Thursday, August 29, 2013

Leadership as Selflessness

Guest post by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green:

With the great Nelson Mandela struggling with health issues, we’ve been thinking a lot about the general phenomenon of leadership. Mandela is clearly one of the great leaders of our time. His example convinces us that ethical leaders display deep selflessness and an absence of the two deadliest of Pope Gregory the Great’s “seven deadly sins” – pride and envy.
The Jewish philosopher and mystic, Spinoza, claims that pride is a “species of madness” because it leads us to think that we can accomplish all things. The fundamental psychology of pride is that it produces a distorted view of self and the world. Pride is about self-absorption, excessive self-esteem, inordinate self-love, and egregious self-evaluation. The Oxford English Dictionary defines pride as “an unreasonable conceit of superiority … and overweening opinion of one’s qualities, talents, and abilities.”
In effect, what pride does is to strip the ability of a person to be objective, to make sound judgments, to be critical. Pride is an excuse for excess, a roadblock to moderation, and a stairway to arrogance. Pride says poet and Trappist monk Thomas Menton, robs us of our humility and our basic concern for objectivity, because we are constantly focused on self. For Thomas Aquinas, pride is more than narcissism; it is the “distorted desire to be exalted.” This desire, suggests Aquinas, leads to an exaggeration of our ability and rights and contempt for the ability and rights of others. For Aquinas, pride is the beginning of every sin, and, by his reckoning, the “queen of them all.” Pride leads to complete “selfishness,” and to the total abandonment of the concept of “selflessness.”
If pride is the queen of the seven deadly sins, clearly envy is her lady -in -waiting. Envy may be the most pervasive of all the sins. Envy is both a positive and a negative part of the human condition. It figures in all of our interactions with others. It is a part of our competitive nature as well as of our contemptuous feelings toward those who seem to be or to do better than us.
Envy is not just about wanting, desiring what others have. Envy is about resenting the good things others have. Envy is not just desire. It is the inordinate desire for that which belongs to another – whatever that might be. To be envious is to covet, to be deeply angry, and to harbor hostility, malice, and hatred. In effect, when the envious person sees someone of greater good fortune, his or her response is: “Why not me? Why this person, instead?” To deeply envy another means: “I want your life!” – and – “I hate you for having it.” Immanuel Kant argues that envy is an “abominable vice, a passion not only distressing and tormenting to the subject, but intent on the destruction of the happiness of others.” Building on Kant, philosopher John Rawls argues that envy is an antirational sentiment that is socially dangerous because it diminishes the possibility of achieving fairness and justice between individuals. Envy, says Rawls, “is a form of rancor that tends to harm both its object and its subject.”
We believe that “genuine” leaders display deep selflessness and an absence of overweening pride and envy. Genuine leaders put their cause, their purpose, their calling, before themselves. They live, as Ignatius of Loyola suggested, “a life for others.” However, this does not mean that they are saints. Their lives, like those of all of us, display flaws, momentary lapses, and episodes of self-indulgence. Despite this, however, their focus remains fixed on concepts, issues or communities beyond themselves. As we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life, we might also use it as an example of how a leader can rise above self at every moment to serve and build his or her community.
Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chair of the Department of Management in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. He is also the co-founder and long-time Associate Editor of Business Ethics Quarterly. For over twenty-six years he has been the Resident Philosopher on National Public Radio's Chicago affiliate, WBEZ-FM.  His most recent book is 10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character, co-authored with Al Gini of Loyola University, Chicago.
Ronald M. Green is a leading scholar of theoretical and applied ethics who has taught since 1969 at Dartmouth College, where he has also served as Director of Dartmouth's Ethics Institute. A summa cum laude graduate of Brown, with a PHD in religious ethics from Harvard, Professor Green was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2005.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When Your Spouse is Also Your Employee

This post first appeared 8/22/2013 in Smartblog on Leadership:

It’s usually a good management rule of thumb not to get too friendly with your employees or to sleep with them.

However, according to the 2007 Census Bureau survey of business owners, there are 3.7 million businesses that are run by couples.

There are all kinds of tax and financial benefits to hiring your spouse as an employee. Plus, there’s no need to go through an extensive interview process and background check — you know what you’re getting. There is already a sense of built in loyalty and trust (assuming that’s already present in the marriage).

