Category: Leadership

A Short Piece on Tom’s Cass Event

Following Tom's appearance there, a member of the Cass Business School staff composed a short version of his masterclass for posting on their website. It seems that both Tom and Cass B-school teachers and students enjoyed the opportunity to convey or gain insights into excellence in business practice.

To read the follow-up article, go to the Cass website.

The Leadership 43
“Some Stuff”

When one speaks of leadership, it seems as though the discussion immediately turns to the likes of "vision" and other lofty topics.

Be my guest.
Follow that path.

Since I don't really know (nor, frankly, much care) what "vision" means, I decided to go another route with a recent speech on leadership in Calgary (11 September).

Hardly a grand route.
But, I hope, a useful route.

So what you'll find in the attached is ... 43 items/notions/suggestions ("Some Stuff") that, if you try a few of 'em, you might well improve your leadership effectiveness.

(The attached PowerPoint presentation is heavily annotated—perhaps 7.5K+ words worth of annotation.)

Read it.
Try "some stuff" yourself.
Hold on to a couple of "stuffs" that seem to work for you.
I do think it may be of value.
(And I can say with certainty it’s taken me about 35 years to write this.)

Excellence 2015! The Leadership 43

The 15-Second “Pep talk”
(And more)

Summary to a colleague of my recent 15-minute speech ("pep talk"):

Don't worry about '21st century leadership' (my assigned topic). If you are just decent to people, listen instead of talk, respect and encourage them, are religious about 'managing by wandering around,' most things will work out. And I said that, in the end, taking good care of people was the only thing worthy of a tombstone epitaph. My closing line, 'My ex-father-in-law carved tombstones. Nobody ever gets their net worth carved on their tombstone.'"

The 15-second version of the 15-minute talk, in the form of a tweet:

Do your MBWA and take good care of people. No one has their net worth on their tombstone."

More tweets inspired by the short talk:

Listening rules. Listening effectively is a "profession" as much as neurosurgery—though much more powerful than neurosurgery.

Listening is the ultimate mark of respect.
Listening is the ultimate motivator.
Listening is the ultimate source of knowledge.

Listening is the ultimate—and only trustworthy—"culture barometer."

Listening rocks, rolls, and rules. Do your MBWA first thing this morning, last thing in the afternoon.

(Response tweet from Leslie Ann Howard: "When two people are talking, only one is communicating, the person who is listening.")

If you think "small talk" is small, then resign your leadership role this morning.

Friendships are the lubricant of effective leadership. So says Bill George. So said Dwight David Eisenhower.

Being pleasant is not antithetical to being tough-minded. In fact, though it's counterintuitive, they are handmaidens.

Internal impatience is a virtue. External impatience is a vice.

SIN OF "SEND." Edgy email? Hold it for 6 hours before sending.

Tweetstream:
Leadership, Cognitive Biases, Etc.

FYI:

TP: Every day for every one of us—teen and octogenarian alike—offers numerous leadership opportunities. What are you waiting for?
TP: Leadership's Big Four: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Reading/learning.
Michael St. Lawrence: Bonus Fifth: Lead to somewhere interesting and worthwhile.
TP/My #5: "Be playful." I never trust anyone who knows where they're going.
Michael St. Lawrence: Playful is tough when quarterly earning calls are breathing down your neck.
TP: But without playfulness, possibility of innovation is nil. (See Michael Schrage's classic book, Serious Play.)
TP/My revised Leadership Big Five: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Playfulness/"Doin' stuff." Reading/learning

TP/from the diary of Dale Carnegie: "The biggest problem I shall ever face: the management of Dale Carnegie."
TP/courtesy Leo Tolstoy: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

TP: Three times to introduce a new product: Too early. Too late. Lucky.

Alan Guinn to tweeter: Do you really believe someone who has been pushing a position [on Net Neutrality] over a decade offers an unbiased and objective view?
TP: There are 7 billion people on earth. Not one is free of bias. If you [think you] are, you are arrogant/out-of-touch/dangerous.
TP: "Let me be frank." = "Let me illustrate how full of shit I am."
Ken Wilkinson: "With all due respect ..." = "Prepare to be thoroughly disrespected ..."
TP: Five stars!

TP: I love this sooooo much. A list about 150 different cognitive biases. Bon chance: wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Martin Birt: "What businesses can learn from the National Ballet of Canada." My latest piece in the Financial Post.
TP: Excellence in the arts is very parallel to biz. Arts leaders are at the front of the pack and can teach businesses re talent seeking/development!

The Project Leadership EXCELLENCE 42
Revision, 27 October 2014

What follows is a slightly revised version of the Project Leadership Excellence 42 list from my presentation last week to the PMI Leadership Institute confab. We have also attached this list in both PDF and PowerPoint formats.

