The Story Counts

History: I’m not big on history, usually. However, for reasons I do not now remember, I found myself reading two books about the history around the founding of our country, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. I started reading before all the present political drama. And I’m glad that happened since it gave me a way to put context …

Consensus = Mediocrity

Surprised: Often, when I’m asked, I might suggest that a decision made by the team was a “reasonable compromise.” I made a similar statement recently but found myself modifying it to be “unfortunately, we reached a compromise.” I was surprised by what I said. It just slipped out that way. The person asking the question nodded her head and moved …

Heads Held High

Saving Face: During my time working with colleagues at a Japanese owned company, I learned how important it was to make sure people left any kind of public or group encounter with their pride intact. I’m pretty sure I knew that was appropriate before joining the company, but it was emphasized within that culture. At first, the most notable practice …

Shaming

Question: I had an interesting question from a student in a recent guest lecture I gave at a local university. To paraphrase, the student asked, “Why do we say it’s best to criticize in private? I played competitive sports. The coach criticized us in public all the time. The shame caused us to redouble our efforts. So, won’t you get …

Generosity of Resources

Time, Connections, Knowledge: Leaders and managers are tasked with developing other leaders in the organization. Therefore, they must, of necessity, share the resources they have with their fellow employees. That is no easy task, if only because the press of day-to-day business tends to keep us all focused on tactical transactions. Time Perhaps the most precious thing we have, as …

Strategy Under Siege

Culture Challenge: Peter Drucker famously noted that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” My experience is that Drucker is correct. One of the more straightforward ways I’ve observed that phenomenon is when a large change initiative is launched by management. For example, installing a new, complex, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. While leadership and employees may all agree that such a …

A First Step

Business Roundtable: According to the reporting I’ve seen, the Business Roundtable has declared that they are changing the focus of their business from maximizing shareholders’ returns to improving the experience of all stakeholders. Stakeholders are made up of individuals or groups that have an interest in the success and progression of a company. External stakeholders comprise vendors, customers, neighboring companies, …

First-Principles

Situational: I came across the concept, new to me, of leadership through First-Principles. My interpretation of the idea is as follows. The difficulty in being consistent as a leader and living up the values of the organization is that each situation is a bit different. We have to begin with the organizational culture as a whole, define “first-principles” in a …

Check-In

Vacation: How about starting the next meeting of your leadership team with a personal check-in? Take a few minutes at the start of the session for each member to report on the last trip or vacation that person made. Getting to know each other personally, not just professionally, is an excellent way to grow trust. Building trust with a group …

Accrue Respect

First Manage: To be a good leader, you must first become a good manager. To do that, you must earn and accrue respect from the folks you manage. After all, the people give you permission to be a leader, not your position on the organization chart. Education Leadership is a learned skill. It seems to me that we forget that …