Thursday, September 27, 2012

Closing the Door... on Closure

Guest post from Julie Winkle Giulioni:

Poll ten highly successful people and you’ll likely find that nine have a very high need for closure. You know that you’re among them if you:

• Feel most comfortable when a meeting ends with a good recap and solid next steps.

• Get an unusual sense of satisfaction out of crossing things off your to-do list.

• Consistently are the one who can tell others where they left off with a story (primarily because you really need to know how it ended).

• Sit in the car a moment longer to hear the end of the song.

While there’s a narrow, psychological definition of ‘closure’, what I’m talking about here is the more pedestrian, run-of-the-mill need to replace ambiguity with clarity, confusion with order, uncertainty with firm answers, and what’s unfinished with completion.

Despite the strong need that many have for closure, some classic research suggests that leaving things a bit open may actually offer unexpected benefits. In 1927, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik published research suggesting that humans remember better what’s incomplete. The upside of the discomfort we feel when faced with uncertainty or ambiguity is that it keeps the mind working, focusing, and trying to create an ending, answer, or resolution.

This Zeigarnik Effect is a powerful dynamic... one that individuals, leaders, and organizations fail to use to its full advantage. Imagine what we could accomplish if we tapped the mind’s ‘unfinished business’...

Students might learn and retain more by interrupting their studying and taking a break. (Studies show that studies who take such a break remember material better than those who don’t; Zeigarnik, 1927; McKinney 1935.)

Employees might welcome interruptions and consciously leverage the tension produced toward better results.

Leaders might feel a lot less pressure about having to wrap things up with a tidy bow. They might ask the hard questions that employees can’t answer on the spot, confident that their minds will continue to work the topics over.

Organizations might generate better solutions and capitalize on this motivation toward closure by putting business problems and opportunities out to others and letting them sit and percolate for a while rather than forcing an immediate (and sometimes sub-optimal) solution.

‘Unfinished business’ shouldn’t have a negative connotation... not when Dr. Zeigarnik describes that this ‘dynamic state of tension makes opportunities’.

So, what opportunities do you have to stop closing the loop? What could you accomplish if you just let your mind... (intentionally left incomplete!)

About the author:

Julie Winkle Giulioni celebrates the September 18 launch of her book with Beverly Kaye, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want. Julie has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She consults with organizations to develop and deploy innovative instructional designs and training worldwide. You can learn more about Julie’s consulting, speaking, and blog at juliewinklegiulioni.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

10 Questions That Should be Answered Before Any Major Change is Announced

Have you ever received an email from your manager announcing a significant organizational change that left you with more questions than answers? Sure, you could take the initiative and ask your questions, but given the lack of information, you’re not even sure if your questions would be relevant or not. And you certainly don’t want to be perceived as being resistant or “too focused on the details and not seeing the big picture”.

Or, have you ever attended a meeting in which a major change was announced, again, with lots of rhetoric and little substance? While sometimes there may be a few minutes at the end for questions, however, very few hands will be raised.

Now, after the meeting – in the hallways and in back in the cubicles -  that’s when all of the questions get asked. And unfortunately, no one is there to respond.

In either case, the end result is confusion, anxiety, fear, loss of engagement, and hundreds of hours of loss productivity.

Senior managers often announce these changes with good intentions. They want to get the word out as soon as legally possible, and they often don’t have all of the details. They often don’t have the time, expertise, or staff support to spend hours crafting elaborate “change management” communication plans.

The good news is, they don’t have to have all of the details. That’s not what employees need. They also don’t have to turn an announcement into a bureaucratic planning exercise. Really, all they need to do is use the following simple checklist.

If you are either announcing a change, or receiving direction on change, here are the 10 key questions that need to be CLEARLY addressed:

1. What is the change?

2. What business issue (s) is driving this change?

3. Why should we care?

4. How will this change help address these issues?

5. What alternatives were considered? What were the pros and cons of each alternative?

6. Why must this change succeed?

7. Where does this change fit with other organizational priorities?

8. How will people emotionally respond to this change, and how should we acknowledge their feelings (the good or bad)?

9. What is the first action we need to take?

10. What are the milestones we will use to measure progress?

Take the time upfront to answer or get answers to these questions and you’ll see a significant return on your time invested.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why Burnout Should Alarm Executive Leaders

Guest Post by Ben Fanning, the Burnout Specialist:
Let me share with you what happened when I started my job at the largest sporting goods retailer in the world.
I took over a supply chain team just a few months before the largest sales day of the year…Black Friday.
It’s called Black Friday because it’s traditionally the day that stores move into the “Black” and become profitable for the year.

