Monday, June 30, 2014

The July 2014 Leadership Development Carnival is up!

This month's Leadership Development Carnival is hosted S. Chris Edmonds, at Driving Results Through Culture.

You can find it right here.

Chris has done an awesome job rounding up 29 recent posts from some of my favorite leadership blogger, and has founded a few news ones too.

Take a look, scan the list, and check out the ones that grab your interest!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Leading For Good

Guest post from Christoph Lueneburger:

Every leader who has ever wondered what kind of difference they could truly make in the world should hear the story of Mark Tercek, a hotshot Goldman Sachs banker who decided to become “a force for good.” Today Mark serves as President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, a non-governmental organization that has more than a million members and works in over 35 countries to protect ecologically important lands and waters.

Mark was always bold. After earning an MBA at Harvard, he saw most of his classmates gravitating to Wall Street and other corporate training grounds. Mark went to Japan. “Going to Japan seemed like a really good idea,” he recalls. “How could it be a bad idea?” He took a job as an English teacher and began serious study of martial arts.

After a time, he found himself traveling back and forth between Japan and New York in the employ of Goldman Sachs. One New York assignment was as head of the transportation practice. “I was going to decline that job; it sounded so boring. My friends were all doing sexier things like technology, communications, or financial services.” But he took the assignment and it worked for him in large part because he saw opportunity where others did not. “I concluded I could be successful by aggressively sharing credit with others on any success I had. And I discovered there was no penalty for sharing credit.” In fact, the rewards were substantial. “We had a tiny transportation team – just a few people. Yet at one point, we had a very big business because we had all these products specialists and regional people wanting to work on our deals.”

When Mark became a Goldman Sachs partner, he considered what might be next for him. “The transportation orange didn’t have much more juice. I was getting bored.” On Thanksgiving 1996, Mark’s bosses asked if he would consider leading the firm’s real estate effort. “I almost fell out of my chair. The opportunity was big: supervise eighty people, a $100 million business, with a much higher profile than transportation. I didn’t even bother asking for advice. I just took it. I was pumped. I was really a leader and would learn more stuff! It was fantastic.”

Mark thrived in the new role. But while he was off with his wife and kids on what he calls “geeky” vacations exploring nature, Mark began to wonder if he had tapped out his trajectory as a banker. A new idea edged into his thought process. “I had an interest in the environment. And I was interested in business being a force for good.” He decided to move in that direction. Assuming he could not pursue this new course at Goldman, Mark prepared to leave. But Hank Paulson, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs (and soon to be US Secretary of the Treasury), had another idea. “He said, ‘Don’t quit. We need leaders like you.’ It was really Hank who had the idea that I lead the firm’s environmental effort. I thought it was kind of a weird idea, but he talked me into it.”

Mark stayed on, developing strategies that made both business and environmental sense – a new concept in the halls of Goldman. “I was fearless, which was the most important ingredient. I had nothing to lose because I was otherwise going to quit. And I realized that my clout in that job came from people remembering I had been a pretty successful commercial guy. It was fun for me, and of course, I got a world-class introduction to the environmental space.”

Mark learned a lot, fast. One day a headhunter called asking if he could suggest any candidates to lead The Nature Conservancy. Mark said: “Yeah. Me.” Not everyone felt the same. Mark heard that while his desire to make a difference was admirable, a banker leading TNC was never going to happen. Clearly, the onus would be on him to win the role. “So I prepared, like you would expect a diligent banker to prepare. I mean, I prepared like crazy.” In the interview, Mark made a compelling case that understanding deals, companies, and markets would be vital to the success of NGOs in the 21st century. It was a long, hard slog to convince TNC. But it was something Mark wanted badly. When the call finally came with the job offer, Mark was so excited, he backed his car into a tree (it lived).

Just months after he joined the Conservancy in 2008, the financial crisis hit. Mark had been through downturns on Wall Street and he applied all that he had learned at TNC. “We were by far the first environmental NGO to move. We became a highly prioritized, more focused, leaner organization. Then we grew. It was tough, but I think it turned out to be a great entry for me because it validated my leadership at a difficult time.”

Mark Tercek’s story offers a lens to help all leaders see their own potential in a new light. Mark had the courage to ask heretical questions and make irreverent choices that sidestepped commonly held assumptions. Just as important, he was insightful, distilling patterns from their complexity across his breadth of experience. Finally, Mark took time to think big, then persevered until he had scaled his big idea into a job fully worthy of his heart as well as his mind.  

