Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quiet Leaders Prove Better Leaders

There is new research about the effectiveness of introvert leaders that validates many of the concepts I discuss here. 

As I have written before,  I'm an introvert and contrary to the belief of some, being an introvert isn't crippling.  It is more about energy and how you gather and use it.  As an introvert, I gain energy with solitude and expend energy with people.  

I have proposed in previous posts that quiet leadership is effective.  For example in The Best Leaders Are..., I cited the work of  Executive coach Jennifer B Kahnweiler who wrote on Forbes.com about the strengths of the introvert leader.  She proposed key characteristics that  make an introvert a better leader: 

  1. They think first, talk later.
  2. They focus on depth.
  3. They exude calm.
  4. They let their fingers do the talking.
  5. They embrace solitude.

This topic and related research was explored recently on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog.  The post,  Introverts: The Best Leaders for Proactive Employees reviews the work of Business School professor Francesca Gino.  Professor Gino's research will be published next year but the early results indicate that:

  • Extraverted leaders can be a liability if the followers are extroverts, tending not to be receptive to employees who make suggestions and take initiative.
  • Introverted leaders are more likely to listen to, process, and implement the ideas of an eager team.
  • Leaders need to adapt their style depending on the type of group they are leading. With proactive employees, leaders need to be receptive to the team's ideas; with a more passive team leaders need to act more demonstratively and set a clear direction.

The notion that leaders need to adapt their style is the biggest takeaway in the post for me.  I'm looking forward to reading about the research when it is released later this year. 

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.





Saturday, November 6, 2010

Building Trust Every Day - It's Important, It's Easy

Trust is an essential element of leadership.

Friendship & Trust

To me, there is a solid link as validated in some of my previous explorations where I cited the work of James M.Kouzes and Barry Z.Posner from The Leadership Challenge and discussed the absence of trust as note as one of five team dysfunction in my review of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

This post expands my reflection on trust from a couple of recent discoveries on the blogosphere. First, exploring the importance of trust in collaboration and work performance, and secondly, to offer easy quiet leader-like tips for trust building. You can work on trust every day.

The Importance of Trust

Bret L. Simmons in a post "Why We Trust" at the Leader Lab site, cites two compelling studies that link the role of trust to collaboration and general task and job performance. Two quotes from Bret's post summarize the study's findings:

Trust increased an individual’s task performance, risk taking behavior, citizenship behavior (doing more to help others at work), and decreased counterproductive behavior.

If teamwork is important in your organization, then ....you should select and promote individuals with a high propensity to trust.

The Simmons post validates my previous thinking on the importance of trust. Good information from the LeaderLab. You can get more from Bret Simmons at his Positive Organizational Behavior site, both great leadership resources.

Building Trust

The importance of trust is clear. Now how do you build trust? Are there quiet leader-like approaches for building trust?

I discovered a very nice trust building tip list from the Thinking for a Change blog of Pascal Van Cauwenberghe. In the post, he summarizes a 2007 presentation from David Anderson titled, Building a high trust culture in your software engineering organisation.

In the post, Pascal suggests, "Do you want to work better, faster and get more satisfaction out of it? Increase the trust level in your team."

He offers a quiet leader-like list of tips for building trust, an actionable list that reminds me that you can work to build trust every single day.

Here is Pascal/David's tip list:
  • Trust begets trust
  • Be humble and respect the other
  • Vulnerability disarms
  • Apologize for poor results; take responsibility, even if you weren’t involved in the delivery of the poor results; promise better; deliver.
  • Keep delivering, regularly, predictably.
  • Deliver daily on your personal commitments; deliver daily or weekly on team commitments
  • Demonstrate competence; rehearse and practice for perfect delivery
  • Be transparent
  • Encourage learning from failure
  • Get rid of command & control
  • Build up a reputation
  • Define clear values and principles; let them guide decision making
I like this list. There is something on this list that you can work on every single day. The result of this daily attention will be the expansion of trust and the increase in job performance.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and build trust every day.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Learning Zone - Everyday Action for Learning

Learning is key to leadership. It's a simple idea. However, we also know that learning is complex with many styles, approaches, and theories. It is easy to propose that learning is essential but how does one simplify the concept into everyday action.

Everyday action about learning recently came to me as I read Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can't Afford to Miss by author David Cottrell. Monday Morning Leadership (MML) is a short book of practical advice that is set as a story where a manager named Jeff becomes a student of leadership through weekly discussions and coaching with his mentor. Tony, the mentor, takes his student down a journey of sage and practical advice for leaders and managers.

Tony's advice throughout the story is solid and accessible. His advice is consistent with the insights offered here on Lead Quietly. However, no section of MML reasonated more than Cottrell's exploration of "the Learning Zone."

As leaders, it is easy to become stale. Cottrell cautions leaders to avoid becoming complacent within your comfort zone, a space that he proposes is a "forceful enemy to your potential." He proposes that you avoid complacency by entering the "Learning Zone."

