Saturday, August 10, 2013

Choose Leadership to Stay Relevant

Leadership is a choice more than a title. Today, I am reminded that there is a compelling new reason for choosing leadership, “Staying relevant in our new age of work.”


I have written about leadership choice several times in the past.  For example, in Leading from Below, I cite a Wall Street Journal article that makes five recommendations about your leadership choices.  The most important recommendation is:
Make a conscious decision to lead and move beyond your current role. Make the decision on your own. Take the risk and you'll thrive in your job and get that next promotion.

Choose Leadership to Stay Relevant

Today I curated a Fast Company article entitled The Four Things People Can Still Do Better Than Computers  for my Leaderly and Listable Scoop.It.  The Fast Company article describes the changing labor market and those skills that will be valued in our changing world. 

My summary and simple recommendations after reading the article and underlying research paper:
  • Computers are not good at being human.  
  • Computers are not good at leadership.
  • Choose leadership to stay relevant.
I found the Fast Company article interesting and would recommend reading it.  We need to stay relevant.

Thanks for reading.  Choose leadership, quiet leadership.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Inspired by Lists

I’m inspired by lists.

What kind of lists? 

All kinds.  My favorites include:
To-do lists, bucket lists, blog rolls, checklists, best seller lists, grocery lists,  most emailed lists, Forbes richest people lists, reference lists, Fortune 100 Lists, dream list, David Letterman Top Ten Lists and more.

I often get leadership inspiration and insight from a good list.  To me, a list from a great thinker like Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Gretchen Rubin will teach, coach, and inspire.  And best of all, it may only require a short amount of time to find that one nugget that makes a difference.

Introducing Leaderly & Listable

For the past few weeks, I have been curating and sharing leadership lists in an effort that I have titled, Leaderly & Listable.  You can access these lists on this blog on the Leaderly & Listable page or directly on the Leaderly & Listable Scoop.It site.

Finally, if you find a good list that you think should be included in this effort, Tweet a link using the hash tag #LdrLst (think Leader List with no vowels).  I can include the list in this effort.

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tom Peter's Leaderly List

I am a fan of Tom Peters.  Last week, Tom tweeted that he had posted a leadership self-assessment on his web site.  I took a look and given my fondness for leaderly lists, I retweeted the following:
If you are looking for a  quick checklist for leaderly actions, the summary at the bottom of the post provides that mini-MBA in leadership.

In your self assessment, ask yourself, am I a(n)   fill in the blank from the Peter's list.__

  • "Aggressive listener."
  • Expert at questioning.
  • Meetings as leadership opportunity #1.
  • Creating a "civil society."
  • Expert at "helping."
  • Expert at holding productive conversations.
  • Fanatic about clear communications.
  • Fanatic about training.
  • Master of appreciation/acknowledgement.
  • Effective at apology.
  • Creating a culture of automatic helpfulness by all to all.
  • Presentation excellence.
  • Conscious master of body language.
  • Master of hiring.
  • Master of evaluating people.
  • Time manager par excellence.
  • Avid practitioner of MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around.
  • Avid student of the process of influencing others per se.
  • Student of decision making and devastating impact of irrational aspects thereof.
  • Brilliantly schooled student of negotiation.
  • Creating a no-nonsense execution culture.
  • Meticulous about employee development/100% of staff.
  • Student of the power of "d"iversity (all flavors of difference).
  • Aggressive in pursuing gender balance.
  • Making team-building excellence everyone's daily priority.
  • Understanding value of matchless 1st-line management.
  • Instilling "business sense" in one and all.
The list is a wealth of great reminders.   The entire post is indeed a mini-MBA in leadership.

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly

Sunday, April 14, 2013

You Must Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

 My Lesson at Level 4 Leadership

I was impacted recently when one of my employees left my team to pursue opportunities outside of my company.  That event and a review of my own career opportunities motivated me to study the role of growth and employee development in leadership.  I had to face the reality that the team member left my team because I had failed to fully understand and act on the development needs of the departing team member.   Leaders need to be people developers.  You must help them grow or watch them go. 
The imperative this leadership role was validated for me with a review of the John Maxwell book, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential.  Maxwell’s levels provide a framework to measure and grow your leadership abilities. 
In this framework, all leaders start at the bottom (Level 1)  and grow to higher levels of influence.  Levels 2 – 4 represent a hierarchy of skills that you earn as a result of your relationships, problem solving and development.  Few leaders reach the pinnacle (Level 5).  Each level builds on the previous level and you progress to the next level after mastering and maintaining the previous level.

Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership
The Maxwell book provide great insight but you can also get a sample of the framework directly from Maxwell from the YouTube embedded below.

The Maxwell framework helped me pinpoint that I had personal development of my own in order to occupy a Level 4 position. 

Level 4 Best Behaviors

Here is a quick list of the best behaviors and guidelines of Level 4 People Development leadership.
1.  Find the Best People Possible – A good team starts with good people with the right chemistry, character, capacity, and contribution.  Maxwell quoted coach Lou Holtz who said, “I’ve had good players and I’ve had bad players.  I’m a better coach with good players.”
2.  Positioning – Placing the Right People in the Right Position.  A leader must understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team and put people in a position to succeed.  I have previously written about this as the Tom Kelly approach in Lead like a Teacher - Find the Right Role. 
3. Modeling – Showing Other How to Lead.  It is simple.  Model what you want to see in others.
4.  Equipping – Helping Other Do Their Jobs Well.  Leadership is not just delegation.  It is delegation along with support, coaching, and mentoring.
5.  Developing – Teaching Them to Do Life Well.   Good life skills help a person create a a foundation for success. 
6.  Empowering – Enabling People to Succeed.  As Maxwell write, “you need to trust them, believe in them, and hold them accountable. 
7.  Measuring – Evaluating Those Whom you Develop to Maximize their Efforts.  This is a simple behavior that proposes that you evaluate and keep score in order to learn and grow. 
I discovered many new leadership insight in the Maxwell book.  I would recommend quiet leaders explore this insight.
Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly as people developers.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lincoln – Complex, Quiet Story Teller

