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Creating Leaders In Your Organization

In most large organizations, leaders can either be developed, ignored, or suppressed.  Unfortunately, in many cases, rather than encouraging the emergence of leadership, it is not considered, or, even worse, suppressed.

 

In my career, I’ve taken over existing organizations several times.  In one case, the executive I replaced was the only person in the organization that had the overall picture of what was going on.  He was the one that met one-on-one with his boss to present status.  His staff meetings consisted of his asking questions and handing out detailed assignments.  None of his direct reports had ever been asked to recommend a course of action.  Not surprisingly, when he was asked to put together a list of people in the company who could replace him, none of the people in his organization were on the list. 

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Buying Leadership Support: A Biased Opinion On The Single Most Important Factor in Choosing A Coach/ Trainer/ Consultant

Over the past 18 years I have worked with clients and colleagues on literally hundreds of projects.  I have done so in the context of Leadership Development, Training, Consulting or Coaching.  I have been told that for most organizations, the cost of such development work has been thought of as HR cost, an investment in their people and as such an overhead issue.  In my experience, this is an error.  In my opinion, organizations get the greatest value when their retained support is focused on and committed to producing specific results that make a difference to the organization at the bottom line.  This applies equally to corporate organizations and non-governmental organizations, (NGO’s).  My suggestion: do not ever hire anyone to train or coach the leadership of your company who will not agree to be responsible for the results that are produced as a result of said engagement.  There is such a thing as a consulting engagement where what you are asking for is nothing more than opinion and advice.  Even in this case, what will be the outcomes if you follow that advice?  A consultant who will not commit is not worth retaining. 

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Winning The Race To A New (and Extraordinary) Result

There are runners. And then there’s me.

 

Though I understand fully the possible benefits of running, and have many times over the years set out on a regimen, I’ve never carried it out for more than a couple weeks and, in fact, have never run more than a mile at once—and I’ve only run a mile one time. That’s my track record over the past couple decades.

 

In less than eight weeks (on May 3), I will participate in, and complete, a 5K. So, the question is: What’s required (and what am I doing) to fulfill on a commitment to an outcome that seems extraordinary given what my past says is likely?

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Seeing The Future (for what it is)

(Disclaimer: This is not “The Truth”. This is a possible view, and it is my view. Though what is presented in my blogs bears true in my experience and is corroborated by modern science, I am presenting it simply as a possible view that may provide you some value in fulfilling on what you’re committed to in your business and life. Take it or leave it.)

 

“The future is bleak.”

“The future is bright.”

 

Which one of these statements best fits your thoughts about your future?

 

Here’s the rub: either way, you’re wrong. There is no future.

 

Well, there’s no future as in a real future. “The future” is but a concept. Or, said another way, the future only exists in our language—our speaking, and our thoughts and mental images. There is no real, fixed future out there waiting for you to enter it; there’s only a predicted future that you’ve created (or that your brain has created), a projection based purely out of your past. Actually even the past that your future is based on is a construct—an assembled pattern of selected and inaccurate memories of distorted and incomplete perceptions, arranged and experienced in a way that the brain thinks best to ensure your continued survival.

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Solving The Unsolvable In 3 Steps

Legend tells us that Alexander the Great visited the city of Gordia, in asia minor, before he conquered most of the known world. The shrine in the city held an oxcart that was fastened to a pole using an intricate knot with no loose ends. It had been prophesied that the one who could solve this Gordian knot would become the king of the world. The Alexander solution to the problem of the Gordian knot has become a timeless metaphor for the solution of intractable problems. It was, according to himself, his greatest victory.

 

There are actually two different solutions to the Gordian knot with somewhat different implications. Aristobulus tells us that Alexander removed the pole from the oxcart and thereby exposed the loose end of the knot. This implies that sometimes, the way forwards is to look for a clever shortcuts that cut through all the difficult steps. The other account, the classical one, from Plutarch tells us that Alexander used his sword and cut the knot in two. This would invite us to look for an elegant out of the box solution, simple and resolute or perhaps even a brute force solution. The key to either of these solutions is to look at the problem from a new perspective or to redefine the goal.

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Don’t Kill The Deal By Pursuing “The Perfect Contract”

I am sure we have all experienced that one deal that was done on a handshake, and ultimately became the deal “from hell” that turned into a money pit. Perhaps it was as simple as a customer signing your proposal that might have the innocuous wording of “we strive to make our customers happy,” yet it turns into “scope creep” (because the customer never became happy) and you wind up spending more time, effort and resources than what you were paid (if you were paid at all). Many of us have also experienced a deal making process that included so many provisions for every possible scenario, that crafting the agreement became an obstacle to getting the deal done.

So, what do you do? Do you try to have a 30-page contract that contemplates every terrible scenario (and risk scaring off your customers with an over-reaching agreement) or do you leave out critical issues and risk that an agreement casually entered into will cost you more than it is worth? Sometimes, well thought out agreements of only a few pages can do the trick; addressing the critical needs of both parties and outlining a process for revision that works for all.

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Software Quality

There’s an old joke in the software business that states, “In the past 40 years, we’ve had two years of experience twenty times.”  Unfortunately, this joke has more truth to it than most of us would care to admit.  Many programmers are under the mistaken impression that the problems that they’re facing are new and haven’t been seen before and/or successfully solved.

 

None of this would be very important if the overall quality of the software we use was not horrible.  If software quality is measured by its reliability (doesn’t crash), being free of errors (bugs), and ease of use, we have been moving backwards.  This, coupled with the fact that software plays an ever increasing role in every aspect of our lives, means that we are depending more and more on things that are getting less and less workable.

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You’ve Got To Know When To Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em

What does a deck of cards have to tell us about leadership and teams?  I suggest that we look at the poker hand as an analogy for a team, and that we consider the suits and numbers as characteristic of human traits. I will go through the values of hands (team structures) in order and briefly discuss the characteristics of the individual suits and higher-ranking cards. And, if anyone does not know, a poker hand has 5 cards.
I will refer to two different types of alignment: an alignment of perspective (where one is standing) and an alignment of intention (what one is committed to).  I suggest that the number or value of the card represents perspective, and the suit represents what one is committed to. I’ll start with the four suits (commitments).

Busting a Performance-Killing Myth: “It doesn’t matter anyway”

Despite what your parents may have told you once upon a time to make you feel better, it is not the thought (alone) that counts- or your feelings, or “intentions” or anything else, but action itself. The only thing that really counts, the thing that really makes an impact in the world, is action. Your results are a direct function of your actions, and the state of what you have and don’t have is a result of what you’ve done and not done. It is simple and inescapable logic. Action matters.

In fact, it is the only thing that matters. The refrain of “it doesn’t matter anyway”, whether pertaining to a specific action or to life in general, is just not true- and yet seems to be a chronic and costly mistake in judgment. If you hear yourself say it, whether aloud or to yourself, know that you’re fooling yourself. And that pretense has far-reaching consequences.

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