However, I’ve talked to enough small business owners that tell me they would never hire their spouse, and quite a few that have tried it and it was a disaster.
For the ones where it does work, here are some tips that seem to help make them successful (and to stay happily married):

1. Hire to add complementary skills to the business. For example, your spouse may be great with the numbers, or perhaps is great at dealing with clients or sales. Hiring a spouse just to give them something to do isn’t usually a good reason. And if your spouse has the same skills as you do, why hire? You’re most likely end up stepping on each other’s toes.

2. Have a clear division of labor. Be clear to each other, employees, customers and suppliers as to who does what. You may even want to write up and agree on formal job descriptions. Also, be realistic about qualifications. Of course, this can be a sensitive area to discuss, but better to work through it sooner rather than later.

3. Set clear boundaries around work and personal time. No one wants to be at the beach on a weekend discussing next year’s strategic plan. Establish a time — 6 p,m,, or weekends or vacations — where there are no work discussions, just enjoying each other’s company.

4. Set a time limit on the employment relationship, and agree to revisit it at that time. It’s better to sit down and agree to dissolve the business relationship before it gets to the point where the marriage is in trouble.

5. If your spouse isn’t your only employee, do your best to avoid favoritism or taking advantage of your spouse.

6. Agree to give each other periodic feedback. But first, set ground rules for feedback, and learn the skills of giving and receiving feedback.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Give Advice

Guest post from Chip Bell:

“There is no human problem which could not be solved,” wrote novelist Gore Vidal, “if people would simply do as I advise.” Mentors have a similar challenge. Recall the last time someone said, “Let me give you a little advice!” No doubt it quickly put you into a defensive posture.  And, it was even labeled a gift!

Advice giving works only in the context of learning—that is, when you are offering advice because you believe that the protégé’s performance will be improved if his knowledge or skill is enhanced. This is important, because for advice giving truly to work, you must be ready for the protégé to choose not to take your advice. If the protégé has no real choice about honoring your advice, then you should simply give a directive and be done with it. Couching your requirement as advice is manipulative and will only foster distrust and resentment.

There are four steps for making your advice giving more powerful and more productive. Pay attention to the sequence; it is crucial to your success.

Clearly State the Performance Problem or Learning Goal.  Begin your advice giving by letting the protégé know the focus or intent of your mentoring. For advice giving to work, you must be very specific and clear in your statement. Ambiguity clouds the conversation and risks leaving the protégé more confused than enlightened.  Stating the focus—an important coaching technique in general—helps sort out the form and content of the advice.

Make Sure You Agree on the Focus.  Make sure the protégé is as eager to improve as you are to see him improve. You may learn that the protégé has already determined what to do and has little need for your advice. Your goal is to hear the protégé say something like, “Yes, I’ve been concerned about that as well.” As Abraham Lincoln said, “A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Ask Permission to Give Advice.  Your goal at this point is twofold: (1) to communicate advice without eliciting protégé resistance and (2) to keep ownership of the challenge with the protégé. This does not mean asking, “May I have your permission to . . .?” Rather, you might say, “I have some ideas on how you might improve if that would be helpful to you.” Your goal is to communicate in a way that minimizes the protégé’s perceiving he or she is being controlled or coerced.

State Your Advice in First Person Singular.  Phrases like “you ought to” quickly raise resistance! By keeping your advice in the first-person singular—“what I found helpful” or “what worked for me”—helps eliminate the shoulds and ought-tos. The protégé will hear such advice unscreened by defensiveness or resistance.

Giving advice is like playing pinball: Only by pushing and pulling can you encourage the ball to go in a new direction and increase your score. But too much pushing and pulling can cause a tilt and stop the game. Effective mentors recognize the challenge of “teaching so it stays taught” and meet that challenge by coupling their wisdom with sensitivity. They keep the ball in play as long as they can by judicious application of pushes and pulls, nudges and bumps, building the score—the protégé’s competence.

About Chip Bell: Chip R. Bell is the author of several best-selling books.  His newest book (with Marshall Goldsmith) is the award winning, international best-selling Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning.
Managers as Mentors is available on You can connect with Chip through his website or via Twitter (@ChipRBell) or Facebook (facebook/ChipRBell).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Workplace Fun

Guest post by Great Leadership monthly contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

Last month I wrote about Silly Putty, so I thought I would follow on with fun in the work place. It isn’t impossible. And leaders need to understand that not only can work be fun, it isn’t a “bad” word.

“I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.” Thomas Edison

Wouldn’t you love to have a team of Thomas Edisons all enjoying themselves everyday and all day?  As a leader you know that this is a very rare occurrence. But there are ways to improve your team member’s experience so that they are experiencing more times of fun.

