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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leadership and Authority


Harvard Business Review (December2009) will be reviewed this week. Here's the SIXTH POST. From HBR Forethought: A survey of ideas, trends, people and practices on the business horizon:

To Be a Better Leader, Give up Authority: For years I have taught groups of executives and said, “If authority is the first card you play in a difference of opinion, you’ve lost the encounter.” In times of chaos, often “taking control” is a knee-jerk instinct. Avoid it and read them December HBR article on p. 22.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HBR December: When Profit is Not Good Enough

Harvard Business Review (December2009) will be reviewed this week. Here's the FIFTH POST.
From HBR Forethought: A survey of ideas, trends, people and practices on the business horizon:

Why Profit Shouldn’t be Your Top Goal. A survey of 520 businesses in 17 countries tested how employees thought of the company when CEOs cared only about profit: Not good. Turns out that when the CEOs balanced concerns of customers, the environment and the community, employees perceived the CEO as “visionary and participatory” and were willing to go the extra mile for the CEO.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

HBR December: Integrate or Partner?

Harvard Business Review (December2009) will be reviewed this week. Here's the FOURTH POST:

Don’t Integrate Your Acquisitions, Partner with Them (Kale, Singh, and Raman) We know from the research that about two thirds of mergers don’t go smoothly. Heck, 50% of marriages head south, so why expect better results when whole organizations climb in bed together. The authors’ early research suggests that rather than do a top down pogrom, treat it more like a partnership than a hostile takeover. They suggest that companies with more collaborative culture are likely far more suited to this approach and merger success. The authors used the 2005 Tata Chemicals merger with Brunner Mond in the UK as such a “partnering approach.” The authors supply a list of immediate steps, the first 100 days, and longer-term measures (see pp. 112-113).

HBR December: Integrate

Harvard Business Review (December2009) will be reviewed this week. Here's the FOURTH POST:

Don’t Integrate Your Acquisitions, Partner with Them (Kale, Singh, and Raman) We know from the research that about two thirds of mergers don’t go smoothly. Heck, 50% of marriages head south, so why expect better results when whole organizations climb in bed together. The authors’ early research suggests that rather than do a top down pogrom, treat it more like a partnership than a hostile takeover. They suggest that companies with more collaborative culture are likely far more suited to this approach and merger success. The authors used the 2005 Tata Chemicals merger with Brunner Mond in the UK as such a “partnering approach.” The authors supply a list of immediate steps, the first 100 days, and longer-term measures (see pp. 112-113).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crisis Communication: Tiger, are you there?

Harvard Business Review (December 2009) will be reviewed this week. Here's the THRID POST: Let the Response Fit the Scandal (by Tybout and Roehm): This is the article that Tiger Woods should have read before saying almosnt nothing to the press and instead letting guys like Leno and Letterman fill in the gaps.

My advise to Tiger would have been simple…and is what I teach at George Mason University to students about crisis media: Tell the Truth, Tell it all, Tell it NOW!

The authors refine it more into several steps, and it’s worth every CEO taking a quick look:

1. Assess the Incident: Think about how your key stakeholders (employees, customers, board, etc) will view the incident. Don’t operate in a management vacuum.

2. Acknowledge the problem: First do no harm—focus on the investigation that you’ll do quickly to get to the bottom of it…acknowledgement and speed of reaction is important. Wait too long and Jay Leno steps up with some of his own words of wisdom!

3. Formulate a Response: Deny it fast (within 24 hrs..my rule) if it’s false. If it’s true…explain and apologize, describe the punishment and/or any compensation that might be involved.

4. Implement the Response: Figure out the level of responder:, CEO, etc. and the tone of response. Mainly, do what you say you will do. If you say one thing but do the opposite or worse, nothing at all--the apology will be wasted, and you're worse off than ever.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

HBR: Understanding Innovation


Happy Holidays to all!

SECOND POST: Harvard Business Review (December 2009) will be reviewed this week.

The Innovator’s DNA (Dyer, Gergersen and Christensen). The authors tried to answer the questions: “How do I find innovative people for my organization? And how can I become more innovative myself?” To do this the authors launched a six-year study of creative entrepreneurs. They surveyed over 3,000 entrepreneurial executives and over 500 people who had started innovative companies. In addition, they studied 25 of the country’s leading entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and a host of other creative luminaries. Here’s the skills they found such innovators possessed:

1. Associating: Creativity is often about connecting two, seemingly unconnected things. Think Reese’s pieces! Steve Jobs has been quoted: “Creativity is connecting things.”

2. Questioning: The venerable management Buddha, Peter Drucker, put it best: “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question.” The authors suggest asking Why, Why not and What if. They also suggest imaging opposites and embracing constraints.

3. Observing: “Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies…” to get to new ways of doing things that lead the market.

4. Experimenting: Innovative leaders encourage their employees to take the road less traveled….to try out a side street to see where it takes them. They create an experimental culture, where it’s OK to try and fail…which leads to things like 3-M's Post-It notes!

5. Networking: Innovative leaders network with people from different domains to get maximum leverage as they create new products. The visit other parts of the country, other countries and attend conferences to find fertile ground for their inventions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Harvard Business Review (December 2009): Spotlight on Innovation


Harvard Harvard Business Review Briefs: December 2009

This month, the HBR spotlighted: Innovation. Pretty good idea, I’d say, as we end one crappy year for many companies. The best way to get out of a bad position is to invent a better one. Along with a suite of innovation articles, the Review covers some interesting research.

Hope you enjoy the overview this week and Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

ICF Conference: Happiness from Harvard!

ICF--FINAL Post: The International Coach Federation conference was great. Here's another presenter of particular interest to me and perhaps you:

Tal Ben-Shahar is a psychologist, author and also teaches the most popular course at Harvard on, of all things, happiness!

Ben-Shahar is a NYT best selling author of Happier: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life. His presentation, the last of the conference, was spellbinding as he rattled off research that showed for us to be happy, we need to start with what works in our lives, not what’s the problem in our lives. So in a relationship, don’t ask what’s wrong, rather what’s right. “When we appreciate the good in our lives, the good appreciates. When we don’t the good depreciates.” People who keep a Gratitude Journal are happier, more generous, healthier and more successful. Here’s a video of Ben-Shahar talking with John Stewart on TV.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Marilee Adams: How Questions Change Everything

ICF--FIFTH Post: The International Coach Federation conference was great. Here's another presenter of particular interest to me and perhaps you:

Marilee Adams is the author of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. She is also an executive coach and organizational consultant. Adams also founded the Inquiry Institute a coaching, consulting and educational organization. Her book explores how questions direct behaviors. In a sense, you are what you ask yourself. She teaches of audiences how to consider questions on either a Judger or Learner path, with two distinctly different outcomes for exactly the same problem. Here is a very short video that gives the very essence of her presentation on staring understanding with great questions.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ICF Conference: David Logan on Performance


ICF--FOURTH Post: The International Coach Federation conference was great. Here's another presenter of particular interest to me and perhaps you:

David Logan teaches at USC in their executive MBA program. David spoke on the Three Laws of Performance. Here’s some info from the ICF Website: “While most of us may not be aware of it, we have already created a future formulated upon our hopes, fears, dreams, expectations and life perceptions. Similarly, organizations have futures written by history, circumstance, culture, successes and failures. Join Dave Logan, as he cracks the code wide open on rewriting the future for breakthrough performance-for yourself, your clients, and organizations. Discover and apply the concepts behind the Three Laws of Performance, including:

• Why people do what they do-and what to do about it as a leadership coach.
• The behaviors of leaders that allow for breakthrough performance in their organizations.
• How one's "terministic screen" determines perception and action.
• Seven commitments designed to break performance barriers in conversations.
• Learning to craft a vision to promote positive outcomes by using descriptive vs. generative, or future-based language.
• How leaders can support a new platform of communication that will elevate and unify organizations.”

