Fourth Age Communiqué - Leadership for the rest of us

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Acid tests of leadership

  • Am I inspiring others within my sphere of influence? In what ways?
  • How effectively?
  • Am I challenging others to grow or change?
  • Am I sold out to the mission? What is the mission?
  • Who needs my support? What people on my team need me to come alongside them and give them recognition?
  • How clear is my team on their roles and goals?
  • Do I know how much my organizational success is subverted when I don't do my part?

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Paradigms of communication

Communication is nothing more than influence. How we communicate can have a profound effect on the way we influence others around us.

Keys to communicating effectively:

  • Communicate based on common knowledge - Common sense is not common to everyone. Relaying a common heritage builds a foundation between you and the listener that gives you credibility.
  • Bridge the past to the present - This is another way of saying identify with the listener. Mutual identity brings out positive growth.
  • Pose questions - do not accept status quo; challenge your listener to think.
  • Make connections to the others' way of thinking - be relatable to your audience. Know their culture and be able to connect in ways that resonate with the listener.
  • Supporting research is your friend -- use empirical data as a tool, not (just) a weapon. Let the experts in a given field do the heavy lifting for you, and then apply it to your own circumstances.

Positive affects of persuasion:

  • Clarity of purpose - Knowing the "what" or the "why" gives direction and understanding.
  • Orientation to mobility - when listeners clearly understand a concept, task or initiative, they are naturally biased toward action.
  • Repeatability - If your team knows what is expected of them, and they do it, the momentum will be irresistable to others.

Friday, October 11, 2002

On career success

From an executive of a well-known corporation

Important things to know:
  • Others' perceptions of my skills
  • How I respond to feedback
Potential signs of dissatisfaction:
  • Lack of creativity
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of focus / boredom
Keep a running tasklist of what is important!
  • What I like to do
  • What I am good at
  • "Picking up rocks"
Maintain a relentless focus -- If I'm good at something, don't give up at it.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Key Man Syndrome

Key Man Syndrome is about being more focused on territory than results. It is an attitude deficiency in which the "key man" believes he or she is so vital to the outcome of a specific function that it cannot occur without them. But as one manager liked to say to his staff to proactively debunk this myth: "an axe handle is made from an ordinary piece of wood."

Translation: people are necessary, but specific people are not indispensible. The corollary, as all good leaders know, is to treat people as if they were indispensible, and they become far more valuable, and far less likely to become barriers to team success.

Some Key Man symptoms:

  • The role defines the person
  • The goal is secondary to the role
  • Turf-sensitivity
  • "If I don't do it ..."
  • It's about them
  • Person's identity is unnaturally linked to a position, function or title
  • Person hoards power
  • Person never delegates - to their detriment
  • Sees him or herself as a superhero, not a coach
  • High stress levels
  • Moodiness
  • Hostility to change