sufficient without making a commitment to transparency and rethinking how to foster inclusion and innovation, cultivate communities, and harness collective wisdom. Lattice organizations have moved from top-down to all-in and are out-innovating the competition as a result.
So how do you see it? Has your organization adopted an authentic 'everybody in the pool' attitude?
uzanne Vickberg, Ph.D, is Senior Manager, Talent Strategy and Innovation for Deloitte Services, LP (US). This is the second in a series of posts related to Cathleen Benko and Molly Anderson's book The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work (Harvard Business Review Press, 2010).
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
- Washington was the only major founder who lacked a college education. John Adams went to Harvard, James Madison to Princeton, and Alexander Hamilton to Columbia, making Washington self-conscious about what he called his "defective education."
- Washington never had wooden teeth. He wore dentures that were made of either walrus or elephant ivory and were fitted with real human teeth. Over time, as the ivory got cracked and stained, it resembled the grain of wood. Washington may have purchased some of his teeth from his own slaves.
- Washington had a strangely cool and distant relationship with his mother. During the Revolutionary War and her son's presidency, she never uttered a word of praise about him and she may even have been a Tory. No evidence exists that she ever visited George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Late in the Revolutionary War, Mary Washington petitioned the Virginia legislature for financial relief, pleading poverty—and, by implication, neglect by her son. Washington, who had been extremely generous to his mother, was justly indignant.
- Even as a young man, Washington seemed to possess a magical immunity to bullets. In one early encounter in the French and Indian War, he absorbed four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from under him yet emerged unscathed. This led one Indian chief to predict that some higher power was guiding him to great events in the future.
- By age 30 Washington had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Although he came from a family of short-lived men, he had an iron constitution and weathered many illnesses that would have killed a less robust man. He lived to the age of 67.
- While the Washingtons were childless—it has always been thought that George Washington was sterile—they presided over a household teeming with children. Martha had two children from her previous marriage and she and George later brought up two grandchildren as well, not to mention countless nieces and nephews.
- That Washington was childless proved a great boon to his career. Because he had no heirs, Americans didn't worry that he might be tempted to establish a hereditary monarchy. And many religious Americans believed that God had deliberately deprived Washington of children so that he might serve as Father of His Country.
- Though he tried hard to be fair and took excellent medical care of his slaves, Washington could be a severe master. His diaries reveal that during one of the worst cold snaps on record in Virginia—when Washington himself found it too cold to ride outside—he had his field slaves out draining swamps and performing other arduous tasks.
- For all her anxiety about being constantly in a battle zone, Martha Washington spent a full half of the Revolutionary War with her husband—a major act of courage that has largely gone unnoticed.
- Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."
- While Washington lost more battles than he won, he still ranks as a great general. His greatness lay less in his battlefield brilliance—he committed some major strategic blunders—than in his ability to hold his ragged army intact for more than eight years, keeping the flame of revolution alive.
- Washington ran his own spy network during the war and was often the only one privy to the full scope of secret operations against the British. He anticipated many techniques of modern espionage, including the use of misinformation and double agents.
- Washington tended his place in history with extreme care. Even amid wartime stringency, he got Congress to appropriate special funds for a full-time team of secretaries who spent two years copying his wartime papers into beautiful ledgers.
- For thirty years, Washington maintained an extraordinary relationship with his slave and personal manservant William Lee, who accompanied him throughout the Revolutionary War and later worked in the presidential mansion. Lee was freed upon Washington's death and given a special lifetime annuity.
- The battle of Yorktown proved the climactic battle of the revolution and the capstone of Washington's military career, but he initially opposed this Franco-American operation against the British—a fact he later found hard to admit.
- Self-conscious about his dental problems, Washington maintained an air of extreme secrecy when corresponding with his dentist and never used such incriminating words as 'teeth' or 'dentures.' By the time he became president, Washington had only a single tooth left—a lonely lower left bicuspid that held his dentures in place.
- Washington always displayed extremely ambivalence about his fame. Very often, when he was traveling, he would rise early to sneak out of a town or enter it before he could be escorted by local dignitaries. He felt beleaguered by the social demands of his own renown.
- At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.
- A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.
- Land-rich and cash-poor, Washington had to borrow money to attend his own inauguration in New York City in 1789. He then had to borrow money again when he moved back to Virginia after two terms as president. His public life took a terrible toll on his finances.
- Martha Washington was never happy as First Lady—a term not yet in use—and wrote with regret after just six months of the experience: "I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else… And as I cannot do as I like, I am obstinate and stay home a great deal."
- When the temporary capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, Washington brought six or seven slaves to the new presidential mansion. Under a Pennsylvania abolitionist law, slaves who stayed continuously in the state for six months were automatically free. To prevent this, Washington, secretly coached by his Attorney General, rotated his slaves in and out of the state without telling them the real reason for his actions.
- Washington nearly died twice during his first term in office, the first time from a tumor on his thigh that may have been from anthrax or an infection, the second time from pneumonia. Many associates blamed his sedentary life as president for the sudden decline in his formerly robust health and he began to exercise daily.
- Tired of the demands of public life, Washington never expected to serve even one term as president, much less two. He originally planned to serve for only a year or two, establish the legitimacy of the new government, then resign as president. Because of one crisis after another, however, he felt a hostage to the office and ended up serving two full terms. For all his success as president, Washington frequently felt trapped in the office.