About the author:
In his new book A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You author Christoph Lueneburger tells the stories of great leaders who view sustainability not as a challenge but as a solution, capable of inspiring people and forging winning cultures. Sharing his exclusive, in-depth dialogues with chief sustainability officers, CEOs, and board chairmen, Lueneburger reveals what leaders actually do to make sustainability work at the places where it works best, including Chrysler, Unilever, TNT, Walmart, and Bloomberg. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The 10 Essential Roles of a Manager

What exactly does a manager do? Or, perhaps a better question would be, what should a manager do? What are the uniquely essential roles of a manager?

Read my latest article at Management & Leadership to find out.

Monday, June 23, 2014

21 Free Leadership & Management Video Sites

In September 2009, I wrote a post on Great Leadership called 10 Free Leadership Video Sites. It continues to be one of my most popular posts, however, given that it was written almost five years ago, I thought it was time for an update.

I've updated the original list, and added 11 more new sites. Break out the popcorn, and read my latest article at Management & Leadership to see them all.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What They Didn’t Teach You at Business School about Negotiation

Guest post from John Graham:

Your daughters are fighting – over an orange. No hitting or hair pulling, just screaming and crying. What do you do? You might get a knife and cut the thing in half. A zero-sum solution, but fair. If you’re smart you ask each of them why they want the orange. If you’re lucky one wants it for the juice, the other the peel for marmalade. They can share it with each getting 100% of their desires. Smart parent!
In business school we call the latter approach integrative or interests-based bargaining. Indeed, we often tell the parable of the orange to demonstrate the thinking behind the process. Rather than a competitive haggling over greedy positions, we’ve been teaching making interests-based tradeoffs that should yield win-win solutions. But in the 21st century, just getting to yes isn’t good enough.

There is a third way. The best negotiators in the world think business-school-taught integrative bargaining is primitive. Jobs and Iger used what we call Inventive Negotiation in devising the Disney purchase of Pixar. They developed a trusting relationship, laid their cards on the table, face up, and walked around Palo Alto trading crazy ideas. Rather than bargaining over film distribution agreements and intellectual property, they combined their imaginations to design an ecosystem of creativity. Using this approach with your daughters, you suggest planting an orange tree.
Inventive negotiation borrows the best ideas from the Japanese, the Dutch, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, brain science, anthropology, and experimental economics. Rather than focusing on disputes or problems, the process begins with a search for opportunities.  Next comes finding the best partners and developing trusting relationships. Those relationships allow for application of tools of invention – using a facilitator, leveraging diversity, getting the team, place, space and pace just right, changing roles, and improvisation.  

Prominent examples of Inventive Negotiation come from industry – Boeing/Mitsubishi, GM/Toyota, Apple/Hon Hai, Philips, and Ford. All have imitated General Electric’s founder. Thomas Edison wasn’t just an inventor. He was an inventive negotiator. Contemplate the array of companies he created – 171 in all. Fifty were in countries ranging from Argentina to Canada, from Japan, China, and India to Italy, Germany, and France. He dabbled with partners in electric cars, batteries, cement, chemicals, and office machines. The creative teams he developed laid the foundations for today’s music, movie, and telecommunications industries.

Historians list 22 inventors of incandescent lamps prior to Edison, but his team’s design improved on the others in three ways: better incandescent material, a higher vacuum, and higher electrical resistance allowing power to be distributed from a centralized source. But the better bulb by itself wasn’t the reason for Edison’s success. He and his partners also developed the basic grid to bring the electricity from a distant generator across the wires to the bulbs. Now GE makes everything from toasters to turbo-machinery.

By the time Thomas Edison applied for patent #223,898 for his version of the light bulb, he had already formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City. He’d sold his vision: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles,” which helped him line up investors like the Vanderbilts and J. P. Morgan. And within a decade, he’d recruited dozens of the smartest engineers in the world and built the world’s first industrial laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.

He owned the American market (some 60 million at the time), but his dreams were bigger: the entire British Empire (about 400 million). And one man stood in his way.

Joseph Swan held the British patent for pretty much the same technology, and he was suing Edison there. Where others would have seen this as an obstacle, Edison saw it as an opportunity. Soon he had persuaded Swan that partnership was a better idea than litigation—a move that would make both of them enormously wealthy.