Pick a door, any door...

Cottrell's Learning Zone is comprised of three rooms, the Reading Room, the Listening Room, and the Giving Room. These three rooms present an approach for everday action from the Learning Zone.

The Reading Room

Your everyday action that brings you to the reading room is simple. Read every day. When you commit 10 minutes per day, you will learn from over a dozen books every year. I'd propose that books are important but that a regular scan of the leading leadership and management blogs will also serve you well. My action plan is simple, set aside time everyday for reading.

The Listening Room
Listening is key to learning, leadership, and collaboration. Listening is inexplicably linked to learning, conversation and sharing which as noted by learning expert Jay Cross, become the "stem cells for learning." Your everyday action? Take time to listen and learn. Listen intently to every conversation.

The Giving Room
Give back by teaching and helping others succeed. By teaching others, you become more accountable for the approaches that you are teaching. Aristotle wrote, "Teaching is the highest form of understanding." Your everyday action from the Giving room? Take the time to give back by teaching other.

I like simple learning actions. Learn by reading, listening, and giving. With these daily actions, we don't need to think that learning has to be complex.

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to read, listen and give.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Influence, An Introvert's Perspective

I am an introvert and unfortunately, live in a world that tends to like heroes. But I treat it as a challenge. I feel that I can lead and influence without the power, charisma, or advantage that extroverts commonly seem to possess.

In the book Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy, book contributor Don Frederiksen, (I heard of that guy) provides six recommendations for introverts who want to quietly influence without leaving their introvert zone. The essential message; leverage your introversion. Use your natural tools to talk less but communicate and influence more.

  1. Be friendly. Say hi and bye. Don’t forget to smile. People will say yes to people they like.
  2. You are an expert in silence. Use it. A pause in your words adds powerful punctuation.
  3. Look people deeply in the eye. People will nod in agreement.
  4. Communicate on paper. Think of the times you go to meetings lacking an agenda? Influence the discussion by outlining your thoughts and distribute the paper as a discussion aid. And because you bring paper, volunteer to record and summarize. As Tom Peters says, whoever “writes the summary…wields great power.
  5. Follow-up fastidiously. Simply put, do what you say.
  6. Show gratitude, say thank you. Go a little out of your way with this simple message.

Influence doesn’t have to be loud. Influence can emerge from someone who is not the life of the party. Introverts can leverage their introversion to wield more influence. As Jonathon Rauch wrote in Caring for your Introvert, “If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place.”

Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy is a crowdsourced, collaborative effort of 171 contributing authors on topics such as influence, social medea, innovation and more. Proceeds of the book benefit the mission of charity:water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

charity:water is also a participating partner in Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.

I encourage you to purchase Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy. Your purchase today will bring improvement to you and the greater good.

Change.org|Start Petition

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly,


Monday, July 5, 2010

Would you cover your leader's back?

Would you cover your leader's back? And what was it that formed this bond and trust?

It's a complicated pair of questions that says much about the relationship that you may or may not have with your manager.

In contemplating these questions, I encountered a humorous test of leadership in a story shared by authors Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan in the book Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results

The test is similar to the test I identified in Leadership Acid Test where the test is based on a concept orginally inspired by Michael McKinney at Leadership Now. In my earlier post I wrote,
Pick a Leader with a title. If that Leader no longer had a title, would you still follow him/her.
The Katzenbach story is based on the tale of two very different Navel officers with whom Katzenbach served. Officer Inskeep was a straight-up, command and control officer. He led strictly between the lines. Officer Stewart was more informal in his approach, leading outside the lines.

The story describes the plan for a full-dress Admiral's inspection that included a sword salute by the officers when the admiral arrived on deck. However on the day of the inspection the captain announced that the officers would NOT do the salute. Neither Inskeep and Stewart were on the ship at the time of the announcement.

If you reported to Inskeep (the command and control officer) and knew about the sword announcement, would you tell him? His men didn't and his sword salute was not only the only one but the clumsy action also knocked the Admiral's hat into the water.

On the other hand Steward had been informed about the plan by his reports, they covered his back.

Would you cover your leader's back? Would your reports cover your back?

This makes for an interesting test of leadership and clearly highlights a key benefit of informal leadership cited by Katzenbach.

The "Cover your back" story is depicted in the video below. It is recommend.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and informally.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Magic of Showing Up

A Woody Allen quotation says,
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Like many, I generally chuckle when I see this quote. Maybe it's because the bar seems to low. Nevertheless, it's a quote that you see applied to many contexts including success, motivation, dedication, friendship, even love. Woody Allen in an MTV interview in 2008 seemed almost embarrassed about the quote when he said, "That thing has been quoted 20 million times. It's one of the least-witty things I've ever said."