But if you’ve worked for a retailer, you know it as Black Friday because of all the pressure and late nights that result.

The team I took over had been through the Black Friday cycle for years and hated it.

In fact they were all burned out in their careers--- fried, fizzled, and done.

You could see the burnout signs within the group:

• Sharon was listening to praise music and praying at every break.

• Susan was lashing out at anybody that questioned her knowledge.

• John was crouched over his computer at his desk with shoulders slumped forward.

The team burnout was obvious and couldn’t be denied.

I knew if I didn’t do something quickly to help the situation that I’d be lucky to keep them even a few more weeks.

My leadership capabilities would be pushed to the brink.

Our survival as a team would be tested.

Burnout is Impacting Your Team and Costing You Money Right Now


Based on statistics you’re leading a team that’s burned out.

The workplace is filled with burned out employees and as far back as 2000, 1 in 3 employees expect to burnout on the job.

That makes job burnout more common than getting the flu (with much longer term effects).

With the pressures of the job mounting and the digital stress of computers, phones, and blackberries; it’s just getting worse.

This doesn’t even take into account the hit on your employees’ personal lives.

Imagine your employees falling asleep in their recliner every night instead of playing with their kids; and how they’re yawning their way through another date night for the 3rd month in a row.

It’s just not healthy.

Moreover, burnout is also showing up in the bottom line of the company and having a shocking impact.

Work stress cost businesses $300 billion per year in absenteeism, loss of talented employees, health costs, and programs to reduce stress.

Sounds like someone should do something and fast!

Burned Out Teams Equal Burned Out Leaders


When it’s your team that’s burned out, it’s has extremely negative consequences on you and your career.

You’re responsible for the cumulative goals of your team, and you’re under pressure to deliver.

It’s one thing to have a team that can’t perform but when your team is burned out, it actually “can” but just “won’t”.

This leads to a huge amount of leadership frustration.

You might even experience guilt that you’re not able to do more for your employees.

As their leader, you feel responsible for their work day experience.

If they’re leaving work resentful, it can make it difficult for you to sleep at night knowing that your employees are likely taking home the stress with them.

The frustration, pressure, and guilt can leave you feeling sad and even defeated at the end of your work day.

That’s not sustainable for your career over long haul, and it’s surely no way to get to the next level.

Team Burnout can Transform You into a Better Leader


The good news is that job burnout does not have to hang over you and your team like a black cloud.

In fact, burnout can be your leadership crucible that forms you into a stronger, wiser leader.

It can also be an experience that connects your team on a much deeper level and ultimately leads to a more cohesive team that delivers big results.

Here are 7 Keys to Helping your Team Reignite from Burnout


1. Build Awareness – When you see the signs of burnout in your team, call it out. They may not be familiar with it and it makes a difference to let them know what they’re experiencing is common but doesn’t have to stay that way.

2. Clarify Why – Connect your team to the big picture. Just “making money “is not an adequate reason to sustain a career for the long haul. Help your team get in touch with why they’re working in the first place. What are their big goals both professionally and personally? How can they look at their current role as part of their future career path?

3. Amp up Communication – Find ways to open communication on a routine basis. This gives a daily forum for your team to share new ideas and also bring up what’s not working to the group. Limit them to 15 minutes though. You’ll be amazed how efficient these meetings can be when you have them. You’ll find if they can count on this on a daily basis the team will be more connected and focused on results. Plus you’ll get a lot less interruptions yourself.

4. Forget the Butts in the Seat Mentality– Very few jobs these days actually require you to be in a desk chair 9-5. Consider adding some flexibility to their schedule. Have an overlap or work time by a few hours but see how you can adjust to accommodate a better lifestyle.

5. Encourage a Social Director – It’s not always easy for the boss to plan a social outing. Encourage someone to step up and plan lunch out for a break. As the boss, offer to pick up the bill.