So in 1883 the two partners created the Edison and Swan Electric Light Company (Ediswan) to manufacture and distribute the invention in Britain and its vast empire. Though famously “the sun never set on the British Empire,” it apparently set every day on some portion of it. In those places they needed lighting. Thus, Edison’s gamble paid off handsomely.

We have found others that use Inventive Negotiation – George Mitchell brokering a peace in Northern Ireland, Marines drilling water wells in Afghanistan, Father Gregory Boyle creating Homeboy Enterprises, extended families building multigenerational housing. The list goes on and on. There is no limit to human imagination when it’s purposefully applied to finding opportunities, TOGETHER. Try Inventive Negotiation. Go beyond just yes. Plant orange trees!

John L. Graham, co-author with Lynda Lawrence and William Hernández Requejo, of Inventive Negotiation: Getting Beyond Yes (Palgrave Macmillan, May 2014), Professor Emeritus of International Business, University of California, Irvine,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Incorporate Learning into Weekly Meetings

"Most managers have weekly meetings, which generally revolve around what happened during the past week: accomplishments and disappointments, and then planning is done for the next week. Yet often, these meetings don't bring out the specific learning that has taken place especially when it comes to success."

Read Great Leadership guest blogger Beth Armknecht Miller's new post over at my Management & Leadership site to learn how to turn your regular meetings into continuous learning opportunities: Talent Obsession Weekly

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to be an Amazing Mentor

Mentoring is a gift and a privilege.  To be asked by someone for mentoring means that person sees you as a role model and believes your wisdom can help them grow and be more successful.

Mentoring someone has the potential to be of the most rewarding and satisfying things you’ll ever do in your career. 

So – if you have been asked by someone to be their mentor- don’t just be an OK mentor – be an amazing mentor! Be that person who made a difference in a person’s life!

What does an amazing mentor do?
Read my new article over at Management & Leadership to learn the 14 characteristics of amazing mentors.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Visualize Your Purpose

Guest post from Jurgen Appelo:

When the young Zhang Ruimin in China was appointed as managing director of the Haier refrigerator factory in 1984, it didn’t look like the kind of job anyone else would envy. The company was in serious debt. It produced a mere eighty refrigerators per month, and the quality of those was very poor. Then, on a good day in 1985, a customer came in and brought his broken refrigerator with him.
As Mr. Zhang and the client went through the machines in stock, looking for a replacement, they discovered that a staggering one-fifth of the machines had failures. Mr. Zhang, a fervent reader of modern management techniques, decided to make a point by showing his employees how important he thought quality was. He lined up the broken refrigerators (each of which was very expensive in those days) and handed out sledgehammers to the workers. He said, “Destroy them! If we pass these 76 refrigerators for sale, we’ll be continuing a mistake that has all but bankrupted our company.” [Jinsheng Yi and Xian Ye, The Haier Way pag:23]

Thirty years later, the story is still known all over China. With a market share of close to eight percent, Haier became the biggest producer of major household appliances in the world in 2011. At the time of writing this article, Mr. Zhang still leads the company. And he is still on the lookout for new and better ways of management. I feel proud and honored that he wrote the foreword for the Chinese translation of my first book, Management 3.0.

What Would You Put on Display?

People love expositions, exhibits, and museums.  Expositions about art, expositions about history, expositions about science, expositions about architecture, expositions about technology, expositions about biology (we call them zoos), expositions about photography, and (probably) expositions about expositions. If you are on vacation in Amsterdam, you can even go to an exposition about sexuality. And if you’re on a business trip in China, you can go to an exposition about the company that invited you, like I did when I was invited by Haier. Expositions and museums are popular because they tell stories with pictures or objects. They inspire people by showing both the beautiful and the terrible things that have shaped humanity into what it is now. Some things we hope to create more of in the future, while other things we hope to never witness again.

What would you have on display if your team had an exposition? Which photos, videos, sounds, screenshots, or texts would you show to your guests? Which emails, trophies, badges, or gifts did you get in the past that could serve as an example of what you want in the future? Which products, phone calls, or objects will serve as a reminder of things that should never happen again? Research suggests that adding a visual element to your goal-setting efforts brings you stronger results. [Dowden, “A Picture is Worth 1000 Words”] And artifacts can contribute to the communication of shared values and purpose. [Robin and Burchell, No Excuses loc:586] So, which stories can you showcase with artifacts to emphasize your goals?

When you are able to create a nice exposition about the work in your team, department, or organization, it is likely that you have found and visualized your purpose.

