Tame tough decisions

September 24, 2018

Via Stanford eCorner <stanford-eCorner@stanford.edu> newsletter Published July 31, 2018

“Stanford Engineering Professor Kathleen Eisenhardt has spent her career studying the strategies that firms in fast, chaotic industries rely on to succeed. Decades of research have led her to the discovery that the toughest decisions in business, and life in general, can be made much easier when you can rely on some simple rules.

Here are three strategies from her book ‘Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World,’ which she wrote with Donald Sull of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Boundary rules: Identify criteria that must be met in order for you to say yes. Options that don’t meet the requirements can be quickly ruled out. For instance, the book cites a quirky study in Canada where convicted felons were shown photos of houses and asked to pick which ones they would break into. If a car was parked in front, they would pass. That indicated someone was home.

Prioritizing rules: Pinpoint factors that will help you rank different alternatives, especially if they will compete for limited money, time or attention. For example, a company faced with having to decide between two equally qualified candidates may have a rule that the one referred by a current employee gets the job.

Stopping rules: Determine the threshold you will not cross. This is crucial in situations where you could invest your precious resources indefinitely. Take the case of an investor who sells a stock anytime it loses 10 percent of its initial value. The legendary crooner Kenny Rogers sang it best, ‘You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.'”

Coaching or telling

September 24, 2018

By Dan Rockwell via leadershipfreak.blog  Article

The Truth About, “Just Tell Me What To Do.”

“Seven models of leadership:

  1. Shepherd – sheep.
  2. Politician – voters.
  3. Conductor – orchestra.
  4. Parent – child.
  5. Coach – athlete.
  6. Founder – follower.
  7. Designer – contractor – homeowner.

Factors for the best leadership style:

  1. Culture and context.
  2. Circumstances. Crisis calls for more dictatorial styles of leadership.
  3. Skill and experience of team members. A conductor style of leadership might best suit a talented team.
  4. Skill and experience of the leader.
  5. Complexity of task. The more complex the task, the greater the need for an empowered workforce.

Shifting toward a coaching style of leadership:

Young workers desire coaching. Older workers – who have less interest in personal development – prefer loose direction and autonomy. They want you to tell them what you want and then leave them alone.

Coaching or telling:

You might coach an employee to discover and choose their own solution.  You ask, ‘What are three possible solutions to this situation?” You might ask, ‘Which of your strengths are most applicable right now?’

When you shift toward coaching and away from commanding, you’ll hear, ‘Just tell me what to do.’ Employees who want you to tell them what to do are fearful, unskilled, or resistant.

  • Resistant employees don’t want you to tell them what to do. They want you to tell them what they want to hear.
  • Unskilled employees may need mentors or training.
  • Fearful employees may need to understand that failure is a learning opportunity.

Anyone who says, ‘Just tell me what to do,’ resists ownership. When someone says, ‘Just tell me what to do,’ smile and say, ‘I’m telling you to come back with three options for this situation.'”

Warriors, not bookkeepers

September 24, 2018

By Jim Haskin via cio.com  Article

Project managers need to be warriors, not bookkeepers – or your projects are doomed

“Project management is about leadership. Learn to develop, hire and celebrate the warrior project managers. …

My view is that project managers come in two basic flavors. First is the bookkeeper. These are the PMs that document and report infinite detail on progress and project results (most often of failure) in project plans, status reports and other documentation. The second flavor, the warriors, are rare – at most 10% of the project managers I run into are warriors. These are the people who can actually cause a desired result to happen. They make the news rather than simply document and report the news. They are leaders first and are relentless in their pursuit of project milestones and completion. They are unafraid to speak up, stand up, and confront when needed; indeed, they are willing to surface issues quickly and get issues the attention they deserve rather than letting them silently kill the project.  They accept responsibility, demand accountability, and won’t take no for an answer. They work tirelessly to go over, under, and around obstacles, and create teams of people with that mindset. They focus on the goal, not the process.

Gene Kranz, the American aerospace engineer and retired NASA flight director made popular from the movie Apollo 13, famously said, ‘Failure is not an option.’ This quote illuminates the mindset of the warrior PM – we will find an answer, and we will get this done. The bookkeeper PM would carefully document the risks, issues and roadblocks, and prepare slides explaining why the dates or project was going to be impacted. If Kranz has been a bookkeeper PM, the Apollo 13 astronauts would have died in space which is why you want warrior project managers on your team. The bigger the project, the more critical this is – but you have to be able to recognize, hire, and harness the right kind of warrior PMs, and then provide them with the project coordinator resources to make sure the necessary minimum amount of documentation and procedure is followed.

Project management is an art form with a high-level leadership component required. The paperwork and process should be just enough to enable the project team to function in a coordinated manner, and to enable communication within and outside of the project team. Anything beyond that is wasted effort and is often counterproductive. …

In a time of high levels of business change, I politely declined to do a such a roadmap, and instead committed to a rolling six-month plan, with a commitment that our team would ALWAYS deliver on the six-month commitments. What an amazing difference in perception and team morale to actually deliver on what was committed, and then to repeat that over and over. In that organization, what had been valued was the thick set of plans and documentation, rather than actual result. Bookkeepers not warriors ruled the roost. Don’t let that happen to your organization! …”


Success is a catalyst for failure

September 24, 2018

By Benjamin P. Hardy via theladders.com  Article

Life doesn’t reward you for what you know, but for what you do

Imagination is more powerful than knowledge

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’ — Albert Einstein

Knowledge can keep you stuck in the past. Knowledge can keep you limited to what you think is possible. Imagination allows you to think outside the box of your current and highly limited worldview.