6. Teach your Team to Disconnect – If you’re on your work email at night and weekends, then it’s likely that your team will be too. Model behavior that you’d like your team to emulate versus “do as I say, not as I do”.

7. Define a Simple Process – Find a coach or mentor that offer an outside perspective. Learn from them and deconstruct their process. Take what you learn and build out a simple operating plan for your team. It’s huge stress relief when you realize that you’re not along and you don’t have to recreate the wheel.

Bonus Tip: Celebrate the Small Wins – Find something to celebrate with your team every day. Even the smallest of wins can help build momentum to achieve bigger goals.

Ben Fanning is a burnout specialist that helps frustrated executives and teams rekindle their passion for the job and get to the next level in their careers. He burned himself out working in several Fortune 500 companies, and now’s leading the movement against career burnout. He's reignited his own career, and you can now apply his wisdom to your own by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leadership Development is not Supposed to be FUN

When it comes to leadership development, I’ve always been a bit of a curmudgeon. Here’s the way I’ve always thought about leadership development:

There is no such thing as a natural born leader - it takes a lot of HARD work to become one. If it was easy, then we wouldn’t be having discussions about a lack of leaders.

Geoff Colvin, in his book Talent is Overrated, was right on. NO ONE ever got good at anything without hundreds and hundreds of hours of repetitive, boring practice.

Since we moved to the seacoast, I’ve been trying to learn to surf. It’s involved a lot of falling and getting water up my nose and sand in my ears. The 18-year-old that gave me my first lesson just shook his head and told me, “Hang in there dude, you’ll get there, it’s just going to take a LOT of hard work”. For now, it’s not much fun. It hurts; it’s frustrating, and sometimes embarrassing. Someday I may actually be able to stand up and ride a decent wave. That would be the real reward – and then it becomes fun!

Real leadership development should be more science than art, backed up with tried and true evidence-based theory and practices. Fads will come and go, but the laws of physics are timeless. At the end of the day, there are only 6 ways to learn to be a better leader:

1. Job changes

2. Challenging assignments (on or off the job)

3. Hardships (learning from failure, personal setbacks)

4. Learning from others (good and bad bosses, roles models, coaches, mentors, etc…)

5. Feedback

6. Courses (that incorporate 2-5), books, and other formal learning

Getting tough feedback, taking on a stretch assignment, being promoted to a new, unfamiliar role, working with a coach, making mistakes, and sweating thorough a realistic simulation or role play may be challenging and rewarding, but usually not a lot of fun. In fact, if you’re having too much fun, I doubt you’re really developing.

You know that queasy feeling you have when you’re about to do something really scarey? That’s when you know you’re developing. Lominger calls it “developmental heat”.

There are no short cuts, silver bullets, magic pills, or miracle elixirs when it comes to becoming a great leader. However, there’s a huge, hungry audience that’s all too willing to shell out big bucks to take a shot at the latest and greatest fad.

Here’s a sampling of real leadership development programs being offered today:

1. Leadership development via a round of golf:

“Transforms today’s managers into tomorrow’s leaders by combining experiential leadership development methods with simulation (including a unique business simulation on the golf course!).”

2. Leadership development through cooking and eating:

“The Restaurant Challenge combines an optimum blend of world-class executive facilitation and coaching with complex, powerful, engaging and real live business challenges - the setting up of a successful restaurant - to create the ideal environment for effective and lasting leadership development.”

3. Leading development through horse whispering;

“Courses with Horses combine horse whispering and non-directive coaching in powerful learning experiences through which clients explore and expand their leadership capabilities.”

4. Leadership development through sailing:

"An ideal team building and leadership development sailing program. BoatWorks leverages a non-racing, multi-boat format to get your group gelling as they battle the wind, the currents, their collective anxieties and a special group challenge, all under the watchful eyes of a professional coaching staff."

5. Leadership development though fire walking:

21 people treated for burns after firewalk at Tony Robbins appearance.

OK, so maybe this one’s not such a good idea.

6. And last but not least, what better way to learn to lead others than leadership development through paintball:

"No other leadership training program comes close to this fear conquering event. One Day Adventures utilizes the outdoor or indoor paintball field to squeeze the fear out of leaders. Imagine storming the gate of the enemy while leading a group of your peers in the face of overwhelming odds."