Have you had days at work that were fun yet others didn’t seem to be having fun? While other days everyone else was enjoying themselves and you were struggling to make it through the day? Fun is in the eyes of the beholder. So how do you understand what is fun to others around you?
Fun to one is drudgery to another and there are several tips to use that can help you and your team to have fun while at the same time accomplish the difficult goals you have set in place.

1.     Understand differences and embrace them

Too often we focus in how we are different from a negative perspective rather than stretching ourselves to understand how the differences between people can lead to richer ideas and solutions.

The first step to understanding is having a personal conversation, reach out and learn more about the employee as a person. What were some significant events in their lives?  What takes up their time when they aren’t working? The point is that it is much easier to have fun with people you know!

2.     Focus on strengths

When people excel and are challenged by using their innate talents they have a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work they do. If you have an employee who is consistently being asked to perform tasks that they have difficulty accomplishing, maybe they are in the wrong position. And I bet they aren’t having fun! Great leaders quickly determine what strengths someone has and work with them to strengthen them so they can rise to their full potential. 

3.     Wipeout Viral Infections

Viral infections are the people who are infecting others. They make it very hard to have fun at work.  You know these people.  They are the ones who others avoid like the plague.  They are the employees that other employees spend productive time talking about. They are the ones who only see lemons and no lemonade. As a leader don’t let these people suck the lifeblood out of your team!

4.     Liven Up the Workplace

Those companies with really strong and vibrant cultures often have workplaces that mirror their culture.  Many of us have seen these types of workplaces in Silicon Valley and other technology driven companies. Zappos took the idea of workplace to an extreme.  Take a look at this video of the Zappos family .

I am not suggesting that all companies workplace be like Zappos.  But the idea of giving employees and various departments the opportunity to choose the “interior decorations” of their workspace gives employees the ability to show who they are as a person.  This provides others with a better understanding of who they are working with AND allows the employee to be themselves.

I finish up with the Zappos example with a purpose.  The Zappos culture is extreme if you lead a law practice or a bank branch. And even though it is an extreme culture, it is very successful.  The point is that bringing fun to the workplace can improve your success as a company.

The questions for you are:  What are you going to do to make your company more fun to work for, AND what constraints are holding you back that need to be removed?

Beth Armknecht Miller’s is CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. She is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA. And she is a Certified Managerial Consultant. Beth’s insight and expertise has made her a sought-after speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications. To learn more about Beth visit or

Monday, August 19, 2013

15 Timeless Work Habits for Career Success

Let’s say one of your kids just graduated college and they are about to start their first real job. If they ask you how to be successful at work - what would you tell them?
Or, you’re asked to be a mentor to a high potential up and comer. They ask you for your best advice on how to get ahead.

You’ve only got 30 minutes. What advice would you give them?

Here’s my list. I’ve learned these lessons through over 30 years of hard knocks, and have made a career out of helping others be successful. A lot has changed the world of work, but I think these lessons are just as important today.
Yours may be different – feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to add to the list.

1. Be on time. While it may sounds pretty basic (like don’t chew gum during an interview), I was in my 40s before I finally learned the importance of this work habit the hard way. Being on time isn’t just for important clients or your boss – it’s a way to show respect (or disrespect) for everyone. 
2. Be nice to people. Or, at least just don’t be a jerk. Not selectively nice, but consistently nice to everyone. Working with jerks is probably the thing that people hate about their jobs the most. Don’t be one of those people, and you’ll have a long and satisfying career. Being easy to work with can make up for a lot of other shortcomings.

3. Don’t trash your boss or co-workers. Always assume whatever you say about someone will get back to them at some point. See #2 – say nice things behind their backs. When someone is gossiping about someone else, assume they are gossiping about you too.
4. Relationships are the foundation of how work gets done. It’s not just what you know – it’s who you know, and how well you know them. The Chinese call it “Guanxi”. In today’s networked society and economy, I think it’s more important now than ever.

5. Never lose sight of what’s really important. Family and faith (for some) come first, and then comes work. Yes, work hard – but don’t become a workaholic. I’ve seen too many workaholics ruin their health, their relationships, and if they are a manager, they burn out their employees.
6. Every year, strive to add at least one bullet to your resume. In order to do that, look for “resume building” projects or challenges.

