Leadership is influence

May 29, 2017

By  via stevekeating.me   Article

True Leaders Lead Everyone

“Most often we tend to think of the term leading as someone ‘higher up’ in an organization leading people at a lower level of the organization. Too often we would be right.

True leadership is multi-directional. True leaders lead down, across, and sometimes up. True leaders even lead themselves at times. Because they know that a title or position doesn’t make them a leader they know that they can lead in every direction.

Leadership, at it’s core is influence. If you have the ability to influence others then you have the ability to lead. It doesn’t mean you will be a good leader, it doesn’t mean you will lead with noble intentions, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful as a leader. It’s simply means your influence will at least partially shape someone else’s thoughts or actions.

If you’re only leading down it is quite possible that you are counting on your title or position to influence others. Titles and positions may buy you some time to demonstrate your level of influence but sooner or later, most often sooner, you will have to realize that’s it you, your experience, your integrity, your ‘brand’ which will allow you to influence others long-term.

If you’re only leading down in your organization, it’s quite possible you’re not really leading at all. If you only have ‘influence’ downwards in your organization then it may not be real influence. It may be fear or intimidation that causes your people to follow your wishes and you should be aware that following your wishes or “orders” and actually following you as a leader are two very different things.

On the other hand, when leading across your organization, that is to lead others at your same level, you likely have very little other than your influence to shape their thoughts or actions. To lead up in your organization, that is to lead those at higher levels than your own, you have nothing but your influence to impact their thoughts and actions.

But true leaders most definitely lead in every direction. They don’t count on titles or positions. They demonstrate solid, consistent leadership characteristics that earn them a high degree of influence.

If you find yourself consistently impacting the behavior of those below you in your organization but never above you then that may be an indication that your leadership is limited to one direction.

To lead in every direction, to lead everyone, forget about levels. Forget about titles and ignore positions. Do what is right, say what you mean, exert honest and professional influence with integrity to everyone around you. Some of those may be lower than you in the organization, some may be above you.

None of that really matters because you’ll be making a difference in the right direction, no matter which direction it is.”

Profound differences

May 29, 2017

By Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort via hbr.org   Article

Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians

“Some managers just don’t recognize how profound the differences between their people are; others don’t know how to manage the gaps and tensions or understand the costs of not doing so. As a result, some of the best ideas go unheard or unrealized, and performance suffers. …

Each of us is a composite of the four work styles, though most people’s behavior and thinking are closely aligned with one or two. All the styles bring useful perspectives and distinctive approaches to generating ideas, making decisions, and solving problems. Generally speaking:

Pioneers value possibilities, and they spark energy and imagination on their teams. They believe risks are worth taking and that it’s fine to go with your gut. Their focus is big-picture. They’re drawn to bold new ideas and creative approaches.

Guardians value stability, and they bring order and rigor. They’re pragmatic, and they hesitate to embrace risk. Data and facts are baseline requirements for them, and details matter. Guardians think it makes sense to learn from the past.

Drivers value challenge and generate momentum. Getting results and winning count most. Drivers tend to view issues as black-and-white and tackle problems head on, armed with logic and data.

Integrators value connection and draw teams together. Relationships and responsibility to the group are paramount. Integrators tend to believe that most things are relative. They’re diplomatic and focused on gaining consensus.

The four styles give teams a common language for understanding how people work.

Teams that bring these styles together should, in theory, enjoy the many benefits of cognitive diversity, ranging from increased creativity and innovation to improved decision making. Yet time and again, diverse teams fail to thrive—sometimes stagnating, sometimes buckling under the weight of conflict. A first step for leaders hoping to turn that around is to identify the differing styles of their team members and understand what makes each individual tick.

In our work, we’ve clustered thousands of groups by style and asked them to list the things that energize and alienate them in the workplace. The lists vary greatly—what motivates one group can suck the life out of another. … Integrators abhor anything that feels like conflict, but Drivers love to debate. This can create tension and misunderstanding. In one of our lab sessions, a CFO and her team were talking about their executive meetings. One participant, an Integrator, confessed that she dreaded bringing topics up because ‘it always leads to an unpleasant argument.’ The CFO, a Driver, reacted with surprise, saying, ‘But that’s just how we discuss things!’