These are just of a few – there are many, many more.

Clearly, there are many in leadership development that are having more fun than I am. Maybe it’s time to lighten up and to jump on the bandwagon?

How about this: Cowabunga: the Great Leadership Surf Camp for Leaders?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Building Your Leadership Brand

Guest post by regular Great Leadership contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

During the course of my work with leaders, I find that so many of them get hung up on the “should and shouldn’ts” of leadership by comparing themselves with other leaders. Leaders, who feel the need to compare themselves with leaders held up in public as great business leaders, such as Jack Welch or Sam Walton, are doing themselves a disservice.

We are all individuals with unique strengths and experiences that make it impossible to lead exactly like someone else. We need to have our own leadership brand that is true to our uniqueness.

When defining your leadership brand, you first need to define what leadership is to you. There are as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders. The most important thing for you as a leader is to find your own definition of leadership which:

1. Is genuine and true to you

2. Inspires those around you to perform their very best

3. Delivers the results you have set out to achieve

Once you understand yourself as a leader, your leadership brand, then you can determine whether you want to make changes as a leader and develop a plan to get there.

Below are questions, designed around the three points above, to self reflect and bring clarity to you as a leader. These questions will take some time to answer and require you to be singly focused, i.e. ALONE, to answer the questions true to you as a leader.

1. What are the top three behaviors great leaders demonstrate on a consistent basis? And, how do you rate?

2. What are the top three mistakes leaders make? How often do you make these mistakes?

3. How do you define your leadership style?

4. How do you measure the effectiveness of your leadership style?

5. What commitments have you made to improve your effectiveness as a leader?

6. Who is holding you accountable?

7. Of these commitments, which ones are new that will stretch you as a leader?

8. How do your values influence your as a leader?

9. What is your vision for you organization?

10. How do you insure your team is aligned to your vision?

Once you have answered the ten questions, then the answers to the following questions can be answered:

• Who are you as a leader?

• How committed are you to becoming a better leader?

• What are your goals for development and improvement?

If you have a high degree of commitment and have defined your goals as a leader, then the next questions to ask yourself are:

1. What is my plan to obtain the development and improvement goals I have set for myself? Then, create a specific timeline with specific benefits to you and those you lead, and put your plan into action.

2. What development options are available to me both within my company or externally? Be creative. Don’t forget the opportunities that special projects and job rotations can provide for your development as a leader.

Finally remember to be true to whom you are when you are implementing your development plan. Find what feels natural and comfortable to you when implementing changes. If you don’t, those around you will not view the changes as genuine and sincere and you risk losing your credibility as a leader.

Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit http://www.executive-velocity.com/ or http://executivevelocityblog.com/ or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Which will get you Promoted to CEO: Nasty or Nice?

The answer may surprise you, according to new research from PDI Ninth House. While being nasty (intimidating others but lacking consideration) will get you to the business unit leaders level, these traits will leave you out of the running for C-level roles.

Here's the complete 8/28 press release:

New PDI Ninth House Pulse on Leaders research pinpoints personality traits that can both help and hinder one’s advancement through leadership levels, and uncovers stark differences between key traits for business unit leaders and CEOs.
Specifically, the Pulse research found certain traits, which facilitate advancement to the business unit leader level, actually inhibit progression to the CEO level. Business unit leaders scored the highest in terms of displaying competitiveness and intimidating others, and the lowest in being considerate. CEOs, in contrast, scored highest in being considerate, displaying influence and taking charge, and were the least likely to be intimidating to others.

The Pulse research suggests leaders who are competitive and intimidating but lack consideration may find success and advance up to a certain point. However, the research also shows that those who progress to the top use influence rather than intimidation to direct in a positive way, and temper their competitiveness. Consequently, leaders may find it difficult to advance to C-suite roles without shedding those previously-rewarded personality traits.

“The leadership ladder is shaped like a pyramid, with leaders vying for fewer and fewer spots as they advance in an organization, and this can breed competition — it’s a natural human tendency,” said Stu Crandell, Ph.D., senior vice president, PDI Ninth House. “However, at the senior executive level, these traits become derailing behaviors, so it’s critical for leaders to let go of these tendencies and emphasize the right positive traits, or they run the risk of eliminating themselves from consideration for these roles.”

