Tag Archives: Leadership

Leadership

Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant, deputy national editor at the New York Times interviewed more than 200 CEOs of top companies for his column, and distilled the leadership qualities that moved them to The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed :

  • Passionate curiosity, deep engagement with questioning mind and a balance of analytical and creative competencies
  • Confidence based on facing adversity, knowing capabilities
  • Collaboration, ability to “read” and shape team dynamics
  • Ability to translate complex to simple explanations
  • Fearlessness in acting on considered risks  The Corner Office

These five characteristics augment qualities that might be considered “table stakes” – or “must-haves” for any leadership candidate:

  • Preparation
  • Patience
  • Navigating organizational obstacles  
  • Building a team of diverse members by galvanizing with a clear mission and spending time with members

Bryant argues that these behavioral competencies may be developed through attentive effort, but he acknowledges that some people have greater natural predisposition and aptitude for these “ways of being.”

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel’s earlier book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers provided different recommendations for women seeking leadership roles, later empirically validated in research studies:

  • Act like a mature woman rather than a “girl”
  • Frame statements as assertions rather than questions
  • State and initiate a course of action, rather than waiting to request permissionNice Girls Dont Get The Corner

In contrast, Bryant particularly advises women to “meet as many people as possible and build relationships because serendipity and chance encounters can lead to unplanned opportunities.”

Research organizations like Catalyst and Center for Talent Innovation conduct social science research to investigate these behavioral and attitudinal recommendations.

CatalystBoth groups have questioned the applicability of mainstream recommendations in leadership development curricula when implemented by women, minorities and “people of color.”

Their continuing research agendas include analyzing the behavioral components of general recommendations such as “demonstrate gravitas” which the majority of top executives affirmed as “… critical for leadership. I can’t define it but I know if when I see it.”Center for Talent Innovation

These research organizations seek to more clearly define what these key executives see in critical leadership attributes like “gravitas” and to define them in replicable behavior terms.

-*Which leadership behaviors do you consider most important for any executive?
-*Which behavioral competencies are most crucial for aspiring women leaders?

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How and Who of Innovation

Many innovation experts urge overcoming roadblocks by “doing something different”, and Alex Cornell joins the chorus in his Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination 

In contrast, Tom Kelley offered more specific guidance in the stages of “how” innovation is managed at IDEO in   
  The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm:

•              Analyze the market, potential client groups, technology, and constraints for each innovation problem
•              Observe people in typical life situations
•              Visualize novel concepts and their intended customers
•              Evaluate and refine prototypes during rapid iterations
•              Implement new concept for commercialization

Steven Johnson offers seven non-linear principles of innovation in Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation:                                                          

•              Adjacent possible: Timing is essential for innovation to be accepted

•              Liquid networks: Connections between different disciplines to enable ideas development and implementation

•              Slow hunch: Insights incubate, germinate over time before becoming executable

•              Serendipity: Spontaneous, chance juxtaposition of ideas applied to other

•              Error: Outcomes considered “failures” from numerous trials  may lead to – and be required – to successfully implement ideas

•              Exaptation: Reusing existing ideas, technologies for a different purpose

•              Platforms: Adapting, recombining existing knowledge, components, implementation approaches to develop something new

Expert innovators seem to follow these guidelines and have developed skill through what Geoff Colvin calls “Deliberate Practice” in “What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else”, the sub-title of his book, Talent is Overrated.

He notes that Deliberate Practice is not considered “fun”, but is a highly demanding and repeated mental challenge, systematically designed to improve performance with consistent expert monitoring and feedback.

Colvin’s premise is based on K. Anders Ericsson’s classic Harvard Business Review article, “The Making of an Expert“, which outlines three contributors to superior performance across disciplines:

•             Deliberate Practice to improve existing skills and to extend the reach and range of skills
•             Expert coaching with consistent monitoring and corrective feedback
•              Support from family and mentors

Kelley of IDEO focused more recently on the “who” of innovation in The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization, organized by Learning, Building, and Organizing capabilities:                     

•              Experience
•              Set Designer
•              Caregiver
•              Storyteller
•              Anthropologist
•              Cross-pollinator
•              Hurdler
•              Experimenter
•              Collaborator
•              Director
Meredith Belbin offered similar analysis of eight team roles in his Team Roles at Work  and Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail  to ignite collaborative strategy definition and execution.   

These findings suggest that processes and practices can help shape innovation, but consistent, focused and attentive practice increases capacity to innovate more than “natural talent” — validating the well-known homespun advice to “work hard” and demonstrate a “strong work ethic.”

-*What processes and roles do you use to increase innovation at work?

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It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something: Suggestions to Guide Innovation, Creativity

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It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something

Several recent books showcase Big Ideas in innovation:

  • Success often has random elements
  • Active experiments and reflective “incubation” are required for effective innovation.
Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson argues that most success “comes from things we cannot predict and plan: serendipitous moments, unexpected and spontaneous approaches, unusual combinations, and lucky breaks,” in the form of “click moments”, which can move people and ideas to a new, unexpected direction” in in Click: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World.

