Monday, July 30, 2012

Turning Lemons into Lemonade: 10 Inspirational Examples of Epic Failure and Resiliency

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."
~ Confucius

Leadership development and failure go hand in hand. By its very nature, development involves trying new things, often in the form of “stretch assignments” in order to challenge yourself and learn new skills.

It’s inevitable that in the process of learning, you’re bound to fall down and skin your knee. One of the traits of all successful people is resiliency – the ability to fail, learn from that failure, and incorporate new skills into your leadership repertoire.

That’s easier said than done. When we screw up, we feel like a loser, and our confidence can take a hit. When that happens, it’s sometimes helpful to keep a few stories in mind of people that messed up way worse than most of us could ever dream of yet ended up smelling like a rose.

Here are ten of my favorites:

1. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

2. Steve Jobs
We all know about Steve Job’s incredible impact on the world and his many successes. He also had his fair share of failures, including: The Apple III computer, the Lisa, the early Macintosh computers (John Sculley, the CEO Jobs brought to Apple, pushed him out over the Mac’s initially lackluster sales), Apple TV, the NeXT-like Apple G4 Cube, and Apple’s Pages word processor to name a few. At one time he was considered by many the laughing stock of Silicon Valley. Now, of course, he’s compared with Edison as one of the greatest innovators of all time.

3. Thomas Watson
One of my favorite leadership development stories the legendary story about Tom Watson Jr., who guided IBM in its glory days. According to the story, a vice president who had lost the corporation $10 million on an experiment that failed was called to Watson’s office. Fully expecting to be fired, the VP brought along his letter of resignation and presented it to Watson, who refused it with this statement: “Why would we want to lose you? We’ve just given you a $10 million education.”
Watson is also credited with saying, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”

4. Winston Churchill
Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up."

5. Henry Ford
Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.

6. Babe Ruth
Ruth is famous for his past home run record, but for decades he also held the record for strikeouts. He hit 714 home runs and struck out 1,330 times in his career. He said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.".

7. Walt Disney
Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff. His first animation company went bankrupt. Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World.

8. Jack London
The writer received six hundred rejection slips before he sold his first story. A good example to keep authors, inventors, and job seekers encouraged.

9. Fred Astaire
After his first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, read, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." He kept that memo over the fire place in his Beverly Hills home.

10. J.K Rowling
Rowling spoke to the graduating class of Harvard in June 2008. She didn’t talk about success. She talked about failures. “You might never fail on the scale I did,” Rowling told that privileged audience. “But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default." She should know. The author didn’t magically become richer than the Queen of England overnight. Penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own, she wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter.

And to round out the list, here are 5 more famous quotes on failure:

1. “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan

2. “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed,” Cuban says. “You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.” - Mark Cuban

3. "Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly." - Robert F. Kennedy

4. "Flops are a part of life's menu and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses." - Rosalind Russell

5. "There is something to be said for keeping at a thing, isn't there?" - Frank Sinatra

What’s your favorite story or quote about failure and resiliency?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

5 Proven Tips to Get Honest Feedback from Your Employees

Guest Post by Bernd Geropp:

We all need praise and confirmation. We love to hear: "Hats off! That's a hard act to follow!" It makes us feel like a million bucks. It reinforces our confidence. However: It should be used with the right touch. Too much praise can also be damaging.

We all need criticism just as much as we need to have our egos buttered up. Anyone who wants to improve needs honest, constructive feedback from their environment. But getting feedback is easier said than done – especially as an executive leader.

Please criticize me, I need it!
Only last week, I had this demonstrated to me during a coaching session with a successful Managing Director of a mid-sized company. He is enthusiastic, very involved, and demanding, but also empathetic and committed to his employees. His staff highly respect him.

However, he was frustrated that he only received limited critical feedback from his employees. He told me that he had repeatedly encouraged his employees to openly and honestly criticize him and his decisions. Even so, they appeared to be unwilling to do so. He was wondering why, and what he could do to change it.