In comparing leaders at different points in the leadership pipeline, the research identified the top three traits successful leaders must increasingly emphasize as they progress in their career, starting as first-level leaders and then as they move up through the roles of mid-level leaders, business unit leaders, senior executives and, ultimately, the chief executive officer (CEO):

· Influence over others, including regularly selling ideas and, in turn, gaining acceptance and prompting others to help carry out those ideas.

· High energy levels to adequately accommodate the increase in time demands that occurs between ascending levels of leadership.

· A take-charge approach, characterized by a more directive style of leadership that entails regularly delegating tasks and imposing action.

“While personality traits are largely hard-wired, with proper coaching and focus, organizations can help current and future leaders accelerate positive behaviors,” said Joy Hazucha, Ph.D., senior vice president, Leadership Research, PDI Ninth House.

Conversely, successful leaders must let go of the following traits as they move up the leadership ladder:

· Passive aggressiveness, which leaders can steer clear of by being direct about what they think, rather than going along to avoid conflict.

· Micro-management, which leaders should avoid by focusing on managing outcomes, rather than the details along the way.

· Manipulation, which is a tactic for trying to get others to take action by using a hidden agenda. Leaders should instead seek to lead by influence and be transparent about their goals.

· Attention to detail, a trait that should decrease as leaders gain a broader scope of responsibility and have to think in more strategic terms — which is difficult to do if leaders stay overly focused on details. Instead, leaders should assign others to attend to the details.

By understanding what is involved at each level of leadership, individual leaders can more effectively navigate transitions from one level to another. Organizations can also benefit by adequately developing their own talent internally and building their bench strength in preparation for leadership transitions.

“The nuances of leadership are such that even those traits that we largely assume are always good for one’s career — like attention to detail — can actually inhibit effective leadership past a certain point,” Crandell said. “PDI Ninth House understands those personality nuances, and can help organizations empower their leaders to know what personality traits are important at each stage of leadership development.”

About the Research:
The PDI Ninth House research examined 37,398 leaders from 1,340 companies across 147 countries to compare personality traits between levels, progressing in sequential order starting at first-level leaders and moving on to mid-level leaders, business unit leaders, senior executives and, ultimately, those at the chief executive officer (CEO) level.

About PDI Ninth House:
PDI Ninth House is the world's premier global leadership solutions company. For more than four decades, we have provided integrated assessment, development and coaching solutions around critical leadership and business challenges that most directly impact each leader's success and the success of their organization. For more information, contact PDI Ninth House at 1.612.339.0927 (in the U.S. 1.800.633.4410) or visit its website at www.pdinh.com.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A President is to a Nation as a CEO is to a Boardroom

In a departure from my usual policy of steering clear of politics on this blog, today’s timely guest post is by Dr. David Kantor. Actually, it's really just an example to illustrate the author's theory, so please, no political comments.

I was critical of Barack Obama during his presidential stint for two faults. I don’t mean this guest post to be a political diatribe in any way, I’d simply like to illustrate how structural dynamics thinking can be used as a framework at all levels: the soccer team, the family, the multi-billion dollar corporation, and the nation. I argue, that ultimately, understanding SD theory can help leaders navigate, make progress, and bring people together, in the room. It’s about being honest to your self and your team, by knowing how you communicate and think, and learning how these preferences are perceived by and affect others.

During his presidency, I nearly asked a dear friend to give Obama my latest publication Reading the Room—not for publicity, though of course that could never hurt. I truly believed the two major failings keeping him from winning a re-election could be uncovered by structural dynamics. These two criticisms were the inability to come up with a cohesive and coherent narrative purpose for the American people, and second, the idealistic moral commitment to participatory democracy.

Structural dynamics analysis is premised on the claim that one’s behavioral profiles can describe one’s typical communicative actions in group settings—think nation, family, and team—in both low-stakes and high-stakes situations. In my latest work, I analyzed Obama as a mover from the bystander stance, an action stance well suited for a diplomat as it gives a greater repertoire of response than those who might be stronger movers, followers, and opposers, the remaining three action stances that comprise the Kantor Four Player Model™.