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Johansson, Leonard Mlodinow and Nate Silver (“American statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist”) all demonstrate that events are more random than people typically acknowledge, and Johansson recommends specific actions that individuals and organizations can take to favorably focus this randomness

Nate Silver

Nate Silver

Follow your curiosity:  Capitalize on interests and “passions” to drive creative explorations

  • Use cross-disciplinary, “inter-sectional” thinking to break “associative barriers”
  • Examine surprises and unintended consequences for possible inspiration and re-usable ideas
  • Be aware of opportunities everywhere, requiring a mindful engagement rather than living “automatically”, and explore “all” opportunities
  • Scan for momentum and align to it
  • Choose a less predictable, or more “contrarian” solution
  • Act: Place many “purposeful bets” to try many options, with no expectation or guarantee of “success”
  • Minimize bet size to reduce the impact of loss
  • Take the smallest executable step (measured by time, money, partners)
  • Calculate acceptable loss rather than focusing on return on investment
  • Create “large hooks” to scaffold and leverage creative “borrowing” from existing sources
  • Shift focus from the problem to enable cognitive “incubation” of ideas
  • “Double down” when opportunities are not obvious

Many of these recommendations are more similar to behaviors intended to increase creativity and innovation than to quantitative finesse maneuvers.

For example Johansson’s recommendation to engage in “purposeful bets” draws from Peter Sims’ recommendations to place Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, which are low-risk experiments to discover, develop, and test an idea.

  • Experiment to “fail quickly to learn fast”  – see post on Eddie Obeng
  • “Play”  by establishing a fun environment to cultivate innovation
  • Immerse  by interacting with customers
  • Reorient by make celebrating small wins and undertaking improvement “pivots”
  • Iterate by frequently testing, refining and improving-*How do you detect and optimize opportunities?
    -*How do you manage uncertainty in your career?

See more recommendations to boost innovation and creativity at: How and Who of Innovation  LinkedIn Open Group The Executive Coach

Related posts
Cognitive Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

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Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

-* How have you seen women’s Emotional Intelligence applied in the workplace?

Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact

Annette Simmons

Annette Simmons

Annette Simmons asserts that the power of stories derives from stimulating feelings and focusing these sentiments on a goal or action in her book, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte, who designed Al Gore’s original Inconvenient Truth slides, concurs in her most recent book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences 

George Lakoff

George Lakoff

UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff, in his classic, Metaphors We Live By, contends that stories create a framework that directs and filters attention, and enables the speaker to “control the conclusions.”

Simmons suggests the following sources of stories:

1.Personal stories of your successes
2.Personal stories of failures, to demonstrate learning, and to build trust and credibility
3.Stories of mentors and other people who influenced you
4.Memorable stories from books, movies, and current events that influenced you.

Aristotle

Aristotle

She referred to Aristotle‘s premise that the best stories contain knowledge (logos), feeling (pathos), and credibility (ethos) when she offered guidelines for effective story-telling:

1. Describe events in a way that evokes a concrete, sensory experience, as it is the way to stimulating emotion
2. Be brief
3. Offer measurable outcomes
4. Enable the listener to similar situations, organizations
5.Solidarity, or enabling the listener to experience another person’s point-of-view

-*What practices enable you to craft influential, memorable “stories”?

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Trusted Leader Assessment without a 360 Degree Evaluation

Ever wonder how you are perceived by the team? … and don’t have the time or budget for a complete 360 degree assessment?

Mike Figliuolo

Mike Figliuolo

Mike Figliuolo proposes Trusted Leader Assessment without a full 360 degree evaluation in his book, One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership

His Trusted Leader Self-Assessment is based on his Leadership Maxims training course, and expands his advocacy for the value of creating, articulating, and fulfilling a personal leadership philosophy.

He asks individuals to consider four areas of personal leadership:

Leading yourself:
What motivates you?
What are your personal rules of conduct?
What do you want the “future you” to stand for? Does your team know what you are passionate about at work?
Does your team know your ultimate professional goal?
Have you ever shared your personal ethical code with your team?
Does your team know your sources of inner strength and motivation?
Do your team members understand your perspective on personal accountability?

Leading thinking:
Where are you taking your team?
How will you innovate to drive change?
Is your team clear on what your most critical performance standards are?
Does your team know your view of the team’s vision and mission?
Does your team know how you like to generate new ideas?
Does your team know your views on how you make decisions?

Leading people:
Is your preferred leadership style clearly understood by your team?
Do your team members feel like you genuinely treat them like individuals?
Does your team feel that you understand the day-to-day reality of each of their jobs?
Do your team members feel like you’re fully committed to their growth and development?

Leading a balanced life:
How do you achieve equilibrium between work and personal obligations?
Does your team know your boundaries between work and life?
Would your team say you do a good job of keeping things in perspective?
Does your team know what you’re passionate about outside of work?

-*Which of Figliuolo’s “Four Questions” enable you to lead yourself and others?

