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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Advantage: Post#5--Build Team w/ Commitment

Achieve Commitment: “If people don’t weigh in, they don’t buy in” (p. 48). By inviting conflict, a leader opens up the team to better options. And the leader is there to break ties…not to create consensus! Intel’s “disagree and commit” philosophy means we can disagree in the conference room but are united after we leave to go back to our units.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Advantage: Post#4--Build Team w/Trust

Build Trust: Vulnerability is at the heart of the trust-building the author talks about. A willingness to say “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I goofed.” Giving up pride and ego, as well as being transparent, all in service of the collective team goal are the hallmarks of a healthy team. Vulnerability and creating a “safe place” to be vulnerable starts with the leader.
b.    Master Conflict: Fear of conflict is symptomatic of an unhealthy relationship.  Not feeling safe about speaking up in a meeting, for example, undermines a team. Not speaking up fosters political maneuvering and creates a team that’s not transparent but manipulative and distrustful. When a leadership team refuses to engage in conflict, they just transfer the conflict downstream, with magnified frustration for employees. Holding off giving opinions or disagreeing is a formula for a diseased team or organization. Reinforce healthy conflict and watch trust mount.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Advantage: Post #3-Build a Cohesive Team

Four Disciplines Model: There is a process to building a healthy organization. Several things must be done simultaneously, and then it all has to be maintained on an ongoing basis. Lencioni breaks the process down into four (4) components.

Discipline #1—Build a Cohesive Leadership Team: “A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization” (p. 21). Unfortunately, companies don’t invest enough intentional time to develop cohesive teams. But such development is a critical strategic step that is ignored only to the peril of a company’s health and productivity. One key to cohesive teams is sacrifice or collective responsibility—we must be willing to give up budget, personnel, and other hard things for the greater collective good of the team. Not easy, but required for high performance. Lencioni basically recounts the five dysfunctions of a team by laying out the 5 key behaviors of a cohesive team.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Advantage: Post #2--Introduction

An Introduction: Organizational health is all about integrity (consistency) among leadership, strategy, and culture. Healthy organizations are not just smart but also healthy. So, operational competence and excellence must be coupled with a culture of minimal politics, low turnover of key employees, as well as one that has high morale and productivity—in short, the kind of place we would all like to work. In the end, it’s not about being smart but having a positive, productive culture. “Health Begets—and Trumps—Intelligence.” Many companies never tap into the mother lode of their employees, but healthy companies do. The advantages of a healthy company in a competitive and creative market are enormous. The liabilities of unhealthy companies are just as enormous—in a bad way—leading to disengagement [which we know can cut productivity by 30%, according to Gallup].

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Advantage: Post #1--Overview

Overview: Patrick Lencioni has pulled together all his work over the past years into his “magnum opus” and a compressible team leadership theory. Leaning heavily on his previous works—The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting,  Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars—Lencioni knits together a prescription for “why organizational health trumps everything else in business.” To do this, he outlines his Four Disciplines Model: 1) Build a Cohesive Team (build trust, master conflict, achieve commitment, embrace accountability, and focus on results); 2) Create Clarity by answer six clarifying questions (Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What’s not important? Who does what?); 3) Overcommunicate Clarity (reiterate answers to 6 clarifying questions to the team seven times and ensure that everyone knows them); 4) Reinforce Clarity (make it part of the corporate DNA in such human systems like hiring, firing, interviewing and performance management). Lencioni also reviews his intentional structure for highly effective internal corporate communications: Daily check-ins, weekly tactical staff meetings, monthly strategic meetings, and quarterly development offsite meetings. This book is a keeper.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #13--No Magic Bullet

No Magic Bullet: Anyone expecting a secret sauce/magic bullet from this book will be sadly disappointed. Rather, Kellerman makes the following points: The political system is volatile, the world is more global, innovation is steaming along, all swirling about in a world in which leaders are less powerful and followers more so. However, with this opportunity to help the reader, Kellerman gives only a hint as to a prescription for health for the leadership industry. Perhaps she’s setting up her next book. But her conclusion comes in the last anemic paragraph with four recommended changes for the leadership industry: 1) End leader-centric approaches that limit thinking; 2) Avoid situational (industry) focus that’s myopic; 3) Subject the leadership industry to critical analysis and evaluation; 4) Change with the times.  Frankly, she left me wanting more, but then isn’t that the sign of a great book?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #12--Truth

Seeking the Truth. Developing leaders for the common good (not just particular corporate expedience) is what Kellerman holds up to be a worthy goal—one the ancients like Plato and Confucius would agree with. She establishes her criticism by attacking these long held assumptions about leadership development: 1) Leaders are where the action is (situational, insular leadership leads to unilateral focus and dismissal of anyone other than themselves); 2) Financial performance is all that really matters (stock returns do not a great leader make); 3) Leadership must be learned quickly, not slowly over time; 4) Leadership is important but followership is not; and 5) Good leadership is critical and bad leadership is unimportant.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