7. If you don’t like something about your job (or boss, or your co-workers, etc…), you have 3 choices: Do something to make it better, accept it, or leave. Complaining about it will only irritate your co-workers, friends, and family and not change a thing.
8. When it’s time to leave a job, do it gracefully. Never burn bridges, always take the high road, even if you feel that you’re being treated unfairly. Remember, that next hiring manager is probably going to want to talk to your previous bosses. Leave behind a trial of glowing recommendations.

9. Network ALL the time, not just when you’re job hunting. And remember, good networking is about looking for opportunities to help others, not just asking others for favors.
10. Be a proposer, not an order-taker. Sure, we all get paid to do as we’re told, but real success comes from coming up with new ideas, stuff that no one’s asking for. Just keep in mind, a .250 batting average is pretty good when it comes to acceptance of new ideas. Thanks to an awesome former employee for reminding me about this piece of advice – it is still serving her well in her new role.

11. Have a can-do, positive attitude. Look for possibilities, not just problems. Positive and negative attitudes are extremely contagious.
12. Be a continuous learner. Always look for projects where you can stretch and learn, bosses that you can learn from, opportunities to get feedback, and have a healthy appetite for new knowledge and best practices. Make sure each new job is an opportunity to learn new stuff, not just doing the same stuff in a different place.

13. Ask for what you want. Don’t assume your boss or others can – or “should” read your mind. They can't, so it's up to you to wave your own flag.
14. Bring goodies to work. This has always worked for Mrs. Great Leadership. 

15. When faced with an ethical decision, ask yourself: “Would I be OK with my decision being on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper?”, instead of: “What are the chances of getting caught?” Never compromise your ethics – it’s the one thing where the “we get paid to do what we’re told” rule gets overruled.
I’m sure as soon as I hit the “publish” button I’ll come up with more, but that’s probably enough of an earful for 30 minutes. Oh, and I’ll try to say “when I was your age” too often. (-:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Inconsistent Bossing: A Surefire Way to Disengage

Guest post from Nicole Lipkin:

We all have those days when our words and actions don't come out the way we intended. Or we take our stress out on others. We intend to give a compliment or a simple criticism and it instead sounds more critical than we really feel. Between friends, a simple “I’m sorry, I’m just stressed lately” can repair these missteps. Our friends know that just because we were their loyal confidante one day and a nutcase the next is not necessarily a reflection on the friendship itself. The workplace, however, is a more delicate environment and a simple “I’m sorry” may not be as effective, or even appropriate if we are talking about the dynamic between boss and employee. 

Though we hate to admit it, our bosses can change the emotional tone of our day with a couple words, either encouraging or critical. Thus, it is extremely important for a boss to watch how they reinforce their employees’ behavior and maintain consistency. Inconsistent bossing can turn a great employee who is excited to come to work every day into a disgruntled nonplussed employee who allows him/herself to become complacent and disinterested.

If a boss changes their tune on a daily basis, an employee will become confused. If an employee receives a “Great job!” one day and then a nitpicking criticism the next on a similar performance, the employee will simply be confused. Of course the boss may not have any idea that they did any damage. The boss may have spilled coffee on themselves on the way to work, someone may have looked at them the wrong way, or maybe there is trouble at home. Then, they got to work, saw a small error in the employee’s performance and – instead of leading with the positive – they tell the employee the small thing that was wrong. The boss returns to their work, clueless that damage was just inflicted; the employee returns to his/her desk dejected and baffled.

Over time, repetitive inconsistent behavior like this on the part of the boss can lead to learned helplessness in the employee. Essentially learned helplessness means the employee once thought of themselves as competent and good at what they do, but because of their boss’ inconsistent reinforcement, their opinion of themselves degenerates and they’ve come to think of themselves as incompetent. This of course can all be avoided by self-awareness.

Bosses can take a moment when they arrive to work (or whenever necessary) to self-evaluate their mindset, see where there thoughts lay to make sure they don’t project their own whimsical emotions on others. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being in a bad mood or giving an employee constructive criticism. What we’re after is ensuring that whatever reinforcement we give is constructive and is based on the job done and not an irrelevant fleeting emotion that we brought into the workplace. We’re all human, things happen, but we can get better at training our minds, watching them.
There is a phenomenon called Emotional Contagion that deals specifically with this concentric projection of attitudes and feelings and it is very simple: if you smile and are positive around someone, they will feel good and most likely carry that positivity to the next place they go, which can create a ripple effect. It’s pretty amazing when you conceive how powerful a small positive gesture can be. The same ripple effect can of course occur when projecting negativity. Want proof? Take a moment and think about whether you feel good or bad around a positive person and/or negative person. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out.