I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Lincoln this past week and came away appreciating the performance and tone of the movie. 
I think there is a tendency to view Lincoln as the ultimate hero.  Maybe it is a notion set by our history text books or even older movies.  I’m not saying that he isn’t heroic.  I’m really suggesting that his persona is too complex to be conveyed in a single label like “hero.”  I think that the movie was true to this complexity.
I have written about Lincoln previously where I also cited the exploration of Lincoln in the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  This book provides the basis for the period depicted in the movie.    In my previous post  I wrote about Lincoln and his quiet leadership where I noted
his ability to bring his political rivals into his cabinet and sooth their egos, turn these rivals into allies, and gain their respect and loyalty through his political skill and insight into human behavior. It is this skill that the quiet leader in us emulates and the basis for nominating Lincoln as a quiet leader.
The movie reinforced two perceptions about Lincoln that I held after this earlier citation.
  • Lincoln was comfortable with silence.  He didn’t need to fill every second with conversation. 
  • Lincoln was a consummate story-teller and frequently use a good yarn whenever the situation called for insight, inspiration, or leadership.
I left the movie still comfortable with Lincoln’s nomination to my Quiet Leadership Hall of Fame.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Story Behind Storytelling

I was intrigued by storytelling this past week.  The idea started when I had conversations with two people who could captivate you with their storytelling.   
The first was a colleague who seemed to be able to talk about family and background as a story with rich context but soft words.  Those soft words weaved stories about parents, horses, childhood experiences, and even children's teachers.  I was intrigued by the impact of those soft words.
The second was a semi-retired (her words) professor who talked about life experiences in a manner that seemed so distant from the Tweet/text message driven social communication that occurs today.  I could have listened for hours to stories about education and family.   She used very rich words and assembled those words into very captivating stories.
Both instances represented styles that seemed so different from the sound bite bursts that deluge us every day. 
As a follow-up to those conversations, I started to stumble upon blog posts and manifestos on the power of storytelling.  Here are to highlights:
I came upon a ChangeThis manifesto by author Jonah Sachs who started that manifesto by proposing, “…if you want to be heard, you’d better learn to tell better stories.”  In his manifesto, he provides ten storytelling strategies:
  1. Know What a Story is
  2. Figure Out What You Stand For
  3. Declare Your moral
  4. Now prove it
  5. Stop trying to Be the Hero
  6. Show the Broken World
  7. Make Sure there’s action
  8. Reveal the moral
  9. Break the mold
  10. Stay On ground level
You will want to spend a few minutes reviewing this manifesto to add this valuable insight to story telling.

Link to Leadership

So an obvious question on the Lead Quietly blog is  “What does story telling have to do with leadership?”  For this question the blog of Dan Schawbel provides insight.  How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool also directed me to the work of Paul Smith who wrote the book, Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.  Schawbel’s inteview with Paul Smith provided the following storytelling insights:
    1. Start with the context. 
    2. Use metaphors and analogies
    3. Appeal to emotion
    4. Keep it tangible and concrete
    5. Include a surprise
    6. Use a narrative style appropriate for business. 
    7. Move beyond telling your audience a story to creating a scene or event for them to participate in
I would recommend going to Schawbel's blog to gain additional insight to the list.

At the end of the week, the conversations and the reading had me thinking about my storytelling capabilities.  I hope you are inspired similarly.
Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leadership Styles are Like Golf Clubs

I  recognize that different leadership styles are required for different situations. No one style is adequate for different people, groups or situations.  On the golf course, you pull a different club from your golf bag depending on your lie and distance needed, an effective leader should have a set of leadership styles in his leadership bag to most effectively lead in different situations.  A recent review of some work by author Daniel Goleman validated my thinking.  
Daniel Goleman is best known for his books on Emotional Intelligence.  His best selling work defined a set of skills and competencies that defines how people manage feelings, interact, and communicate on their way to success.
In his book Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, Goleman cites the leadership research of the consulting firm Hay/McBer that identified six distinct styles employed by leaders.  The best leaders do no rely on a single leadership style but use multiple styles and are able to move between them seamlessly and in different measure depending on the situation and people. 
He conveniently summarizes the six leadership styles and their application in a chart that I have reconstructed below.
Leadership Style The leader’s approach In a phrase Best used when… Impact on Climate
Coercive Demands immediate compliance "Do what I tell you." In a crisis to kick start a turnaround Negative

Mobilizes people toward a vision "Come with me." When changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is needed Most strongly positive

Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds "People come first." To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances Positive

Forges consensus through participation “What do you think?” To build buy in or consensus or to get input from valuable employees Positive
Pacesetting Sets high standards for performance “Do as I do, now.” To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team Negative
Coaching Develops people for the future “Try this.” To help an employee improve performance or develop long-term strengths Positive
You can access Goleman’s full description of the styles in the book, on in the original Harvard Business Review article Leadership that Get Results.  Please remember that you can access HBR articles from your local library’s online database. 

The Lead Quietly Takeaway

My takeaway from the article is that just like I have clubs in my golf bag that I avoid because I need more practice, there are leadership styles that require honing on my part to become the Phil Mickelson of the Leadership Tour.  Are you able to move and adjust your style as needed?
Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.