The most influential and intelligent people in the world were also the most imaginative. They have a vision way beyond their current level of knowledge and ability. Their vision provided the direction for what types of knowledge they should develop. Their vision provided the conviction to truly learn — which meant they were willing to transform themselves into the type of person who could bring their vision to life. …

Creativity is more important than experience

‘Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas.’ — Paul Arden

Experience is based on what you did or learned in the past. What we need from you right now are creative solutions for the present and the future. Don’t tell me what you did yesterday. Tell me what you’re working on today. …

The risk of learning is that you might have to completely change who you are and what you’re doing as a result of what you’ve learned. Yet, when you’ve reached some level of success or experience, you don’t want to change. You don’t want to lose everything you’ve gained.

And this ends up being the beginning of your inevitable downfall. This is the reason author Greg McKeown said, ‘Success is a catalyst for failure.’

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. If you’re not changing and evolving, you’re relying too heavily on knowledge rather than imagination. You’re relying too heavily on experience rather than creativity.

You’re stuck in the past. You’re living out a predictable life. And predictability is nowhere to be found in courage and creativity. As Sir Ken Robinson said, ‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.’ Seth Godin similarly said, ‘If you’re willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to becoming an artist.”

Run meetings exactly like this

September 17, 2018

By Romy Newman via theladders.com  Article

Successful bosses run their most effective meetings exactly like this





… with chairs at the table for everyone. Seriously. If people feel uncomfortable or are marginalized to ‘back row seats,’ …


If it’s a meeting that’s around a long table, as the leader, you should sit in the middle, not at the head. …




… Confirm RSVPs for everyone, and send a meeting reminder the day before.



If someone tries to take the meeting in another direction (and they always do), say, ‘That’s a great thought. Let’s schedule a separate meeting to discuss it.’


Pay attention to people’s reactions to the discussion. … If someone is being drowned out, call attention to them and give them the floor.



If you jot down people’s thoughts, it gives them weight—and it also helps bring participants along to a conclusion or solution with you.


Recap key findings and next steps. Reiterate how the group has successfully accomplished the task at hand. …



If you can wrap up the meeting 5 minutes before the scheduled time, people will LOVE you. …


That day or the next day at the very latest. Make sure it is clear who is responsible for what follow-up and by when. And if you need a follow-up meeting, send the invite for it immediately. It gives people a sense that the project is progressing.”

Bare your neck

September 17, 2018

By Dan Rockwell via leadershipfreak.blog  Article

How To Bare Your Neck Like A Leader

“People build walls of self-protection because they are afraid.

‘… if you are humble, if you make people realize that you are no threat to them, then they will  embrace you.’ Nelson Mandela

Low vulnerability:

Vulnerability takes courage. Insecurity motivates wall-building. People watch for indications that it’s safe to lower their guard. ….

7 ways to bare your neck:

Others won’t bare their necks until leaders expose theirs. …

  1. Tell stories of how you learned from mistakes.
  2. Laugh at yourself. Chest thumping lets others know you’re not safe.
  3. Ask for what you really want.  Any leader who can’t say what they really want won’t get what they really need.
    • I want our team to trust each other.
    • I want you to enjoy work.
    • I want you to love coming to work.
    • I want to lead well.
  4. Give second and third chances.
  5. Share what you’re learning. Don’t pretend you know more than you know.
  6. Stand with team members when they screw up.
  7. Shine the spotlight on others – ALL THE TIME.



…. Work to understand and respect team members.

  1. Show interest in others. Know the stories of your team members.
  2. Get excited when others are excited.
  3. Honor simple accomplishments. People aren’t looking for you to out-do them when they tell you what they’ve accomplished.
  4. Make ‘You must feel’ statements.
    • This must be frustrating…
    • You must feel concerned…
    • You seem excited…”

Being likable and emotionally intelligent

September 17, 2018

By Thomas Koulopoulos via inc.com  Article

Harvard Study Reveals One Word Is The Secret To Being Likable And Emotionally Intelligent

So, where’d you learn to question? 

Learning how to ask questions is not something that most people are taught, not unless you’re a lawyer, in law enforcement, a doctor, or a journalist. That’s not to say any of those professions has a universally applicable formula for how to best ask questions, only that in each case it’s critical to shift the focus of the conversation onto the other person in order to build the rapport and transparency needed to make the relationship an effective one. …

… Brooks and John present these guidelines, from their research, for how to best ask questions that form a solid foundation of bonding, trust, empathy, transparency, and emotionally intelligent intimacy.

Favor follow-up questions.

According to Brooks and John, there are ‘four types of questions: introductory questions (‘How are you?’), mirror questions (‘I’m fine. How are you?’), full-switch questions (ones that change the topic entirely), and follow-up questions (ones that solicit more information).’

All of these are fair game and have their place, but follow-up questions are especially important because they signal an interest in the person you are talking to. The opposite is also true. If you ignore follow-up questions and simply stick to an agenda of pre-scripted questions, the conversation turns into an inquisition at worst and a disinterested, awkward exchange at best. Also, keep in mind that when someone answers a question they are often opening the door a little wider in the hopes of revealing information that they want to share more of.

Know when to keep questions open-ended.

We’ve all heard that open-ended questions are better than simple yes/no or multiple choice questions, since they result in richer and more revealing answers. That’s true, however, what we often ignore is the risk of closed-ended questions that introduce bias and a sense of manipulation.

We’ve all been on the giving or receiving end of questions that are subtly trying to drive to an already anticipated conclusion with the use of closed-ended questions. I have one good friend who’s notorious for both asking and answering closed-ended questions in a way that almost makes it appear as though my being there is optional! When you ask a question stop, wait, and allow the person to digest and respond. Don’t try to just fill the silence or move away from what appears to be a dead end. For example, one of the best ways to do this is by following-up a closed-ended answer, such as yes or no, with the question, ‘Can you tell me why you answered yes (or no)?'”