Archives For learning

frontlinefestival 300x300 300x300 23 Great Thoughts on Leadership Development:  A Frontline FestivalI’m delighted to present the September edition of the Frontline Festival.  This month’s focus:  Leadership Development.  I encourage you to read the insights and share your perspectives. Namaste.

Leadership Development

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference offers, You Are Born to Be Brave: How Do You Sustain It?  “To be an effective leader, we need to understand where our bravery comes from and what empowers it so that we can lead with purpose and solve problems with the right actions.”  Amen.

Julie Winkle Giuliani of juliewinklegiulani.com  shares Everything I Needed to Know About Leadership, I Learned… When My Kids Entered Kindergarten.  So great that we get to relive these important lessons with our kids.  I must say, I’m learning a lot from second grade and freshman year in college too.

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak shares his post How Peter Drucker Mentored.  The best point:   “Accountability requires a volunteer.”

Jesse Lynn Stoner, Seapoint Center,  shares The Space Between Closely Supervising and Delegating.  She shares practical advice for leading in the space between closely supervising that can be too much, and delegating which can be too little.  Fantastic read for frontline leaders.

Dan McCarthy, of Great Leadership shares his recent post 10 Succession Planning Best Practices.  For a practical guide to implementing leadership development and succession planning programs check out his ebook as well. Continue Reading…

b42 300x200 60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford

Competent, lazy leaders are dangerous.

  • “Why fix something that’s working?”
  • “I was promoted to this position for a reason.”
  • “I’ve seen this movie before.”

Beware of highly skilled, non-learning leaders.

I Already Know How To Swim

This summer my son, Sebastian, refused to take swimming lessons.  Why?  Because he “already knows how to swim.”  Well, technically, I suppose that’s true.  And if he were to fall off a dock, I’d want him to believe it.

REAL leaders inspire confidence while exposing growth opportunities Continue Reading…

 

iStock 000001398323XSmall 300x199 Forgive and Refresh: Returning to The Leader You Meant to BeToday, Rosh Hashanah, marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  Although I am not Jewish, I am intrigued by the concepts surrounding this holiday, particularly the ritual of teshuva– a time to forgive and seek forgiveness.  When making teshuva, people reflect on the year and consider the people from whom they need forgiveness… and then go about making things right.  The concept offers spiritual complexities and beliefs that may be deeply meaningful for some readers, and disturbing for others.  So I invite readers of all faiths and beliefs to join me in exploring the concept of teshuva more pragmatically… and from a leadership point of view. Continue Reading…

“What the world needs now is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.”

-Oscar Levant

iStock 000005641615XSmall 300x199 Humility Matters:  9 Ways Confident Leaders Remain HumbleWe want to follow people with confidence, charisma and a strong sense of direction.  Confidence inspires, attracts, excites and ignites.  We think, “they sure do seem to know what they’re doing…”  And yet, I have observed that confidence, without humility, can be dangerous.  I have seen it significantly limit a leader’s effectiveness.  They stay their course, but may miss important input.  People may follow, but not with their full spirit.  Truly confident leaders are secure enough to embrace and share their humility.  In the long run, their humility makes them stronger. Continue Reading…

matt 224x300 Saturday Salutation:  Spirited Warrior

Spirited Warrior, Matt Landen, 2012

I first really met this spirited warrior, Matt on a (yoga) Mat. Our arms and spirits intertwined as we breathed through warrior poses. That was when I began to understand his powerful and joyful heart and spirit.

Oh sure, we had been working together at church on our “Quest” before that, me as advisor and he as “Quester”… trying to figure as much of “it” out as we could. “It” being what we believed. about God, and values, and life… and what he would share about those beliefs with our congregations. Continue Reading…

Mentoring in Circles

June 29, 2012 — 4 Comments

In my earlier post, Don’t Get a Mentor, I talked about my preference for finding a mentor organically rather than waiting for formal programs.  On the other hand, throughout the years, my favorite formal programs have always been in the form of circles.