The dominant personality
To me, as an outsider, the cause was readily apparent. As a Managing Director, he had developed an intuitive feel for quickly analyzing complex situations, and continuously contrasting his strategies with the operation. He usually makes a host of decisions, and he makes these quickly to continue working efficiently. He has been on his game working like this, and he has been confirmed by his success!

Here is the problem with this: Without wanting to do so, all these have prevented the criticism of his person that is so important. Employees with limited confidence simply had not the courage to criticize him openly. Most employees were not equipped to handle his direct nature and immediate response. To them, his mannerisms was dominating and intimidating - without this being his intent.

These were the reasons why his employees were having such a difficult time to express a contrarian opinion during business discussions. To offer critical feedback regarding his behavior was an even more difficult thing to do.

Feedback as a matter of trust
Employees will only express open criticism if they feel safe. On the other hand, if an employee feels threatened by negative, personal consequences – regardless of their nature – he will obviously not provide honest feedback.

One bad experiences can be enough to squelch any criticism of your person – regardless of how justified it might be. Therefore, apply the following 5 tips to receive honest feedback from your employees:

1. Accept feedback without judgment!
Make sure that you clearly separate your employee's feedback from your own judgment. If your employee criticizes you, this is a sign of trust. Thank the person for the feedback, but do not immediately respond.

2. Sleep on it for one night!
Take time to think about it. Take a night to think it over. This is what your employee can rightfully expect of you.

3. Avoid distorted feedback!
If you are given feedback, you should also avoid well meant positive responses, such as: "Thank you, Mr. Smith, that's a really good point." This is already a judgment as well, which you should avoid as a quick response. By doing this, at some point your employee will limit his feedback to what he believes might be useful to you. In the end, your employee does not want to say anything foolish or inappropriate. But the outcome of this is that you will only receive distorted feedback.

4. Understand criticism as a sign of trust!
How do you respond to hardly relevant, incidental, or from your point of view, even inappropriate criticism? Here as well: It is essential that you avoid spontaneous rebuttals or even gruff answers - at least if the employee presented the criticism in a respectful manner. Otherwise, you will permanently damage the trust relationship. A sensitive employee will then think: "Next time I better won't say anything!"

5. Keep always in mind: “I hear you” does not mean “I agree with you”!
Listen to your employee's criticism without being judgmental. This does not mean that you are in agreement with what was said. Most employees are well aware that expressing feedback does not automatically result in the changes they desire.

What have you experienced when you have stuck your neck out and been honest? What are your tips to get honest feedback from your employees?

Author Bios:
Bernd Geropp works as a coach and consultant to CEO’s and entrepreneurs of European High-Tech companies. He has an appreciation for their daily challenges, problems and concerns from his own experience. He started and operated his own high-tech business as well as worked as managing director in a multi-corporate enterprise. On this blog he writes about leadership and strategies for entrepreneurs and executive managers in B-to-B. For more information please visit:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

25 Great Leadership Development Quotes

There are a gazillion sites and books full of leadership quotes, so I’ve never been too inspired to duplicate what’s already out there. However, I did enjoy combing through all of those sites and picking out what I thought to be the 25 best leadership development quotes.

Use these to introduce your next leadership development program, build the business case for leadership development, inspire your coaching clients, motivate your employees, or just inspire yourself to develop further as a leader:

1. “To help others develop, start with yourself! When the boss acts like a little god and tells everyone else they need to improve, that behavior can be copied at every level of management. Every level then points out how the level below it needs to change. The end result: No one gets much better.” - Marshall Goldsmith

2. “There's no such thing as a natural-born pilot.” – Chuck Yeager. Just substitute the word “leader” for “pilot”.

3. “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” — Jack Welch

4. “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters

5. "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

6. "Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." - Vince Lombardi

7. "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." --Warren G. Bennis

8. “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

9. "Survival of the fittest is not the same as survival of the best. Leaving leadership development up to chance is foolish".  - Morgan McCall

10. “Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.” – Warren Bennis

11. “Winning companies win because they have good leaders who nurture the development of other leaders at all levels of the organization.” — Noel Tichy

12. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt

13. There is no such thing as a perfect leader either in the past or present, in China or elsewhere. If there is one, he is only pretending, like a pig inserting scallions into its nose in an effort to look like an elephant. - Liu Shao-ch'i

14. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do. - Mahatma Gandhi

15. “’Failing forward’ is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.” – John Maxwell

16. “The more seriously you take your growth, the more seriously your people will take you.” — John Maxwell

17. "I'll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn't pay enough attention to developing their leaders." - Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, Pepsico, Inc.

