Archive for the ‘ Influence ’ Category

The Deadliest Sin of Leadership

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein

Excellence Road SignDivine Comedy tells the tale of one man’s journey through a three-phased adventure—Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise—in his quest for everlasting life. While stranded in the middle stage of his adventure, Dante has a chilling discovery about life in the everyday world. Stranded in Purgatory, an uncertain state where one’s soul awaits judgment between redemption and retribution, he is enlightened to the wandering ways of the world he has just experienced.

Here, he explains the ills of that world through seven distorted loves, better known as deadly “sins.” These include the excessive loves of Lust, Gluttony, and Greed, the deficient love of Sloth, and the malicious love of Wrath, Envy, and Pride. The abuse of the most pure forms of human interaction, Love, lead to a path of destruction and chaos in the state of Purgatory where Dante finds himself.

My work as a Leadership Consultant has led me through the mind-set of many organizations on a quest to find perpetual success and prosperity. While in this wandering state, I have discovered the most distorted perversion of leadership—the toleration of mediocrity.

Mediocrity is a cunning and crafty creature, the slinks and slides it’s way through a community of people intended for a greater good. It is sometimes guised in charm and humor, winning over fans with its good-natured country attitude. “Mañana! Tomorrow!” is the mantra sung at the end of the day, while rushing down the path toward the comforts of home. Sometimes, it no longer strives, begs, or craves for excellence, but is content with results that are, “good enough.”

When leaders turn a blind eye to, or minimize such attitudes within organizations, it can be a destructive habit-forming virus that slowly erodes the higher vision and values of the community. Far too often, leaders excuse a lack of desire for excellent work because of long-standing relationships with the individuals who consistently host such average behaviors. Some leaders do not know how, or may not have the will to address such subtle behaviors that beg, barrow, and steal from others’ great work, just to cover for their own lack of effort, dedication, or deferred experience to crafting their personal skills at a higher level. Some leaders are, themselves, guilty of the sin of mediocrity.

Millions of individuals throughout the workforce, from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups to non-profits, have pockets of people who, “Quit and Stay” at work. Others are lost or mislead by leaders within the organization, stuck in the rut of performing daily activities without a clear purpose or understanding of how their role contributes to the organization. Even worse, leaders allow average performers to cultivate the poisonous fruit of bitterness and gossip about other high achievers within the organization.

Organizations are only as great as they challenge or permit their contributors to be. If leaders within organizations do not take high performance and effort sincerely, they run the risk of creating a corporate Purgatory by breading a contempt and dismissal of individuals who do value excellence, effort, and efficiency. The deadliest sin of leadership is the aiding and abetting of mediocrity, at work, home, or in life.

About the Author:

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, at lynda.com.

Imagination as a Tool for Leadership

With this knowledge of the power of thought, you can become a better leader and, as well, motivate your employees to become better workers. Imagine successfully navigating through a difficult conversation. Imagine making your employees feel cared for. Imagine implementing positive change. The more you imagine, the more successful you can be when it comes time to act.

The same holds true for your employees. Let them know that visualizing success can have a huge impact on actual success. Share this video with them. Encourage them to use imagination as a tool for practicing on a new task when hands-on time is limited.

About the author: Hart is an HR Data Analyst at The Ken Blanchard Companies, finishing his Ph.D. in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at hart.lee@kenblanchard.com.

The Smile Test and the Positive Leader


Did you feel happier? Now try this experiment again with a group of friends in the same room. Look at one another as you smile. Does anything change?

From what I’ve experienced, being around a group enhances the effects of the smile test. Why? Because happiness is contagious. And by smiling, you encourage better moods in the people around you, which can even circle back around and improve your own mood further.

So share your smile and laughter with those around you as much as you can every day. You’ll be regarded as a more positive leader, someone who uplifts and inspires anyone and everyone. You may even find, as Brent did in his experiment, that your day becomes a lot brighter!

beautiful young girl smiling

Smiling Girl

Leadership is a Verb

lead·er·ship [lee-der-ship] noun

the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: He managed to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.

From 1973 until 2000, one of America’s largest, and eventually global, courier delivery services, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, was called Federal Express. In January of 2000, Federal Express changed its name to FedEx Corporation and implemented one of the most successful re-branding campaigns in American history.

Lead!

Lead!

After the rebranding efforts took place, something even more significant than the shorter name and little arrow added between the “E” and the “X” began to evolve into a new idea. The word FedEx, became known, not just as a way to define a company, but as something you do as a critical part of your business. “I need you to FedEx me the product tomorrow.” “I’ll FedEx that to you right away.”

FedEx evolved from a being a noun into a verb!

The same thing is happening to the idea of leadership. For the past 50 years, the leadership development industry has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry because companies around the world are realizing the competitive advantage to having a strong leadership strategy.