Let’s get scientific for a second. Sigal Barsade (2002), currently a Professor of Management at The Wharton School, conducted seminal work into the positive and negative effects of the emotional dance that takes place in every group.  For the study, she assigned 94 business school undergraduates to 29 different groups ranging in size from two to four participants, including one ringer (otherwise known as a confederate), an actor from the drama department. Each group would decide how to allocate money from a bonus pool. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, the ringer was instructed by Barsade to act out different mood and energy levels, such as cheerful enthusiasm, serene warmth, hostile irritability and depressed sluggishness.

Barsarde found that the participants acted differently, depending on the actor’s performance. The actor’s cheerfulness made the group more cheerful; the actor’s anger made the group angrier. Positive emotions created more cooperation; negative emotions increased conflict and decreased cooperative decision-making.
Barsade observed, “People are walking mood inductors, continuously influencing the moods and then the judgments and behaviors of others.” The effect occurs in every type of organization, in every industry, and in every large and small work group.
Consistency creates stability and a stable work environment promotes well-being among workers, both superior and subordinate alike.  It is similar to a family dynamic. It has long been accepted that a stable home is the best home for a child to grow up in. It creates the nurturing backbone for a child to fulfill their potential.  An unstable home can lead to, well, I think we’re all aware of the effects of unstable homes. The workplace is no different. It’s a kind of family.

Nicole Lipkin is a business and organizational psychologist, consultant, and speaker, holding a doctorate in Clinical Psychology as well as an MBA. She is the president of Equilibria Leadership Consulting and the founder of Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services. In addition to her new book, What Keeps Leaders Up at Night, Nicole is the co-author of Y in the Workplace. Nicole has shared her expertise on NPR, NBC, CBS, Fox Business News, and other high-profile media outlets. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 12, 2013

10 Succession Planning Best Practices

There’s more to succession planning than coming up with lists of candidates for important positions on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Unfortunately, that’s about as far as some companies take it (if they’re doing it at all). Then they end up scrambling looking for replacements, hiring overly paid and risky outsiders, or over-promoting unqualified candidates.

I’ve been studying succession planning best practices for years. The companies that do it right – as measured by bottom-line results – seem to follow all if not most of the following 10 best practices:
1.     Have commitment and involvement of the CEO and Board. It’s not an HR driven paperwork exercise – the CEO owns it, and has regular reviews with the entire Board or a Board subcommittee. Board members contribute to the process by providing feedback, asking great questions, and holding the CEO accountable.
2.     Have regular talent reviews. The Board reviews talent with the CEO, the CEO reviews talent with the executive team, each executive team member reviews talent with their teams, and the process cascades down throughout the organization. A wide net is cast for rising stars and poor performers are dealt with.
3.     Only identify viable successors for a handful of key “C level” positions. Then, they identify “pools” of high potentials for the top levels of the organization that can be developed for positions that may not even exist today.
4.     Take a “pipeline” approach to development, with the identification and development of talent at ALL levels of the organization.
5.     Hold the executive team accountable. They measure key activities and results, and often tie it to executive compensation.
6.     Align with business strategy. They “connect the dots” – they can clearly articulate the business case for doing succession planning (or the consequences of not doing it).
7.     Manage the irrational, political, and emotional dynamics of succession. Ask anyone who’s ever been in the thick of a succession planning program. Or talk to any CEO that’s faced with the prospect of “letting go”. It’s not for the faint of heart, and can’t be overlooked. This is the stuff that you won’t find in a textbook, but comes with experience and emotional intelligence.
8.     Assess performance and potential. They don’t gamble on past performance as a predictor of future success in a new role. That’s a high risk bet. They use a variety of effective ways to assess potential with relevant, consistent criteria.
9.     Integrate succession planning with performance management, recruitment, selection, development and rewards. It’s not some super-secret process done in isolation in a smoke-filled room.
10.  Make a serious commitment to development (time and resources). Succession planning without investing in development is nothing but a useless exercise in futility. The best companies spend more time developing candidates than they do creating lists.
So no one’s perfect. Where are your biggest opportunities? Where is the best place to get started? What’s one thing you can start doing now?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leading for Others

Guest post from Bill Treasurer:

  A lot of leaders default to creating duplicates at the top. It’s natural to gravitate toward, and develop bonds with, people who look like, talk like, and think like we do. So a lot of leaders end up promoting people who are just like them in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disposition, and education. It’s just plain easy to want to be around members of one’s own tribe. It’s also just plain dangerous.