18. "Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it." — Henry Mintzberg

19. "We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it - not like the cat that sits on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." - Mark Twain

20. "While great leaders may be as rare as great runners, great actors, or great painters, everyone has leadership potential, just as everyone has some ability at running, acting, and painting." - Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus

21. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved."  -
Helen Keller

22. Never try to teach a pig to sing: it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. - Paul Dickson

23. “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.” – Chinese Proverb

24. "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” ― Stephen King

25. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mining Diamonds by Purposeful Walk-arounds

Guest post by regular Great Leadership contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

One of my clients recently returned from the Baptist Leadership Conference and during his management meeting he was reporting back on his learnings from the conference and what he intended on implementing.

As he ran down the list there was one technique that is so easy to implement and when done effectively, can provide a leadership team with valuable information. The technique is "Rounding with a Purpose", and I wanted to share it with Dan's readers. In essence, it takes the traditional "Management by Walking Around" and develops a structure using questions that are thought out in advance based on the current challenges management is facing.

How would you take this idea into your organization and implement it? What information today, are you not receiving because you aren't asking the right questions of employees working on the front lines, the workers closest to many challenges a company faces?

Here are two typical business situations along with questions you may want to use that can help you learn more about what you, as a leader, can do to increase the success of your people as well as your organization.

Situation 1: There has been a recent increase in customer complaints
• If you could change one thing that can improve customer service, what would you do?
• What complaints have you been hearing recently from customers?
• What service policy is getting in the way of improved customer service?

Situation 2: Sales have been trending down in recent months
• If there could be one thing we could change about our products and/or services that would increase sales, what would it be?
• What new product/service would you offer to our customers that would cause them to recommend us to others?
• What questions should we be asking our customers that we aren't already?
• What product/service causes the most problems for you?

As you will note, the situations are specific to a certain business function but don't let the situations lead you into a familiar trap. Don't ask the situational questions just of those in that department. For instance, if the issue is sales, make sure you don't just ask the sales department. Make sure to get a good cross section of input.

Once you start gathering this information, it is time to share it with your management team and teach them the technique so they can implement as well.

So what questions are you not getting answers to from your management team? And if these questions were asked to your line workers, what hidden gems may be mined? Asking good questions can unearth some uncut diamonds that may provide you with some long awaited answers.

I would love to hear your ideas of how you have used this technique to your benefit and institutionalize it within your company so all managers are consistently listening to employees. And, what particular questions have you used to obtain information that you might not have obtained otherwise?

And if you are in the health care industry and haven't heard about the Baptist Leadership Institute, check them out by clicking on this link.

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 or or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 Simple "Truths" about Management vs. Leadership

Taylor discovers the truth about
the Planet of the Apes, 1967
1. Management and leadership are not the same. Not all leaders are managers and not all managers are leaders. You can be good at one and lousy at the other, or you can be good or bad at both.

2. *Managers plan and budget, organize and staff, control and solve problems, and produce predictability and order.

3. *Leaders establish direction, align people, motivate, inspire, and mentor, and produce change.

*Source: from John Kotter’s What Leaders Really Do, Harvard Business Review.

4. While leadership and management are different, they are complementary and equally important. One is not “gooder” than the other.

5. Organizations need great leadership and great management or they will crash and burn. To what degree of each depends on the degree of change needed.

6. Given the amount of change most organizations are facing, the need for leadership has increased while the need for management remains constant. Many, if not most organizations are facing a leadership shortage.

7. Neither management nor leadership are hereditary traits; they both need to be learned and developed over time. For most people, leadership tends to be harder and takes longer to develop.