I recently found myself sitting in a coffee shop, having a conversation with one of the coauthors of Leadership Genius, and one of the top gurus on the topic of leadership, Dr. Drea Zigarmi.

“Leadership has been an over-used word, in which some people think of it as a person or a thing. It’s not thing. It’s action, or a series of actions you do with people.” Taking a long, slow sip of his coffee, he leaned toward me and proclaimed, “Leadership is a verb!”

When you think of the word leading, you have to consider that it means doing something. It means moving an idea, project, or a dream from one place to a higher place—through the shadows and the conflicts and into the light and consumption of meaning and purpose.

It takes action to effectively move a package from Memphis, Tennessee, to Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire, where a little boy or little girl eagerly open a package to discover something magical, something that will bring a smile to their face. Great organizations, whether it’s a global company serving millions of people or it’s the little pizza shop down on the corner, move their people from knowing what a good job looks like to doing a good job consistently, task by task, with passion and excellence.

Great organizations are dedicated to developing more than just leaders; they are dedicated to developing people who lead! Great leaders are defined by what they do, not by what they know.

About the Author:

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, at lynda.com.

Stepping Up to Leadership

The late autumn chill had an extra bite as I walked down the street and into the safe harbor of the Kettle Coffee & Tea café. Once inside, the heat from the fireplace and the enthusiasm of the conversations would soon warm me, both physically and intellectually.

I have often overheard some of the most amazing and engaging conversations while enjoying a piping hot vanilla tea made by the servants hearts of the best baristas in town. From the latest political controversies to the five points of Calvinism, I have often gleaned more insight into fascinating topics than I would have in an entire semester at the university or a two-day workshop in a cold dark ballroom.

This particular morning was exceptionally insightful as I listened to one of the most intriguing conversations on leadership—particularly as it related to individuals who have recently inherited the responsibility of influencing others toward a common purpose—individuals who are Stepping Up to Leadership for the first time.

There in the middle of the café, with the classic brick wall of the coffee shop as his backdrop, was internationally renown, and best selling business author, Scott Blanchard—The Son of the One Minute Manager, legendary business author, Ken Blanchard. There at the table, highlighted by two large mugs of piping Joe, David Witt, Lead Columnist at LeaderChat.org, was engaged with Blanchard in meaningful conversation about the challenges new leaders face when working with others in the ever evolving new workforce.

During the course of the conversation, Scott Blanchard highlighted three insights for anyone stepping up into a new leadership role. Insights that even the most seasoned leaders could leverage to bring out the best in their people and their organization.

Leading Others

The conversation began with one of the most timeless questions on the topic of leadership—are leaders made or born? While Blanchard admitted, some people have natural leadership instincts, everyone can learn time tested, researched based leadership skills that can help them collaborate and communicate more effectively with others. He also went on to discuss the need for unshakable ethics, and how to leverage the best in yourself as a leader—not focus on your weaknesses.

stepping-up-to-leadership

Building Relationships

Scott Blanchard passionately emphasized the critical need for leaders to build relationships. “Great leaders,” Blanchard said, “Build trust with the people they are leading.” He also went on to encourage new leaders to deal with conflict effectively, not ignore it or dismiss it as an employee problem. Being others focused, communicating well, and praising people are also key leadership traits that build solid relationships with people and increase the effectiveness of your ability to lead others.

Getting Results

As Dave Witt downed his last drop of coffee, he challenged Scott on weather good leaders should focus on results or people as a top priority in the leadership process. Blanchard had some interesting responses to the question, sighting that the need to motivate people and invest in their wellbeing is the secret key to getting more productive results from the people you are leading. Blanchard tackled the difficult part of leadership, having challenging conversations with people, and the difference between reprimanding someone verses redirecting them toward the vision and values of the team and organization.

While the sting of the approaching winter subsided in the harbor of one of the most engaging conversations I’ve listen to in a café, so to does the winter of discontent of employees and contributors who are lead by people who know who they are and what they are attempting to accomplish in their role of responsibility as a leader. While the most important advise for individuals Stepping Up to Leadership is reserved for lynda.com subscribers, the lessons learned from listening into the conversation on leadership will lasting and impactful.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, a lynda.com and Ken Blanchard Companies production.

What Halloween and Bad Leadership have in Common

Part of what makes each company special is the ability to connect the whole organization together. Like many companies, Blanchard has a very special Halloween Party on their main campus and our team was V for Vendetta. Though we failed to win the team costume competition and lost to the “Walking Deadlines” in Product Development, I gotta hand it to them for pulling off the zombified cast of characters quite well; they hardly even broke character! As the chaos of the party was continuing, I had a few thoughts about the correlates of Halloween and bad leadership. 