While footage wasn’t available on the Three Laws of Performance, here’s a sample video of David speaking at Ted.com about tribal leadership.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ICF Conference: Gertrude Matshe's Story


ICF--THIRD Post: The International Coach Federation conference was great. Here's another presenter of particular interest to me and perhaps you:

Gertrude Matshe is from New Zealand and a motivational speaker, coach, story teller and author. She tells her compelling story about her continent, Africa, in a way that is emotionally wrenching. From the program description of Gertrude: “She has been described as a vibrant bundle of African energy whose zest and passion for life inspires everyone she meets. Matshe’s story from growing up in Africa to starting a life over in a different country (New Zealand) and becoming a successful entrepreneur will prove that anything is possible if you have a purpose."

Here’s a video (not the ICF Conference but of great value) of Gertrude Matshe speaking.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peter Block on Community Building at ICF Conference

ICF--Second Post: The International Coach Federation conference was great. Here's another presenter of particular interest to me and perhaps you:

Peter Block and Community: Peter kicked off the opening session with over 1,200 present. Peter is the rock star of community building. His body of work has been around empowerment, stewardship, accountability and reconciliation of community. He really woke people up and asked us all to be honest with each other about why we came to the conference. Picture a group of over a thousand people broken up into groups of three sitting less than a foot apart (per his instructions) admitting that Florida was a great place to be, they wanted to get their certification points, it seemed like the right thing to do…and other very honest responses. The exercises that followed drew us all closer and more honestly to each other as we literally “built community.” Here’s a video (not of the conference) of Peter with his co-host. Barbara McAfee who sang (yep, I said sang)…several amazing and penetrating songs the made you think as much as tap your foot. Interview with Peter Block

Saturday, December 12, 2009

ICF Conference for Coaches

INTRODUCTION POST: ICF Conference, 2009: Every year the International Coach Federation members gather to learn, teach, and understand what’s going on in the world of coaching. This year, I attended the conference in Orlando, Florida recently and was amazed as I have been previously at the annual conference. This coming week, I’ll raise some of the highlights for me.

Your Next Move: Transition Coaching


FINAL Post: Review of Your Next Move (by Michael Watkins):

Transition Coaching: Without doubt, my eyes lit up when the author recommend strongly coaching for those involved in transition. While this is might be self-serving for me to raise in this review, I’ve seen this process help new executives accelerate their transition into a new organization by conducting entry/transition meetings with staff and the new leader where the staff identify what they want to know about the new leader and what they want the new leader to know about them—all conducted by a third party executive coach. The adjustment acceleration can be exceptional for the new executive

If you're thinking of getting promoted or changing your job, BUY this book and read it carefully. If you have employees whom you're getting ready to promote, buy a copy for each of them. Well worth their time and your sanity!

Michael Watkins is the go-to guy when it comes to job transitions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Your Next Move: Corporate Politics

SIXTH Post: Review of Your Next Move (by Michael Watkins): Getting Promoted--The Corporate Diplomacy Challenge. When even insiders get promoted to a new level, especially an executive level, they face a new challenge: Internal Politics. “A new leader can get caught in a deeply debilitating cycle…” in which there’s too much reliance on authority and commensurate negative reaction, an over-reaction and hardening of the new leader –followed by polarization and eventually rejection. If the newly promoted take on the philosophy that “I don’t play politics,” then prepare for the worst. In fact, they must prepare for agendas, alliances and relationships and all the complexities that all three bring. In short, think like a politician: Who will support your ideas, and who will not. What will it take to get something new off the ground. An do not ever think that even if it’s good for the company or if you’re the smartest person in the room that it’s ever a slam dunk. It’s more about people’s emotional reaction to you and/or the idea than the objective good or bad involved. If you want no politics, go live in a monastery—opps—there’s politics there too!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Your Next Move: Identifying Cultural Norms

FIFTH post: Review of Your Next Move:Identifying Cultural Norms. As people adjust to new companies or new divisions within their own companies, Watkins warns that they should probe cultural norms. 1)Influence—how do people get support for their ideas….look for trends; 2) Meetings—what’s the norm for how you act in them…what can and can’t you say; 3) Execution—when you do make a move, what’s necessary for success; 4) Conflict—do people avoid conflict or come at it head on; 5)Recognition—is it a Star or Team-player kind of organization…what leadership style do they value; 6) Ends vs Means—are there any unwritten rules about how you achieve results? If you do make the inevitable cultural transgression, Watkins recommends the 3R’s: Recognize (the mistake); Recover (Apologize—my word); Recalibrate (start over, wiser and more attuned).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Your Next Move: Onboarding

FOURTH post: Review of Your Next Move: The Onboarding Challenge: Watkins wrote extensively and exclusively in his previous book, The First 90 Days, which I reviewed in depth on my blog (just search for it). So, I won’t recreate those comments. However, I actually think this single chapter is an outstanding overview of that book. One analogy that he uses for new onboarding executive is that of immunology. Basically, the corporation is like a body and as an outsider approaches, it’s defenses go up or don’t. In some cases the corporate body over-reacts too quickly thus rejecting even good people. Sometimes it doesn’t react fast enough and bad outsiders get in and hurt the corporation...think Enron. The key is not to be labeled as “dangerous” too quickly, or you’ll never get a chance to do even good/needed things for the company.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Your Next Move: Eight Promotional Challenges

THIRD Post: Review of Your Next Move by Michael Watkins:
Watkins identifies eight promotional challenges: 1) The Promotion Challenge—moving on up and leaving your old job behind; 2) Leading Former Peers—assuming the mantle of authority and leadership and re-crafting relationships with former peers; 3) Corporate diplomacy challenge—As you move up the need for understanding internal politics is jugular; 4) The On-boarding challenge—coming from the outside into a new culture is one of the toughest of all moves to survive; 5) The International challenge—again because you will literally be entering a new culture, this is a tough transition, often complicated by language challenges; 6) The Turnaround challenge—grabbing the reins on an organization heading over the cliff can be stimulating and scary as hell; 7) The Realignment challenge—Sometimes the organization is in deep denial and does not want to change, which means they’re not exactly receptive to change; 8) The Business Portfolio challenge—when you’ve been promoted to head up a business unit that has components in different stages of needs—like juggling Jello. However, Watkins makes sense of each critical transition.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Your Next Move: The first few months

SECOND post: Review of Your Next Move: According to a survey of HR professionals, 70% agree that the first few months after a promotion determine ultimate success or failure at a job. In short, if there’s a bad few months, life gets tougher (vicious vs virtuous cycle). His advice in general: 1) Organize what you need to learn; 2) Prioritize your list; 3) Define your strategic intent/vision; 4)Assess and build your own team; 5)Plan your steps for success; 6)Secure some early wins; 7) Create supportive alliances.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Your Next Move: Surviving your next promotion

Michael Watkins has done it again with his latest book: Your Next Move (Harvard Business Press, 2009). A former professor at both the Business School and the Kennedy School at Harvard, Watkins scores a winner with his new transition book—which follows on the heels of his best seller The First 90 Days. With this new book, Watkins “officially” becomes THE guy when it comes to professional transitions. In fact, I think this book will get greater play than ...90 Days because it’s about all the most common types of promotional challenges such as, leading former peers, the international promotion/move, the realignment promotion, the turnaround promotion, and the on-boarding promotion. If you know someone either in the midst of a new challenge/promotion transition, this would make a great holiday gift. If not, just wait a year or two, and they’ll need it (transition is inevitable)! This week I’ll be reviewing Your Next Move in some detail in a series of posts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

HBR Briefs: Emotions in Business


LAST Post about HBR Briefs for November: “Why Repressing Emotions is Bad for Business” (Daniel Shapiro) A lot of leaders who have to make tough choices, especially in these uncertain times, think that they must divorce emotions from their communication style: WRONG. Shapiro’s research offers this bottom line: “Emotional investment can improve your relationships, increase trust, and promote satisfying, enduring agreements.” According to Shapiro, emotions [especially negative ones] arise from predictable concerns from a lack of: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role (change). He provides two brief but powerful examples of how people were laid off from two different companies. One layoff was done with respect, care and concern. The other, done unemotionally, cold, and uncaring. Take a guess at who threatened to sue the company!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HBR Briefs: Making Better Decisions

HBR Briefs 2009: “Make Better Decisions” Thomas Davenport points to the undisciplined nature of decision making in companies. Witness the decision to engage in sub-prime loans, among others. The author suggest a methodology of four steps: 1. List and prioritize decisions that need to be made; 2. Assess factors impacting each like who, what, how, etc; 3) Design roles, systems and behavior your company needs; 4. Institutionalize the new approach through training, data analysis, and outcome assessment. Also, check out the chart on p. 122 showing the benefits and cautions of old and new approaches to decision making.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HBR Briefs: Galvanizing Philanthropy

HBR Briefs (November 2009): “Galvanizing Philanthropy” Ditkoff and Colby argue that foundations and investors have to wrestle with the issues of Getting Clear (selecting strategic anchors like people, problems, values and beliefs and using them as guides to strategic planning); Getting Real (assessing the effort and time it takes to make a difference); and, Getting Better (regularly reviewing the entire funding strategy).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Community Relations and Social Media

HBR Briefs (November 2009): “Community Relations 2.0” (Kane, Fichman, Gallaugher & Glaser) in the November issue of the HBR.