Jurgen Appelo is Europe’s most popular leadership author, listed on’s Top 50 Management Experts. His latest book Management 3.0 Workout, full of concrete games, tools, and practices, is available for free. Download it here: 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Secret to Becoming a Better Leader

Scene from the movie City Slickers:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

[holds up one finger]

Curly: This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean s--t.

Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"

Curly: [smiles] That's what you have to find out.

Read my latest article at Management & Leadership to find out how to discover your "one thing" to improve as a leader.

Monday, June 9, 2014

10 Ways to Motivate Your Employees

Have you ever heard the old saying: “You can’t motivate anyone, they have to motivate themselves?”

From a purely psychological perspective that may be true, but people will be more likely to motivate themselves when a manager creates a motivating workplace environment.

Read my latest article at Management & Leadership to find out how.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Three Human Capital Management Concerns Keeping U.S. CEOs Up At Night

Guest post from Bhushan Sethi:

Most US CEOs say technological advances will transform their businesses within the next five years. But almost three quarters say they’re worried about the skills gap in their organizations.

After surveying 1,344 CEOs in 68 countries, we found that 70% of US CEOs are concerned about the skills gap. And 86% say technology advances are going to transform their businesses within the next five years. So the relationship between talent quality and financial success isn’t just causal. It’s completely consequential.


Three concerns crucial to human capital management leadership over the next few years are:
1.     Transformation requires trust – Departmental changes are nothing new, and most employees will go along to get along when the degree of change is small and the rate is slow. Bigger changes require more. Employees need to trust their leaders when the leaders ask them to take a leap of faith. This is going to be harder to do than it used to be. Five years after the financial crisis, just 32% of US CEOs say the level of trust with employees has improved. Being transparent about where the company is going and what it takes to be successful is an approach managers will have to embrace to regain that trust.

 2.     The people you have now are the people you’ll have later – In the past, large-scale change could be achieved by replacing people. But consider the data…this is beyond “large-scale” when:
·       62% of US CEOs are considering or planning change in customer growth and retention strategy

·       62% are doing the same in how they use and manage data and data analytics

·       54% are focused on their R&D and innovation capacity

This skills gap is just too big for managers to fire and rehire their way out of the problem. To cope with this degree of change, training for tomorrow must become as important as revenue today. This is especially true when it comes to digital skills because they’re inherently cross-function. Consider the integration of big data and customer service. IT people can’t bring data sources together in a useful way without understanding what each data point means. Customer service professionals, who are wonderful at understanding the ebb and flow of customer moods, must learn to be scientific in their measurement and approaches. To boot, each must learn the other department’s skills while not fighting over turf. The leader’s role here is to point towards a common goal, motivating people to learn from each other so that they can achieve this new opportunity. The skills gap, in other words, is very much a leadership gap.

3.     The meaning of a diploma – As much as we bemoan the paucity of skills training in higher education, it’s not possible for schools to be close enough to industry to have a perfect match between training and needs. The good news is that industry can do more. A number of companies are offering MBA programs at night inside their own buildings. Others are working hand-in-glove with community colleges to train operators for their plants. There are even instances where companies have approached high schools to encourage shop classes so that people will develop welding and pipefitting skills. There are no limits to the practical, if inventive, ways companies can develop the talent they need.

Looking at these problems and their solutions, it becomes clear that the secret to closing the skills gap isn’t closing the skills gap -- it’s seizing the leader’s mantle.  That’s not a title or a position, but a role of pointing to the valley, telling the people about the danger ahead and then inspiring the changes necessary to survive and prosper.

How prepared are you for this challenge? To answer that question, simply ask yourself another: How invested are you in your people’s skills?

By Bhushan Sethi, PwC managing director in the firm’s Advisory practice, focused on human capital issues.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You Can’t Climb the Corporate Ladder if Your Manager is Stuck on the Rung Above You

You’ll find lots of great advice on how to get yourself promoted, and more on how to deal with a lousy boss. But did you ever stop to consider that it’s in your own best interest to help your boss be more successful?
Read my latest post on Management & Leadership  to find out why.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Little Common Sense

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.” 
  ― René Descartes

 “Common sense ain't common.”
  ― Will Rogers

What is “common sense”? Can it be learned, and if so, how?

Read my latest post at Management & Leadership to find out.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The June Leadership Development Carnival

This Month's Leadership Development Carnival is being hosted in India by my long-time  blogging friend Tanmay Vora, over at his QAspire blog.

You can find it right here - over 30 recent posts from many of my favorite leadership bloggers from around the world.