V for Vendetta

Halloween Party

Here are a few points that Halloween and bad leadership have in common.

1) It’s Scary: If you have ever had a manger or boss that was not well-trained at the “leadership” part of their job, it’s quite a frightful experience. They tend to “mask” their leadership failures by “reconnecting” at lunch or praising their direct reports when their own boss is around. They put on a good show, but we all know it’s only temporary.

2) It’s more of a trick then a treat: Associates know when you are not being genuine and can tell really quickly when your behavior is fake. You may think your “trick” is better than your treat, but the joke is really on you. To best manage your employees, you have to understand them, develop them, and guide them to success. Every person is valuable and understanding that will help mold your relationships with your team.

3) The mask can stay: No need to take the scary mask off here; you’ve earned it. Yelling, belittling, or “under your breath” comments that are made at your team won’t compel them to trust you or work more efficiently

For those who have a great manager or leader, don’t hesitate to let them know. They like to know that they are doing a good job and contributing to your success.

 

Networking as a Servant Leader

I recently had the privilege to listen to Rick Itzkowich (AKA Rick “I” the LinkedIn guy) speak on the power of LinkedIn and ironically he opened my eyes to the power of networking as a leader. LinkedIn has become such a valuable tool for business professionals because of its networking capabilities through peoples’ degrees of separation. One great line that Rick “I” said is, “You never know who you know knows, unless you ask.” Now the word “know” is used  a lot in that statement, but when you discover the meaning you find that it is so true because often we are looking to establish a connection with someone without asking all the people in our closest circles who they know, which could lead you to the right person.

Connect People

Connect People

If you look at this issue in an opposite way, you can see that there is a clear opportunity to improve your ability to serve others needs as a leader. Who do you know whom you could introduce to someone to help their career? Networking is not necessarily all about making connections with people so that you can use them but it is more about friend raising for long-standing relationships. LinkedIn works in two ways simultaneously; as a self-serving vehicle for connection and as a connections serving vehicle. Often times the best feeling you can ever have is when you give to someone else and then watch them go on to drastically improve their life. This is how you raise friendships.

Networking as a Servant Leader

Introduce Others

Helping others succeed is what leadership is all about but people don’t just automatically come to you and ask for a connection unless they see that you have two important traits. These are:

  1. Credibility takes time to build and get noticed. You will need to show that you are capable in the field of interest and that you demonstrate a certain level of integrity that people will want to imitate.
  2. Trust is all important in business relationships. It builds off of credibility over time and the consistency of your statements and actions. Without trust all relationships perish no matter their depth.

Personal relationships are always the key to good business. You can buy networking; you can’t buy friendships.
Lindsay Fox

Brian Alexander is the Marketing Project Specialist with The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Speakeasy Leadership

Seakeasy Leadership

Seakeasy Leadership

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a cultural rebellion against classic traditions, inspiring social revolutions around the world. Everything seemed to be possible through the modern technology of automobiles, motion pictures, and radio, which all promoted ‘modernity’ to the world.

One of the most mysterious trends that came out of the Roaring Twenties was the establishment of Speakeasies—hidden sections of an establishment that were used to illegally sell alcoholic beverages and feature new artistic expressions of music, dance, and risqué behavior. To enter a speakeasy, one would need to say a password to the doorman, indicating that the person-seeking entrance was welcome by the owner or other members of the “business within the business.”

In many ways, today’s workplace resembles the spirit of the twenties, with a rapidly evolving workplace, cutting edge technology changing and shaping the culture norms of organizations around the world.

Unfortunately, one of the dangers of today’s workplace is Speakeasy Leadership—the hidden sections of an organization where only a few people in positions of power make decisions that affect the rest of the organization. The practice of exclusive leadership, rather than inclusive leadership practice is alive and well in today’s organizations. But the reality is that the old school leadership hierarchy is an ineffective novelty in a knowledge-based economy.

Outside Looking In

Outside Looking In

Today secret societies and “good ole’ boy networks” only work at your local grocery store or coffee shop as a special promotion tool. In a Knowledge base economy, where individuals are empowered through the Internet, smart phones, and social networking that empowers a variety of information and connections that naturally drive higher levels of collaboration and success.

One new workforce member expressed it this way, “I am used to being so connected to my colleagues and playing off each other in the office, via social media, and creating ideas together with high levels of synergy everyday…” The open organization, without the Speakeasy executive office on the second floor, is a robust place where individuals create new best friends instantly and in days create a strong network with everyone on the team, as well as the friends made at their last organization.

Speakeasy Leadership promotes the opposite atmosphere at work where a few gatekeepers of ideas, formulate a plan from the top of the organizational pyramid, then pass it down to the people on the frontline to try and implement—void of passion and intimacy. 
 “I feel like there is a secret group of people running the organization,” says another frustrated employee. “It’s like were sitting in a meeting, and there are two or three people sitting at the table, speaking their own language, giving each other a wink and a nod to each other when I present our teams creative solutions to our organizational challenges.”