This article tells us that social media has radically changed community relations. Now, within hours, even minutes Facebook, Twitter, and other social media can change the public’s view of your brand. The authors advocate a mandate to have a social media team. At last a cogent strategy! I especially like the outline on pp.48-49…check it out the detail. Until then, here’s the four major categories: 1. Develop a formal social media policy; 2. Monitor external and internal online communities; 3. Engage online communities; 4. Act as first responders.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Would Peter Drucker Have to Say?

HBR Briefs (November 2009) This month’s HBR issue honors legendary leadership guru Peter Drucker, who would have been 100 this month. “What Would Peter Say?” by Harvard professor, Rosabeth Moss Kanter (one of my favs) says that Drucker warned us about the outrage of executive pay and the future challenge of global competition. He always taught executives to establish a long-term vision and to steer toward it, especially in tough times. Their job is the long-term health of the company, not their own personal wealth. His caution would be self regulate or the government will step in and do it for you. On personnel, he said, “If I put a person into a job and he or she does not perform, I have made a mistake. I have no business blaming that person.”(Wow--there's a new concept in an old bottle!) There’s also a an republication of an 1980 article by Alan Kantrow—that still rings true and five essays by strong leaders influenced by Drucker, including Frances Hesselbein (legendary former leader of The Girl Scouts of America), A.G. Lafley formerly of Proctor and Gamble, and others.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Action Learning: The Coach's Role


This is the FINAL of several posts on Action Learning

So, consider: What if you told a CEO that you could show her/him a process that would solve his/her most difficult corporate problems AND would teach participants leadership and how to work together in collaborative, positive, enabling work teams. I think we all know the CEO’s likely response: Start this Action Learning NOW!

Over this past week, I’ve been providing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

The Coach: The catalyst of the group, the Coach stays myopically focused on the learning of the group—which actually helps the group grow and get better at what they do. Coaches are continuous improvers of the learning process. Reflection remains the Coaches key tool. The Coach asks groups to reflect about what they’re doing, how it’s working, what they’re learning, and other learning and leadership development questions. The coach can be an outsider or one designated member of the group--thus learning as they coach. Some questions that will illuminate the role of a Coach:

a. Why is someone (the Coach) only focused on learning?
--i. While the group must be focused on the problem, the Coach acts as observer, catalyst, and champion of learning—otherwise much learning will go unnoticed and never be internalized by group members. The Coach periodically (appropriately) stops the group and asks them to reflect on such questions as: How are we doing? What’s the quality of our questions…high, medium, low? Is everyone participating…yes or no? These questions, and many others cause groups to interrupt their activity to learn and become problem solvers and leaders.
--ii. Who can be the Coach? Anyone in the group or any outsider. The Coach should be taught the techniques of action learning, but anyone in the group can be shown the methods. In fact, rotating the process can help others to learn and appreciate the role and its value to continuous learning. Of course, trained outsiders offer their own objective value to any such endeavor.

b.Why questions as the primary method of the Coach?
--i. Questions cause reflection, which causes learning, which causes improvement at solving problems and growing leaders. That’s it short and simple. Questions are respectful, non-judgmental, and cause the group to think and speak.
--ii. Intervention—the Coach can intervene whenever s/he sees fit is one of the only two cast-in-stone rules of Action Learning. The other is questions only, statements made only in response to questions. This deference/power allows the Coach to keep the process within boundaries and to continuously monitors learning as well as results.

c. Why don’t coaches get involved in problem solving?
--i. The Coach’s involvement in the problem can show his biases and shit the group’s thinking. The problem solving can push out the learning and development, thus give up 50% of the value. The Coach would take her/his eye of the learning ball.

d. When do Coaches Intervene?
--i. Beginning. Coaches ask questions to orient the group. Does everyone know how Action Learning works? What exactly is the task or problem the presenter has laid out? Will you write down what you think the problem is so we can compare?
--ii. Middle: Throughout the process, Coaches merely need to condition the group by leaning in to stop the action and ask a question, or lean back to resume it. Questions at this point look like this: How are we doing as a team…OK or not-Okay? What have we done well so far? What could we do better? Is everyone participating?
--iii. End: The Coach ensures that the meeting ends on time and that team members reflect deeply on what happened and what action must be taken and by whom before the next gathering. Questions look like this: What have we learned? How did we do as a team? How can we improve as a team? What have you learned about yourself? What actions will you take before our next meeting?

Final Comments on Action Learning:

1.I can’t remember being as excited about a method since I learned how to be an executive coach. And frankly the fit is so synchronous that it’s amazing. I will find it hard not to recommend this process to every client and company I work with.

2.Having already used the process with clients, I can attest to its effectiveness and efficiency. And, the learning that takes place is palpable and every bit as important as the problem solving.

3. So, consider: What if you told a CEO that you could show her/him a process that would solve his/her most difficult corporate problems AND would teach participants leadership and how to work together in collaborative, positive, enabling work teams. I think we all know the CEO’s likely response: Start this Action Learning NOW!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Action Learning: Individual, Team and Organzational Learning

Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the SEVENTH of several posts on Action Learning.

Learning: Individual, Team and Organizational Learning:

At the core of Action Learning stands the very principles of learning and development. The individual participant learns by actively participating in the inquiry and action to solve the problem. The group learns as it faces the problem, answers questions, and adds to its knowledge base. The organization learns as group members spread the learning and inquiry process throughout. Thus, learning is leveraged throughout the company/organization.

Action Learning groups are SAFE places for Leaders to Practice. In professional sports, athletes practice 90% of the time and only play in contests 10%. However, in leadership it exactly the REVERSE….90% playing for keeps and only 10% practice. Action Learning shifts that equation in favor of providing a safe place to practice and learn. Some questions from the author:

a. How does action learning generate learning?

i. Using Kolb’s learning model, here’s the cycle:
--1. Concrete Experience: Group participants actually get experience by working on the problem. They also get experience when they take action (outside the group meeting) and bring back their experience to the group.
--2.Observe and Reflect: Participants learn inquiry and reflect on their own actions. The Coach also asks the group directly to reflect on decisions, actions, etc.
--3. Generalize and Conceptualize: Participants figure out how to apply the learned concepts to new problems. The Coach helps the group identify norms and principles that will help them in the future—transformational learning (Merirow, 1991).
--4. Test and Experiment: Participants pilot test their ideas for success and failure…both teach the group. The Coach helps the group reflects on what worked and didn’t and what the group learned (behaviors and values).

b. What are the competencies learned in Action Learning?