1. Politics as nuisance-distraction vs. "Politics Is Life. RELISH It."
2. IQ > EQ vs. EQ > IQ.
3. Buttoned down to a fault vs. "I am a dispenser of enthusiasm."—Ben Zander
4. "We don't have time for niceties" vs. CIVILITY. ALWAYS.
5. "There's always some damn thing" vs. Live for the madness per se.
6. "This is a time of enormous change, which must be reflected in our work" vs. "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."—Albert Bartlett
7. Linearity/“waterfall" vs. Non-linearity/circularity/high tempo-lightning fast "O.O.D.A. Loop"/agile.
8. Step-at-a-time vs. "Demo or die"/“Serious Play"/“Ready. Fire. Aim."
9. Optimistic-or-bust vs. UNDER-promise or bust.
10. In the office vs. Out of the Office/NO OFFICE.
11. Nose to the grindstone vs. "This is a blast—as cool as it gets."
12. Meetings as agony vs. MEETINGS AS LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY #1.
13. Small leadership circle vs. Inclusive leadership circle.
14. Formal customer-vendor relationships vs. "No barriers"-fully integrated partnership with customers-vendors.
15. No time to waste, isolation is the norm vs. welcome to the Age of SOCIAL BUSINESS.
16. Information as needed vs. WILDLY "over"-communicate with EVERYONE.
17. Confidentiality often necessary vs. Confidentiality 99% nonsense/Inform everyone of everything.
18. Email/IM vs. FACE-TO-FACE/frequent-flyer miles.
19. Over-scheduled vs. 50% unscheduled time.
20. Latest tech vs. Paper checklist.
21. Lunch with colleagues/Lunch as respite vs. LUNCH as #1 Networking Opportunity.
22. Suck UP for Success vs. Suck DOWN for Success.
23. Fend off enemies vs. Recruit and nurture ALLIES ALLIES ALLIES.
24. Silos are inevitable vs. INTENSIVELY MANAGED "XFX"/Cross-Functional eXcellence.
25. Not our fault vs. WILDLY over-respond to screw-ups/Apology as Relationship Building Mainstay.
26. Recognition-as-deserved vs. Constant recognition, especially for "little stuff"/Celebrate-every-damn-milestone-imaginable, make ’em up if need be/“BIG MO" rules.
27. Talk vs. LISTEN/Listening-as-Strategic Tool #1.
28. "Here's the deal" vs. "WHAT DO YOU THINK?"
29. "We want people who know what they are doing" vs. "We want people with an insatiable thirst for growth."
30. If we hire good folks, little need for training vs. Training = Investment #1 (Even on a BRIEF project).
31. Noisy vs. Quiet (Introverts are probably under-represented on your team—fix it).
32. "Millennials are different" vs. Millennials want stuff smart "people-1st companies" (e.g., Virgin, Southwest) have been giving non-millennials for decades.
33. Supervisors are 1st and foremost paid to "keep on top of things" vs. Supervisors are in the "people development business."
34. Bosses aim to "help people be successful" vs. Bosses help people GROW. (2014: "Grow or die.") (Holds on even BRIEF projects.)

                  *****************************************

LEADER/CORPORATE MANDATE #1 2014: Your principal moral obligation as a leader is to develop the skillset, "soft" and "hard," of every one of the people in your charge (temporary as well as semi-permanent) to the maximum extent of your abilities. The good news: This is also the #1 mid- to long-term ... profit maximization strategy!

                  *****************************************

35. Lieutenants & captains & majors vs. Sergeants, sergeants, sergeants.
36. "Gender balance" an important goal vs. Women are the best leaders. (And usually primary end-users.)
37. Concentration/“no nonsense" vs. Daydreaming/READING/ "Freak Fridays."
38. Kaizen vs. WOW-ification/“Insanely great."
39. Design is important vs. "You know a design is good when you want to lick it."—Steve Jobs (Design supremacy/Market Cap: Apple > Exxon.)
40. Minimize "TGWs"/Things Gone Wrong vs. Maximize TGRs/Things Gone Right.
41. Make a damn good product vs. Good product PLUS greatly enhance the (transformative) "INTEGRATED SERVICES ENVELOPE."
42. "Good work" vs. ... EXCELLENCE!

#McKQ50

Don't miss the interview at McKinsey.com, "Tom Peters on leading the 21st Century." On the 50th Anniversary of the McKinsey Quarterly, they interviewed Tom, and the conversation basically covers his outlook on the next 50 years. Use the link above to find the online version of the interview, which includes several short video clips and a Twitter feed of the talk around what Tom had to say.

Bully for Me!
I’m The Cleverest Person in the Room!

Last week, I attended a memorial service for one of my great mentors, the generally acclaimed #1 leadership guru (and extraordinary humanist) (and leader in his own right) Warren Bennis. About 15 of his friends and colleagues spoke—myself included. It was eerie: We each—without exception—said the same thing, albeit in slightly different words. Warren made you feel clever—and at the center of his universe. This ability, in addition to its ultimate expression of humanist existence, may be the effective leader's most valuable attribute when it comes to engaging the mind and heart and soul and energy of others.