A recent experience caused me to consider the magic of showing up. My team was approaching a deadline and I frankly had little to add to the project. Nevertheless, I showed up, to support, to eliminate distractions, to encourage focus. It was all that I could do. Did it have an impact? You can't really tell. Any impact was immeasurable. But the team was successful.

But I was curious so I sought out experts who had written on showing up and found several.

For example, leadership consultant and coach Tim Porterhouse concisely summarized the magic of showing up when he wrote in Leadership is Showing Up:
By Showing Up you send a message that says:
  • This is vital to me and the company
  • I care about your work - and I want to be part of it
  • I won't ask you to do something that I would not do myself
  • I want to lend a hand - no matter how small my contribution.
Even management guru Tom Peters added a twist to the notion when he wrote about the impact of showing up. He cited a modification that he sourced from the PersistenceUnlimited blog.
So increase you chances by 80%. Show Up!

The twist in the Allen quotation makes a compelling case for the magic of showing up.

Thanks for reading. Please show up and lead quietly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Newness Calls for Renewal of Principles and Values.

My current situation calls for renewal. Newness abounds.

I recently started a new job with a new company, new team, a new role, and new responsibilities. My daughter recently graduated from high school and planning and preparation for her new life at college is in full swing. My family's health is good, the best that it has been in years. That's a great new feeling. Finally, we just celebrated the first day of summer. The new season, and the newness of my current situation calls for renewal.

I'm not talking about major reconstruction. But it is a great time to revisit the values, rules, and guiding principles that I believe in. Some of these principles may have gotten lost during the recent busy and stressful season.

It could be a big task. However, I'd like to reach into my past and remind myself of my core principles through two of my previous posts.

Quiet Leader Commandments - a Redux

I originally presented this list of commandments as a simple list that requires no additional explanation. I believe the list still stands without elaboration.
  1. Always learning, always improving, always practicing.
  2. Stay balanced.
  3. Be resourceful, be a problem solver.
  4. Show vision.
  5. Be nice, be decent, be fair.
  6. Serve.
  7. Show gratitude.
  8. Communicate well.
  9. Listen always.
In this I believe! I feel renewed already.

Learn to Distinguish Yourself in 9 Simple Steps!

Another great list for renewal is cited in 2008 comes courtesy of author, consultant, and entrepreneur, Raj Setty. Beyond Code: Learn to Distinguish Yourself in 9 Simple Steps!. The eBook is available for FREE from Setty's web site.

It is a great list of reminders about how to set yourself apart. If you are looking to distinguish yourself, just reading the table of contents provides a motivating list of suggestions and reminders.
  1. Learn
  2. Laugh
  3. Look
  4. Leave a Lasting Impression
  5. Love
  6. Leverage
  7. Likability
  8. Listen
  9. Lead

As Raj explores each "l" item, he offers suggestions, insights, quotes, and an accountability assessment. Even if you feel that you have mastered the idea, Raj's reminders and assessment can bring new insight and renewal. The Amazon reviews on his printed book validate my sentiments; it is an overwhelming five-star selection. Did I mention that the ebook is FREE?

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and renew with me.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Lead like a statistician - without the math

If you are a fan and student of analytics and infographics, I hope you visit, subscribe and follow the work and discovereris of Nathan Yau and his Flowing Data blog. (Blog, Twitter) I am a data geek in my day job and appreciate the growing use of analytics and infographics as a means of communicating and making sense of data.

My interest in infographics brought me to the Flowing Data site and Nathan's collection of unique and informative visualizations. I'll share a couple of favorites before I get to the leadership message of this post.

A favorite blogosphere chuckle came with the post Data Underload #6 - Bed Head. Here is a snippet, check the post for the entire visualization.

In another clever application of infographics, Nathan represents familiar movie quotations in Data Underload #12 - Famous Movie Quotes. Visit the post to see the entire collection.

What about Leadership?

Nathan wrote a post on his Flowing Data blog entitled Think like a Statistician - without the math. In the post, Nathan describes informal and practical insights that he has learned about working and playing with data. He suggests that " the most important things I've learned are less formal."

The parallels to leadership struck me almost immediately. The Lead Quietly blog focuses on the informal, practical and "quiet" principles of leadership, collaboration, community, balance, and vision. One of my missions is to share the informal insights that I have discovered and validate those insights through links to other work in the leadership space.

Statistics and leadership both call for principled action and I found the overlap surprising. Let's review Nathan's five "statistical" principles with a leadership twist:

Attention to Detail
In data work, Nathan suggests that, "it's the little things that end up being the most important." You should be looking for outliers, missing data points, and inconsistencies.
In my view, the parallel leadership attribute is vision, the ability to sense and observe what is going on around you within your teams. I believe that as a leader you know the little details about the people around you. If you know about your colleagues children and spouses, this attention to detail will serve you well in building trust and community.