--i.Individual learning: You can’t change a system without changing yourself. Actions change the system and the actors. Key skills learned in the action learning process: reflection, decision making, systems thinking, active listening, self awareness, empathy, presentation and facilitation...to mention only a few.
--ii. Leadership Learning: Much of what’s learned in action learning follows the research and work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional and Social Intelligence: Self Awareness (self observation and understanding of strengths and challenges); Managing emotions (coping effectively with emotions like fear, anxiety, anger and sadness); Motivating oneself (emotional self control); Empathy (being sensitive to the feelings of others); Handling relationships (managing the emotions of others in the context of a relationship).
--iii.Team Learning: Teams learn the following—Shared commitments to solving problems; Clarifying problems;Willingness to work with others to solve problems and develop strategies; Courage to ask the tough question; Respecting others; Willing to learn and help others; Establish trust in the group.
--iv.Organizational Learning: Action Learning helps build a “learning organization quickly in a company or organization. Such a learning organization has 4 components, according to Marquardt:

1. Increased learning skills: groups develop learning skills by learning. The process is recombinant much like DNA…learning creates better, faster learning.
2. Transformed organizational culture and structure: Action learning groups act independently and democratically with a minimum of structure and hierarchy. They create new culture and values (inquiry, experimentation, etc.) along the journey…that infects and affects the organization.
3. Involvement of the entire business chain in the learning process. Action learning can and does often involved customers, suppliers, vendors, etc. in the learning process. Opening up the boundaries—makes possibilities much richer.
4. Enhanced capability and to manage knowledge: Action learning helps members learn and practice the following: acquiring knowledge, creating knowledge, storing knowledge, and testing and transferring knowledge.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Action Learning: Action Strategies

Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the SEVENTH of several posts on Action Learning.

Action Strategies: Here it is short and sweet: No action, no learning. Great Buddhist proverb: “To know something, but not use it, is not knowing." There are two general approaches to problem solving: the analytical and integrative model. With analytical model, there is only one right solution to the problem (remember the hammer/nail analogy). With the integrative model there are more than one, often a number of right answers. Systems (or integrative, holistic) thinking in contrast to linear thinking, spots patterns and alternative paths to solutions, rather than THE way. Here's just one of many questions the author asks: What is the quality of problem solving?
The four stages of problem solving:

1. Understanding and reframing the problem. Rushing in to answer a “symptom” not a real problem can just defer disaster—even precipitate it. The coach makes sure that everyone has the same question in mind before proceeding further. The coach asks all to write down their versions of the problem, with the presenter last. Only if they agree does the group move forward. Wonderful quote: “It is better to first put your finger on the problem before sticking your nose in it.” ~Anonymous.

2. Framing and Formulating the Goal: Once you have the problem straight, the group has to decide what to DO. Groups must have courage to tell the problem presenter what the group sees as the real problem and then fashion goals around what the group sees as critical. NOTE: “Focusing on the problem rather than the desirable future generates negative, overwhelming and dissipating energy. Focusing on the desired future, however, creates positive energy (Cooperrider, et. al., 2001).

3.Developing and Testing Strategies. After determining the problem and goal, groups have to look at strategies (what) and tactics (how to) solve the problem. Ask two questions: Is the action appropriate? Is it doable? Rather than brainstorming (a linear, Newtonian approach), the author suggest building on questions of the group, moving from chaos and systems thinking to solutions. Much more effective and efficient….less sidetracking. Multiple alternatives will be developed and need to be tested (pilots etc.) for their impact and leverage.

4. Taking Action and Reflecting on the Action: Groups will lose interest unless they take action. You can’t learn how to swim sitting on the shore only reading books about swimming. At the end of every session, the Coach will ask what specific actions will be taken. These actions should be recorded by the group and tracked. They should be SMART….specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time bound.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Action Learning Components: Questions and Reflection


Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the SIXTH of several posts on Action Learning.

Questions are the lifeblood of action learning—and all of coaching as well. Focusing on the right questions, not THE correct answer, is the magic of action learning. Such questions help surface divergent and very useful perspectives on the same problem to better define it accurately so it can be solved effectively. The author uses the analogy of the seven blind men and the elephant (each having a piece of the elephant without them all knowing they have an elephant and not six different objects). Questions also are “the glue that holds groups together.” Otherwise, when groups are TOLD by experts or forceful participants how it SHOULD think or act…the group can fall into chaos and rancor. Here’s how I would sum it up: A question respects another’s wisdom and knowledge and promotes cooperation—BUT—an unbending answer imposes opinion and fear, then anger. Here are just a few questions that Marquardt raises in this section of the book are:

a. Are we using open, reflective, and probing questions?

i. Key education researchers (Bandura, Knowles, etc.) believe that deep learning can only occur from reflection caused by questions.
ii. Questions lead to dialogue—a balance between inquiring and advocating. Keeping this balance is crucial to success.
iii. Keep questions are open ended. Ask Who, What, How questions…avoid “yes” or “no” questions.
iv. Ask affective questions: How do you feel about…?
v. Reflective questions: What do you mean….?
vi. Avoid leading questions: Wouldn’t you be better off saying no to that option?

b. Is listening attentive and open, or is it evaluative and inattentive?

i. Listening as we’re thinking of what we want to say cuts of the inflow of information.
ii. Waiting to talk is NOT listening!
iii. Keeping the mind open to options, instead of cutting options off too early leads to learning, tolerance, and team building. EVERYONE wants to be heard not just talked to.

c.Other questions posed by the author:

i. Are we viewing each other as learning resources?
ii. Are we open to new ways of doing things?
iii. Are new insights arising, and are people making connections with the diversity of questions and opinions being offered?

Note: The author asks a number of other very good questions in this chapter...so read the entire text. Well worth the effort.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Action Learning Components: The Group

Over this week, I’ll be presenting an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the FIFTH of several posts on Action Learning.

The Group: The Action Learning group has between 4-8 participants, who are willing to identify and work on a problem that doesn’t have either a simple or an obvious answer, rather a problem that will take work. Depending on the scope, complexity and type of problem or issue presented, the group members can come from the unit, company or even vendors or stockholders. The group helps re-frame the problem for the problem owner—thus allowing fresh insights/points of view and the opportunity to solve the problem when seen from a different angle—through the eyes of another. Remember this piece of sage advice I’ve used with students: When you look at the world like a hammer EVERYTHING looks like a nail! Here are just a few questions that Marquardt raises in this section of the book:

a. What are the criteria for membership in the action learning group?

i. Knowledge: One or more people should know something about or have experience with the problem.
ii.Diversity: Chose people from different departments and/or up and down the organization, depending on the nature of the problem. Perspective is important for complex problems. There’s a great story about how a pizza delivery guy helped solve a tough engineering problem.
iii. Selection: Should be done strategically focused on how best to solve the problem…not just based on who volunteers.

b. What about attendance and size? (I combined a couple of questions)

i. Attendance: The author is pretty clear…everyone meets at all of them. Commit up front to dates and times.
ii. Size: Four to 8 people.

c. Is there a balance between experts and non-experts? (Also, there are related questions about who should or not be involved)

i. Experts—for complex problems, organizational/group diversity is far more powerful than an “expert” who can intimidate members thus preventing them from asking “dumb” but very wise questions! Sometimes these experts push the notion that there is ONLY one solution to complex problem, and they’re more often wrong. Remember that groups ultimately have the power in tough, complex problems…not experts…and there are multiple ways to solve problems. For example, no two professional golfers putt exactly the same way.
ii. Problem Presenter: Should present a problem that is vital to her/him (something that needs solving) and be willing to ASK for help (not always so easy). Present the problem in a clear and concise way. Too much detail can bog down or side track the group. S/he must answer honestly and directly all questions and not be afraid to ask the group tough questions.
iii. Action Learning Coach: Concerned more with group learning and development than problem solving. The group solves the problem; the Coach focuses on what’s learned along the journey. Thus the name Action Learning. The Coach handles the coordination, admin issues, even connection to top management, or problem presenter if not present.

d. Other key questions in this segment of the model:

i. Do we have members from outside the organization—customers, suppliers, dealers, other organizations?
ii. What is the level of accountability and responsibility for the group’s results?
iii. What access to outside resource people will be available?

Note: The author asks a number of other very good questions in this chapter...so read the entire text. Well worth the effort.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Action Learning Components: The Problem

Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the FOURTH of several posts on Action Learning.