Consider these related quotes:

"When I left the dining room after sitting next to Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But when I sat next to Disraeli, I left feeling I was the cleverest person."—Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill's (American) mother

"When you are talking to [Bill Clinton], you feel like he doesn't care about anything or anybody else around but you. He makes you feel like the most important person in the room."—Mark Hughes, screenwriter, Forbes blogger

"Leadership is about how you make people feel—about you, about the project or work you're doing together, and especially about themselves."—Betsy Myers, Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You

"It was much later that I realized Dad's secret. He gained respect by giving it. He talked and listened to the fourth-grade kids in Spring Valley who shined shoes the same way he talked and listened to a bishop or a college president. He was seriously interested in who you were and what you had to say."—Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Respect

"Rather than talking at the assembled group [about the work], he went about it from the other direction. He started out by asking people to tell us about what mattered to them. By sharing their stories with each other, people felt more connected—these gatherings became an opportunity to go from 'me' to 'us,' and from there to 'What we can do together.'"—Betsy Myers, on Marshall Ganz's work with community organizers, from Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You

I would—literally—beg of you to do more than skim these quotes. To be sure, I was very emotional throughout Warren's service. But I was also stunned at the repetitiveness of the theme among people of remarkably different backgrounds.

Try and translate this into the/your daily practice of leadership. It's not that I think you—or I, for that matter—can match the intensity or sincerity of Warren's engagement. But we can at least be aware of our oft straying attention amidst a harried day. Warren's days were doubtless more harried than yours or mine. But for the duration of the time you were with him—10 minutes or two hours—his ability to make you the star of the drama was matchless. At the very least you can acknowledge the importance of this state of affairs—and raise your personal awareness of your moment-to-moment state of mind. You can also practice attentiveness—one manager reports that she writes "Listen" on her hand before a meeting.

There is, by the way, a virtuous circle process that emerges here. Your attentiveness is fun—that is, you learn a helluva lot about the person, their motivations, and the task at hand via the process that one keen observer calls "fierce listening."

Try it.
You'll like it.
You'll try even harder.
You'll get better.
It works.
(And in the process probably makes you a better person—nice bonus, eh?)

NB: One useful approach to improvement is becoming a formal student of asking good questions. This is an art—but also a science. I.e., you can study and practice deliberately. One point of entry is Ed Schein’s book Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Rather Than Telling; also see Schein’s Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help. When asking becomes your primary mode of interaction, your attentiveness and other-centeredness more or less automatically go up.

Update: Moral Bedrock

What should you focus on right now to make Excellence happen in your organization? That's the question that's always on Tom's mind. He's been working on a document called Excellence. NO EXCUSES! (available here) for months. This collection of Twitter conversations now encompasses all the topics Tom sees as important right now for excellence in the workplace. It is 800+ pages of thought-provoking ideas.

"Moral Bedrock," which started as a chapter in Excellence. NO EXCUSES! is now at the center of Tom's attention. As he tweeted during a discussion of business metrics, the best standard to use in making decisions is, "It is the morally right thing to do." Read more in this latest update of "Moral Bedrock."

Some Stuff
Tweets
18 July 2014

Brief snippets FYI ...

Topic ONE: Generational management.

I'm sick-to-death of the "How do we manage 'Gen Whatever'" bullshit. My response thereto:

As leader, commit yourself fully to helping everyone grow every day. Gen A. Gen B. ... Gen X. Gen Y. Gen Z. Nothing new. Damn it.

People you work with can smell your (leader's) passion for helping them grow. Or the absence thereof. Demographics be damned.

Topic TWO: "Helping."

"Helping" is more delicate than neurosurgery, so half (three-quarters? 90%?) of the time we're helping, in fact we're hindering. (That's NOT glib.)

Thought of the day: "Helping" is the most delicate act there is. (THE MOST DELICATE.) Most managers—newbies or seasoned, especially seasoned—think they understand how to help. They are delusional X10.

"Helping" is an area of intense-committed-sustained professional study—not "instinctive" or "seat of the pants" or "old wives' tales."

Effective-attuned listening is the heart of helping. "Listening" is an area of professional study—not seat of the pants or old wives' tales.

Topic THREE: Selling.

Selling is 80% listening. (Not clear what the other 20% is.)

Hypothesis: Often as not/more often than not INTROVERTS make the best salespeople.

(Re introverts: Persistence and aggressiveness do not require making noise.)

Topic FOUR: Nurturing creativity in yourself.

Best way—bar none—to stay creative is to manage "hang out." RELIGIOUSLY. Hang out with weirdos (on any and all dimensions) rather than "same old, same old" and you automatically win.

The "smartest person in the room" is the one who (KEEPS HIS OR HER MOUTH SHUT) and learns from everyone else in the room.

The Moral Bedrock Of Management

It's a long(ish) story—and not relevant. Let's just say that a conversation I had earlier today led me to pull together the 9-page paper attached. In the main, I think it speaks for itself—or I hope it does.

[Ed. Update 07.25.14, 45 pages]: The Moral Bedrock Of Management PDF