Genuine Leadership


I just returned from a week long business trip to Shanghai, China.  It was a mind-blowing experience to say the least.  I found the (arguably) largest city on the planet to be a bit overwhelming.  The picture that sits atop this opening paragraph is the scene that greeted me when I awoke after arriving in the evening last Friday night and looked out my hotel window from the 55th floor of the JW Marriott in downtown Shanghai early the next morning.  It was my first view of the city.

I have been to some very large cities in my personal and business travels.  But nothing prepared me for the size and scope of Shanghai.  I have been to the top of the Empire State Building and I have looked out over Manhattan and all of metropolitan New York.  This was like looking at that view times four!

Fake RolexBut that is not the point of today’s article.  My point is this.  Sometimes you have to look really close to distinguish the genuine from the counterfeit.  The concept of copyright and intellectual property is not viewed the same in China as it is in many other parts of the world.  As a result, you can by a Rolex gold Presidential watch for about $2,000 in US dollars.  Well, not really.  But you can get a counterfeit one for that price.  Now, I am not talking about the Thailand junk that is basically a cheap movement in not much more than a plastic case.  I am talking about a watch with a second hand that moves smoothly around the face.  It doesn’t click on the second which is a tell-tale giveaway for fake Rolex’s.  These are very high quality watches.  They are fairly expensive.  They are also fakes. Continue reading “Genuine Leadership”

Why Would Anyone Want To Be Led By You? Or Me?


Why Be Led By You - 1The year is nearly over. Many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans. (What? You don’t do that at your organization?  Maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back.)

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives, or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?”

Without fail the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping. Continue reading “Why Would Anyone Want To Be Led By You? Or Me?”

Leaders Encourage Vigorous Debate


Vigorous Debate - 1Great leaders know how to focus on the positive, helpful, edifying and uplifting communication while managing the negative, destructive, decisive and demeaning communication in meetings.

Consider this advice from a seasoned old-timer to a young leader who was still early in his leadership career. It happens to be from the New Testament of the Bible.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” 

Titus 3:9-10

Have you ever been in a meeting that digressed and evolved into almost a free-for-all? As a contrast, have you ever been in a team meeting where the leader encouraged good debates and successfully squashed useless ones?

Such well-managed teams tend to finish their meetings with good plans and they do it on time. The participants feel productive and actually like getting together because everyone feels like they were a part of something productive.

But, back to my brief Biblical text. The Apostle Paul (the old-timer) exhorted a pastor (young leader) named Titus to refrain from arguing about peripheral subjects that divided his followers.  And I think that advice is relevant to leadership principles today.

There is a branch of modern communication theory that seems to have grown out of the apostle Paul’s philosophy. In 1968, Sir Charles Geoffrey Vickers, an English lawyer, administrator, writer, and pioneering systems scientist introduced the concept of “appreciative systems”, which later became Appreciative Inquiry (AI). It was really further developed nearly 20 years later at Case Western Reserve University’s department of Organizational Behavior. It started there with an article in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models. At its core, AI is positive debate that explores what an organization does well and how it can build on its strengths.

Vigorous Debate - 3As leaders it’s sometimes difficult to limit discussion and keep debates from getting out of control. Continue reading “Leaders Encourage Vigorous Debate”

Communicating as a Leader


transactional-comm-modelI recently spent 2 days in meetings with the North American members of my global team.  There were a lot of presentations.  A lot!  One word that came up over and over again was the word: “Communication”. I have heard many presentations in my career on the importance of communication. But, one guy boiled it down very succinctly.  And I loved the sense of urgency that it conveys.

He said it this way:

  1. What do I know?
  2. Who needs to know it?
  3. Have I told them yet?

I thought that was pretty good. Effective communication is one of the key skills that a leader must possess if they are to be successful. So, let’s break it down.

What do I know? – As a leader, I have access to and am privy to things that the rest of the folks on my team do not have access to and are not privy to in their current roles. So, I must recognize that I have a duty to spread that knowledge when and where it is appropriate to do so.

Who needs to know it? – Not everyone needs to know what I know. And in many cases it would be detrimental to the team for them to know what I know. Personnel and salary information are the easy examples. But it goes well beyond those examples. The ones that need to know specific information are those who are somehow engaged in a project and need the information that you possess.

Have I told them yet? – This indicates that there is time sensitivity or an imperative to share the information when they are the right person to receive the information. So, do not delay. Share the information as quickly as you can because they may be waiting on that information in order to determine how best to proceed.

One to many communicationBut, I think that there may be a little more to the process than those three questions. In fact, I would add three more. Continue reading “Communicating as a Leader”