The Problem (project, challenge, opportunity, issue or task).

As humans, we all respond to problems—especially if they belong to us, or if someone asks for our help. The difference with Action Learning is rather than start by giving advice, we start by asking questions and finding out what the real problem is. Albert Einstein once said to Reg Ravens (the Father of AL): “If you think you understand the problem, make sure you’re not deceiving yourself.” Here’s a conversation between two geniuses and note the caveat: Don’t fool yourself! Often times defining the problem takes the most time. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of energy solving exactly the wrong problem. Here are just a few questions that Marquardt raises in this section of the book:

a. Is the problem significant and important to the organization and/or the individual?
--Remember tough, critical problems raise the stakes, the excitement and the commitment to solve them. Also, the more urgent the problem, the better.

b. Is the problem within the scope, feasibility, and understanding of one or more group members?
--Scale and capacity work here. Is the problem within the capacity of those trying to solve it? Everyone doesn’t need to be an expert, but should have some experience with the problem available to those working to solve it.

C. Will the group or a member of the group have authority to take action?
--Critical question: If the group feels that their action may not be implemented, they can lose energy and engagement, which can lead to group/team disintegration.

d. Do we acknowledge that the presented problem may not be the real or most important problem for the group to solve?
--Researchers note that the initial problem presented is RARELY the most critical one. And only after discussion about the original question does the REAL key problem emerge.

Note: The author asks a number of other very good questions in this chapter...so read the entire text. Well worth the effort.
Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the SECOND of several posts on Action Learning.

Action Learning is a problem solving, team building, and leadership development method…all wrapped around a single method. In short: You learn more by asking questions and listening, than by telling. One of my old professors said, “God gave you one mouth and two ears, so you could listen twice as much as you speak.” Many, many times my wife has reinforced this concept with me! The basic premise of Action Learning posits that 4-8 people working on a problem—if they ask (and respond to) questions to prompt thought in the problem owner—can solve most of our toughest problems. In the process, participants learn a lot about leadership…not the least of which are the powers of inquiry, respect, problem solving, and listening. Action Learning consists of 6 components: Problem, Group, Questions, Action, Learning, and Coach.

This week we’ll explore each one of the six discussed in Marquardt’s book.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Action Learning

Over this week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Optimizing the Power of Action Learning: Solving Problems and Building Leaders in Real Time by Michael J. Marquardt (Davis-Black Publishers, 2004). CEO’s and Leaders—put this book on your MUST BUY list.

This is the FIRST of several posts on Action Learning.

Besides having one of the longest titles in publishing {Smile} Action Learning (abbreviated for obvious reasons), will be a transformative read for anyone who takes it seriously. It certainly has been for me. It’s like I have rediscovered the obvious…that people learn best when they are engaged and the best way to engage them is to ask questions. Just ask Socrates!

Action learning has been around since the 1940s when Reg Revans physicist, turned management guru, used this technique in England when dealing with the coal industry. Michael Marquardt has not only been a devotee but now is THE Action Learning guru of today. A professor at George Washington, Michael leads a group call the Global Institute for Action Learning. His book will be reviewed this week.

Buy it, try it (action learning) and live by it—great stuff indeed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just-Ask Leadership: The final two chapters


Over the next week, I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009).
This is the FINAL of several posts on Just Ask Leadersship.

Just-Ask Leadership: The final two chapters revolve around:

a. Create Better Decisions: Getting the right answers by asking the right questions. Here’s a few questions the author asks and takes a swing at: (Context) Who’s decision is it? When should I pick up a shovel and pitch in? In a crisis, is it better to ask or command? (Clarity) How does dissonance point to problems and opportunities? How can I seek clarification without being judgmental? What questions didn’t I ask? (Objectivity) What causes people to shut down and disengage from conversation? What should I do when I encounter conflicting data?

b. Motivate to Action—Asking for success. Great Jack Welch quote: “Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders [but doesn’t cross the line] of skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with actions.” Here are some great questions in this section: How do I generate a sense of urgency? What would you carve your name into next to the words [I] made this….? How can shared responses energize my coworkers? When should I use How and What questions? What is the difference between challenging and intimidating questions?

c. Final word from one of my favorite guys, Albert Einstein: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Build Unity and Cooperation—Creating a Culture of Trust


Over the next week I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009).
This is the FOURTH of several posts on Just Ask Leadersship.

Build Unity and Cooperation—Creating a culture of trust.

The author argues that if leaders remain the answer givers, not the seekers of truth, the results can be that people lose faith and trust in the leader, which ultimately hurts or destroys the organization. Leaders need to trust the wisdom of the group—when directed at the organization’s best interests. Respect the opinions and ideas of others in order to get their respect, honor and buy in. Heed this advise to give and get respect: LISTEN….LISTEN…LISTEN. Here are a couple of questions from this chapter:

a. How do I get everyone to contribute?

--ASK THEM. A simple answer but it’s not so easy to implement. There are technologies available these days to help that (Turning Point) and others. You can also, have a third party coach collect the data and report it back to you. You can simply pass out index cards and ask for ideas and or solutions. Pick someone from the group to collect them and read them back to you. If you want direct, honest, trusted feedback, start by asking for it.

b. How do I align each employee’s needs with the needs of the organization?

--The author describes what we all know: People want to work they way that they like, not your way. Give them a task that they agree on and believe is both important and doable, and get out of their way. Don’t be like the impatient gardener, ripped up by its roots the young plant to see if it were growing! Ask followers periodically to review the mission, values and vision to see if they agree with them. Fine tuning the organization is not only helpful but healthy for continuous growth and prosperity.

c. Other questions asked in this chapter include (along with neat stories, research and anecdotes): If I have a better idea, should I share it with my team? Why am I the only one who talks in meetings? How can I get everyone to contribute? How can storytelling build unity?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ensure Accountability—Increasing Team and Organization-Wide Performance


Over the next week I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009). This is the THIRD of several posts on Just Ask Leadership: Ensure Accountability—Increasing Team and Organization-Wide Performance

a. Getting co-workers and employees to solve their own problems, the author would argue, is important, no vital, to a successful organization. Setting up he CEO as THE champion knowledge oracle is not only unwise but short lived. Hero-based cultures only last as long as the CEO is right and erodes quickly in fast-changing cultures like that of the 21st century. E.G., how many CEOs know much about social media—and how big is that becoming in our society! Here are a couple of questions from this chapter:

--How often should I schedule performance reviews?

i. Here’s a sequence that moves the monkey off the boss’s back and on to the employee. A couple of days before a scheduled review, ask the employee to provide the list of her goals and detail the progress on each. At the meeting, ask how well the employee did at achieving the goals. If she met a goal, celebrate the win. If she did not reach a goal, ask her to tell you what was the root cause, what got in the way? Leaders should NOT provide answers but probe with questions and then ask the employee to establish an action plan, deadlines and set a follow up meeting. The more severe the problem, the more frequent the follow ups.

--How can I reduce the fear of failure? [Taken from Major General Dick Newton’s (Air Force) advice, the author introduces a German military process of the 1800s that was very successful. Translated it means “mission tactics.”]

i. Mutual trust is based on personal knowledge of leaders and subordinates.
ii. Training and organization of the force and decentralization…ground-level decision making.
iii.Willingness to act…even in the face of potential failure.
iv. Simple concepts (Keep it Simple—Kis principle). Finally, the author notes that it was not failure of an action that the Germans would punish, but failure TO ACT. Not bad for building trust in an organization: Allowing experimentation.

-- Other questions asked in this chapter include (along with neat stories, research and anecdotes:

Who’s to blame—the employee or the job description? Are my team leaders leaving a trail of frustrated people behind? How do I get coworkers to stop repeating the same mistakes? What am I afraid of losing? There are a total of 12 questions asked in this section. Check them out if you’re interested in leveraging your leaders to lift much heavier issues and opportunities in front of them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Improving Organizational Vision

Over the next week I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009). This is the SECOND of several posts on Just Ask Leadership.