These are groups with a leader as guide and a small group of people learning together.   I have experience with this in 2 contexts:  (1) as a formal HR program and (2) as skip level development for my own teams.  Both informal, with lots of options for customization.

 Mentoring in Circles

HR Program

In this context  we paired execs  with cross-functional groups of leaders learning together.  This structure helped to create a space for natural relationships to occur… and if someone did not necessarily click with their mentor, they might develop a cool relationship with one or more of their peers.  We did all this in-house, at very low-cost.  We gave the groups tools, but also lots of latitude to do what worked for them.  Each group was given an action learning project (a real problem to solve) which worked quite well.

My internet research shows that there are a lot of companies offering support for this online these days. I would love to hear comments from anyone using these programs and the success that they have had.

With My Own Team

Over the years, I have had a lot of fun running mentoring circles in my own teams.   I do this as a skip level experience, giving me an opportunity to get to know 8-10 high potential managers by working together.  I always start with teaching them about “elevator speeches”, and having them create one.  Glass Elevators: Why Elevator Speeches Matter.

We talk about the business…and we all share the challenges we are having and share best practices.  The fun begins when we take field trips to struggling areas of the business and offer support.  We also do a project together to give back to the business.  I have found that these circles (called various names, usually “academies” or “leagues”), are a great way for me and my team to share our vision, work on work, and really get to know the managers in a deeper way.  An added win is having a direct report involved with this as part of their leadership experience.   I have seen a good track record of successful promotions coming out of these scenes.

Of course, some would argue it’s not “mentoring” if it is your own chain of command.  Perhaps.

Please share your stories of mentoring circles.  I would love to learn more.

I recently went to see my sister and her family in a fantastic performance of Big River, the musical based on Huckleberry Finn performed by the Adams County School of Musical Theater in Gettysburg, PA.

 Is Tom Sawyer Slowing You Down?

I was struck by the scene where Tom and Huck are making plans to free Jim, their friend (and recently captured runaway slave) from captivity.  Huck has a solid and easy plan.  Tom convinces him they need to spice it up.

“I should HOPE we can find a way more complicated than THAT, Huck Finn….That’s more like it… It’s real mysterious and troublesome and good.   But I am sure we can can find a way twice as long.  There ain’t no hurry.  Let’s keep looking around”

The scene is funny because of the total absurdity.  And yet, I couldn’t help reflecting on how frequently I (and those around me) do just that.  Instead of going with our instincts to the easy solution, we build in unnecessary complexity.

My most painful memory of over complication was a long time ago  in grad school.  I spent many sleepless nights pouring over reams of data,  lots of time preparing  the presentation, and writing and stakeholdering…only to defend a premise that a  committee member said was “either trivial or obvious.”

Of course I was doing what I had to do, as was he. I graduated, we both rolled on.

In hindsight, it was not trivial, but I would give a solid vote at this stage of the game for obvious.

So, years later… I still find similar scenes. How do we cut through quickly to do what needs to be done… with out the over analysis or dramatization.  How much time and money is there to save if we just get real more quickly?

6 Signs Sawyer’s Involved

  • You don’t have a clear VISION, and spend too much time working on peripheral stuff
  • You don’t have ALIGNMENT, so it takes too long for a path to emerge
  • You’ve got plenty of DATA, but you keep looking for more and more
  • You wait too long to include the RIGHT PEOPLE
  • You over-include the WRONG PEOPLE
  • You work on “exciting” and “mysterious” PRESENTATIONS, when a simple discussion would do
So when things are getting to complex, try Hucking it up.

What tips do you have for keeping things simple?

 Dad Says:  Best Advice From YOUR Dads

In the spirit of Fathers Day, my son Ben (17) and I set out to collect as much fatherly advice as we could in a week.  We asked everyone we knew or ran into… friends, work, school, church, airports, restaurants, and random encounters …“what’s the best advice you ever got from your dad?”  