See the Big Picture
While attention to detail is important, statically speaking, Nathan encourages us to not get get "too caught up with individual data points or a tiny section in a really big dataset."

In leadership you also need vision to see the big picture. Leaders need big-picture vision to have an awareness of the of the people, skills, processes, and opportunities around you. I previously wrote about vision in Act with vision - the Vision of Quiet Leadership. See the Big Picture, it's a practical piece of advice for leaders and statisticians.

No Agendas
In statistics, Nathan describes the dangers of letting preconceived ideas influence the results of a study or experiment.
Leadership requires the same type of objectivity. There is a certain maturity required of good leaders that allows them to work without personal agenda. As I cited before in The Maturity and Balance of Quiet Leadership, maturity may be the basis for objectivity, patience, and humility exhibited by great leaders.

Look Outside the Data
To think like a statistician, Nathan proposes that the:
more you know about how the data was collected, where it came from, when it happened, and what was going on at the time, the more informative your results and the more confident you can be about your findings.
Whereas, he proposes context, context, context for better understanding of data, I couldn't help but think of mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness for a parallel concept in leadership. A quote from George Ambler from The Practice of Mindfulness on the Practice of Leadership blog proposes this context awareness:
When navigating through uncertainty, especially during times to rapid change, crisis or when facing novel situations the ability to be fully present is critical. This is because in these types of situations, “When faced with this kind of turbulence, mindfulness becomes even more important. You need more, rather than less, information, and it is generally more difficult to get. You need to leverage your strengths and find those people who are succeeding despite the disruptions. You need to stay calm.
Mindfulness allows you to establish awareness of your surroundings and understand the context, context, context of your situation.

Ask Why

Nathan states, " this is the most important thing I've learned, always ask why." For a blip in a graph, you should wonder why it is there.

I equate "asking why" to curiosity. Curiosity links directly to learning and passion.

Curiosity is a measure of your passion. In Curiosity as a measure of passion, I quoted Steve Roesler of the All Things Workplace blog who stated,
successful employees of every ilk display a never-ending curiosity that emerges as "passion" in a meeting room filled with people.
Effective leaders recognize the value of curiosity. They are driven to ask why?
The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity.
- Albert Einstein

Principles as a Compass
Principles guide action and clearly statistics and leadership are principled genres. As Stephen Covey writes in Principle Centered Leadership,
Correct principles are like compasses: they are always pointing the way. And if we know how to read them, we won't get lost, confused, or fooled by conflicting voices and values.

Thanks for reading. Mesh. Lead quietly and like a statistician.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top 150 Management & Leadership Blogs and so much more

I'm a fan of lists. I'm a huge fan of the list of the best management and leadership blogs that Jurgen Appelo compiled at the Noop.NL blog. It is much more than a blog roll of great blogs. Here is what you get:

It's a list of the top 150 leadership and management blogs that includes the best in the business. I could spend hours navigating from blog to blog to receive the best insight on leadership that the blogosphere has to offer. I'm also pleased because my humble and amateur efforts at LeadQuietly made the list (#123). I appreciate being on the edges of this community.

Because we can't afford to spend hours and hours navigating from blog to blog, Jurgen has also provided a link to the efforts of Jay Goldman at the Make Work Meaningful blog who supplies the list in an OPML file that can be imported into Google Reader. I was already following many of these blogs in my Google Reader but really appreciate the full list. For me, my Google Reader allows me to follow hundreds of blogs across a half dozen interests areas. It is essential for my daily reading.

You are already getting your money's worth but wait, there is more. Follow these top bloggers on Twitter by following the Twitter list that Jurgen compiled. Get the list from the post. Click the list URL and you are ready to follow the group. It's a big job to compile a list like this. Thank you, Jurgen.

And yet there is more to learn from Jurgen. In another post entitled How to Make a Top Blog List, he provides a detailed description on how this list was compiled. Reading this description of his algorithms is a great lesson in page rank, traffic rankings, Technorati Authority, and more.

Thank you, Jurgen. This effort demonstrates the best of the blogosphere. Its a real meshing effort.

Thanks for reading. Please Lead Quietly and Mesh.


Posted via web from Meshing Up

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ten Unwritten Rules of Communication - a good reminder

We all know that communication is a key element of collaboration and leadership. Communication and leadership are inextricably linked.  We don't need a reminder for this. 

At the same time, we also understand that communicaiton is an art with gads of variables and nuance.  It's the type of challenge that can benefit from a list of rules, guidelines, or reminders.