Improve Vision: Gaining insights from all levels of the organization.

a. Improving vision for an organization always starts with looking out at the ideal state: All things equal, in a year or two, where do you as a leader want to be? The author wants you to climb up on the mast of your ship and look out at the opportunities and threats. He also asks a lot of questions and gives some good answers based on his experience as a both a successful business man and executive coach who’s seen his own share of success and failure. So here are one or two questions he poses in each major section of the book with a taste of his observations:What are my values? AND Are my values alignment with the four core human values?

i. OK, so I combined a couple of questions here! But discovering those core values we hold dear is important. You have to start with an inventory of what are the values you (and your leadership team) hold closest. The author talks about the importance of inventorying your own set of values. He also asks about alignment and then quotes a study by Harvard Professors, Lawrence and Hohria in their article In Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. The authors identify four core human drives: To acquire (food, status, power); to bond (for reproduction, social interaction, and protection); to learn (to accumulate and transmit knowledge to others); and to defend and protect ourselves (by flight, fight, or freeze). If your core values don’t connect with any one of these, it’s likely you’re out of balance.

ii. Other questions asked in this chapter include (along with neat stories, research and anecdotes) : Are our values as strong as our profits? Is there a gap between our stated values and our operating values? What is our organization’s culture? Are my coworkers aware of the importance of their work? There are a total of 18 key questions the author asks of leaders. Worth checking them out and his response to those questions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions


Over the next week I’ll be presenting an in-depth review of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Ask the Right Questions by Barry Cohen (McGraw Hill, September 2009). This is a book worth buying and discussion with both senior and emerging executives.

This is the FIRST of several posts on Just Ask Leadership.

Introduction: If you have to give an answer or ask a question, just about any executive coach worth his or her salt would suggest asking the question. One distinct problem with very successful people is that they think they already know the answers…all of them! Just ask them. Think of question-based leadership—NOT—answer-based leadership.

Marshall Goldsmith (leading coach in the US, best-selling author, and the fellow who wrote the foreword to my book on coaching) would not only agree but underline that statement in red letters. By asking questions, leaders learn what others are thinking and by doing allow them to grow. Cohen covers 5 key areas of leaders by asking—then answering a dozen or more questions about the following areas:

--Improve Vision—Getting Insights form All Levels of the Organization
--Ensure Accountability—Increasing Team and Organization-wide Performance
--Build Unity and Cooperation—Creating a Culture of Trust
--Create Better Decisions—Getting the Right Answers by Asking the Right Questions
--Motivate to Action: Asking for Success

Over, the next week I’ll cover all five of these areas—and give a few of the many examples Cohen provides.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HBR October: Turning off the Blackberry


Harvard Business Review: This week, I’ll be reviewing the highlights of the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. Worth the read if you’re interested in managing risks in an uncertain economy. Suggest subscribing, especially for senior, strategic teams. Here’s the FINAL in a series of posts:

Making Time Off Predictable
by Perlow and Porter

“24/7” and “Blackberry” have become synonymous and perpetuate a vicious cycle of being always “on" and available. Research by the Boston Consulting Group says that imposing strict rules about time off can make employees even more efficient. Also, merely talking about how to take time off generates a healthy dialog in an organization. In their research, the authors compared typical teams with experimental time-off-oriented teams in categories ranging from “job satisfaction” to “value delivery.” And the experimental teams scored higher... in all criteria.

So, I’m taking the rest of the day off!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

HBR (October): About Mergers

Harvard Business Review: This week, I’ll be reviewing the highlights of the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. Worth the read if you’re interested in managing risks in an uncertain economy. Suggest subscribing, especially for senior, strategic teams. Here’s FOURTH in a series of posts:

Mergers That Stick by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

In recovery, mergers look like bargain basement acquisitions, but buyer beware! Without a heavy investment in social integration and motivation, many such mergers will turn out to be costly losses. On the other hand, taking time and money to respect the purchased company, its people and systems can pay off. Example: French-based Publicis bought Saatchi and Saatchi and adopted their (S&S’s) operating system in what is called a “reverse acquisition.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HBR: Review of October Issue

Harvard Business Review: This week, I’ll be reviewing the highlights of the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. Worth the read if you’re interested in managing risks in an uncertain economy. Suggest subscribing, especially for senior, strategic teams. Here’s THIRD the in a series of posts:

How GE is Disrupting Itself by Jeffrey Immelt, et al.

Reverse Innovation is GE’s new strategy. Instead of developing products in the US and then exporting them to, for example, China and India—GE is now doing the reverse. Using Local Growth Teams (LGT’s), GE now develops innovative and cost effective products in robust-market countries like China and India and then importing them into the US—reverse innovation. If not, Immelt feels that new global competitors will take away market share from GE. At the same time, low cost, effective solutions are rolled out for these countries and the US as well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

HBR: Spotlight on Risk

Harvard Business Review: This week, I’ll be reviewing the highlights of the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. Worth the read if you’re interested in managing risks in an uncertain economy. Suggest subscribing, especially for senior, strategic teams. Here’s the SECOND in a series of posts:

Spotlight on Risk

1. HBR Roundtable: Editor interviews 6 prominent experts in enterprise risk management answer a number of key questions like: Did new tools for assessing risk give us a false sense of security?

2. Mapping Your Fraud Risks by Bishop and Hydroski The authors argue that boards and senior management should request analysis of potential fraud/risk maps. The tool used has as a y axis = significance and x axis= likelihood.

3. The Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management by Taleb, Goldstein, and Spitznagel Managers make six routine mistakes—they try to study the past, disregard advice about what not to do, use standard deviation to measure risk, fail to recognize that math equivalents can be psychologically different, think there’s no room redundancy if being efficient. Note: Taleb is the author of The Black Swan (about the unpredictability of major change events).

4. Making the Financial Market Safe (A conversation with Robert Merton) Merton won the 1997 Nobel Prize for economics by developing a new method to value derivatives—one of the assumed culprits of the 2009 recession. But Merton say “no.” He says that derivatives are not THE problem—only a tool for good or bad. In this recession, I’m thinking bad.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Harvard Business Review (October 2009): Spotlight on Risk


Harvard Business Review: Next week, I’ll be reviewing the highlights of the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. Worth the read if you’re interested in managing risks in an uncertain economy. Suggest subscribing, especially for senior, strategic teams. Here’s the FIRST of the coming week:
Spotlight on Risk:

This month in the Harvard Business Review (October 2009), the editor focused on risk in business as we climb out of a recession. Editor Adi Ignatius tells of a conversation with famed investor George Soros. In that discussion, Soros was asked to comment on whether or not sophisticated mathematical models mitigated risk. He said, “I don’t believe that—I don’t understand any of it, and I don’t think anyone else does.”

Risk and incentives can be an unwise union. For example, tying CEO incentives to quarterly returns can produce short-term gains but unwanted long-term consequences. Read the next post as the articles on risk are briefly summarized.

Friday, October 23, 2009

FINAL: Acton Mastery—Leading Through Coaching

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves.

This is the FINAL of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Acton Mastery—Leading Through Coaching

a. Leaders need to be flexible and adaptable and to be available. Teachers, leaders, coaches have existed since man asked the first question of another person. Action mastery steps are Awareness, Commitment and Practice.

b. Action Awareness: Become self aware—emotionally and socially intelligent. 360’s work. Also, ask people to give you feedback. You must be willing to hold a mirror up to your own face and not blink.

--Great book....buy it and share it with people you care about.

c. Building Commitment: Boldly stepping up to a challenge needs to become our default—not worrying about failure. Best quote of the book (and there are MANY great quotes in this book): “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” –Calvin Coolidge

d. Practice: If practice improves us, then coaching and follow-through perfects us.
i. Great study from Zenger, Folkman and Sherwin. Companies typically invest 10% of their resources in Phase I of development or Prework; they invest 85% in Phase II or Leaning/Teaching Events; and 5% in Phase III or Follow up and Coaching. However, learning events followed up by coaching culminated in a 73% improved result over training alone!
ii. No wonder that 60% of corporate leadership programs include coaching. Somebody’s starting to figure it out!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Being Mastery: Leading with Presence

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves.