8. While everyone has some potential to lead, some have more potential than others. Organizations need to cast a wide net to find these individuals and invest in their development.

9. Someone can be appointed a manager but you have to earn the title of leader. A manager can inherit or hire employees, while a leader has to “be elected” by followers to be their leader.

10. You can do management to manage, but you have to be a leader to lead. Management can be an 8-5 job, while leadership is transformational. There is no on and off switch.

While this may be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written, it took me just as long as one of my 1000 word manifestos. It's taken me over 20 years to discover these "truths", so hopefully I've saved you some time. (-:


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Five Ways to Project Credibility in an Instant

Guest post by Cara Hale Alter:

You’re a smart and skilled leader with powerful potential. Still, in today’s high-speed, hypercompetitive business world, when key opportunities knock, you have little time to make a big impression. In face-to-face interactions in particular, you have to project credibility in an instant or risk squandering precious moments to stand out and succeed.

But what does credibility look like, really? And why do some smart, capable leaders project credibility, and others—who are just as smart and capable—don’t?

In studying this phenomenon with thousands of leaders, I’ve identified 25 specific visual and auditory cues—explicit behaviors for posture, gestures, vocal skills, and eye contact—that affect the perception of credibility. And unlike countless other cues, such as age or physical features, these 25 cues are within your active control. Moreover, whether you’re meeting one-to-one or presenting to a packed audience, small changes can make a big difference.

To see fast results, start with these five cues:

1. Keep your head level. In the dog world, renowned trainer Cesar Millan has exceptional “executive presence.” Dogs recognize his alpha status by the way he carries himself. In the business world, one of the best ways to project such presence is to keep your head level when speaking—no raising or dropping your chin, which can appear aggressive or submissive. The power of this one skill—to literally be levelheaded—can be transformative.

2. Keep your hands in the gesture box. In poker parlance, a “tell” is a subtle signal revealing the strength or weakness of a player’s hand. Similarly, in meetings or presentations, your gestures alone can send significant signals. A common tell of intimidation, for instance, is when your mouth is engaged but your body language isn’t. To appear confident, get your hands involved immediately, keeping them inside the “gesture box”—no higher than your sternum, no lower than your hips, and no wider than your shoulders.

3. Speak with optimal volume. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you surely remember the infamous “low talker.” Likewise, in business settings a common problem with volume is speaking too softly or dropping volume at the end of sentences. The good news is that volume is the easiest vocal skill to adjust. First, however, you must know the difference between adequate volume and optimal volume. Most people err on the side of merely adequate. If you want to be a powerful voice, speak with a powerful voice.

4. Hold eye contact for three to five seconds. “Eye contact is the best accessory,” says writer Takayuki Ikkaku. It is also a key indicator of confidence and credibility. Still, there is a difference between making eye contact and holding eye contact. Duration is critical, and in the Western world, holding eye contact for three to five seconds is considered optimal.

5. Listen actively. Your credibility can be won or lost when you’re simply listening. Do you look bored or disconnected—or respectfully engaged? Attentive listening means you’re an active partner. It’s not enough to pay attention; you have to look like you’re paying attention. Keep your posture open, your head up, and your navel pointing toward the speaker.

Cara Hale Alter is president of SpeechSkills, a San Francisco–based communication training company, and author of The Credibility Code: How to Project Confidence and Competence When It Matters Most (Meritus, 2012). For more information, visit

Monday, July 9, 2012

10 Things I Learned from a Training Program That I Still Use Today

Kodak European Management Development Program
2000, Lausanne, Switzerland (can you find me?)
 Having spent most of my career in corporate training, I’ve attended more training programs than the average bear. For some of them, the only recollection I have is pain and suffering, and regrets that I wasted so much time and gained so little in return.

However, there were a few that taught me things that I’ve used throughout my career and still use today.

