The devil’s advocate

February 1, 2016

By Annette Franz Via   Article

Do You Employ the 10th Man Rule?

When it’s decision-making time, is there someone on your team who always plays devil’s advocate?”

What really matters for front line leaders

February 1, 2016

By Claudio Feser, Fernanda Mayol, and Ramesh Srinivasan via   Article

Decoding leadership: What really matters

“Our most recent research, however, suggests that a small subset of leadership skills closely correlates with leadership success, particularly among frontline leaders. Using our own practical experience and searching the relevant academic literature, we came up with a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits. Next, we surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations4 around the world to assess how frequently certain kinds of leadership behavior are applied within their organizations. Finally, we divided the sample into organizations whose leadership performance was strong (the top quartile of leadership effectiveness as measured by McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index) and those that were weak (bottom quartile).

What we found was that leaders in organizations with high-quality leadership teams typically displayed 4 of the 20 possible types of behavior; these 4, indeed, explained 89 percent of the variance between strong and weak organizations in terms of leadership effectiveness.

Four kinds of behavior account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness.

  • Solving problems effectively. The process that precedes decision making is problem solving, when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues (such as M&A) as well as daily ones (such as how to handle a team dispute).
  • Operating with a strong results orientation. Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.
  • Seeking different perspectives. This trait is conspicuous in managers who monitor trends affecting organizations, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do well on this dimension typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.
  • Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency, allaying unwarranted fears about external threats and preventing the energy of employees from dissipating into internal conflict.”


The leader on a pony

February 1, 2016

By Dan Rockwell via   Article

“A few leaders possess wide bands of competence and giftedness. You probably don’t. Your high horse is a pony, at best. You possess a narrow band of giftedness. In the middle, you have a wide range of average competencies. However, compared to the list of possible skills and gifts that humans possess, yours are a drop in a bucket. …


When you’re “the leader on the white horse,” …

  1. Fault for failure lies with others. After all, how could you be wrong?
  2. Ownership by others is low. You’re the one at the center.
  3. Talent in others is devalued. When you’re the most important person, others aren’t. …


When you’re “the leader on a pony”…

  1. Talent in others is valued and honored.
  2. Authority is divested and distributed.
  3. Accountability flows up and down the organizational structure.
  4. Decisions take longer. Ownership is higher.
  5. You’re valued for your ability to maximize others.
  6. Recognition – the spotlight – widens.
  7. Respect is earned, not granted.

10 ways to get off your white horse:

  1. Evaluate yourself by how well you develop and maximize talent in others.
  2. Clarify, don’t abdicate, your role in organizational life.
  3. Eliminate perks and special privileges.
  4. Push authority and decision-making to people closest to the action.
  5. Begin asking, ‘What do you think we should do?’
  6. Learn and leverage coaching skills.
  7. Stay connected. Manage by wandering around. (MBWA)
  8. Say, ‘Thank you,’ everywhere you go.
  9. Seek feedback, specifically and actively.
  10. Own your mistakes and share what you’re learning.”

It’s not easy to run a supermarket

February 1, 2016

By Seth Godin via   Article

Fighting entropy

Seth Godin

“It’s not easy to run a supermarket. Low margins, high rents, perishable products… Even A&P, once dominant, is now gone.

My new favorite supermarket, by a large margin, is Cid‘s.

It’s not that he’s in a perfect location, or that his store has the advantage of no competition.

How does he do it? Fair prices, great stuff where you least expect it, a staff that cares…

He’s in the store, every day. And his son is too.

My only theory is this: He fights mediocrity every single day.

He regularly refuses to compromise when compromise might be easier in the short run.

Mostly, he cares. A lot.

Entropy and the forces of mediocrity push hard. People who care push back.”


Your employees don’t work for you

January 25, 2016

Via   Article

New Managers Should Develop a Leadership Philosophy

“The problems you face as a manager are different from the ones you’ve faced before. Whether you’re juggling conflicting demands, delivering difficult messages, or addressing performance problems, you can set yourself up for success by having a clear management philosophy.