This is the TENTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Being Mastery: Leading with Presence

a. I spent more time in this shortest chapter because I spend so little time thinking about being. I suspect that’s true for many of us.
--Great Quote from Albert Einstein: “The only two ways to live your life…As though nothing is a miracle…or as though everything is a miracle.” Profound insight by such a miraculous man in our history.

b. Being—just being helps us be who we are. The unscripted you is usually more interesting, responsive and playful than the button-down actor within.

c. Meditation and being alone help the subconscious work at its best. In a kind of hands-free environment, your mind is allowed to work om its most powerful state: the unconscious mind.

d. Inner calm makes outer interaction easier and more fluid, attracts others to us, solves tough problems, balances life and much more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Resilience Mastery: Leading with Energy

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves.

This is the NINTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Resilience Mastery: Leading with Energy

a. Manage Your Energy, Not Time
i. HBR article: Time is finite…energy is infinite.
ii. We get energy from four sources: body, mind, emotions, and spirit

b. Time Management focuses on scarcity—limited resources, productivity, goals and outcomes. Thus, time management becomes an external, limited engine for energy.

c. Energy Leadership focuses on abundance--passion and purpose, engagement, synergy (multiplying energy), and leadership of others. Thus, energy leadership becomes an internal, unlimited font of energy.

d. Healthy 100-Year Olds: Research shows they have four common traits:
i. Optimism—more future than past orientation.
ii. Engagement—they dive into life.
iii.Mobility—they remain active.
iv. Adaptability—they like to learn and change to meet current needs.

e. Focus on activities that build the four sources: body, mind, emotions, and spirit—reading, a fitness regimen, a good friend to listen to you and meditation or just being alone to…to simply be alone. Some signs of having resilience (many more in the book): Smooth, abundant energy, optimism, creativity and innovation….

Change Mastery: Leading with Agility

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves.

This is the EIGHTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Change Mastery: Leading with Agility

a. Change is difficult but necessary.

i. Studies from the Center for Creative Leadership and Lomiger International demonstrate that leaders must deal with complex issues and tolerate ambiguity: Deal with change.
ii. Leaders must collaborate more, nurture relationships, allow others to participate in management and leadership, adapt to change, and take risks.
iii. “Things do not change; we change.” –Henry David Thoreau.

b. Change = Agility--takes place from the inside out.
i. Change causes resistance. Note that 50-75 organizational change fails. Same stats for personal change…smoke cessation—50-75% fail.
1. Outside-in approach does not work. Pushing down change meets with visceral resistance.
2. Inside-out approach works: focus on new idea and creating a personal map of what world will look like; create an open environment to talk about the change; give people time and space to adjust; leave the past behind and focus on the future.
ii. “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” –Aldous Huxley

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interpersonal Mastery—Leading Through Synergy and Service

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves.

This is the SEVNTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Interpersonal Mastery—Leading Through Synergy and Service

Service to Others

--Leaders serve others. I believe, and think Cashman would agree, that great leaders first serve the needs of others. Further, that great leadership is creating value for others…all the stakeholders.

--Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best in this quote: “Life’s most urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Interpersonal Mastery—Leading Through Synergy and Service

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the SIXTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Interpersonal Mastery—Leading Through Synergy and Service

SYNERGY

a. Research: Several studies show that the most competent leaders are often not the best leaders because competence at the expense of caring (my word) falls hollow on the ears of others. Cashman states the equation as follows: “Results competencies plus interpersonal competencies equals top leadership performance.”

b. Relationship—a bridge to creating value in an organization.

--Study: In a massive study of over 19,000 people who left organizations. The majority of bosses (85%) claimed they left for more money and opportunity. The majority of people who left (80%) said they left because of poor relationship, development or coaching from a boss!

--Trust: Leaders must give up control for trust. Trusting people to do the right thing remains one of the most difficult activities of even the most competent leader, and yet it is this leader-based trust that gives teams permission to do the right thing.

--Appreciation: Leaders who can appreciate others will develop strong, lasting bonds. In fact, one researcher, John Gottman (quoted often in Blink and other books), predicts marriages that fail found that when a 5:1 ratio of positive appreciative comment to criticism existed that marriages thrived. Further, he found that in a 1:1 ratio of the above criteria (positive to negative comments), marriages ended in failure. Learning to appreciate what people bring to the relationship, team or organization is critical to success.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Personal Master: Your Core Purpose

Leadership from the Inside Out remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how to become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the FIFTH of the series of my posts about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition) by leadership guru, Kevin Cashman.

Purpose Mastery—Leading with Purpose that comes from the intersection of core talents and core values.

Core Purpose: When leaders discover their real purpose in life—the intersection of core talent and values, the world opens up to them.

--Core purpose boils down to this: How will I live to make a difference in others?

--What is your true north indicator? What is your call to service? What do you bring to the game above all else? For me that came to boiling it down to a single word: catalyst...inspiring people to be better at whatever they strive to be. What’s your word to describe your true north…your key purpose in the lives of others?

--If leaders truly do create value in the lives of others….then core purpose stands at the top of the priority list. Know your core purpose and the world opens up in magnificent ways. You will truly feel that you’re “in your own (authentic) skin.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Purpose Mastery: Core Talents and Values

Leadership from the Inside Out remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how tob become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the FOURTH of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Purpose Mastery—Leading with Purpose that comes from the intersection of core talents and core values.

--Core Talents: Our core talents are the activities that energize us. When you’re truly in the “flow” or whenever and wherever work seems to fly by and you feel as if you could do it non-stop…there you’ll find your core talent. When you’re “in the zone” enjoying the very activity itself—you’ll find your core talent. Ultimately, if you are ever lucky enough to discover a profession that you’d do for free, because you love it, you have discovered your core talents. It’s a wonderful place to live—happy, strong, fulfilled.

--Core Values: These are the underlying beliefs and values that we stand for as a leader. We have we been taught these values—either through success or failure—and they have endured and become part of our being. Discovering these is a soul-searching exercise, sometimes difficult to face.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Personal Mastery: Authenticity

Leadership from the Inside Out remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how to become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the THIRD of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Personal Mastery—Leading with Awareness and Authenticity

Authenticity: To be authentic, leaders have what Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence) calls self awareness and self regulation as well as awareness of others and mastery over interpersonal relationships. In short: Know self, first, then know others. For Cashman a couple of major points jump out:

--We lead both by character and coping and of the two, character is the more lasting and revealing. Leading with character we give off authenticity, trust, openness, courage and compassion. In a sense, we become vulnerable and ironically, more human.

--When we lead by coping—dealing with emergent issues that jump up at us—we lead out of a need for image, safety, security, comfort and control.

--While both have their place in a leader’s repertoire, character is the better place to begin any leadership relationship.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Personal Mastery: Awareness

Leadership from the Inside Out remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how to become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the SECOND of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Personal Mastery—Leading with Awareness

Awareness: At all levels of leadership, if people don’t develop, they stop advancing. And the place to start is with awareness of who we are. “What we believe, we become.” So, reaching inside, in the middle of ourselves and asking, “Who am I?” is critical for any leader. While that sounds overly lofty, even philosophical, it makes a huge difference.

--Example: Take a leader who’s very competent and believes s/he knows what’s best.That belief propels such a leader to move forward on major initiatives without asking for input. The result is frequently frustration among followers and eventually a label of “arrogance” and eventually rejection from a team or an organization.

--Korn Ferry’s research found that the key career stoppers are: Arrogance, over reliance on a single skill, lack of composure….and a number of others mentioned in the book.