Bystanders take in information, internally synthesize, and assess before adding their own two-cents, which often adds perspective or bridges opinions. His behavioral profile also includes his preference for the domain of meaning (rather than the other structural dynamics languages of affect and power) and the open system.

All of SD theory’s stances, domains and systems cannot be defined in a guest post such as this. But Barack Obama’s preferences for the domain of meaning and the open system, cultivated by his childhood and relations throughout his life, explain his commitment to speaking and thinking about making a difference (the meaning preference) and the faith he has in encouraging all to express their opinions, no matter the pragmatic issues at hand, like upcoming deadlines (the open system preference).

To the media, and in turn to the public, these preferences are negatively seen to describe Obama the bystander as distant, Obama the speaker of meaning as too intellectual, and Obama the leader operating in open systems as inviting debate and stubbornly seeking consensus from active debate, when the strategy across the aisle was to deliberatively deny and undermine all these efforts.

Now, only a few months until the election, the question is what has changed if anything? Has he come up with a coherent narrative resonant with the American public?

Great leadership starts with knowing your self on these levels, reflecting on past histories, and being forthcoming with your shortcomings. It continues by seeing how your preferences fit in the room amongst the unique mosaic of personalities of your team and seeing how your preferences look through their glasses.

Has Obama been able to tell a story like Reagan and Roosevelt, relinquishing media impressions of distance and of ivory tower talk? I think not. And I think it is obvious now that his image of an ideal participatory democracy is battered. Having started to fight back and play the same game, is it dangerous? If anything, it is awkward. Obama’s preoccupations with fighting has gotten—now, unfortunately and appropriately written in past tense—in the way of creating a clear policy based on narrative purpose.

About the author:
David Kantor, Ph.D., is a systems psychologist, organizational consultant, and clinical researcher and author of Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders  Kantor was formerly the head of Monitor Kantor Enterprises (MKE), a business unit of Monitor Group. Kantor has been a professor at Harvard University, Harvard University Medical School, and Tufts University Medical School. He also founded and served as director of the Kantor Family Institute, a postgraduate training center in Boston, and The Kantor Institute, a training center for consultants, coaches, and leaders.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The September 2012 Leadership Development Carnival NFL Kick-off Edition


As our New England summer winds down, the night air gets cooler, the days grow shorter, and the parking lot here on campus is once again filled up with students, it can only mean one thing....

Are you ready for some football!!??

OK, so I realize not everyone shares my obsession with the NFL. However, it's my turn to host the Carnival, so I get to evoke executive privilege and use whatever darn theme I want. So with apologies to those who don't share this passion, I present to you the September 2012 Leadership Development Carnival, NFL Kick-off Edition.

I asked each leadership blogger to give me their favorite NFL team. Posts are organized by NFL team conferences and divisions. Those that did not provide a team were slotted under a random team. Amazingly, many were ambivalent. (-:

I've done my best to be nuetral and refrain from trash talking.

Maybe for the November edition I'll ask them who they are voting for...... (-:

AFC

East

Buffalo Bills

No playoffs for 13 years! Maybe this year will be different..... This post seems to be a good fit for my favorite team, the Bills: How to be a Leader in a Crappy Culture.

Lynn Dessert from Elephants at Work completes a hail mary pass with Using the Benchmarks® Assessment for Leadership Development. "As with many assessments, Benchmarks® delivers insights to many leaders about their actions and behaviors through feedback from a broad range of groups they interact with inside their organization."

New England Patriots

Anne Perschel scores with Dear Leader: What's Your 400 Year Business Plan?, from her Germane Insights blog. Dr. Anne Perschel takes us on a tour of French Forests and the Cognac industry, to learn why leaders need to create a 400 year business plan and how to get started. 

Jim Taggart, another Pats fan from Ottawa, gets a sack with How to Unlock the Hidden Knowledge in Your Organization, from his website-blog Changing Winds. "The five suggestions I put forward in this post have leadership as the core, though I don’t dwell on leadership per se. But I think the subject is very important, given the state of the North American economy."

The Patriots seem to be the leadership blogger's team of choice. Scott Eblin, from Next Level Blog, converts a two-point conversion with How to Connect Your Team with the Mission"An F-15 squadron commander shares how he connected his entire team with the mission by literally showing each of them how they matter."