I found such a list from author and consultant Mike Myatt on his N2Growth Post Unwritten Rules of Communication.  Here are the rules and a summary of Mike's elaboration:

  1. Speak not with a forked tongue: Trust is key and  is best created by earning it with right acting, thinking, and decisioning.
  2. Get personal: There is great truth in the axiom that states: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  3. Get specific: Specificity is better than Ambiguity 11 times out of 10: Learn to communicate with clarity.. weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.
  4. Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways: The best communicators develop the ability to get the information they need while leaving the other party feeling as if they got more out of the conversation than you did.
  5. Have an open mind: I’ve often said that the rigidity of a closed mind is the single greatest limiting factor of new opportunities. In my opinion a leader takes their game to a whole new level the minute they willingly seek out those who hold dissenting opinions and opposing positions with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what’s on their mind. I’m always amazed at how many people are truly fearful of opposing views as opposed to being genuinely curious and interested. Open dialogs with those that confront you, challenge you, stretch you, and develop you. Remember that it’s not the opinion that matters, but rather the willingness to discuss it with an open mind.
  6. Shut-up and listen: No elaboration required. 
  7. Replace ego with empathy: When cador is communicated with empathy & caring and not the prideful arrogance of an over inflated ego good things begin to happen.
  8. Read between the lines:  Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know that there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by filibustering. In this age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind that they fail to realize everything to be gained from the minds of others. Keep your eyes & ears open and your mouth shut and you’ll be amazed at how your level or organizational awareness is raised.
  9. When you speak, know what you’re talking about: Develop a technical command over your subject matter. If you don’t possess subject matter expertise, few people will give you the time of day.
  10. Speak to groups as individuals:  Knowing how to work a room and establish credibility, trust and rapport are keys to successful interactions.

I'd recommend a full read of the post not only as a checklist for your own actions but to also help understand the approaches of the people that you work with daily.

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.


Posted via web from Meshing Up

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learning from the Age of Conversation 3 Authors - I'm Addicted

Last week when I posted about my participation as a contributor to the ebook, Age of Conversation 3, a challenge I made for myself was to visit the sites of as many contributors as I could.  From the start of this effort, I became addicted to the learning that was taking place. I immediately discovered new ideas, new tools, and great concepts from the AOC3 contributors.  It is an amazing group of writers, thinkers, and innovators and I wanted to learn and share my discoveries. Consequently, I started planning my AOC3 Learning Quest.

I wanted to accomplish three things in my quest. 

  1. Visit the contributor's web site and learn.
  2. Follow the author on Twitter.  I created a AOC3 Twitter List if you want to follow along.  Click to access.
  3. I wanted to share specific new discoveries at my other blog:  MeshingUp.com

Of course, being a data guy in my day job, I had to organize this information, keep some records, and keep score.   This link will take you to my  my AOC3 Learn Quest Dashboard where I keep track of my progress.  There is a lot of learning from my fellow authors.  

Thanks for reading.  Please Lead Quietly and remember, it's all about learning.




Posted via email from Meshing Up

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Humble Contributor to the Age of Conversation 3

The Age of Conversation 3 will soon be available. I am both humble and proud to be a contributor to the effort and want to express my gratitude and appreciation to Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton for pulling it together.

The authors list is below. Each of these thought leaders contributed a chapter to the effort. Some of the contributors are names that have been cited on Lead Quietly before. However, there are others that are new to me.

In the spirit of the blogosphere and in recognition of each contributor, I have set a personal challenge for me to visit the blogs or site of every single contributor. I'll post about the highlights that I discover.

As for my contribution, I wrote a chapter on influence for introverts where I identify six ways that introverts can have an impact with their teams without leaving the introvert zone. Stay tuned for more information about the Age of Conversation 3.