Robert Galford

Robert Galford

The Trusted Leader, Robert M. Galford, Anne Seibold Drapeau

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Powerful Non-Verbal Behavior May Have More Impact Than a Good Argument

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld is a social psychologist and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who co-directs its Executive Program for Women Leaders.

Her research focuses on power and group behavior, and she notes that power can corrupt without conscious awareness.
She notes that power can disinhibit behavior by reducing concern for the social consequences of one’s actions, and by strengthening the link between personal wishes and acts that fulfill these desires.

Her recent work demonstrates that power leads to an action-orientation, limits the ability to take another’s perspective, and increases the tendency to view others as a “means to an end.”

This talk reviews her research and its practical implications, such as non-verbal behaviors that anyone can adopt to increase the impression of being a powerful individual.

-*How have you seen powerful non-verbal behavior trump the content of an argument?

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Five Steps and Exercises to Drive Breakthrough Creativity

Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Entrepreneur, columnist for Fast Company and Inc. Magazine, and former jazz guitarist, Josh Linkner asserts that creativity is sustainable differentiator  in today’s rapidly-changing business landscape, in his book Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity

He outlines a five-step process to develop creativity, which he notes, can be increased with focused effort and practice:

1. ASK: Define objectives for creativity or innovation
2. PREPARE: Become ready – mentally, physically, before  generating creative solutions
3. DISCOVER: Employ techniques to explore new cognitive territory and ideation:

• Asking “Why?”, “What if?”, and “Why not?”
• Developing a Long List of 200 creative idea
• “Role Storming” in which ideas a presented “in character”.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

For example,  creative ideas may be presented from the role of Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs or another respected innovator

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

4. IGNITE: Focus. using  methods such as his technique of “Doing the Opposite” of the expected
5. LAUNCH: Select work target, set metrics, and begin implementation

Linkner’s website recommends the best books on developing creativity and innovation

-*What steps help you create innovate solutions to business problems?

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Silicon Valley Executive Recruiter’s Advice for Getting to the Top

Kathryn Ullrich

Kathryn Ullrich

Kathryn Ullrich is a Silicon Valley executive recruiter who also advises UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management Career Center.

She notes that companies have delegated career development responsibilities to employees, so she advocates the critical importance of individuals taking responsibility for their own career success.

In her book, Getting to the Top: Strategies for Career Success, Ullrich outlines executive skills she finds critical for career, and has organized these in a 3-D pyramid-shaped model including:

• Strategic vision
• Customer perspective
• Communications
• Team leadership
• Distinguishing skills

In contrast, Cisco Systems conducted research on characteristics and correlates of successful performance among its executive leaders and found that these different capabilities are essential:

Collaboration
Learning (Developing self and others)
Execution
Acceleration (Alignment with organizational goals)
Disruption (Innovation, Change management)

Both models are a “convenient heuristic” for effective career performance in Silicon Valley’s culture of innovative technology and business models.

-*What do you see as top five skills for leadership effectiveness?

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Integrating Natural Sciences and Business to Consider Strategy as “Structured Chaos”

Shona Brown

Shona Brown

Former Google Senior Vice President of Business Operations Shona Brown and Stanford Engineering Professor Kathleen Eisenhardt assert in their best-selling book, Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos, that “the key driver of superior performance is the ability to change. Success is measured by the ability to survive, to change, and ultimately to reinvent the firm constantly over time.”

The book investigates matched pairs of anonymized companies in the computer industry as an example of strategy in fast-moving, unpredictable, competitive markets.

It draws upon concepts from the natural sciences, such as evolutionary theory and natural selection, as an analogy to change in businesses.

The authors state that decisions on what to structure or not, draw on:

-Improvisation
-Co-adaptation
-Regeneration
-Experimentation
-Time-pacing

These considerations set the pace of change by “balancing on the edge of time” from the past to the future.
They assert that these five phenomena enable a “semi-coherent” strategy, that is “unpredictable, uncontrolled, inefficient, proactive, continuous, diverse.”

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Brown and Eisenhardt define natural science concepts in business terms:

• Complexity Theory
• Evolutionary Theory
• Dissipative Equilibrium
• Coadaptation
• Natural Selection
• Mutations
• Complexity Catastrophe
• Error Catastrophe
• Repeated Layering
• Genetic Algorithm
• Recombination
• Rearchitecture
• Modularity
• Entrainment

The authors advise to move to “the edge of time” and “the edge of chaos”, and offer guidelines including:

• Prune to reveal the core of the business
• Build the business through growth, not assembly, of modular parts
• Recognize that the business’s starting point and the order of implementing change strategies, are among outcome determinants
• Devote 15% of the product portfolio to experimental probes
• Apply successes from experimental probes in new ways
• Institute regular planning meetings focused on the future
• Exploit current capabilities in new ways
• Develop time-pacing through regular benchmark reviews
• Watch for missing linkage between key processes and innovation elements
• Use “patching” to match the best people resources with required tasks

This book offers an original examples and metaphors for change strategies in business, including jazz improvisation, The Tour de France, American Baseball.

-*What models do you use to understand and execute business strategy?

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