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From: Daft, R. L., (2010). The executive and the elephant: a leader’s guide for building inner excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
All of us have these two parts within – the wise and intentional inner executive and the unconscious inner elephant, which does a good job for us most of the time. The friction between inner executive and inner elephant occurs when they have different ideas about desired behavior. The inner elephant is concerned about its own needs and comforts, and is often stronger than the inner executive. The inner executive can see the bigger picture even if it has not learned how to guide and control the elephant.
For a leader, the ideal situation is for the inner elephant to work as the servant, the inner executive to work as master. Of course everyone faces situations where the inner elephant’s urges seem far stronger than the inner executive’s good intentions. This is like the inmates having more influence than the warden. Managers who do not have a well-developed inner executive will not lead themselves consciously and intentionally, just as a company without a CEO and executive team will not have an intended strategy or the capability to coordinate disparate departments for strategy execution.
When in its proper role, the inner elephant thrives as a follower, not a leader. Ideally, leaders will understand their own elephant, and will be conscious of its habits and needs. When a person is “unconscious,” however, he or she tends to live at the mercy of the inner elephant, following its needs and impulses without concerns for others or a bigger picture. When “conscious,” a leader can be intentional about doing the right thing (p. 11-12).
- When have you used your inner executive to see the bigger picture?
- How can you become “conscious: about doing the right thing?
Adversity is one of the most potent forces in life, one that can bring out your best or your worse. Ultimately, it's up to you. How will you handle obstacles? Will they be roadblocks or springboards?
Consider this unlikely ascent to Greatness: In 1922, when Ernest Hemingway was still struggling to get published, a suitcase containing almost all of his drafts and manuscripts was lost on a train. Left with only two stories out of all his efforts, Hemingway was crushed. But upon the advice of his good friend and already-established author Ezra Pound, he re-created all he could of what had been lost, and in so doing established one of his stylistic trademarks - bare-bones language and a simple, journalistic tone.
Rather than throwing in the towel when he was faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and thus robbing the twentieth century of one of its most important literary voices, Hemingway listened to Pound's encouragement and used the devastating situation as something to make his work stronger (p. 108).
- How do you handle adversity or obstacles?
- How have you turned challenges into springboards?
From: Yaeger, D. (2011). Greatness: the 16 characteristics of true champions. New York: Center Street.
A Conversation for Connection is the first step in building a relationship that leads to working together to accomplish meaningful results. It enables people to understand one another’s preferred communication style. While it may sound initially like small talk, this conversation is in fact very important in helping us get to know each other. We can observe how others pace themselves, gesture, ask questions, listen, enunciate, and maintain eye contact. This gives us clues to their preferred communication style. We can listen for the types of things the other person wants to talk about, which gives us clues to their values and motivators. It also helps us to notice when changes occur in any of these areas later as the conversations goes deeper (p. 63).
How do you use conversations to connect with others?
From: Hayashi, S.K. (2011). Conversations for change: 12 ways to say it right when it matters most. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Always Think of Consensus as Win-Win, Not Compromise. In a decision-making situation, win-win indicates the development of a solution that does not dilute any strong convictions or essential needs of individual group members.
Determine in Advance the Fallback Decision Option if Consensus Cannot Be Reached. Most decisions must be made by a deadline, and generating consensus does take time. Therefore, do not impose unrealistic time limits that doom the consensus effort before it begins.
At Key Decision Points, Combat the Illusion of Consensus by Explicitly Testing for It. The illusion of consensus is the most common trap to snare the unwary facilitate/leader. The trap comes in two forms the silence trap and the hubbub trap. The silence trap is when group members who are not fully committed to the course of action often hold back their comments because they assume that everyone else’s silence implies agreement or support, and they are reluctant to disrupt the “unity” of the group. The hubbub trap is when the majority masks the silence of the other two people, and the manager, reinforced by the chorus of supports, declares that she has a solid consensus.
Develop Share Values Regarding Consensus. In order to put the consensus decision-making process in proper perspective and enhance its effectiveness, all task-oriented groups, need to take some time to decide what consensus means to them and how consensus will operate within their group. Consensus cannot be a win-win process unless all members agree on what it means and how it functions within their group.
Stamp Out the Declaration “I Can Live with It.” Groups that routinely used and accepted the I-can-live-with-it pronouncement to signify support for a given proposal were observed to reach nominal consensus – consensus in name only.
Use the Consensus Option at Key Decision Points. Consensus should be used for major elements of a decision, not the many specifics (Kayser, 2011, p 99-111).
What are some leadership decisions you have made lately? Which of these priniciples did you use?
From: Kayser, T.A. (2011). Building team power: how to unleash the collaborative genius of teams for increased engagement, productivity, and results. (2nd edition). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Want to be a better leader? Here's what it takes:
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Solution oriented. Action oriented. People oriented. Your enthusiasm begets success.
Change is certain. Followers tend to resist change. It is the mark of a leader to embrace change and take advantage of the opportunity it presents.
Douglas MacArthur said, "Courage is just fear that holds out a little longer." Good advice. George Patton said, "I don't take counsel from my fears." Good advice. Leaders choose courage.
Take a Risk.
The biggest mistake is to never take one. Leaders are determined to win or try again.
Leaders set the example for open communication. Use your head. Say what you feel. Speak from the heart.
Leaders listen to learn. Leaders listen to understand. Your team has needs - just listen. Your prospects and customers know their needs, and they know what's happening on the front lines of their business, and yours - just listen.
Delegate and Empower.
Leaders share responsibility. They don't dictate, they set examples for others to follow. Leaders encourage growth in others by challenging them to take new responsibility, encouraging them to succeed, and supporting them if they fail. Leaders understand that mistakes are lessons on the way to success.
Understand Others, Yourself, and Your Situation.
Leaders understand the importance of an inquisitive mind. A constant quest for knowledge brings greater understanding. Understand yourself first.
Commitment is the catalyst that makes all the other leadership qualities a reality. Daily re-dedication to commitment is the difference between leaders and would-be leaders (Gitomer, 2011, p. 68-69).
What are you doing to improve your leadership abilities?
From: Gitomer, J (2011). Jeffrey gitomer's little book of leadership: the 12.5 strengths of responsible, reliable, remarkable leaders that create results, rewards and resilience. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons.
•My problems are not unique to me, so there is no reason to be embarrassed or to dwell on where I am.
•Long-term success is not the result of one defining change,. It comes from developing the habit of embracing several small, simple truths of success.
•I begin growing when I accept the truth about my situation.
•No Matter What means that regardless of what is going on around me, I will accept responsibility and take control. There is always something that can be done and something that I can do.
•I have power over where I focus...that is a choice I make.
•I am in the driver's seat when it comes to my career and my life (Cottrell, p. 25).
What are some small steps you can do to create personal and organizational success?
From: Cottrell, D. (2013). Tuesday Morning Coaching. New York: McGraw-Hill.