Simple, practical, applicable
When Leadership Skills Trump Technical Skills December 4 2013 no responses
At some point in your career, your leadership skills need to trump your technical skills if you’re going to make the biggest possible impact. Most professionals start their careers as a subject matter expert in something. Quite often, the best subject matter experts get promoted into roles where they’re responsible for leading other subject matter or technical experts.
That’s the great inflection point where leadership skills begin to trump technical skills. It’s represented in this simple graph:
As the picture suggests, the higher you rise in leadership, the leverage in getting bigger things done comes from spending less time on your technical skills and more time exercising your leadership skills.
There’s a relatively simple way to prove this out which I’ve used in dozens of Next Level leadership workshops over the past few years. In a roomful of 70 or 80 leaders, I ask everyone to give their answers to this question:
What is it, given the leadership role that you’re in, that only you can do? What follows is, in no particular order, a typical list of answers and some thoughts about what the list tells us:
Mindful Mondays: Dealing with End of the Year Stress December 2 2013 no responses
In doing the research for a new book I’m writing, I’ve been reading a lot of old and new favorites on the topic of mindfulness. One of those is the recently released second edition of a classic in the field, Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. In 1979, Kabat-Zinn created the first Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for patients with all sorts of chronic conditions at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Since then hundreds of medical schools and hospitals around the world have implemented MBSR programs that have made life better for millions of people. Kabat-Zinn is a hero of mine and when I met him at the Wisdom 2.0 conference earlier this year, I acted like a total fan boy (as you can see in the accompanying picture).
A few days ago, I read a passage in the Kabat-Zinn book that played out for me in real life this past weekend. I’ll tell that story in a moment, but, first, my guess is you’ll relate to what he writes about here:
“your thoughts are just thoughts and… not ‘you’ or ‘reality’. For instance, if you have the thought that you have to get a certain number of things done today and you don’t recognize it as a thought but act as if it’s ‘the truth,’ then you have created a reality in that moment in which you really believe that those things must all be done today.”
As you think about all the things that you “have” to do between now and the end of the year, how does that make you feel? A little or a lot stressed? How does that stress show up in the way you feel in your body? How does it show up in your actions? Do you notice how your thoughts can literally lead to feelings that have an impact on your actions? What do you do about it?
Mindful Mondays: How to Give Thanks (Mindfully) November 25 2013 2 responses
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches in the United States, I want to spend a few moments discussing how to give thanks.
I’m not talking about how you get ready to eat more than you usually do, spend time with relatives you don’t see that often or veg out in front of football game after football game. I’m not even talking about giving thanks for all the things you’re grateful for (although that’s always a good idea).
What I’m talking about is how to give thanks to the people in your life – at home, at work and in the community – who deserve it. When you stop and think about it, you probably come in contact with dozens of people on an average day who deserve your thanks.
If you’re like me, you probably say, “Thank you,” throughout the day because it’s the polite thing to do. It’s usually kind of mindless though isn’t it? It’s often just another conversational transaction in the course of the day.
So, this week, I invite you to join me in giving thanks to others so that they actually feel your gratitude. It would be interesting to see what happens if you set the intention of mindfully thanking at least one person each day for a week.
Here are some quick thoughts about how to do that:
If Peter Drucker Were Your Personal Coach… November 22 2013 one response
For more than 50 years of his almost 96 year life, Peter Drucker was known as the “Father of Modern Management.” His dozens of books included Concept of the Corporation, The Practice of Management and The Effective Executive.
Drucker was one of the few big thinkers who changed the way people view leadership. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have had him as your personal coach?
Relatively few people had that opportunity during Drucker’s life, but, fortunately, for the rest of us, Bruce Rosenstein has provided the next best thing in his new book, Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way. He’s the managing editor of Leader to Leader Journal which has a long association with Drucker, he has written a previous book on Drucker and he had the good fortune of conducting several multi-hour interviews with Drucker in the last years of his life.
In a recent conversation with Bruce, he told me that his goal for his new book was to show how to apply Drucker’s principles of leadership to one’s own life rather than the organization one happens to lead. In this brief recording, Bruce shared with me three big ideas on how Drucker’s systematic approach to creating the future can be applied to your own life.
It might just be the next best thing to having Peter Drucker as your personal coach.
Listen in for more.
Three Things Leaders Can Still Learn from JFK November 20 2013 one response
The coverage this week of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a stark reminder of the impact his life and death had on the United States and the world. With the perspective of fifty years, it’s easy to argue for or against Kennedy’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to debate what he did or didn’t accomplish. You may think he was a great president or you may not.
Still, on this anniversary of his death, I would argue there are still some things that leaders can learn from JFK. Here (with links to JFK videos that illustrate the points) are three things that I think leaders can still learn from John F. Kennedy.
