In late February, Groupon announced that it was replacing Andrew Mason, the company’s founder and chief executive officer. I’m familiar with Groupon, and admit that I have purchased a few, but I don’t track Groupon’s stock or stay abreast of the company’s moves. What caught my attention was Mason’s farewell letter to employees, publically posted. It was downright refreshing. Continue reading “What Can We Learn From a Fired Leader?” »
This time of year, many organizations are turning their attention to talent management and training. But don’t wait for an invitation to begin your professional development. Here are five things you can do to take charge of your professional learning path.
1. Map it. To chart any course, you have to know where you are and where you want to go. While it sounds cliché, think about where you want to be in 2-5 years. What skills will you require? What knowledge will you need? Do you have the experience that will support your career objective? You might need to update your technology capabilities, add to your credentials, or take on more of a leadership role. Create a list of the things you’ll need when you get there, and start packing.
2. Get going. Don’t wait for your company to offer a class or to register you for training. There are a lot of available opportunities through free Continue reading “5 Steps to Creating Your Professional Learning Path” »
I was recently speaking about our book, The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, to a group of Human Resource Professionals in California. My talk, “Becoming a Multidimensional Leader,” focused on three major themes:
2) Good leaders understand that being an effective leader requires integrating knowledge with a real understanding of emotional, psychological, and interpersonal “default settings” and “blind spots.”
3) Leaders who are rated highly-effective by their subordinates are “multidimensional.” They have learned to be highly flexible in responding to the wide array of demands required by their organization. They can move outside their comfort zone and overcome the psychological barriers that keep some leaders from acting.
In essence, effective leaders are people who have attained a certain level of self-awareness and put that understanding to work as they contribute to helping an organization respond to challenges. Continue reading “Leadership for All?” »
In their article “Are You A Collaborative Leader?” (Harvard Business Review, July 2011) Herminia Ibarra and Morten Hansen define Collaborative Leadership as the “capacity to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work toward common goals – despite difference in convictions, cultural values and operating norms.” These authors differentiate a “Consensus-based” leadership style where all parties in a small group have equal authority, from the Collaborative style where the people leading the collaborative effort have clear authority to make final decisions. Their point is that Collaborative Leaders retain a strong role in directing teams. They maintain organizational agility by forming and disbanding teams as opportunities come and go. Collaborative leaders also pay close attention to the composition of the team and don’t hesitate to keep the team fresh by adding or changing players.
New York Times writer Adam Bryant interviewed Emerson’s Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Button Bell for the July 3rd “Corner Office” column:
Bryant: “When you think back over your leadership and management style, how would you say it’s evolved?”
Bell: “I am much more patient — a hundred times more than I was. I also prioritize much better, which comes out of patience. I think patience, by far, teaches you what to do.”
“Patience” is not a characteristic that comes to mind when we imagine a hard-charging business executive, but in fact our research for The 8 Dimensions of Leadership revealed that most effective leaders have learned the importance creating a stable, predictable environment inside their organizations. Continue reading “Patience is a Leadership Virtue” »
Like many people, I spend several hours each month volunteering. My volunteer experience includes roles in our church, our children’s schools, the United Way, a neighborhood association, and various youth organization committees. All of these positions have contributed to developing my leadership skills, which is an added benefit to giving to my community.
Non-profit organizations often fill leadership roles with volunteers, so it’s an ideal way to practice your leadership skills, and there are many organizations that need your help.
How do you find a volunteer leadership role in an organization?
First, join an organization with a mission that excites you. Then, contribute as a committee member—you’ll get to know the organization, and you’ll become more credible by doing some of the work. When the opportunity arises, volunteer for a small leadership role, like Continue reading “Building Leadership Skills through Volunteering” »
Analytical and reserved, Deliberate leaders provide a sense of stability for the group by communicating clearly and ensuring that decisions are made carefully. In my career and personal life, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some great Deliberate minds. These leaders rarely provide a lot of gushing praise, but they bring a great deal of value to their teams and organizations. Here are three things that I’ve learned from Deliberate leaders: Continue reading “What I’ve Learned from Deliberate Leaders” »
When we first developed our circumplex leadership model, we got a lot of questions about the Humble Dimension. Is humility really one of the most important characteristics of a leader? Aren’t all great leaders bold and charismatic? Who says humility matters? Not only does our quantitative and qualitative research show that people absolutely value humility in their leaders, but many top leadership experts have made similar claims.
Top Leadership Experts on Humility
In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes, “Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”
In The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner write, “Leaders are simply great learners. They have, to begin with, a great sense of humility about their own sense of skills and abilities, and many leaders, despite what may objectively be ‘extraordinary’ achievements are loath to attribute them to some extraordinary competency on their part.”
In Execution, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan write, “The more you contain your ego, the more realistic you are about your problems. You learn how to listen and admit that you don’t know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared.”
In The Handbook for Leaders, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman discuss humility in the context of character and leadership. They write, “Be willing to laugh at yourself. Don’t flaunt your authority. Humility will make you approachable. It opens the door to building relationships.”
What Does Humility Look Like?
Humble leaders maintain a modest, composed demeanor and can be relied upon to make decisions fairly. Specifically, leaders who are high on the Humble Dimension are good at:
- Maintaining Composure
- Showing Modesty, and
- Being Fair-Minded
In The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, we provide three lessons that the rest of us can learn from Humble leaders. Lesson One: People need leaders to stay calm under fire. Lesson Two: You need other people more than you think. Lesson Three: Other people have needs that differ from your own.
For me, the most challenging of these three lessons is the third one. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own way of thinking and behaving. I tend to be a fairly autonomous person, and a downside of that characteristic is that I can fail to notice whether other people’s needs are being met.
What happens when other people’s needs aren’t met? Oh, very unpleasant things! Resentment, burnout, and disinterest, to name a few. When these come into play, it doesn’t matter how driven, charismatic, or innovative you are as a leader—you won’t get very far without the support of people who are committed to your vision!
- How about you? What stands in the way of you being as Humble as you’d like to be?
- Have you ever worked with a truly Humble leader? What did you most admire about him or her?
- How can we help not-so-Humble leaders to see the light when it comes to this important leadership dimension?
In Sunday’s New York Times, Robert W. Goldfarb describes a bind that many employees find themselves in these days: Corporate mission statements encourage innovation and entrepreneurial boldness, but with economic pressure, budget cuts and layoffs, “dedicated, ambitious workers tell me they are so afraid of making a mistake that they feel it is safer for their careers to avoid innovation and initiative.” Goldfarb calls this “trickle-down anxiety” and attributes the source to leaders who spend too much time managing uncertainty and not enough time making things happen.
For the last few years, leaders at all levels of organizations have been performing a high-wire act that demands balancing the realities of their markets with their responsibility to build an organization capable of effectively outperforming the competition. For many, the clouds of economic recession are disappearing, but it is difficult to shake the fatigue and lost confidence associated with prolonged focus on managing unrelenting downward trends.
Stress is part of any job, and being in a position of leadership can add a certain level of constant pressure. Negative external stressors like the economy and even positive stressors like rapid growth can significantly add to the stress level in a leader’s life. And while some level of stress is normal, too much stress can cause irritability, poor decision-making and even take a toll on your health.
Everyone has a different style of leadership, and each person reacts in a different way when faced with stress. By examining our natural reaction to stress and how it manifests itself in our leadership style, we can equip ourselves with leadership qualities that are essential in stressful situations. Continue reading “Stress and Leadership” »