While I sure hope there are more than 10 things that stuck, but here are the first 10 that came to mind:

1. How to design and facilitate meetings.

2. How to address a performance issue with an employee.

3. How to listen.

4. How to deal with conflict.

5. How to do a root cause analysis and a structured process for making decisions.

6. How to analyze and improve a process.

7. How to work with different countries and cultures.

8. How to remain open to possibilities (possibility thinking).

9. Situational leadership (how to adjust your approach based on the developmental needs of your employees).

10. How to prepare and make a presentation.

It’s an interesting exercise in that it made me think about if I was designing a training curriculum for managers, what skills would be the most important to include? However, everyone’s different, and your list may look very different than mine, so you’d need a good sample size to draw any conclusions.

I also found it interesting that I couldn’t think of a single thing I learned in college – Bachelors’ or Master’s – that I still use today on a regular basis. Hmmm, so maybe my college courses had a short half-life, I wasn’t paying attention other than memorizing what would be on the test, or I didn’t have an opportunity chance to immediately apply what I learned and keep using it over and over?

How about you? Thinking back over all of the formal training programs (or college courses) you’ve attended, what did you learn that you still use today on a regular basis?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Speaking Truth to Power

Guest post by Scott Weiss:

There's a crisis of trust in this country. You can see it everywhere you look: business, politics, financial Institutions...somewhere along the way authentic communication became a thing of the past. In recent times, transparency, vulnerability, and empathy in the workplace have been lost. It’s for this reason I’ve made it my life’s mission to shine the light on authentic communication both in the workplace and elsewhere.

In researching for my book, DARE, I came across great articles about speaking truth to leaders, and the reasons leaders need their followers to challenge them.

In corporate cultures, it’s not often encouraged to challenge authority. I believe that is due to what many deem “the boss effect”, which is the higher up one goes, the less truth they hear, the more distorted their reality, and the more difficult it is for people to speak openly to them.

The Roles We Play

Leaders and followers are not personality types, but roles we all play in corporations, organizations, and in personal relationships. The distinction is that we perceive power differently in hierarchical organizations than in other types of relationships.

In business situations, employees are often concerned about their roles and the importance of their thoughts, many times worried that telling their truth could affect future promotion or retention within the organization. But, again, research shows the far more prevalent cause is fear of losing favor with the leader.

The Courage To Lead

The courage to speak truth to power is unfortunately more uncommon than most would prefer. Every now and again, a great CEO or leader will come along and we will fawn over their ability to listen to their colleagues, be innovative though leadership, and courteous and authentic in all scenarios. But for now, we face this crisis of trust and uncertainty within our leadership.

To be honest and authentic with yourself is to guarantee your success within your own goals. We live amongst cover-ups, ethics violations, and deception on all levels. The timing is critical to find the dare within you to “speak truth to power.” This is an important goal in building strength that all of us need to be our best with others, and also appropriately value ourselves.

Putting Thoughts To Action

When you decide to begin speaking the truth to the power in your world, there are several things to keep in mind. If it has been a while since the leader was confronted, it’s reasonable to expect denial. And it’s not just the leader who can be in denial—how often do we let ourselves get carried away with anger, stress, or fear. There are so many things that could go wrong, it’s important to note several things that will make the process more effective for both parties.

Frame your concerns in terms of what is at stake for the leader and company. Sometimes it is easiest to communicate based on what “we” think and what is best for “us”—it can be a powerful communication tool to frame the conversation around what your suggestion can do for the leader or for the company, specifically. In fact, in both business and personal scenarios, considering the other person first, and putting their needs in the forefront can almost always guarantee a better ear for your point of view.

You’ll also want to make sure you reconfirm your support for the leader/company during your communication. It’s always important to be self-aware, and aware of what others may be thinking or feeling. Reconfirming the reasons for the communication can help both parties see eye-to-eye. If you are speaking with your boss about company strategy, consider using phrases that reiterate the why in your suggestions, and use “us” to underscore the fact that we’re all in this together.

Work on clarity for what you want the outcome to be. Going into a conversation knowing what you hope for is half the battle. Often times, I tell myself, and coach others, to go ahead and state what you hope for up front. That removes ambiguity in the conversation about your agenda. Or as we’ve all heard before—and it’s true—just ask. All they can say is no. And in the process of the conversation, I hope you find that not only is your leader enlightened, but that you feel capable/ready/inspired to work towards confident, trustworthy, and authentic communication.