--Shadow Beliefs are often repressed, unresolved, even secret belief that lives deep in all of us—which can leap up at any time and topple our leadership authority. Sometimes it’s feeling inadequate that makes us work tirelessly to become successful—therefore, overworking and becoming compulsive. Or it might manifest itself as manipulation if we believe we need to continuously succeed regardless of the price, or if you need to be always seen as exceptional, such a shadow belief could erupt and present you as a narcissist and self absorbed leader. Great summary quote: “The idea is in thyself; the impediment, too, is in thyself.” –Thomas Carlyle.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leadership from the Inside Out


Leadership from the Inside Out remains one of my top picks for teaching leaders how to become the best leader they can be...starting within themselves. Over the next week, I will post segments of my in-depth review of this book.

This is the FIRST of the series about Leadership from the Inside Out (second edition)

Are leaders born or can they be “made?” Kevin Cashman would say they’re made, self-made—from the inside out. Senior partner in Korn Ferry’s leadership and talent group and founder of his own renowned firm LeaderSource—later acquired by Korn Ferry—Cashman has earned the reputation of being a leadership guru. In my opinion, he deserves that reputation largely because of this book—especially this second edition.

Further, I recommend that all executives and leaders read this book. Buy it for the entire leadership structure and have regular conversations over the year about its content. It’s THAT important a book.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TED Presenation: On Lifelong Learning

In my opinion, Ted.com (www.ted.com ) is one of the best sites on the Web. The best speakers/thinkers in the country lecture for about 20 minutes on “ideas worth sharing.” This week, we will follow several speakers who have messages/ideas worth hearing and sharing on issues relating to leadership.

This is the FINAL of the series from Ted.com.

Ben Dunlop on Lifelong Learning
President of Wofford College in South Carolina, Ben Dunlop, talks about his relationship with Hungarian Sandor Teszler, Holocaust survivor, and how he integrated a textile factory in the heart of a racist South Carolina back in history. It was Teszler’s absolute craving to learn that kept his soul charged long into his later years of life. Dunlop opens us up to the passion for learning and its value to fulfilled life.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_dunlap_talks_about_a_passionate_life.html

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TED Talk: Doris Kearns Goodwin on Presidential Leadership

In my opinion, Ted.com (www.ted.com ) is one of the best sites on the Web. The best speakers/thinkers in the country lecture for about 20 minutes on “ideas worth sharing.” This week, we will follow several speakers who have messages/ideas worth hearing and sharing on issues relating to leadership.

This is the FOURTH of the series from Ted.com.

Doris Kearns Goodwin on Presidential Leadership

Famed historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin contrasts two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. She evaluates their happiness based on a paradigm developed by a former professor of hers at Harvard, and famed psychologist, Erick Erickson. A giant of psychology and specifically personal identity, Erickson thought that a person had to live a balanced life of work, love and play and that overdoing and thus under doing any one of those would leave a person wanting in old age. Her proposition was that Lincoln followed this balance far better than Johnson. Listen to her explanation and how she came to become a historian through her love of the Boston Red Sox!

Click her for her wonderful talk.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TED Presentation: Robert Wright on Compassion

In my opinion, Ted.com (www.ted.com ) is one of the best sites on the Web. The best speakers/thinkers in the country lecture for about 20 minutes on “ideas worth sharing.” This week, we will follow several speakers who have messages/ideas worth hearing and sharing on issues relating to leadership.

This is the THIRD of the series from Ted.com.

Robert Wright on Compassion

Author Robert Wright explains "non-zero-sumness" and compassion and how our fortunes and others around the world are linked. He argues that cooperation has guided our evolution to this point -- and how we can use it to help save humanity today. When we care about others, they care about us. He argues that this is selfish—the intelligent use of self interest—but necessary. For example, if we buy a car in the US, we recognize that the parts are made around the globe, thus we’re linked to Japan, at…have an interest in their success and compassion for them, which in turn helps them think about and have compassion for us.

Click here: http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_wright_on_optimism.html

Monday, October 5, 2009

TED Presentation: Rick Warren on Purpose

In my opinion, Ted.com (www.ted.com ) is one of the best sites on the Web. The best speakers/thinkers in the country lecture for about 20 minutes on “ideas worth sharing.” This week, we will follow several speakers who have messages/ideas worth hearing and sharing on issues relating to leadership.

This is the SECOND of the series from Ted.com.

TED Presentation: Rick Warren on Purpose

Author of mega-hit book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren talks about purpose. He asks the biblical question that God asked Moses (in the Old Testament), “What’s in your hand.” Warren spends much of his time asking groups the same question: What’s in your hand—what’s your purpose in life. Where do you get three things: 1) Your identity; 2) Your income; 3) And, where can you use it to influence others. Understanding your core purpose is asking yourself: What’s in my hand?

Watch the vide of Rick Warren speaking on Purpose.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

TED: About Motivation

In my opinion, Ted.com (www.ted.com ) is one of the best sites on the Web. The best speakers/thinkers in the country lecture for about 20 minutes on “ideas worth sharing.” This week, we will follow several speakers who have messages/ideas worth hearing and sharing on issues relating to leadership. This is the FIRST of the series from Ted.com.

Dan Pink on Motivation

Below find the link to Dan Pink—former speechwriter for Al Gore—speaking about motivation. I think you’ll find it amazing in that in business we use extrinsic incentives (carrots and sticks), not intrinsic incentives (autonomy, mastery and purpose), and the results are generally a failure. So, if you have a sales incentive program based on payouts, you will want to listen to this presentation on motivation. I think this is worth passing along to companies who might benefit from it.

Click here to see Dan Pink's lecture on motivation at TED.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Harvard Business Review September 2009--Final Comments


This the FINAL of several postings this week regarding the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review, which I highly recommend you purchase for your executives.

Articles worth reading in this issue:

Inside Cisco’s Search for the Next Big Idea: Read about the I-Prize and how getting innovation by merely offering a reward on a Web site, doesn’t always work. It takes much more than “crowd-sourcing” to be effective.

Death by Information Overload: With the flood of e-mails companies and people need to take some actions. I like the sidebar list “10 Ways to Reduce E-mail Overload.” Helped me.

And a focus of articles on sustainability:
--Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation
--On the Horizon: Six Sources of Limitless Energy
--Using Gifts and Trees to Make Recyclers of Indian Consumers
--Creating Value in an Economic Crisis

Thursday, October 1, 2009

HBR September 2009: The Female Economy

This the fifth of several postings this week regarding the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review, which I highly recommend you purchase for your executives.

The Female Economy
By Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre

As an economic force worldwide, women control more money than China and India combined! Off hand, I’d say that’s a significant target market! The authors surveyed a sample of 12,000 women from a wide geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds about a myriad of issues like education, jobs, hopes fears, relationship, etc. Obviously, the authors would direct companies to pay increasing attention to this behemoth market. They also point out six industries in particular: food, fitness, beauty, apparel, health care, and financial services. Very interesting and eye-opening article.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HBR September: The Boss from Hell!

This the fourth of several postings this week regarding the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review, which I highly recommend you purchase for your executives.

Case Study: Surviving the Boss from Hell
By David Silverman

In this fictionalized case study, David, a project manager works for Thaddeus (called the “Commodore”) who micromanages, interrupts, dominates, calls ad hoc meeting that interrupt everyone’s schedule…and is generally a narcissistic egomaniac who’s executive career has stalled itself—no doubt! The question is should David take an offer from another part of the firm…a lateral one with no pay increase…essentially starting all over. Or, should David stay where he is. Several experts offer their candid opinions.

My pick…Brad Gilbreath’s thought: Leave for the new lateral opportunity. Research reveals that such bosses from hell can lead to high blood pressure, even psychiatric problems. My advice to David: Run, don’t walk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

HBR: High Potentials in the Downturn

This the third of several postings this week regarding the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review, which I highly recommend you purchase for your executives.

High Potentials in the Downturn: Sharing the Pain
Nancy Carter and Christing Silva

In a survey of business school graduates, the authors from Catalyst polled them about how they were doing during the recession. A few stats:

--10% lost their jobs…but it would have been worse, had they used the last in first out rule for high potentials.
--6% had their hours reduced…small potatoes for these high potentials.
--20% of high potentials went job hopping…significant, I’d say.
--19% of women vs. only 6% of men were laid off. I’d be reviewing your EEO policies on this one.

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