- Exempt from attacks at the start of his presidency, Washington was viciously attacked in the press by his second term. His opponents accused him of everything from being an inept general to wanting to establish a monarchy. At one point, he said that not a single day had gone by that he hadn't regretted staying on as president.
- Washington has the distinction of being the only president ever to lead an army in battle as commander-in-chief. During the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, he personally journeyed to western Pennsylvania to take command of a large army raised to put down the protest against the excise tax on distilled spirits.
- Two of the favorite slaves of George and Martha Washington—Martha's personal servant, Ona Judge and their chef Hercules—escaped to freedom at the end of Washington's presidency. Washington employed the resources of the federal government to try to entrap Ona Judge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and return her forcibly to Virginia. His efforts failed.
- Washington stands out as the only founder who freed his slaves, at least the 124 who were under his personal control. (He couldn't free the so-called 'dower slaves' who came with his marriage to Martha.) In his will, he stipulated that the action was to take effect only after Martha died so that she could still enjoy the income from those slaves.
- After her husband died, Martha grew terrified at the prospect that the 124 slaves scheduled to be freed after her death might try to speed up the timetable by killing her. Unnerved by the situation, she decided to free those slaves ahead of schedule only a year after her husband died.
- Like her husband, Martha Washington ended up with a deep dislike of Thomas Jefferson, whom she called "one of the most detestable of mankind." When Jefferson visited her at Mount Vernon before he became president, Martha said that it was the second worst day of her life—the first being the day her husband died.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
From GENE LOGSDON
The abandoned farmsteads shown here are not far from where I live. Such sad scenes are easy enough to find. They have been a part of the landscape of my life, grave markers of the agrarian culture that I love. Each crumbling set of buildings has its own story to tell, but in general, they were built around 1900 or a little earlier, went through a generation or two of gradually diminishing prosperity, and then succumbed to the money-changers and the seeming necessity to expand farm size. These “losers” had no taste for competing with wealthier, sharper, or more aggressive farmers, and died without an heir interested in, or financially capable of, farming in the modern era. The sharper farmer who with his friendly banker bought the farm, chose not to fix the house up and rent it, but couldn’t bring himself to tear it down either. Or in other cases, the new owner did sell the house and barn buildings to someone who, remembering a happy childhood on a farm, wanted to live in the country. The house was saved, but inevitably the grand old barn blew down or was pulled down. Four of the barns that I played and worked in during my youth exist now only in memory.
I think abandonment is the greatest of our sorrows and fears. Death is the final abandonment. I like to linger at derelict farmsteads and imagine the happy family that once lived there, or at least the family that built the place in high hope of happiness. It is easy for me to imagine their lives because I can place my grandparents, parents, and siblings within the confines of such a farmstead and watch them, in my mind’s eye, at work and play.
These homes were marvels of self-sufficiency. No one feared a power outage because the power, at least in the early days, was all homegrown. When “the electric” did come, I remember farmers who resisted it— sensed that it would be a sort of umbilical cord in reverse, drawing away their independent vitality. They grew hay to fuel the motive power of buggy horse and draft animal, cut wood to warm the house, erected a windmill to pump water into a insulated cypress water tank that stood partly above ground or on a high elevation so that water could flow by gravity to the barns and house. They built underground cisterns next to the house to fill with soft rainwater off the house roof for washing, and erected posts in the lawn for a clothesline to dry the laundry. My grandfather even kept a catalpa grove for fence posts. Catalpa endures. Some of his posts, which he used first, and my uncle used again, serve a third life in my fences.
The amazing diversity of the old farmstead was the key to its resilience. The summer kitchen for cooking during the hot months was built close by, but apart from, the house. (One of the photos shows a summer kitchen if you look closely behind the trees. Note how the trees have grown up in what was once the lawn and barnyard. How quickly nature takes back the land when humans disappear.) There were separate buildings for the privy, the smokehouse— I remember one made from a huge, hollow tree trunk with a little peaked roof over the open top and a door cut in the side of it—, the woodshed, the granary, the corncrib, the chicken coop, the pigsty, the carriage house that became a garage. The big hay barn dominated all. Below its mows were the sheep shed, horse stalls and cow stable. If one source of food or income failed, there were others to fill the gap. The only way to starve out such a self-sufficient homestead was by way of paper money and usury which in one guise or another is often what happened.
Always there was a kitchen garden, a larger garden or truck patch farther away, and an orchard. Sometimes on abandoned farmsteads you can find tasty old apple varieties still growing. Frequently, you will still find rhubarb plants, lilac bushes, old fashioned roses, asparagus and lilies of the valley hugging the north wall of the house. All these plants tell in their quiet, enduring way, of farm families making a good life that could still be there if nature’s ways had been followed.
In case I sound overly-romantic or sentimental, what I remember best about our farmstead was that even when my mother was heavy with child and carrying a heavy bucket of water from the windmill pump to the chicken coop, she was singing. I see Dad hurry to her and, scolding gently, take the bucket from her. She had a hard life in some ways, so, I ask, why was she always singing?
And if you think it is easy to sing and carry a bucket of water at the same time, try it.
Don't Take the Wrong Decision Shortcuts, 10:39 AM Wednesday, November 10, 2010, by Steve Martin at HBR.org
Steve Martin CMCT, is co-author of the New York Times Bestseller Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive and Director of INFLUENCE AT WORK.