Scott Weiss is is one of the founding members of Turner Broadcasting, CEO of Speakeasy (, and author of the upcoming book DARE.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Measure the Impact of Your High Potential Strategy

So you’ve gone through a rigorous process to locate those “high potentials” – that critical talent pool that has demonstrated the ability to step into your organization’s most critical roles when the time comes.

Now you’re doing what the most successful company’s do, you’re investing in the development of those high potentials. You’ve got managed stretch assignments, coaching, mentoring, and leadership development programs. Good for you!

Now, how do you know if any of it is working? Do you have any measures in place?

Some would argue that you don’t have to. That is, you could make a strong argument that it’s just smart business and common sense to manage your talent like you’d manage any other important asset. Others would say what’s important gets measured, or it doesn’t get done.

I’d say metrics are an important part of a high potential strategy, but just don’t waste your time measuring meaningless minutia or conducting complicated ROI studies that are impossible to prove.

According to research conducted by PDI Ninth House and Bersin & Associates, the organizations with the most “mature” talent management strategies use the following measures to track the effectiveness of their high potential strategies:

1. Number of “key positions” (usually succession planning positions). Not actually a success measure, but you’ll need this number for the percentage calculations below.

2. Number of HiPos (high potentials) ready to fill those positions. “Ready” is the key word here, that is, they could step in if one of those incumbents in a “key position” won the lottery and decided to retire. I suppose you could count the number of high potentials in your pool as well – which would be a measure of your assessment efforts – but “readiness” is the true measure of your development efforts.

3. Percentage of key positions filled by HiPos.

4. HiPo promotion rate.

5. Percentage of HiPos with Development Plans. I’d suggest taking this one a step further, and track % of completed development plans, or completion progress. Learning Management Systems can automate this for you.

6. Turnover rate of HiPos.

7. Success rate of HiPos promoted to new roles.

8. Engagement levels of HiPos (though surveys). As much as we like to believe that human beings are rationale, we’re not. Your organization may be following and measuring all of the most proven best practices, but if the participants themselves are not feeling good about where they are in their development, then you’ll still vulnerable to turnover and vacant key positions.

There’s a boatload of other measures you could use – I’ve been collecting them like seashells over the last 20 years. Each organization is different, and may have its own unique nuance that needs special attention. However, the PDI/Bersin list looks like a darn good place to get started.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The July 2012 Leadership Development Carnival

Welcome to the July 2012 edition of the Leadership Development Carnival!

If you just happened to stumble accross this blog for the first time, here's the deal:

I maintain a distribution list of over 75 leadership development bloggers who I've gotten to know over the last five years. Each month, I'll ask them to submit their best recent post to be included in a monthly collection of posts, or "carnival". I rotate the hosting duties every other month. Sometimes theres a theme, depending on the time of year or host's creative bent.

For bloggers, it's a way to particpate in a community of practice and pehaps gain a few new readers. For readers, it's an easy way to scan a collection of diverse, recent, high quality leadership development posts and pick out a few (or all) to read. When I read these posts, I was humbled, inspired, informed, and entertained. I'm honored to present them to you.

So here we go, let's get started with the fireworks! Picture: fireworks over the Boston Harbor.

Part One:

From Wayne Turmel, The Connected Manager blog, here's Why WebEx is like Soylent Green.

Lynn Dessert, from Elephants at Work, gives us Leadership Agility: How to Improve it. "Knowing what gets in the way of leadership agility is the easy part, improving it proves to be more difficult."

Art Petty, from his Management Excellence blog, presents Just One Thing: Always Add Clarity to Challenge.

Here's Bernd Geropp, from More Leadership, Less Management, with Micromanagers and the e-mail trap. "Many entrepreneurs and senior managers tend to work around the clock, but take too little time for the real leadership tasks."

Jesse Lyn Stoner closes out our first sement with a bang with A Big Goal Is Not the Same As a Vision, from her Jesse Lyn Stoner blog. "It's easy to confuse a really big goal with a vision, but the difference is important. Here's how to tell".