The question also became a conversation piece in a wide variety of contexts and our whole family got involved.  We had people talking about this in team-builders, men’s breakfasts, church meetings, fire stations, summer camps, executive dinners, knitting groups and through our social networks.  One friend got so engaged in the process he collected responses from 4 generations of family.

Sebastian (6)  also got into the game, taking his own notes “be a taim plare (be a team player)” and “folo yor hirt (follow your heart).”

Ben and Mom’s Top Picks

  1. Don’t listen to your father (Karin’s Dad, from his Dad, MD)
  2. Have faith– but there is no RIGHT faith (Ben’s friend, Matthew who collected 4 generations of advice, MA)
  3. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (Sean, our waiter,  CA)

We received hundreds of responses from 5 countries.

The folks we talked to fell into 3 clusters:

  • the eager to engage

About two third of the  folks we asked were excited to engage, and had compelling and interesting stories that came along with their advice.   A few got choked up, as did we more than once in the process

  • those who preferred not to talk

MANY others had almost the opposite reaction.  In these cases  our questions were answered with silence or a quick attempt to change the subject.  This was the most troubling and surprising part of this process

  • and “gee… my dad didn’t SAY a lot but showed a lot in his DOING

Our favorite was from Magesh in India  “he once helped a poor child in the area by paying for him to have a heart operation. I sure learned a lot from him.”

“Sorry Ben. This is one that I can’t contribute to.  Not many words were passed from my Dad to me that would fall into your category.

The only thing that I can share is, don’t let it happen to you- always talk to your kids and encourage them without shouting or threatening.

Love you guy…

So when Dads DO talk… what do they say?

Top Topics (and some good -or fun- examples)

Tried and True  (19%)

“Do unto others..”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”

“Measure twice, cut once”

School & Knowledge (14%)

“If you don’t ask, you won’t know”

“Girls are just as good in math as boys”

“Never listen to the damn doctor”

How to Be and Improve (11%)

 ” Du kannst dich drehen und wenden wie du willst, der Arsch bleibt immer hinten” ( you can turn around as much as you want, the ass always stays in back)

“Figure out what people need and give it to them”

“Names are important. Really important.  Never bluff. Ask again”

“As you know, my parents escaped from Vietnam to come to America….The one advice that my father gave me that stays with me is… Ask yourself what you would do if you were not afraid…My parents taught me to not let fear stop you, but rather move you.”

Dreams, Inspiration and Spirituality (11%)

“Believe in yourself and continue to inspire others… the way you inspire me”

“Put your effort and time into the things you love doing”

“Talent is handy, it’s not essential”

Integrity and Respect (10%)

“Strive to always tell the truth, regardless of the consequences”

“Don’t worry about what others say if you are doing it for the right reasons”

“Be honest, open and upfront about anything and everything.  You may not be liked today, however you will be respected tomorrow.

Relationships and Dating (9%)

“Girls like to be kissed”

“If you want your wife to be pretty, you’d better clean your plate.  When you leave bits of food all over your plate, that’s what your wife’s face will look like.”

“Marry this one”

Family (8%)

“What did your mother say?”

(If I spoke rudely) “Mom is your mother, but she is my wife… don’t forget that”

“Find something specific about your daughter to like every day.  Let her know you found it”

Sports (7%)

“Don’t throw like a girl”

“Whenever possible, throw strikes”

“When in doubt, grab a glove and go out back”

The Basics:  Finances, Food and Drink (6%)

“Cheese and crackers and a beer make a nice snack”

“Don’t complain about your weight while eating a snickers bar”

“Never walk over a penny”

Cars and Driving (5%)

“Don’t date a man with bald tires on his car”

“Always remember where you parked your car”

“Turn your head when you change lanes”

Thanks, Dads.  Happy Fathers Day.

Namaste,

Karin and Ben

Please let us know your Dad’s best advice….