Carrie Koens, from Weaving Influence, completes a pass to Julie Winkle Giulioni, who wrote Talent Management Systems: Sometimes the Cure Makes the Patient Sicker. "Well-intentioned talent management systems are frequently to blame for undermining the quality of career conversations. Development doesn't occur on schedule, it happens a little bit every day, on the employee's schedule, through intentional interactions and conversations."

Miami Dolphins

Sharlyn Lauby, from HR Bartender, gets a big hit with Your Company’s Next Innovation Will Be the Result of Empathy . "I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently about the need to restore empathy. While technology is fabulous, it doesn’t replace dealing with people."
New York Jets

Lolly Daskal, from Lead From Within, gets a two point conversion with Leadership: Challenging The Status Quo. "Every single leader, movement, and organization that has ever wanted to create greatness has had to challenge the status quo."

NY Jets

Tanveer Naseer from TanveerNaseer.com returns a punt for a score with 3 Keys To Successfully Leading Today's Evolving Workplaces.

North

Baltimore Ravens

Welcome to the Carnival Karin Hurt, from Let's Grow Leaders. Karin breaks a tackle for a long one with Following the Leader? Stop Notice How it Makes You Feel. "There is much we can learn from following. We all find ourselves in positions to follow both great and horrible leaders from time to time. It helps to stop and really pay attention to how we feel during the process."

Cincinnati Bengals

Linda Fisher Thornton, author of the Leading in Context Blog, shares Civility and Openness to Learning, which explores the connection between our willingness to learn from others and how we treat people when we disagree.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Robert Tanner, next month's Carnival host, from Management is a Journey sacks the QB for a loss with The Words that Change America.

South

Indianapolis Colts

Jesse Lyn Stoner, from Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog, (who also likes the Patriots), completes a nice pass with Manage the Challenges of Working in a Matrix . "Do you need to coordinate your work with people who report to a different boss? Matrix organizations are becoming more common as organizations grow larger, become more complex, and/or enter global markets. They offer many advantages, but these can be quickly overshadowed by the challenges. Here are 4 challenges and how to manage them."

West

Denver Broncos

S. Chris Edmonds, from Driving Results Through Culture, runs for a first down with A Safe, Inspiring Culture, or Not So Much? "Blanchard's culture guru S. Chris Edmonds examines the worst company to work for in America and outlines how to measure employee opinions."

Oakland Raiders

Diane Laux submits a post from Maril MacDonald's Blog Let Go and Lead called What You Focus on Manifests Itself.

San Diego Chargers

Mary Ila Ward, from Horizon Point Consulting, catches one over the middle with Recruiting Strategy- Grow Your Own. "Grow Your Own" helps companies think about what their responsibility is in closing the skills gap through developing talent within.

Randy Conley, from Leading with Trust, runs for a TD with Five Leadership Lessons From The Life of Neil Armstrong.  

NFC

East

Dallas Cowboys

Anna Farmery, from The Engaging Brand, scores with 5 Common Mistakes with Social Media. "Leaders are still reluctant to embrace social media and yet the world has changed, here are some tips for anyone who - or who has a boss - who is reticent about embracing social media."

Eric Pennington, from Epic Living, scores a two-point conversion with Why We Need Critical Thinking. In this post, Eric Pennington, looks at the lost art of critical thinking and why need it now more than ever.

New York Giants

Wally Bock from Three Star Leadership throws for 400 yards with The Lubrication of Little Words. "It doesn't take a lot to make things go more smoothly on your team. A few little words, repeated often, will do the trick."

Melody Bridgewater submits a trick-play post from Robyn McLeod, from The Thoughtful Leaders Blog called   Your face may be stopping you from moving ahead "Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting Group talks about ways leaders can build a stronger presence and effective relationships by being more aware of their facial expressions, gestures, and tone."

Philadelphia Eagles  

Chase Dumont, from Chase Dumont, Rainmaker, gets a first down with The 9 Essential Qualities of Leadership. "In 1917, Major C.A. Bach gave a farewell address on leadership to Fort Sheridan's graduating officers. The address ended up being one of the most outstanding addresses ever given on the subject of leadership - and this post dives deep into understanding Bach's 9 essential leadership qualities outlined therein."