Differences in how individuals think and contribute can also create problems. For instance, if a Guardian walks through a detailed plan line by line, that may feel like a forced march to a Pioneer, who wants to skip ahead or whiteboard a completely different idea. Conversely, the Pioneer’s riffing about ideas without any agenda or structure may seem like an impractical mess to the organized Guardian.”


The right way

May 29, 2017

By Liane Davey via hbr.org   Article

The Right Way to Start a Meeting

“We all know there’s a price to pay for a making bad first impression: A limp handshake conveys low confidence; a wrinkled suit makes you seem lazy; oversharing comes across as emotional instability. But do you ever think about the first impression your meetings make? Frequently restarting meetings for stragglers sends the message that participants have more control than you do. Issues opened for discussion with no clear purpose get hijacked by participants with a clearer agenda than yours. Monologues validate everyone’s fears that your meeting is going to be about as valuable (and as scintillating) as watching an hour of C-SPAN.

If you want to have a more productive meeting, focus on a strong opening. A good start to a meeting is like an overture: It sets the tone, introduces the major themes, and provides a preview of what you can expect. Here are some best practices for starting your next meeting:

Make the purpose of the meeting clear. It’s amazing how much time gets invested in meetings where no one really knows why the meeting is happening. Remember to state the purpose of the meeting in the agenda and then reiterate it at the start of the meeting. …

Be specific about the purpose of each agenda item. Although the types of agenda items in any one meeting should be similar, they might be at different stages and therefore require a very different conversation. Before each agenda item, take a moment to clarify the goal. …

Ask people to filter their contributions. Another way to set the tone at the start of a meeting is to tell people what level of engagement you expect from each of them. You can cite the MIT research that found that a team’s collective intelligence is predicted by how equally team members participate. Ask participants to modulate their contributions (either up or down) so that they take up about as much airtime as everyone else. …

Reiterate any important ground rules. If your team has spent time developing ground rules (which I highly recommend that you do), use the time at the beginning of the meeting to remind everyone about any that are still aspirational. …

Head off passive-aggressive behavior. … Address the risk of passive-aggressive behavior explicitly by asking that issues be addressed in the meeting, not after it. It’s not a fail-safe approach, but calling out difficult or contentious discussions at the start of a meeting, and asking for people to share their points of view candidly, will increase the likelihood that you get the issues on the table rather than leaving them for hallway gossip later.

Decide whether to roundtable. I would be remiss if I did not weigh in on the controversial topic of roundtables. By roundtable, I mean the portion of the meeting where each participant shares a status update. Roundtables are notoriously bad for sucking up time, adding little value, and providing a platform for nervous team members to justify their paycheck.”

Double vision

May 29, 2017

By Dan Rockwell via leadershipfreak.blog   Article

How To Find The Courage To Fulfill The First Responsibility Of Leadership

“There are always good reasons to play it safe. Repeating the past may be painful, but at least it’s predictable.

Fear is the reason today is like yesterday.

Every meaningful act requires courage. Aristotle said, ‘You will never do anything in this world without courage’

Courage to define reality:

Max Dupree writes in, The Lost Art of Leadership, ‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.’

Double vision:

Courageous leaders have double vision. They see the world as it is and as it could be.

Look problems in the eye and see opportunity. Fear sees threat. Courage sees opportunity. Leadership perception isn’t pretending. Threats exist. Accept reality, then make it better.

Look people in the eye and see strength. Overcome the seduction of developing weaknesses.

Look the present in the eye and see the future. Think about where you’re going, even as you accept where you are. Leaders with vision shape the future. They don’t ignore the present.

Courage always turns toward the future.”


Manager – you were an “employee” once, too

May 22, 2017

By  via esquire.com   Article 

Can You Say…Hero?

“You were a child once, too. That’s what Mister Rogers said, that’s what he wrote down, once upon a time, for the doctors. The doctors were ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who takes care of the eyes. Sometimes, ophthalmologists have to take care of the eyes of children, and some children get very scared, because children know that their world disappears when their eyes close, and they can be afraid that the ophthalmologists will make their eyes close forever. The ophthalmologists did not want to scare children, so they asked Mister Rogers for help, and Mister Rogers agreed to write a chapter for a book the ophthalmologists were putting together—a chapter about what other ophthalmologists could do to calm the children who came to their offices. Because Mister Rogers is such a busy man, however, he could not write the chapter himself, and he asked a woman who worked for him to write it instead. She worked very hard at writing the chapter, until one day she showed what she had written to Mister Rogers, who read it and crossed it all out and wrote a sentence addressed directly to the doctors who would be reading it: ‘You were a child once, too.'”