By promoting duplicates at the top, people who are outside of the predominant majority – whom I call Others – are often passed over for plumb opportunities. In addition to the well-known dangers of groupthink, when leaders exclude Others, they also exclude the varied perspectives and ideas that could help the leaders make better and more imaginative decisions.

The vast majority of senior leaders across nearly all organizations throughout the United States and Europe are white men. That’s not an indictment. It’s just a fact. The challenge is that it’s not a natural act for male white leaders to open doors for women, blacks, other nonwhites, people with disabilities, or homosexuals. Excluding these Others from the top ranks likely has less to do with duplicity or racism (at least consciously) than it does with obliviousness and ignorance. Yet the impact is the same. Qualified people are inhibited from getting a fair chance to succeed, which harms both them and the organization.
This tendency for like kinds of leaders to cluster together ends up limiting opportunities for Others. Consider, for example, that 89% of the American public say that they are comfortable with women in senior leadership roles. Yet only women hold only 18% of top level positions. Worse yet, only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Despite the fact that a growing body of research suggests that women are more effective in senior positions than their male counterparts.

Some might argue that women have made great strides in cracking the proverbial glass ceiling. The CEO of IBM is a woman (Ginny Rometty). But while the glass ceiling may not be as solid as it used to be, it still exists. History suggests that women will not be able to fully dismantle the ceiling by sheer force of will and talent without the active contribution and cooperation of male leaders. One difference between men and women at work is that a man can climb the corporate ladder based on hard work, ambition, and merit with very few obstructions. There’s almost nothing stopping him if he’s effective enough. Women can demonstrate all these attributes and still find diminishing opportunities as they progress, through no fault of their own.

At that point, candidly, a woman may not get any farther without a man opening a door for her. This isn’t paternalism. I am not suggesting that women are weak damsels who need men to rescue them. I am suggesting that by being overly attentive to their own tribe, male leaders routinely, and often unconsciously, obstruct opportunities for women. The reality is that men largely hold the keys to the boardroom and C-suite.  So if they aren’t actively creating opportunities for women—a very large group of Others—male leaders run the risk of becoming opportunity obstructionists.

To be clear, most leaders are not consciously racist or bigoted. My experience working with many leaders has been largely the opposite. Most are decent and ethical people. They just default to creating duplicates at the top. So they need a lot of reminders—from shareholders, advocacy groups, outside consultants, etc.—to include Others. Including less-obvious candidates during the screening process lowers the risk of missing a talented gem who could have shined as a leader.
A wise leader gives special attention to those folks who are least like the leader. They go out of their way to understand the needs of Others. They make sure that Others are included in opportunities. They value the perspective of Others when making important decisions. And they remove whatever barriers stand in the way of helping Others achieve more.
If you’re in a leadership role, or if you’re aspiring to be one, consider taking these actions:

  • Identify a time in your career when you felt like an Other. What was the situation? What emotions come up for you when you recollect it?
  • Identify two colleagues who are Others to you. Pick one person from each gender. Take each person to lunch, separately, simply to get to know him or her better.
  • If your organization has a diversity office or function, spend an hour getting educated about what the organization is doing to create a level playing field for Others. Review the data and statistics about the composition of your workforce, including the top team and the board of directors. Meet with the diversity manager to ask how you can contribute toward the organization’s diversity goals.     
Influence is often judged in organizations by who has “a seat at the table”. If you do, take a look at the people sitting next to you. Who else has a seat? If the seats are all occupied by people who are just like you, it’s time to create a space at the table for Others. 

Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting. His latest book is Leaders Open Doors, and focuses on leaders as opportunity-creators. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international bestselling book that introduces the concept of courage-building. He is also the author of Courageous Leadership: A Program for Using Courage to Transform the Workplace, an off-the-shelf training toolkit that organizations can use to build workplace courage. To inquire about having Bill work with your organization, contact

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Collection of Advice for New Leaders

Welcome to the August 5th, 2013 edition of the Leadership Development Carnival!

For this month’s Carnival, I asked an all-star collection of leadership experts the following question: What is one piece of advice would you give to a new leader/manager?
Ah, if only I had this when I got my first promotion.

This list is a keeper! Bookmark it, share it with anyone starting out in leadership/management, and anyone considering a leadership role.  