Adam Joseph

Priyanka Sachar

Mark Earls

Cory Coley-Christakos

Stefan Erschwendner

Paul Hebert

Jeff De Cagna

Thomas Clifford

Phil Gerbyshak

Jon Burg

Toby Bloomberg

Shambhu Neil Vineberg

Joseph Jaffe

Uwe Hook

Steve Roesler

Michael E. Rubin

anibal casso

Steve Woodruff

Steve Sponder

Becky Carroll

Tim Tyler

Chris Wilson

Beth Harte

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Dan Schawbel

Carol Bodensteiner

Trey Pennington

David Weinfeld

Dan Sitter

Vanessa DiMauro

Ed Brenegar

David Zinger

Brett T. T. Macfarlane

Efrain Mendicuti

Deb Brown

Brian Reich

Gaurav Mishra

Dennis Deery

C.B. Whittemore

Gordon Whitehead

Heather Rast

Cam Beck

Hajj E. Flemings

Joan Endicott

Cathryn Hrudicka

Jeroen Verkroost

Karen D. Swim

Christopher Morris

Joe Pulizzi

Leah Otto

Corentin Monot

Karalee Evans

Leigh Durst

David Berkowitz

Kevin Jessop

Lesley Lambert

Duane Brown

Peter Korchnak

Mark Price

Dustin Jacobsen

Piet Wulleman

Mike Maddaloni

Ernie Mosteller

Scott Townsend

Nick Burcher

Frank Stiefler

Steve Olenski

Rich Nadworny

John Rosen

Tim Jackson

Suzanne Hull

Len Kendall

Amber Naslund

Wayne Buckhanan

Mark McGuinness

Caroline Melberg

Andy Drish

Oleksandr Skorokhod

Claire Grinton

Angela Maiers

Paul Williams

Gary Cohen

Armando Alves

Sam Ismail

Gautam Ramdurai

B.J. Smith

Tamera Kremer

Eaon Pritchard

Brendan Tripp

Adelino de Almeida

Jacob Morgan

Casey Hibbard

Andy Hunter

Julian Cole

Debra Helwig

Anjali Ramachandran

Jye Smith

Drew McLellan

Craig Wilson

Karin Hermans

Emily Reed

David Petherick

Katie Harris

Gavin Heaton

Dennis Price

Mark Levy

George Jenkins

Doug Mitchell

Mark W. Schaefer

Helge Tenno

Douglas Hanna

Marshall Sponder

James Stevens

Ian Lurie

Ryan Hanser

Jenny Meade

Jeff Larche

Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher

David Svet

Jessica Hagy

Simon Payn

Joanne Austin-Olsen

Mark Avnet

Stanley Johnson

Marilyn Pratt

Mark Hancock

Steve Kellogg

Michelle Beckham-Corbin

Michelle Chmielewski

Amy Mengel

Veronique Rabuteau

Peter Komendowski

Andrea Vascellari

Timothy L Johnson

Phil Osborne

Beth Wampler

Amy Jussel

Rick Liebling

Eric Brody

Arun Rajagopal

Dr Letitia Wright

Hugh de Winton

David Koopmans

Aki Spicer

Jeff Wallace

Don Frederiksen

Charles Sipe

Katie McIntyre

James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw

David Reich

Lynae Johnson

Jasmin Tragas

Deborah Chaddock Brown

Mike O'Toole

Jeanne Dininni

Iqbal Mohammed

Morriss M. Partee

Katie Chatfield

Jeff Cutler

Pete Jones

Riku Vassinen

Jeff Garrison

Kevin Dugan

Tiphereth Gloria

Mike Sansone

Lori Magno

Valerie Simon

Nettie Hartsock

Mark Goren

Peter Salvitti

Thanks for reading. Please keep Meshing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Meshing Up

In January, I proposed that my themeword for 2010 was Mesh.

I was, and am still inspired by a Seth Godin ditty titled, What Matters Now (download the ebook). Lisa Gansky wrote a section titled Mesh that called for a change in how we relate to things in our lives. She called for us to reshape how we work, plan, embrace, and engage.

I liked the concept immediately and made Mesh my #themeword for 2010. I expanded the idea of mesh in my blog post. I am Meshing Up and as Gansky meshes, "Some things are best shared."

I am sharing my mesh on a new blog hosted at Posterous where I plan to share my discoveries and experiments. I have been intrigued by Posterous as a blogging platform for my mesh lifestreams. I like its email interface that seems to have the capability to receive just about anything, e.g. photos, text, video, audio, etc. that you send it's direction. I am still learning and experimenting. I guess you could say that it's a mesh!

The site name is, of course, MeshingUp.com. At MeshingUp I intend to explore the intersections of my mesh. I'm a data geek in my day job and have interests in data, information, analytics, learning, innovation, and of course, leadership.

I will continue to explore leadership here at Lead Quietly. But I invite you to come and mesh with me at MeshingUp.com. Let's get in a Mesh of trouble!

Thanks for reading. Please mesh and, of course, lead quietly.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Perils of Distracted Work - It should be illegal. I'm on a rant.

Call your Legislator, your Representative. Call the President. Let's rally the Tea Party, any party, its a bipartisan issue. The deadly impact of distracted work isn't getting enough recognition.

On the other hand, distracted driving is getting appropriate attention. The news that legislatures around the country are recognizing the dangers of distracted driving and passing legislation that would outlaw activities like texting, phoning, eating, and general fiddling is based on the same science that suggests that distracted work is equally perilous. The actions of our legislative bodies are well supported by research and science. There is danger in distracted driving.

However, I'm really talking about multitasking at work. And just like there are many who would adamantly brag about their ability to drive and use their cell phone, there are many managers who insist that multitasking is a prerequisite to today's demanding workplace. However, there is a cost and a danger associated with multitasking and it is not getting attention.

I'm on a rant here because I have been frustrated in my ability make the point that there is peril in multitasking. We know we have to multitask to succeed in today's environment. However there is a myth about multitasking not supported by research, science, and results.

Others are also meshing with this topic in agreement. Blogger Terry Starbucker in The Secret To A Lifetime Of Productivity - And Five Ways to Find It when he wrote that one of the five keys to is:
Reduce the multitasking - severely. Think about how hard it is to have a meaningful phone conversation while you are answering e-mail or Tweeting at the same time. Now add the critical task of prioritization on top of that. Tilt!! Our minds are a marvel of nature, but there not that good!