‘Servant leadership’ is one great example. To start thinking like a servant, stop thinking your employees work for you. They don’t — they work for the company, and your job is to facilitate that relationship. So rather than focusing on your personal glory, focus on how you can serve your team, to help them succeed.

When you’re assigning work to someone, think of it as matching that person’s interests with a business goal. When you’re giving feedback, think of it as helping someone understand how they can do the best job possible.

Being a servant may not sound very powerful, but it can deliver what you really need: influence and results.”

Source: Adapted from “New Managers Need a Philosophy About How They’ll Lead,” by Carol A. Walker

Our own dishonesty

January 25, 2016

By Shane Parrish via   Article

Dan Ariely on How and Why We Cheat

“In The Honest Truth, Ariely … digs into which situations make us more likely to cheat than others. … It’s a how-to guide on our own dishonesty.

  1. Cheating was standard, but only a little.  … A little cheating was everywhere. People generally did not grab all they could, but only as much as they could justify psychologically.
  2. Increasing the cheating reward or moderately altering the risk of being caught didn’t affect the outcomes much. In Ariely’s experience, the cheating stayed steady: A little bit of stretching every time.
  3. The more abstracted from the cheating we are, the more we cheat. … … being more willing to ‘tap’ a golf ball to improve its lie than actually pick it up and move it with our hands.
  4. A nudge not to cheat works better before we cheat than after. … we need to strengthen our morals just before we’re tempted to cheat, not after. …
  5. We think we’re more honest than everyone else. … consistently underestimated their own dishonesty versus others’. …
  6. We underestimate how blinded we can become to incentives. … incentives skew our judgment and our moral compass. …
  7. Related to (6), disclosure does not seem to decrease incentive-caused bias. This reminds me of Charlie Munger’s statement, “I think I’ve been in the top 5% of my age cohort all my life in understanding the power of incentives, and all my life I’ve underestimated it.” …
  8. We cheat more when our willpower is depleted. … Ariely found that when we’re tired and have exerted a lot of mental or physical energy, especially in resisting other temptations, we tend to increase our cheating. …
  9. We cheat ourselves, even if we have direct incentive not to. … even with a strong financial incentive to honestly assess our own abilities, we still think we cheat less than we do …
  10. Related to (9), we can delude ourselves into believing we were honest all along. This goes to show the degree to which we can damage ourselves by our cheating as much as others. …
  11. We cheat more when we believe the world ‘owes us one.’ … When we feel like we’ve been cheated or wronged ‘over here,’ we let the universe make it up to us ‘over there.’ (By cheating, of course.) …
  12. Unsurprisingly, cheating has a social contagion aspect. If we see someone who we identify with and whose group we feel we belong to cheating, it makes us (much) more likely to cheat. …
  13. Finally, nudging helps us cheat less. If we’re made more aware of our moral compass through specific types of reminders and nudges, we can decrease our own cheating.”


You aren’t fit to lead

January 25, 2016

By Dan Rockwell via   Article

You aren’t fit to lead until …

“If you want to become a remarkable leader, follow a leader of character, conviction, and vision.

Don’t ask people to follow you until you’ve humbly followed someone else.

You aren’t fit to lead until you know how to follow.

Following is perhaps the most neglected development principle of remarkable leadership. Ego wants to be the leader. Humility, on the other hand, aspires to add value and make a difference, regardless of position.


Opportunities abound for dedicated followers. But opportunities pass by while you’re waiting to become a remarkable leader.

Jimmy Collins, the retired COO of Chick-fil-A, and author of, ‘Creative Followership,’ said, ‘Seeking Leadership roles never produced anything for me. When I chose the follower role there was no end to what I could accomplish.’


  1. Follow advice from those more knowledgeable.
  2. Follow a vision bigger than yourself.
  3. Follow someone you respect. Get behind the most noble person available.
  4. Follow someone who is going somewhere.

Remarkable leaders are remarkable followers.

Our admiration of big-egoed-leaders degrades us all.

Worry less about becoming a remarkable leader and more about becoming a remarkable follower.”


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