Part Two:

Chris Edmonds presents Build a Culture of Accountability, from his Driving Results Through Culture blog. Chris tells us how to set clear goals and citizenship standards then hold all staff accountable for both.

Anne Perschel, from From Germane Insights, presents Dear Leader: Do We Have a Deal?

Adi Gaskell, from Process Excellence Network presents Seven habits of Highly Inefficient People.
"A light-hearted look at some habits you don’t want to mimic at work."

Mary Jo Asmus, from Mary Jo Asmus presents Stand Up. "Leading others sometimes means taking a stand for what’s right, even when there is risk involved. The best leaders have the courage to stand up in order to stand out."

Jane Perdue gives us Effective leaders are tough AND tender, from her LeadBIG blog. "Combining empathy with accountability is a unique skill set no leader should be without."

Part Three:

Tanmay Vora, from his QAspire Blog presents Leading Projects: Balancing Rational with Emotion.
"When leading projects and building an organization, leaders have to balance rational with emotion, processes with empathy and practices with people."

Jim Taggart, from Changing Winds, presents The 6 Inner Leadership Selves. "In the post I talk about different ways leadership can be practiced. I provide contrasting questions for each of the six elements I present. These questions are aimed at fostering personal reflection by the reader."

Mary Ila Ward from Horizon Point Consulting submits Pot, Meet Kettle. "Many people seek to model the behaviors of their leaders. But are you modeling behaviors that you want others to demonstrate?  This piece highlights how the behaviors we dislike in others are often ones we demonstrate ourselves, and seeks to outlines ways to overcoming derailing workplace behaviors."

Linda Fisher Thornton from her Leading in Context Blog presents Leading for Ethical Performance.  "Senior leaders need to work together as a team to create an organization where ethical leadership is rewarded and unethical leadership is quickly corrected."

Margy Stoner (of Weaving Influence LLC) submits on behalf of Wendy Appel, from her Wendy Appel: The Enneagram Source blog: What it Means for Leaders to Show Up. "In this post, Wendy Appel, author of "InsideOut Enneagram" discusses the meaning of the words "show up." She writes, "When we show up and are present, we can listen to what has heart and meaning, tell the truth without blame or judgment and be open to outcome, not attached to outcome."

Part Four:

Lisa Kohn of Chatsworth Consulting Group presents 6 steps to avoiding analysis paralysis on The Thoughtful Leaders Blog, where she talks about the challenges of balancing between planning and doing. Submitted by Melody Bridgewater.

Wally Bock, from his Three Star Leadership Blog presents The People-Centered Workplace. "Too much management thinking tries to turn people into something else.There's a better way."

Randy Conley, from his LeadingWithTrust blog presents Father’s Day Special: Five Leadership Lessons From Being a Dad. "Lessons on being a better leader are all around us if we’re only willing to pay attention. In honor of Father’s Day a few weeks ago, I reflected on just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned from being a father and how they’ve helped me as a leader."

Nick McCormick from Joe and Wanda on Management presents Continuous Learning.

The Grand Finale:

Miki Saxon from MAPping Company Success presents What is Diversity? "What constitutes true diversity? Is there more to it than can be seen? Is there an accurate indicator for you as a leader that you are actually achieving it?"

David Burkus from LDRLB presents a guest post by Betty BaileyGoing off the Rails.

Jennifer V. Miller from The People Equation presents Leading a Meeting? How to Avoid a Snooze-Fest. All leaders run meetings, but not all of them do it well. Jennifer V. Miller, a former corporate trainer, shares tips for managing group dynamics that work equally well for workshops or meetings. Bonus content – she’s offering a free reference sheet called “6 Tips for Getting People Involved”.

Guy Farmer from Unconventional Training presents How to Keep Your Employees Motivated.
"Proactive leaders understand that motivating employees is about helping them feel great about themselves and doing meaningful work."

Mark Bennett from TalentedApps presents Leadership and Complexity. "One of a leader’s job is to reduce complexity. How to do that isn’t very simple."

That's it for this month's edition! I hope you have a great 4th of July Holiday!