The Best Collection of Advice for New Leaders:

Jim Taggart, from Changing Winds: “My advice to a new leader is to follow your moral compass and never stray from it, though there will be plenty of occasions where your values and principles will be put to the test. Don’t get intimidated by the intellectually “smart” people, who appear to have all the answers and who sometimes compromise their values. There are have been plenty of instances of this in the business sector and the public sector. And related to this is a very good leadership book that I recently read, What Keeps Leaders Up at Night, and on which I wrote a review. The personal challenge is to remain centered as a leader.”

Jennifer Miller, from The People Equation: “My advice is: don’t underestimate the power of the grapevine. Public opinion is shaped quickly, so getting to know your team and other key players is priority #1. I recommend that people new to a leadership role do the following six things.”

Dan McCarthy, from Great Leadership: 25 Tips for New Managers.”
Frank Sonnenberg, from FrankSonnenbergOnline: “Trust is the cement that binds relationships, keeping spouses together, business deals intact, and political systems stable. Trust is not an abstract, theoretical, idealistic goal forever beyond our reach. Trust — or a lack of it — is inherent in every action that we take and affects everything that we do. Without trust, no company can ever hope for excellence. The Values on Which Trust Rests.”

S. Chris Edmonds, from Driving Results Through Culture: “My piece of advice for a new leader or manager: It's NOT about YOU (the leader); it's about THEM (employees). #GreatBosses are servant leaders that create a safe, inspiring workplace where employees THRIVE. Workplace safety and inspiration isn't something that's built and DONE - they require constant tending or human foibles will push them off track. How do leaders know how safe & inspirational their workplace is? Observe and ASK. This blog post/podcast sheds light on Four Ways to Learn Your Organization's Truth.”
Randy Conley, from Leading with Trust: “Understand the fundamental nature of managerial work as I explain in “So You Want to be a Manager? Six Things to Consider Before Taking the Plunge?” and be clear on your motivations for being a manager – “So You Want to be a Manager? Part II – Five Wrong Reasons for Becoming a Manager?”

Joel Garfinkle, from “Professionals who want more from their careers have to seize the initiative. Many of these individuals follow a series of intentional steps to career success, such as the five tips detailed in my blog post – 5 Surefire Tips for Job Advancement.”
David Burkus, from LDRLB: “Understand the importance of team dynamics. As more and more knowledge workers are serving on multiple teams, how much time the dedicate to which teams matters even more.”

John Hunter, from Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog: “Read The Leader’s Handbook by Peter R. Scholtes and then put in on your bookshelf within arm’s reach of your chair and keep referring to it. This video might be a nice kick start. Change has to start from the top. You are the top of your system. Change your thinking, change your process – you change your system. As soon as you start to modify your system you are going to have an effect on the larger system.”
Anne Perschel, from Germane Insights: “If you want to lead, show people you care more about the mission, vision, purpose, and their futures, more than you care about gratifying your own ego and increasing your own wealth. Post related to this advice appears here. Movie to watch: Invictus (with Morgan Freeman starring as Nelson Mandela). Book to read: The Soul's Code.”

Mary Jo Asmus, from : “Letter to a young leader:
Bernd Geropp, from  More Leadership: “If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur or leader, if you want to grow yourself, if you want to grow your business: Take a risk and get out of your comfort zone. Take action today!  Here is my motivation blog post for entrepreneurs and leaders who want to take action and step outside their comfort zone.

Dana Theus, from InPower Consulting: “As a leader manager, your primary job is to set direction, goals and boundaries (including resource boundaries) and encourage your team's creativity and exploration of the best ways to accomplish the goals. If you're doing your job right, they will be creatively engaged and you will be personally challenged to find new ways to support them. Supporting them should test your patience, your own creativity and your ego. You should find yourself confronting the fear of failure constantly and becoming comfortable with the idea that failure - yours and theirs - can lead to amazing successes if you personally allow for it. You must trust yourself and them more than you thought possible. If you don't find yourself challenged to allow for failure, trust more, put your own ego aside and be creative, then you could be a better leader. If you do find yourself confronting these challenges, then you're doing all the right things in your exploration of becoming a better leader, and so you will be. Being the best leader you can be feels frustrating, exhausting, challenging and immensely rewarding. Don't expect it to be easy, but do expect it to be worth every ounce of effort you invest.”
Tom Walter, from Thomas J Walter: “Always understand that your human capital is critical to success.  High employee engagement levels will drive high performance in our organization. Books to read: It’s My Company Too! and The Great Game of Business.”