End of Leadershp: Post #11--Leadership Complete

Leadership Complete. The author notes that Plato and Confucius, the ancients, thought leadership took a lifetime of learning, and yet we send people to one-day, one-week, maybe even one-month courses on how to be an excellent leader and expect immediate transformation. Kellerman also argues that, because leaders have gotten weaker and followers have gotten stronger, we shouldn’t ever forget followership when developing leadership programs. In leadership training, we search for a savior figure—some extraordinary emerging talent who can be taught to become a great leader. It’s a narcissistic pursuit focused on a kind of great-man theory, instead of a servant-leadership model (Greenleaf) focused as much on the follower as on the leader. Kellerman argues that leadership-specific courses, focused on high potentials, and also laser focused on their industry specific matters, have become the stock menu of the big boys—Goldman, GE, and IBM. However, corporate performance in the most recent history—if that is to be at least one major measure of leadership impact—has not been exactly stellar. So, has the leadership development worked? She doubts it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #10-- Leadership Mantra

The Leadership Mantra. Everyone has jumped into the leadership business—Academia (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton); companies (GE, Southwest Airlines, 3M, Proctor and Gamble, Accenture); even nonprofits like the Center for Creative Leadership. All have pitched their collective tents in the leadership campground. Nonetheless, we’ve seen failure after failure in our leaders, in government, industry and nonprofits. Witness the economic meltdown (failure of banks and financial institutions); the dysfunction of a polarized and intractable, ineffective Congress and Senate; and the devaluation of the presidency since Nixon. There’s a singular focus on producing good leaders but nothing about stopping bad ones. And for all the money spent on developing leaders (GE boasts of spending over $1 billion a year), we still see ineffectiveness. The “graduates” of GE leadership like Bob Nardelli at Home Depot, Jim McNerney at Boeing and even Jeff Immelt (Welch’s GE successor), according to Alan Murray (Wall Street Journal), have not fared well. In short, if leadership development is so good, why has it not done better?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #9--Upgrading Followers

Upgrading Followers. During recent decades it would be hard to overstate what has happened to the status of followers. For, as leaders have fallen from hero to buffoon status, the opposite has happened to followers. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Latin America, followers have asserted themselves and made change…big change. The spread of democracy from 1975  (30 democratic nations) to 2005 (119 democratic nations) is staggering. Look at the fall of the Berlin Wall, the upheavals in Russia, North Korea, China, France, and Germany, as well as the Arab Spring and the tectonic changes in the Middle East

Saturday, August 18, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #8--Downgrading Leaders

Downgrading Leaders. In any institution you can think of, leaders have been downgraded. If they were bonds, fewer and fewer people would invest in them. The presidency under Bush, Obama, and whoever comes next has suffered one body blow after another. Incompetence at handling Iraq and Afghanistan, the budget, the debt—take your pick—all have been exposed as botched, again among Republicans and Democrats alike. The Catholic Church has failed its social (and spiritual) contract with its faithful. Occupy Wall Street, General Motors, GE, Congress, and major league sports all have fallen in the eyes of Americans.  Why? It seems that the social contract between followers, who agreed to buckle under if their leaders were honest and hard working, has fallen apart. And until this social contract is repaired, disharmony to the point of revolution seems inevitable.

Friday, August 17, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #7--Technology

Technological Imperatives: Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past decade or so, you know the power of communication. With blogs, Twitter, YouTube and a myriad of evolving media, anyone with a computer and Internet access can break a story and help or hurt a reputation overnight. In fact, stopping the flow of such information is impossible. Just ask the president of Syria, the folks in Egypt, the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, or former VA Senator George Allen. More than a few leaders have taken a fall because someone had a cell phone and a camera handy at the worst or best possible time. “In the twenty-first century, freedom of expression has another definition: freedom to say anything to anyone about anything or anyone, anywhere, at any time, in real time (p.51).” A form of intense transparency has changed how political and corporate leaders have to act, even survive, in this new world order.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #6--Social Contract

Social Contract: Evolutionary leadership holds that tribes (teams) of people do better with a leader than without one. The leader’s job is to hold the balance and control the action. Traditionally, the followers’ role was to follow the leader as long as s/he did the job effectively and ethically. However, Americans (and now many others like Egyptians, Libyans, and others) want a more active say in decision making. They also have access to media 24/7 that exposes their leaders to a new level of scrutiny. Peeling back the fa├žade of leadership has exposed leaders’ “humanity” and inevitable flaws—and such has made for disenfranchisement. The author offers the example of the devolution of the Catholic Church due to the pedophilia rampant among priests. No single circumstance has undermined the Catholic Church’s authority and subjected the Church to the wrath of followers more than this issue. And American politics fares not much better. Less than 50% of eligible voters in fact vote and only a humble 11% are satisfied the “way things are going in the United States at this time.”  This 11% figure has been tracked by Gallup since 1979 and was still accurate in 2011 at the date of the book’s publication.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #5--Leadership Decline