Don’t smooth things over

May 22, 2017

By Steve Keating via stevekeating.me   Article

“Courageous leaders don’t smooth things over. They don’t put band-aids on the symptoms of a problem. They don’t pretend ‘things’ are okay when they know darn well they are not and they never ever expect that a problem will just fix itself.  What courageous leaders do is make things right, even if sometimes that means plunging headfirst into conflict.

There are and have been many a great leader who preferred to avoid conflict when possible but I can’t think of a single truly great leader from the past or present who avoids conflict at all costs. The most effective leaders know that ‘smoothing over’ a problem isn’t much different than burying it under a rock. Sooner or later someone comes along and turns the rock over exposing the problem with all it’s rough edges on display once again.

Weaker leaders avoid conflicts because to them conflict means emotionally charged turmoil and fights and disruption and drama. In the hands of a weak leader that’s probably true. Under the guidance of an Authentic Leader, especially an Authentic Servant Leader, a conflict represents the opportunity for genuine learning and long-term growth.

Authentic Servant Leaders meet conflict head-on with the compassion, integrity, and understanding that you would expect from such a leader. They know that the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it so they work diligently to lower relationship tension and the emotions that go with it.

They lead the discussion with whatever facts are irrefutable to build common ground. They show empathy for every side of a conflict without minimizing the importance of anyone’s feelings.  They want everyone involved in the situation to come out of it with their self-esteem and the conflict gone. When that works it’s a great accomplishment. But the truth is it doesn’t always work.

When it doesn’t work the Authentic Servant Leader sets aside the Authentic Servant part and simply leads. If forced, they impose a solution that ends the conflict. They decide! They take action! That may mean some really bad stuff happens to someone involved in the conflict but the conflict is resolved and it’s resolved for good.

Authentic Servant Leaders do not allow conflict to linger. Conflicts are like an organizational cancer. Leaders should help diagnose and treat the conflict but if it can’t be treated it must be removed. That will likely result in some injured feelings. Authentic Servant Leaders understand that at least a part of their organization may require some time to heal from an imposed solution. They also know that needing a little time to heal is far better than dealing with a slow burning conflict that never ends.”

Never buy a stock again

May 22, 2017

By  via marketwatch.com   Article

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a stock ever again

“Stock picking is notoriously difficult, with almost no investors able to develop portfolios that can outperform the market over the long term, but few may realize just how hard it is to find a winner.

While the overall stock market tends to rise over the long term, posting better gains than both bonds and cash, albeit with greater volatility, the bulk of this move is driven by a few names that do very well, essentially lifting the overall market. The average stock, when taken individually, not only underperforms when compared to the overall market, but also may even lose out to Treasurys.

That assessment comes care of Alpha Architect, an investment firm that looked at research by Hendrik Bessembinder, a professor at Arizona State University. According to the data, which spanned the time period between 1926 and 2015, only 47.7% of all monthly stock returns were larger than the one-month Treasury rate. A mere 42.1% of stocks beat the return of T-bills.

The results are just as bad when compared to the broader stock market. According to Alpha’s own research, which looked at the period between 2007 and 2014, around 54% of individual stocks underperformed the benchmark index. Only one in 10 stocks posted a return that is twice as strong as the overall market.

Alpha also looked at the time period between 1983 and 2006, which was an even tougher market for stock pickers. Only 37% of individual stocks outperformed the benchmark over that period. …

According to data from Charles Schwab, investors have a 40.1% chance of losing money if they hold five stocks. That risk drops to 25.5% if they own 20 stocks, and to 12.9% if they own 40.

Obviously investors don’t pick their stocks at random, research can improve a trader’s odds, and just because a stock underperforms the market doesn’t mean it will lose money. But growing awareness of the difficulty of stock picking has increasingly pushed investors to passive investing, where they basically hold the overall index. Data have repeatedly shown that investing in the broader market not only produces better gains than an actively managed portfolio—where the holdings are instead selected by an individual or team—but also such funds cost less in terms of fees.”