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Leadership LibraryI have written more than 300 articles about Leadership, about 1/3 of which have been published by the SF affiliate of the New York Times. You can focus here on specific issues including Communication, Compensation, Governance, Entrepreneurship, Performance, Planning, and Recruiting

Please check out the Featured Articles from our Leadership Library to get you started.

Happy Birthday, Winston | How Did You Get It All Done?

Today, November 30, is the birthday of Winston Churchill.

H e was born 142 years ago in 1874 … and died almost 51 years ago in 1965 … yet his talent and prodigious output remains striking to this day.

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Winston Churchill has always been one of my favorite historical characters … and for many reasons. His oratorical wit, style and passion was without peer.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. ~Winston Churchill

He had a spine of steel … with discipline and resilience to match, albeit the certainty of his convictions often triggered an abject stubbornness that wasn’t always welcome. It also created no small amount of turmoil.

I suppose some of these attributes can be found among many of us, so by themselves, they may not be so distinctive.

Prime Minister during WWII is only part of his record

To believe is to be strong … Doubt cramps energy … Belief is power. ~Winston Churchill

For me, his greatest distinction is the enormity of his accomplishments.

In most lifetimes, we’d be fortunate to accomplish a fraction of what Churchill got done.

Most notably, he served as the Prime Minister for Great Britain (and for 40+ years in the House of Commons, holding many other cabinet-level positions previously), leading the Allies to victory against the Axis forces during World War II … by most standards, enough to earn eternal praise and approbation.

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The Nobel Prize for Literature

Yet, who else in that same lifetime wrote 43 book-length works in 72 volumes?

Keep reading to learn of Churchill’s extraordinary accomplishments

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Are you moving at the Speed of Lame?

Here’s the thing. If you’re not organized, you can’t be the effective leader you want and need to become.

If you aren’t organized … and know it … you will be among the loudest critics.

If you like to think you’re organized but know you’re really not, you will quickly delete this email because you don’t want to face up to that challenge.

Sorry about all this. Go ahead and disagree if you wish.

I get it.

Getting organized is a lot harder than you think. It’s a lot harder than it ought to be, but as soon as we get some time, gosh darn it, we’re going to get organized.

But, what does that mean? It’s a valuable shorthand that some people will debate as sadly misplaced, but I think we all know what it means.

For me, it means making sure that I don’t lose track of any thing that has my attention and holds my interest. There’s no better bible for Getting Things Done than David Allen’s book by that name.

Keep Reading for Productivity Tips & Tools …

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4 Lessons We Can Take Away from the 7th Game of the World Series

Just one week ago today, the Chicago Cubs broke a 108 year old drought to win the World Series, 8-7 in the 10th inning, over the Cleveland Indians.

Throughout one of the greatest games in baseball history which ran to almost five hours, I couldn’t help but wonder:

Why is the 7th Game of the World Series so much more exciting than any other baseball game?

Why is the 7th Game of the World Series So Exciting?

By any measure, Game 7 was an exciting game and will go down as one of the most treasured and legendary games in baseball history.

But, there are some powerful themes at work in a 7th Game. As I watched it, I jotted down at least 9 unique ingredients that made it so exciting. I think we can apply many of them to make our business, and its landmark events, even more powerful.

Let’s start by identifying some of these unique characteristics.

Keep Reading for 4 Powerful Lessons …

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Do you think you have True Grit? Great … but It’s Not Enough.

What exactly is in the DNA of true grit, anyway?

For my money, no matter how you define “grit”, it isn’t enough by itself to ensure success. It’s an amalgam of several characteristics which, in combination, give us the greatest chance to succeed.

 

What does it take to persevere under pressure … in the face of intense and relentless competition … when it’s so much easier to fold your tent and call it a day?

Keep reading to learn the 7 Critical Ingredients of Success

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Did You Ever Think You’d Read: Don’t Focus On Winning?

Well, of course it is, isn’t it? Isn’t that what we’re all trying to achieve? Victory?

But let’s think about that for a minute. Is Winning your primary objective … or is it the outcome that flows from a set of proven processes … relentlessly repeated?

Winning, in Some Form, is the Ultimate Objective, isn’t it?

There’s a famous football coach, who at the age of 47 was the Head Coach at Michigan State. As legend tells it, with a record of 4–4, they were headed to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State, then #1 in the country. Recalling the tough lessons learned from his father, he decided to try something different.

Here’s what he told his players:

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If You’re Creating Consensus, Are You Building Success?

Last week we considered whether Collaboration is a substitute for Communication.

This week, we’ll come at this from a different angle: Since we know that Collaboration = Communication ≠ Consensus ≠ Accountability, is there any chance that Consensus builds Success?