Linda Fisher Thornton, from Leading in Context: “I'd advise a new leader to intentionally build a strong moral center. Two ways to begin doing that include learning about how our thoughts tend to drive our behavior, and how important it is to think beyond our own interests when making decisions. A strong moral center helps us stay grounded in the midst of chaos, and helps us bring out the best in ourselves and others.”
Chery Gegelman, from Simply Understanding Blog: “As an emerging leader there are so many tools that made a significant difference in my development.  One of the biggest was this quote - I kept it on my desk and consistently referred to it and pondered it, "Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership.  If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself - your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, and conduct.  Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers."  Dee Hock.  Blog Post: Real Leaders Challenge The Status Quo”.

Bruce Lewin, from Four Groups' Blog: “For public company CEO's, I'd follow the advice of Eric Schmidt: Absolute profits are going to increase every quarter...”
Wally Bock, from Three Star Leadership Blog: “You have two jobs. You must accomplish the mission and you must care for the people. For more: Being a Boss is Two Jobs in One.”

Julie Winkle Giulioni, from “Forget that you're signing their paychecks. To inspire the best and get the most from others, treat them like volunteers.  This point of view (and three tried-and-true strategies) can be found at:”
Lolly Daskal, from “A new manager or leader must know how to resolve conflicts: Why not try a simple exercise for a rapid solution: Leading Through The Heat 

Jon Mertz, from Thin Difference: “My advice to a new leader is to know your core beliefs. Answer the question: How will I lead? What values will I never sacrifice? Write down your answer and lead by them. Review yourself at least quarterly.”
Karin Hurt, from Let's Grow Leaders: Everyone Hates the Boss:  And Other Opportunities. Tell the truth”.

Mark Miller, from Great Leaders Serve: “I wrote a post specifically directed at new leaders. Here it is: 6 Opportunities for the New Leader”.
Tanveer Naseer, from Tanveer Naseer Leadership: “Make time to forge relationships with those you lead" more on this can be found in this article -The Role Leaders Play In Developing Great Teams.”

Robyn McLeod, from The Thoughtful Leaders Blog: “Communication is everything.  Pay attention to the words you choose and remember that the position you hold at work can give your words more weight, so always be responsible in your communication – what you say and how you say it.  And for another twist on responsible communication, check out this post – Change a word, change everything – on how your own words impact you, and check out our Effective Communication Checklist to see how you can improve the way you communicate with others.”
Guy Farmer, from The Self-Awareness Guy: “I would advise a new leader to listen more than he talks and be mindful that his behaviors build people up rather than tear them down. I talk about this concept in Self-Awareness and the Clueless Boss.”

Mary Ila Ward, from The Point: Sound Advice for Career and Leadership Development: “Most important thing: Get to know and care about the people you are leading/managing. Who are they, what they like and don't like, what they are most proud of, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they see themselves contributing to the overall success of the organization, etc.  Leaders make more leaders and realize that results are achieved through people, not task lists.  If you don't know your people, they won't do their best for you.  Read Leadership and Self-Deception for more food for thought on seeing people as people.”
Neal Burgis, Ph.D., from Practical Solutions: "The one piece of advice I would you give to a new leader/manager is to Be Consistently Persistent in being Extraordinary means you have to get out of your comfort zone more than you might want to. This can be achieved throughout your entire organization.”

Mark Babbitt, from YouTern: “Never wait for permission to lead. Don't wait for the appropriate title on your business card; nor for the right "powers-that-be" to notice you. All you need is a challenge to resolve and a viable solution. Throw in some humble confidence and old-school hustle... and others, regardless of age or seniority, will follow.”
Mary Faulkner, from Surviving Leadership: “Establish boundaries and accept that you both WANT and DESERVE to be a leader. It will help change your thinking!”

Richard S. Wellins, from Talent Management intelligence: “Oprah Winfrey tells Harvard grads that great leaders empathize and listen. At Development Dimensions International, we couldn’t agree more and would give the same advice to any leader. From our research, we have learned interpersonal skills are the #1 reason many leaders fail.  If you want to build strong relationships with your team and get work done, focus on basic skills such as effective communication, listening, empathizing and involving others. Want to be inspired? Click here to take a closer look at the important role interpersonal skills play in leadership development. Click here to view Oprah’s commencement address."
Mike Henry Sr., from Lead Change Group: “Find ways to make your best people successful. Choose who you support and make them winners. As long as they become winners moving the organization toward its goals, you can't lose."