American Leadership Decline: In the 60s and 70s another tectonic shift occurred in America. Assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy as well as Martin Luther King, the enormously unpopular Vietnam War, and the Nixon cover-up scandal all stoked the flames of change and shift in the power status of leadership. By the 70s, politicians’ and corporate leaders’ popularity has precipitously eroded. In 1975, 45% of the population thought that politicians were corrupt. Needless to say over the years, (with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the near meltdown in the US economy, and the evolving financial crisis worldwide) all have added to an atmosphere of distrust of anyone in authority. And yet as the author suggests, the leadership industry ignores this devolution of leadership primacy—in favor of a kind of myopic focus on leaders instead of the emerging influence and power of followers. Like Nero playing the violin as Rome burned?
6.    Technological Imperatives: Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past decade or so, you know the power of communication. With blogs, Twitter, YouTube and a myriad of evolving media, anyone with a computer and Internet access can break a story and help or hurt a reputation overnight. In fact, stopping the flow of such information is impossible. Just ask the president of Syria, the folks in Egypt, the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, or former VA Senator George Allen. More than a few leaders have taken a fall because someone had a cell phone and a camera handy at the worst or best possible time. “In the twenty-first century, freedom of expression has another definition: freedom to say anything to anyone about anything or anyone, anywhere, at any time, in real time (p.51).” A form of intense transparency has changed how political and corporate leaders have to act, even survive, in this new world order.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #4--Revolt

Leadership Revolt: In 1632, John Locke unleashed his theory of private property and reinforced Hobbs’ “social contract” theory, whereby leaders rule only by the consent of the governed. Inherent in Locke’s thinking was that leaders were accountable and removable by followers (the electorate). Finally, it’s believed that when Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he had a copy of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government opened up on his desk. Change spread from England, to France, to America. Indeed the American Revolution marked a huge shift in moving power from the rulers to the people (“We the people….”). The opposition to power—shift from leaders to followers—is found in the writings of Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence), Paine (Common Sense); and Thoreau (Resistance to Civil Government). The world of leadership had truly shifted in a very important way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #3--History

Historical Trajectory: For years, power has ebbed slowly from leaders to followers. From hero worship to praise of the common man. Philosopher Joseph Campbell and famed psychologist Carl Jung write about our thirst for leaders. Historically, we have focused on the hero-leader. Plato, Confucius, and others propagated the great man theory—find an outstanding man (or woman) and educate him (or her). In the Middle Ages, Machiavelli in The Prince upheld the theory of authoritarian rule. Moreover, Thomas Hobbs, who like Machiavelli did not trust the common man, did however suggest a new relationship between leaders and followers. He believed in a “social contract” between the leader and followers in which followers granted absolute authority to leaders for protection from all sorts of enemies—human, economic, et al. Later, Martin Luther’s challenge of the church’s authority created a Great Revolution against the divine right of kings.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

End of Leadership: Post #2--Leadership Industry

Leadership Industry: A whole industry has grown up around leadership: MBA programs; Executive Education within the best business schools; consultants and executive coaches. Despite all that, many leaders—political, government, and corporate—are doing miserably. An authority rift between leaders and followers has ousted “dictators,” both political and corporate. Levels of trust between the two are at all-time lows. But there’s a fundamental shift in followers (just look at the Arab Spring movement).  The author talks about 5 different types of followers: Isolates, Bystanders, Participants, Activists, and Diehards—each with a degree of respect or lack of it for leaders.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

End of Leadership: Post# 1

The End of Leadership (Harper Business, 2012) by Barbara Kellerman; reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., August 2012
Overview: Barbara Kellerman, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, gives her own “leadership industry” a kick in the pants. As the power of leaders in the world lessens and followers gain more leverage, MBA programs, professional executive education, private leadership development practitioners, and even vaunted internal industry programs all seem to fall short. Kellerman traces the history of leadership, from Confucius and Plato, to Machiavelli and Hobbs, to Locke and Jefferson, to Goldman and GE. She describes the downgrading of leadership regarding the presidency (whether a Democrat or a Republican), in Congress and among corporate leaders, as well as the decline of power and leadership in social institutions like the Catholic Church. Kellerman argues that the social contract between leaders (expected to be ethical and effective) and followers (becoming more demanding and powerful) has been broken. A well written, reflective treatise on the “leadership industry,” in which Kellerman is surely a key player, this book is bracing but ultimately stimulating, like a cold shower!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are you one of those leaders everyone runs to for the answers? Are you exhausted at the end of the day from dispensing so much advice? Do you wish your employees would think about and solve their own problems? This book is for you.

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