Further meshing of the concept came as I read Gary Woodill's post Stop Multitasking and Start Working on Workplace Learning Today blog where he cited a New York Times article Meet the Life Hackers. I could only laugh as the article noted that, "And each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task." Don't they know that many of us have work days that typically includes 3 to 4 hours of meetings with 30 or 60 minutes blocks of time between those meetings. The calendar image is my actual schedule for tomorrow and I don't think that it is unusual in my work.

Let's do some simply math. If you have 60 minutes between meetings to work on an ongoing task, you spend the first 25 minutes reacquainting yourself with your work. That leave's 35 minutes to focus. But 35 minutes assumes that there were no colleagues looking for you to return from your meeting and waiting to "GAM" you. (GAM is the acronym that I use to frame the outcome of when a colleague says those three magic words, "got a minute?")

I'm on an uncharacteristic Lead Quietly rant. I first brought up the challenges of multitasking almost exactly one year ago when I reviewed the wonderful book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by Dr. John Medina. In Brain Rules, Medina's cautions about multitasking. His approach is much more scientific in proposing that, in reality, the brain simply cannot multitask.

In fact, as I was searching today, I failed to find a single proponent of multitasking. But I'll keep looking. In the meantime consider two quotes from a PBS Frontline interview with Standford professor, Clifford Nass:

We have not yet found something that [multitaskers] are definitely better at than people who don't multitask.

we could be essentially undermining the thinking ability of our society....Multitasking is one of the most dominant trends in the use of media, so we could be essentially dumbing down the world.

I'm looking for opinions on multitasking via comments. Do you feel that your workplace encourages you to take on more and more tasks in parallel? Can you cite instances of successful multitasking. Perhaps most importantly, do you have recommendations that would help quiet leaders resist the demand for multitasking.

Thanks for reading. Please stay focused, keep meshing, and lead quietly.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good News for Quiet Leaders - Thoughts about your skills for the future

If you are a quiet leader and aspire to the type of leadership skills and approaches that we describe here at Lead Quietly, there is good news. These are exactly the skills that will allow you to thrive in the future. Your skills around community, collaboration, and learning will match perfectly to the skills you will need to achieve in our new networked world.

This notion was validated recently by a post on the Harvard Business Review blog by Bill Drayton and Valeria Budinich entitled Get Ready to Be a Changemaker. the post contains insightful descriptions of our changing world.

I have stated frequently on this blog that everyone can and should lead. Here is the one statement from the Drayton and Budinich post that first caught my attention.
We are transitioning from a world in which a small elite runs everything to a world in which everyone needs to be a player.

Drayton and Budnich propose that command and control leadership will not work in a complex world. Everyone must be a leader.
Fifty years ago, Detroit was the symbol of American ingenuity and prosperity. Henry Ford and his small group of managers did all the thinking and told everyone else what to do. This command-and-control approach works in a relatively static world where most tasks are repetitive — such as building cars on an assembly line. It does not work in today's fast-paced, change-is-the-name-of-the-game world; and it will not work tomorrow.
Autonomy is a among the best motivators and is needed to get the most from people. An organization needs to allow employees to be leaders.
Companies like Google and Apple are attracting great thinkers and doers — not because they promise to tell their employees what to do but precisely because they pledge to give them the autonomy to do what they are best at and to act as critical players no matter their position in the organizational structure.

So how do the quiet leader skills fit in. Consider this match.
To be effective in this new world, you will need to master the skills of empathy and teamwork, as well as leadership and driving change. You will need to know how to function in a world that is not a hierarchy but a kaleidoscopic global team of teams, with no boundaries between sectors and change that happens at an escalating pace.

My quiet leader recommendation is to continue to learn and grow in your quiet leader skills. Community, team, and collaboration may be the most important skills of all.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and keep meshing up.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Change is Inevitable, but it's sad when it happens.

“Change is inevitable. Change is constant."
Benjamin Disraeli
In the nearly three years that I have been blogging at Lead Quietly, there have been countless changes in the makeup of the blogosphere.

Yes, blogs come and go and most of this activity goes unnoticed. In reality, the loss of a single blog from among 126 million isn't worth mentioning. Unless it is a blog that you cherish.

I am saddened by today's "game over" announcement at Joyful Jubilant Learning.

I have never met or talked to Rosa Say but she has influenced my thinking immensely. It started when I cited her work in May 2007 in my fifth post on Lead Quietly titled, 12 Rules for Self Leadership. I was amazed that Rosa visited my blog on the same day and left a comment. At that moment I was hooked on the concept of blogging as a form of learning and community.

In the final post at JJL, Rosa asked us to share a favorite post. In her words,
Point to a post you fondly remember in our archives, and share what the reading of that post may have contributed to your learning.

