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:

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