Isn’t Collaboration Wonderful? Is it a Cure-All?

I was recently working with a young CEO who acceded to her company’s leadership.

She was the successor of a more authoritarian regime and found herself working overtime to establish a more collaborative and less hierarchical environment. She wanted to bring people to the table, encourage a stronger cultural bond among her employees and build a more inclusive culture that valued the contribution of each individual.

People welcomed those changes with open arms, eager to embrace a culture they much preferred.

Is it healthy if your leadership team agrees with everything you want?

about achieving collaboration without consensus. Keep reading …

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You Love Collaboration. Do You Think It’s a Substitute for Communication?

One of the most popular words in the business lexicon these days is collaboration.

Everyone’s eager to flatten the organization, get rid of hierarchy, eliminate command-and-control structures and collaborate across broad multifunctional teams.

Is There Anything Really New about Collaboration?

Do we really understand collaboration and why it’s become such a ubiquitous battle cry?

On most days, I’m pretty sure that collaboration is just the newest sheep in communication clothing, a word designed to give new life to the tiresome concepts of “communication” that remain at the root of so many of our life’s challenges.

Both are about encouraging people to share information, be transparent in decision-making and work in teams across functional groups without becoming isolated in silos that neither see nor speak with each other.

Lack of Communication is at the Root of Failed Relationships

If you crawl under the hood of most marriages … consider child-rearing … or employer–employee relationships and organizational culture … you’ll find that communication trumps every other reason for relationship failure.

Keep Reading for 3 Rules to Help You Get This Right …

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Who’s Interested in Paying More Taxes? Any Volunteers? | Trump’s Tax Returns

Love or Hate Trump, your choice, but this isn’t about politics

What it is about is the ignorant financial reporting by the mainstream media. It’s no wonder there’s a populist uprising against the stranglehold of professional politicians and Beltway journalists (using the term “journalist” loosely) trying to run the country.

What’s Going On Here?

Last Sunday, and ad nauseum ever since, the losses on Trump’s tax return have been front and center in every news story and with opinions from every pundit with a pen.

But there are several obvious facts that are never mentioned that are particularly relevant to the business community. I want to address 7 issues with a more objective perspective on common business practices and the tax code that applies to everyone.

This is not intended to be a political commentary about either Presidential candidate. It’s only meant to be an objective observation of relevant business, financial and tax principles that have been ignored by the media in its overzealous reporting about the tax returns of Donald Trump.

7 Points to Consider about the Tax Return Controversy

A Few Assumptions

For the record, these are a few underlying assumptions and principles:

  • I have no special knowledge of Trump’s business activities, but I am assuming he is acting lawfully.
  • The Trump Organization is a privately-owned company that is not required to publicly report its financial results.
  • I am not a tax expert or a registered tax practitioner. I have spent decades in senior financial positions, however, and have practical knowledge of certain basic principles.

1. Why Hasn’t Trump Released His Tax Returns?

This seems to be the “elephant in the room.”

Keep reading to gain a practical understanding of what’s going on here ….

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When the ‘Smartest Guys in the Room’ Can Kill You | 4 Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore

Back in the days when the Enron crowd was on its high horse, they were referred to as the Smartest Guys in the room.

You don’t want to be one of those.

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‘Always ask why. Dig deeper. Get the facts.’ Avoid the crowd mentality

“Ask Why” was their motto.

“Wheel Out,” “Fat Boy” “Death Star” and “Get Shorty” were some of the nicknames applied to their strategies.

Confirmation letters of successful trades were addressed to names like “Mr. M. Yass and ”Mr. M. Smart” … and I think you can parse the underlying contempt.

“Rank & Yank” described their people performance system, “Pump and Dump” their trading strategy.

What Did They Accomplish?

About $70 billion of market value was destroyed, more than 20,000 employees lost their jobs and pension funds worth $3.2 billion were destroyed, more than two thirds of which belonged to retirees with little chance to rebuild.

Keep reading to learn the 4 Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore ….

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Why don’t people return phone calls?

It’s remarkable that so few people return their phone calls on a timely basis. Why is that?

Are we just lazy? Too busy? Did I mention lazy? Don’t give a rip? “If it’s important, they’ll call back?”

 

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Are you eyeballin’ me? Of course not … not you. You return all your calls. Right?

Wanna think about all the time we invest in phone tag? Nah, me neither.

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Ok, let’s do it anyway. Talk about a time sink … keeping track of all those who …

  • don’t return the call,
  • are out of the office,
  • traveling,
  • on vacation,
  • sick,
  • already on the phone …

… what a bother, huh?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got dozens of these floating around at any one time.

What if they don’t return phone calls at all?

Keep reading if you need a few more reasons to NOT return phone calls

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