We face a barrage of challenges these days: rapid change, a barrage of demands on our attention, tension between work and home, and more. There is one meta-skill that shapes how we respond to all these challenges: self-leadership. Without it, we cannot sustain ourselves for long. Leading self may be obvious, but it is far from easy. We neglect it at our peril. The task of leading self is the task of a lifetime. Here are ten keys to self-leadership: … To read the full blog on Gregg Vanourek’s web site, click here.
We face a barrage of challenges these days: astonishing technological change, intense competition, a barrage of demands on our attention, tension between work and home, and more. There is one meta-skill that shapes how we respond to all these challenges: self-leadership. Without it, we cannot sustain ourselves for long. Leading self may be obvious, but it is far from easy. We neglect it at our peril. The task of leading self is the task of a lifetime. Here are ten keys to self-leadership: 1. Healthy Habits. Leadership is hard work: psychologically, emotionally, and even physically. Leading can be exhilarating and taxing at the same time. It can grind us down if we let it. When we are leading self well, we develop an energizing rhythm of self-care. It includes …Continue Reading
By Bob Vanourek I was flying from Cleveland to Chicago to meet my wife, June, and two young sons. They were flying from Los Angeles to meet me for a brief Christmas holiday. I had been “too busy” to fly back to help her cope with our toddler and the baby. (It is really so embarrassing to relate this story now.) I was 29 years old and working nightmare hours for a high-flying firm that was rapidly acquiring companies. My job was to fly out and spend all week, every week, “integrating” the acquired firms. “Integrating” meant consolidating their plants, cutting duplicate costs, and often firing their founders. The look of disbelief on those entrepreneurs’ faces when they were terminated just broke my heart. In Chicago my wife asked me, …Continue Reading
The buzz has been big since articles on Zappos’ movement toward a “holacracy” were publicized. A “holacracy” is a system of governance based on self-organizing teams rather than hierarchical authority. See “Zappos New Badass Culture” and “Zappos Says Goodbye to Bosses”. In a holacracy there are no job titles or managers. Employees have “roles” in circles with “links” to other circles. Each circle governs itself. Stanford professor Bob Sutton recently published a contrary view that “Hierarchy is Good”, citing the natural emergence in all groups of status and power differences among the members. Harvard’s Bill George countered with “the hierarchical model just doesn’t work anymore”. Maybe a holacracy is the “next big thing.” But let’s first consider our options. Cisco famously constructed a complex, overlapping series of internal boards and …Continue Reading
“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, former Chairman and CEO, IBM, and author, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (2002) How can leaders build a high-performance culture? Culture is powerful. Culture has a huge influence on what people do on a day-to-day basis, especially when the boss isn’t around. Avoiding all the fancy definitions, we define culture simply as “how we do things around here.” Do we slack off when the boss is gone? Do we “just ship it” to make the numbers, even if the quality is suspect? Do we mutter behind people’s backs when they are not in the room? Or are we respectful, honest, engaged, and committed, working hard to serve …Continue Reading
Guest Blog by Charles Walsh One of the most important aspects of leadership today is intentional alignment of purpose and direction. A four-quadrant approach will assist you in achieving high-performance leadership while ensuring balance of effectiveness and impact of results. In the 21st century, the battle cry of top leaders is achieving and sustaining high performance. Such performance is built one employee at a time and is driven by high-performance leadership at all levels of the organization. High-performance leadership understands the differences between and behaviors required for both effectiveness as a manager and influence and impact as a leader. The Concept of High-Performance Leadership Today, high-performance leaders are engaged with employees at all levels, interacting moment by moment to accomplish the enterprise’s work by focusing on the motives and …Continue Reading
Much has been written about the power of setting goals. Unfortunately, almost all of the advice about effective goal-setting falls short on a few key factors. More on that soon. First, some clarifications. Goals are what you hope to achieve. According to a popular mnemonic, goals should be “SMART”: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. We also recommend using “stretch goals” or “big, hairy, audacious goals” (BHAGs, to employ a term from authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in a Harvard Business Review article) Most of the above is by now fairly well known (though often botched in practice). Here is what is missing: 1) linking goals to a higher purpose and vision 2) setting goals for each major stakeholder 3) then prioritizing them As we wrote in Triple Crown …Continue Reading
Culture is simply “how we do things here,” a set of beliefs and habits that influence how people behave. Culture forms over time and determines what happens when authorities are not present, setting the tone for the organization and the norms for acceptable behavior. Lou Gerstner, after his spectacular turnaround of IBM, wrote, “…culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” Every organization has a culture, explicit or implicit. Explicit is better because it means the leaders understand the importance of culture and are paying attention to it. A healthy culture doesn’t guarantee success, but it provides the foundation for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization. We call this a culture of character. How can leaders build a culture of character? Here are four …Continue Reading