In July 8, 2007, I posted "It's All About Learning" and in the link I cited 7 Wonders of Joyful Jubilant Learning, the JJL collaboration to assemble 777 learning links to commemorate the date 07/07/07. Nearly three years later, a review of the collaboration is still a great learning experience. Just as important to me, as a novice blogger at the time, this post introduced me to several great thinkers and communicators that I still follow today, including David Zinger, Joanna Young, and Phil Gerbyshak.

Thank you Rosa for leading and facilitating this important discussion. And know that I will continue to follow your efforts wherever it goes. It's all about learning.

Thanks for reading. Please Lead Quietly and keep Meshing Up

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bragging Quietly

We don't appreciate when people brag. We've all been in conversations where out of the blue we hear,

"My child just made the all-star team"


"I just bought a new ........"

and we respond by rolling our eyes.

On the other hand, there are other individuals in our lives where we might know the same information but it was presented in a manner that didn't have us rolling our eyes.

What is the difference? It appears that some people have mastered the art of bragging. What is the difference?

A review of the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog recently revealed a research study conducted by Dr. Nurit Tal-Or from the University of Haifa that provides an answer and insight to our question. Her research measured the impact of bragging approaches conducted in a study of over a hundred undergrads. The study offers "some insight into how to brag without coming across as big-headed."

The differences in approach came down to the simple notion of context. Quoting from the digest where Avi, a bragger and the study's subject, is bragging about his "A" grade on an exam,

The crux of it: context is everything when it comes to boasting. If Avi's friend raised the topic of the exams, Avi received favourable ratings in terms of his boastfulness and likeability, regardless of whether he was actually asked what grade he got. By contrast, if Avi raised the topic of the exams, but failed to provoke a question, then his likeability suffered and he was seen as more of a boaster. In other words, to pull off a successful boast, you need it to be appropriate to the conversation.

The research suggests a concept that we easily recognize. If you are boasting in context to the current conversation, you pass. If you boast "I bought a new (insert a favorite toy)!" without prompting or out of context, you will appear big-headed. Although, I am convinced that many of the hero-types in our midst might not mind appearing big-headed, big-headedness doesn't seem like a meshable, lead quietly type of posture.

Thanks for reading. Please keep meshing up and when you brag, keep it in context.


FYI: My #themeword for the year is Mesh.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My #ThemeWord for 2010: Mesh

I want to Mesh up in a big way!

I learned and was inspired by the work of fellow blogger Jim Harris when he posted My #ThemeWord for 2010: KARMA on New Year's day. He introduced me to the concept of a #Themeword as an alternative to a New Year's resolution.

The challenge is simple and yet challenging. Think of a single word that reflects your hopes and dreams for the year.

I agonized about this for days. My whiteboard is fully covered with #themeword nominations.

For awhile, I gave up on a single word thinking that I would need six words. I would cite the work of Rajesh Setty in his Life Beyond Code blog where he proposed a six word elevator pitch. I could make it work with six words.

A couple days later, my reading exposed me to Seth Godin's What Matters Now (download the ebook). I'm a fan of Godin. He has this ability to start a conversation that is insightful, relevant, and contemporary. In his ebook, he compiled the word ideas of seventy big thinkers including the likes of Tom Peters, Chris Anderson, Guy Kawasaki, Dan Pink, and more. I was mesmerized by the book.

On page 71 I found my #Themeword, Mesh.

Written by Lisa Gansky, the word immediately found meaning with me. Here are some highlights from her short work.
  • Some things are best shared.
  • Quality of life is moving distinctly away from what we own.
  • Access trumps ownership.
  • Mesh will reshape how we go to market, who we partner with and how we find customers.
As I connected with the idea, I found that expanding on Lisa's thoughts was easy.
  • Mesh suggests new levels of collaboration where every voice is welcome.
  • Mesh promotes learning and sharing.
  • Mesh suggest a balance of opinion and thought. Don't you wish the partisanship of Congress could be replaced with Mesh.
  • Mesh proposes great community, perhaps Seth Godin-like Tribes who share a passion.
  • Mesh seems consistent with our Mashup capabilities that combines technology, data, functions or ideas. Let's bring it all together.
  • Mesh brings an element of transparency. You can see through mesh. It is not about hidden process or decision.
  • Mesh might actually suggest a network that exists at the intersection of learning, sharing, collaboration, and problem solving. There could be millions of intersections in a mesh.
  • Mesh is a "we" not "me" approach to problem solving.
  • Mesh proposes action for the greater good.
My #themeword for 2010 is Mesh. I aspire to mesh and be meshed. I will try to be meshable. At the end of the year, I hope I can say, "I meshed up."

Interested in participating in the #themeword tradition? Follow these three simple steps:
  1. Think of a word that reflects your hopes and dreams for 2010
  2. Share your theme word with friends on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog
  3. Be sure and use the hashtag #ThemeWord
Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.