Collaborate for Success

Collaborate for Success

Speakeasy Leadership will kill today’s knowledge based company, because today’s leadership model and workplace formula for success is one based in wide-open communication, effective collaboration, social networking, and truly empowering individuals that are encouraged take ownership in the vision—not just contribute to it. Touch the untouchable by bringing energy and productivity to work, breaking down the interior walls of Speakeasy Leadership, creating a community where people work and play together, stimulating innovation, connection, and wild success.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant and New Media Producer at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a non-linear learning program that promotes individual empowerment and collaboration.

Leadership Failure

Not too long ago I was put in charge of a couple sections of soldiers who were working on some military intelligence products for an upcoming mission. Since the teams were working on separate products, I assigned myself to one team and had a Lieutenant take charge of another team. The LT had been in the army for a few years, so I had no qualms about giving the team to him. I spoke with him privately and told him that he had “full autonomy” over his team and gave him full discourse over what his team did and how they finished their products. The next morning I come into work at 7:30 fully expecting everyone to be there for unit physical training. They weren’t. When I asked the LT where his team was, he said that he told them that they could do physical training on their own and that they didn’t need to show up until 9:30am. “What? Why did you do that? We always show up at 7:30.”Leadership

So, of course, they decided to sleep in and didn’t do any physical training for the day.

And of course my team was upset that they didn’t get to sleep in and come to work at 9:30. The last thing I wanted to create was resentment across the two teams. I thought that maybe a “team building” exercise was in order, but I didn’t carry it out because I felt I would probably screw that up too.  I was upset about the whole situation, but mainly I was irritated at myself.

After looking back on the incident, here’s what I learned:

  • I never really gave him full autonomy

Here’s what I really said: You can have full autonomy unless you do something I don’t want you to do or something that I disagree with you on. What I told him he could do and what I wanted him to do were two separate things.

  • I shouldn’t have given him full autonomy

Giving full autonomy over everything is not really leadership at all. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving him autonomy, but what I should have done in that situation was to give him more direction as to what is expected and necessary. Autonomy has its place and limitations; using it correctly is when it’s the most impactful.

  • My communication was not aligned with my expectations

I was never clear on my expectations. What was standard and status quo for me was not necessarily the same for him. Talking through each other’s expectations would have been helpful for minimizing conflict and building trust.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

The End of Innovation

“Innovation is dangerous!” says Yawn Fearman, Gatekeeper of Ideas at Acme Corporation—an international consulting firm that provides executives and managers the tools and skill sets needed to maintain power and balance within organizations. “Innovation is an unruly attitude that ignites revolutions and unwillingly forces change upon the slow and steady hand of the status quo.”Death of Innovation

Fearman asserts that there several simple mindsets to avoid disruptive an inconvenient ideas within an organization:

Isolate Innovation

When a child acts up or misbehaves at home, the best discipline is to give them a Time Out and send them to their room. You don’t have to kick them out of the organization, but isolation will make them think about the real vision and values of the company in more detail. It will encourage them to align their hopes and dreams with the hierarchy of the organization who own the vision and values.

But if you do want to innovate within your organization, keep it limited to one or two departments that are led by individuals who have a degree from a prestigious school and who are in close collaboration with you as a key leader.

Just Say No

Hey, if it worked for Nancy Reagan in the mid-80s (and look how far we’ve come since then), it can work for leaders when individual contributors come up with creative and new ways to serve clients. When ideas come up from the front line, just say, “no.” You probably don’t have the resources or money to implement the ideas anyway, so no real harm can come from this approach. It’s clean and effective and eventually, people will stop coming up with their own ideas so that you can do your job—implementing your own.

Show Them Who’s Boss

When the first two strategies don’t work, flex your Position Power. You have the degree, the experience, the complex title, and the pay grade—so use them!

If employees discover that they have other avenues of power, such as personal experience, knowledge, relationships outside the organization, or a specialized ability to perform specific tasks that the executives may or may not, this could become very disruptive to an organization. Don’t shy away from the fact that you are getting paid the big bucks to drive the organization into the future—not them. You have the title and the authority to make the first and final decision.

Enjoy the Silence

Don’t allow the loud distractions of individual or collaborative innovation to drown out the brilliance of your leadership ability. You’ve earned the corner office, and you were born to lead. The future of the world depends on you—don’t leave it to chance by putting its fate hang on someone else’s wild ideas.

** The views and opinions expressed in this fictitious article do not necessarily reflect sound advice or the views and opinions of
 the author, or The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, an asynchronous learning experience for Individual Contributors within Organizations.

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