Successful Leadership Revisited

dddLet’s take a break from the usual format. The problem, alternative solutions and a well-researched and statistically derived solution are not systematically laid out herein. You may consider this document to be lean, but you can be sure I will not utilize LEAN or any other flavor of the month technique. Instead, let’s think of ourselves, our day to day work, and the company we work for or own, and the interaction of all of us in making our lives and organizations more successful, enjoyable and rewarding. There are many questions that all interrelate. No one question posed should be considered in a vacuum, rather let’s try to focus our perspective globally, comprehensively, on business organizations and our “work” as services, products, or extensions of ourselves, of who we are and what we do, and what we should accept.

As “managers”, we set specific priorities in an individualistic way. How much time do we spend discussing and sharing ideas with our coworkers, subordinates and bosses? Systematic responsibilities, time constraints, bureaucracy, job descriptions, policies and procedures, standards, quotas, data, and deadlines clog our thought process, so there is little time for filtering, processing, creating and passing on information. As managers, we devise the course and motivate the staff by discussing as much as we deem necessary to get their piece of the system working. But why? A better way is to go from your gut, without input, see how that works and then just try something else until you find the formula that works for the specific situation. That’s like being an infant all over again. Maybe, solve this problem and create a different one. Throw darts! Really, the best ideas come out of group discussion. Two or more heads are better than one, but what about 1,000? How do you get employees spread out in different functional parts of an organization on the same page? The degree of success of a “machine” depends upon the proper functioning of all of its parts. To reach our “common goal” we cannot just depend on the proper performance of defined tasks (i.e. – the seven steps of cleaning), we must have the collaborative contribution of group idea development and buy in. Performance will follow. This is not a new concept, just a poorly employed one. How many times have you heard your “boss’ say, “If you think your idea will make this a better organization, then just do it.” Why have we not been able to successfully utilize and include the ideas of our employees?

Do we need discussion, or will airtight systems suffice? If you have the right systems in place, all you need is the right quality and quantity of people to get the job done? Just plug the resources into the system. Quality is easy to define. Count the “passing” widgets. Pass, or fail! You find a person who is experienced or trainable to perform her specific task. Is that all it takes? Just do it. Availability of human resources is relative to the location of your business and the number of available people trainable or experienced in the tasks we need performed. If we open a plastic components manufacturing plant in Maine, we may have trouble finding some, or any, experienced plastic component machine operators. The hourly rate for this job may not be high enough to entice trainable people into the organization who will stay long enough to make the learning investment pay off. Maybe we can hire “experts” to recruit for us the right people at the right price — is that the link to the success of our systems? Do you match the components to the system or vice versa? Or, must there be one answer? Should our vacuum packed management team create fabulous layouts for doing specific jobs that are so trainable that we can almost consider having a “quiet”, robotic transient staff as a rule of thumb? I actually discussed this possibility with the President of a successful national company. He actually thought that a transient staff wasn’t a bad idea. “All we need are good training manuals”. Wow!

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More Great Leadership Lessons

dd“You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right.” Warren Buffett

Last weekend I went to see Moneyball. After reading the book a few years ago, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be released. As a baseball fan and investing enthusiast, this movie meant a great deal to me.

Even if you’re not much of a baseball fan, there are a few extremely valuable lessons you can take away from the story. I wish to take the opportunity to discuss what I learned with you.

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The Leadership Cycle – A Sports Analagy

jhI love the leadership dynamics in professional sports teams. Manager, Chairman, Owner, Players, Fans, Media … have I left anyone out?

Looking at the role of the team manager we see the leadership function boiled down to its elements and played out with unusual rapidity and transparency, before our very eyes. We see the whole cycle; birth, adolescence, honeymoon, acceptance, failure, forgiveness (sometimes) and death. We can usually pinpoint the tipping point too, that point from which it was always going to be impossible to recover

The reality is harsh, usually unforgiving, but generally consistent because the number of people involved is small, the processes simple, the hierarchy flat and (thanks to our wonderful media) information is relatively easy to get hold of. It is a leadership cycle in a microcosm, a bit like unravelling the secrets of the universe through particle physics. We can can see everything boiled down to its raw constituent parts, the significant relationships

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More Potted Sports for Leadership School Camps

rLet me begin by redefining Potted Sports. Potted Sports consists of a series of simple physical activities designed to help build team work and leadership skills in a competitive environment at school camps. The emphasis is on the word ‘simple’, i.e. activities that do not require any special skills.The purpose of this article is to show how you can use facilities at a camp site to create some interesting, challenging and fulfilled potted games.

One of the venues I used to organise a leadership camp contained a small lake with an island in the middle of the lake. It also contained a suspension bridge that crossed that lake. The camp site had a number of canoes and paddle boats available for us to use.

What these resources allow us to do is to create the following three potted sports. Below they are explained:

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Leadership in Sports

bFrom high school stadiums to professional arenas, sports today are played in a very competitive environment.  Coaches and players feel the pressure to succeed, and the measure of success is found in the win / loss column.  That’s why, as a coach and a player, leadership in sports is getting so much attention.

The same concepts that apply to the workplace are very much the same as those found in sports.  Coaches and managers try to motivate their “players” to reach their full potential.  When everyone on the team understands the direction and strategy the manager or coach has developed, then success is much easier to obtain.

Since they’re determining the starting lineup, head coaches have position power over all players.  But the role of a head coach needs to be more than just a good judge of a player’s abilities.  To maximize the team’s chances of winning, it’s necessary to apply the same leadership theories that exist in today’s workplace.

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