Steve Roesler from All Things Workplace runs for 100 yards with Success, Failure, and Fear"We're all familiar with fear of failure, but have you ever thought about 'fear of success?' "

Another Eagle's fan, Nick McCormick, from Joe and Wanda on Management gets a pick-six with
Managers, Address Shadow Expectations.

Washington Redskins  

Mike Henry Sr. submits a big play post from John Bossong from Lead Change Group called 11 Steps to Create Unity and Loyalty. "Unity and loyalty often make the difference between mediocrity and greatness. John lists 11 things great leaders do to create oneness and richness. Not everyone will be loyal, but the effort is worth the risk." Mike's favorite NFL team: Whoever's playing the Dallas Cowboys

North

Chicago Bears

Bernd Geropp makes a bit hit with What makes a great business vision statement?, from his More Leadership, Less Management blog. "Many entrepreneurs and senior managers tend to work around the clock, but take too little time for the real leadership tasks."

Angie Butcher submits a big play post from Deb Mills-Scofield from Innovanomics called I Don't Have it All - Yeah!""This blog post discusses the "I-Thou" leadership style. This is the idea of putting those under you first and using other's success to measure your own. Throughout my career, when I focus on the “Thou”, helping my clients’ solve challenges and innovate resulting in growth, jobs, philanthropy, the “I” takes care of itself. When I focus on the needs of others, clients, entrepreneurs and students I mentor - my network, my own business grows as well."

Detroit Lions

Wondering how you might improve your leadership skills – even if you don’t have a formal leadership title? Hall-of-fame blogger Jennifer Miller of The People Equation says you might want to take a leadership assessment. She gives you the 411 on things to consider before you make that decision in Leadership Assessments – An Overview. And yes, Jennifer, you are right on, Barry Sanders did play for the Lions. (-:

Green Bay Packers  

John Hunter, from Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, returns a punt for a touchdown with Creating a Quality Culture"To build a culture that supports customer focused continuous improvement a management system needs to reinforce consistent behavior that re-enforces this culture over the long term."

South

Atlanta Falcons

Mark Bennett from TalentedApps catches a pass in stride with Let the Kudos In. "We get told a lot to show appreciation, but do we truly make the most of the thanks we receive? Leaders can bring long lasting benefit by helping their teams know how to really let kudos in."

The New Orleans Saints

Chery Gegelman nailed a 50 yard field goal with her post on SmartBlog on Leadership called A Leadership Revolution, And Why It Matters To You. "Many CEOs have identified creativity and innovation as critically important to growing their organizations. My experiences have convinced me that most of what they are seeking is lying dormant in in the knowledge and experiences of their employees and customers, and that employees are longing for the opportunity to be included, involved and unleashed."
Chery Lived in LA when the Saints won the Super Bowl, and adds "Absolutely LOVE IT when people who are weary and worn, have something to unite around and celebrate!"

West

San Francisco 49ers  

Joel Garfinkle, from Career Advancement Blog, breaks a tackle with How to Get Your Shy Employees to Speak Up in Meetings .  

Mark Stelzner, from Inflexion Point gets an interception with Why Service Provider Relationships Fail (And What You Can Do About It).  

Mary Jo Asmus, from Mary Jo Asmus, performs an graceful leap with Easing the Pain. "A little bit of caring goes a long way for a leader and organizational results. Here are some things leaders can do to make work a better place to be." Mary Jo actually prefers ballet to football. "Did you know that football season coincides with ballet season? Ah…the grace and beauty of a well performed classical ballet! My favorite professional ballet company is the San Francisco Ballet."

Seattle Seahawks

Neal Burgis, Ph.D, from Practical Solutions runs for a first down with Leadership Challenges for Effective Introvert Leaders. "Typically, when people think of leaders, they think of extroverts since
they are outgoing, assertive, give speeches and presentations and is someone who has self-confidence. No one thinks of an introvert fitting in as a leader- until recently. Introverts are beginning to get out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the unique characteristics they possess."

St. Louis Rams  

David Burkus, from LDRLB, scores with Why Celebrity Leaders May Actually Be Falling Stars. "NFL? No. College? Yes. Boomer Sooner (OU)".

That's it for this month's edition! Hope your team (real or fantasy) wins this weekend.