Mindful Mondays: The End of “Stow Your Devices” November 18 2013 3 responses
On two cross country flights last week, I unexpectedly marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. I had read, with great joy, that the Federal Aviation Administration intended later this year to abolish the requirement that passengers turn off and stow their electronic devices between the closing of the cabin door and reaching 10,000 feet. The implementation of the change snuck up on me. I was taken aback last week when the flight attendants on United said that we could leave our devices on after the door was closed.
At first, I was thrilled. I kept reading articles and checking my emails with abandon. As we started taxiing toward the runway, I was reading and swiping away waiting for a flight attendant to come up behind me and tell me to turn it off and put it away. It felt weird that that never happened.
Then I noticed that absolutely no one was paying attention to the preflight safety announcements. Just like so many other places in modern life, everyone’s eyes were fixed on the screen in their hands.
I started feeling sorry for the flight attendants. I wondered what it’s like to stand there in the aisle sharing information that could save lives in the event of an emergency with no one paying attention.
It made me sad, actually, that we could all keep our devices out. An airliner was one of the last places on earth (or above) where you were forced to stow the device. As much as that used to annoy me, I realized last week that it was for my own good. It kept me safe and it made me slightly more mindful. Even though I don’t have to anymore, I think I’m still going to stow the device when they close the cabin door.
How about you? What event is coming up this week where it would be a great idea to stow your device even though you don’t have to?
The Single Best Thing You Can Do to Be More Creative November 15 2013 one response
If your answer to these questions is yes, that’s awesome – keep going. If your answer is no or I don’t know, there’s a single best thing you can do to be more creative.
In a recent conversation I had with David Burkus, assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University and author of the new book, The Myths of Creativity, he made the point that most creative ideas come through combining pre-existing ideas.
So, the most important thing you can do to raise your creativity and that of the people you lead is to seek out stimulus and ideas from all over. Go deep on your knowledge on your specific expertise or responsibility and go wide on paying attention to what’s going on around you.
Here’s an old school example of how that plays out in real life. As David pointed out to me, Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile. He didn’t invent the assembly line either. But Ford paid attention to how the Swift meat packing company used a “disassembly” line to prepare different cuts of beef. He combined that idea with his deep knowledge of autos to create the modern manufacturing process.
In this brief interview, David shares more about how you can spark your own creativity and that of your organization. Listen in for more.
A Tale of Two Speeches November 13 2013 no responses
Not to get all Dickensian on you but it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That was the case at a conference I attended recently. To accommodate the schedules of two high powered CEOs who agreed to speak during the lunch session, the meeting organizers scheduled two keynote addresses during the meal.
That’s a risky agenda move but one that could work if both speakers rock the house. Unfortunately that was not the case. The first speaker was awesome. The second speaker was just awesomely bad. So bad, in fact, that after 30 minutes I just couldn’t stand it anymore and slipped out the back door of the ballroom. It turned out I wasn’t alone. There were other terrible speech refugees hanging around waiting for the next session to start.
One of them was a guy I had met earlier in the day. We both exchanged knowing looks which indicated why we were both standing in the lobby. I asked him, “Why do you think the first speaker was so great and we’re standing out here to escape from the second one?”
Here’s what we came up with. Consider it a list of things to do and not to do when you’re asked to give a presentation.
Mindful Mondays: Our Help is Needed November 11 2013 one response
As you’ve likely seen in the news, a typhoon of historic proportions struck the Philippines this past weekend. As communications is reestablished and relief crews are reaching the stricken areas, it appears that at least ten thousand people died in the storm, entire communities have been wiped out and hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless.
It’s hard to imagine but that kind of devastation could touch any of us at any time. If it did, we would welcome whatever help anyone could provide. As you consider that, I invite you to consider joining me in making a donation to the relief efforts in the Philippines.
There are quite a number of reputable organizations with strong track records in disaster relief that you can contribute to. Here are the links to a few of them:
If none of those organizations meet your criteria, search online for those that do. Any amount helps. If you can’t make a donation, consider offering a prayer or a thought for the victims and all those traveling to the area to assist them.
How to Cure Your Toxic Team November 8 2013 one response
The good news is there’s something you can do about it no matter what your role is on the team. Team dynamics expert Liane Davey shares practical steps on how to do that in her new book, You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done.
In a recent conversation with Liane, she explained why it’s critical to take ownership of curing your toxic team. In the recording that accompanies this post, you’ll learn how to start taking action.
The first step is to identify which kind of toxic team you’re on. Chances are it’s a Spectator team, but it might be one of the other four toxic team types.
The next step is to lead the cure from where you are. Liane will help get you started by sharing her “killer app” behaviors for anyone who wants to take positive action to help cure a toxic team.
Take a few minutes to listen in on the conversation.