Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nelson Mandela's Lessons of Leadership

Nelson Mandela, now 90 years old, continues to stir the pot and stand tall in the world's eyes as a leader. Recently, Richard Stengel asked him about leadership and compiled these either points of leadership according to Nelson Mandela. As Richard says "They are mostly practical. Many of them stem directly from his personal experience. All of them are calibrated to cause the best kind of trouble: the trouble that forces us to ask how we can make the world a better place."

Click here to read on...

We must continue to have the courageous conversations to upset much of the status quo, stand for those who don't have a voice, especially in a world where we're so virtually connected and have a voice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Powerful Women vs. Powerful Men

Powerful women are viewed as arrogant but have a hard time being viewed as Human-Based Leaders (when it applies) as they feel they're labeled as weak.

Powerful men are viewed as focused and effective leaders but have no problem being viewed as Human-Based Leaders (when it applies).

The playbook isn't the same. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reality = Real People Doing Real Things

A great post by Max Mckeown about Strategy for the Real World. Ties in beautifully with the perspectives of a Human-Based Leader™. Real issues, real people, real impact and so on. Max says "Organizations are (often) incapable of carrying out the sophisticated strategies they have developed. Strategy planning takes place in a fantasy world. Action takes place in the real world. Strategy planning (too often) happens on away days and in board rooms. Strategy is the thing that senior managers do. It’s the thing that huge consultancies do behind closed doors. Reality is about real people doing real things."

The real world is about growing people or demolishing them, supporting them or using them as your ladder to get to the top. It's about choice and how you decide you're going to treat people and hold yourself when it comes to your leadership.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Digital Leadership

Recently, as Dean of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organization's Symposium in Chicago, Illinois, we explored what it meant to "Grow (and strengthen) Leaders in an Increasingly Virtual Work Environment." 

As we continuously explore the proficiencies and styles of effective leadership from an organizational perspective, we now have the added dimension of having to help evolve the leaders of the future in a disbursed, de-centralized work environment. When face-to-face interaction brings so much depth to connection and relationship, what do we need to look at when it comes to growing the human-based leaders of the future, especially if we may not ever meet them in person and work with them in real time? Ralph Mercer, charged with the Modernization of Non-Commisioned Member Professional Development System and Professional Military Education Program for the Canadian Military, highlights some of the key points we have to pay attention to, a point of view we considered and used in our contextual framework at the symposium.

Digital leadership - Ralph Mercer

Early in my career I was taught 10 basic principles of leadership.. while the words have changed over the years to reflect contemporary language and changing culture.. these below still hold true.

●    Know your job
●    Know your strengths and limitations
●    Always seek self-improvement
●    Lead by example and be consistent
●    Make sure your team knows your intent and then lead them to accomplishment
●    Know your people and take care of them before yourself
●    Develop the leadership potential in your people
●    Make sound and timely decisions
●    Train your people as a team and challenge them to their fullest potential
●    Keep your people informed,
●    Provide clear vision and make your orders understood

We practiced Social Networking in a way, back then, in the form of "O" groups, gathering everyone into a circle, sharing issues and the days directions, accepting feedback and re-explaining the mission until everyone understood the intent and goal.  Leadership then, as is now was about people and communication and that is why I’m a SM advocate. It too is about people and communication. No matter where you are or who you are with, if you practice these simple tenets you will be the leader... online or face to face it’s that simple (and that hard).

So is there a difference in leading virtually? Yes.  You are not present, so the cues that come with physical presence are missing… the ability to look into their eyes and read fear, confusion and clarity of purpose, read their body language, to have that quiet word to motivate when needed, and to just shake their hand. But before we run off and design whole new leadership paradigms to compensate, we need to provide a little context. This is not new, we have provided leadership via, messenger, telegraph, radio and telephone and have been successful.

The virtual environment is the latest evolution of communication and we are adapting to it. It is a lot more work to lead from a distance or virtually; clarity is key in everything you post or send, it must be clear in intent and message. There is the lack of context you provide by your presence, so it must be compensated for in the virtual environment. But that's not to say there aren't some ways to ensure that virtual and digital leadership is executed and used properly: When I talk about digital leadership I promote these principles;

New-ish leadership principles for the digital age
●    Empower your team
●    Connect them socially (wired and organic)
●    Establish a credible feedback loop, (you must answer promptly)
●    Own the culture (build a network of trust)
●    Articulate a Clear vision (build common purpose)
●    Be transparent but be THE leader
●    Create your vision.. Always move towards it
●    Focus on what matters
●    Know your people, take care of them first, challenge them
●    Listen and set the example
●    Always learn from your team

One thing I have noticed (not to my surprise), is that leaders who are poor in person are still lousy leaders in the digital environment.

Virtual leadership is more collaborative and therefore relies more on trust while in the physical, your presence and confidence can balance the trust requirement. There is also a danger in the connected world for leaders to want too much information and not make timely decisions. Instead, we wait for that next piece of information, (I call it information blindness, like a snow storm where each flake is small but enough of them will stop you from seeing the path). We only need about 50-70% of the required information to make informed decisions, the connected world gets that info to us faster.

I also think we forget that leadership is about people and communications, not technology. Even virtually, it must remain a human experience, even if it is not physical. One of the cool things about digital leadership, is the reach of your vision. In the physical room I can effect only those that can hear me and see me; online that distance become irrelevant.

Follow Ralph on Twitter @ralphmercer

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Calling an End to Youth Homelessness

When I first met Rick some years ago at a conference in California, he spoke about his passion, StandUp For Kids, a program committed to the rescue of homeless and street kids. The first thing that struck me was "Why didn't I know any of this?" and the second was "I have to get to know this man better…talk to him and find out how I could support him, even from Canada." He touched me in a deeply profound way. One way was, I could spread the word to my blog readers, my colleagues and friends. Another way was to publish a subsequent conversation we had years later so readers everywhere could truly understand what Rick and StandUp For Kids was all about. Now, I ask you to join me in supporting Rick through all the connections we have on social media and beyond.

"This isn't about money; it’s about caring! What we've accomplished has no price tag. We know we've made a difference in the lives of thousands of kids. I would have paid that price for one! What we do really helps. You see kids get off the streets, and this work provides me with meaning and purpose.” - Rick Koca (from Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words)

In Rick's words, "Alex Petrou, from Australia, is Riding Across America to raise awareness about homeless and street youth in our country. Alex is making the 3,000 journey from Los Angeles to Washington, DC to help us raise funds to support our programs.

Alex has challenged me to raise more funds for our homeless youth than he can for Australia's homeless youth. So, you up for helping me win this challenge? Ask your friends and co-workers to match your donation."


"Each week our programs reach out to more than 1,000 kids to help feed, clothe, provide hygiene products, and assist in any way we can. That means that there are still more than 1.2 million kids that we're not helping.

We're 99% volunteers, and have in the past 22 years, became the largest organization in the USA to help homeless and street youth. We know, these past few years have been difficult on us all, and as we head into 2012, we need your help more than ever. Shamefully, with the economy the way it is, more kids are ending up on the streets.
We have several wonderful things happening through the end of the year; LeAnn Rimes with her new single "Give", the band Switchfoot, who has been supporting us for many years, with their new single "Dark Horses", and a national event called "The Big Purple Couch". All of this to raise awareness and support for America's more than 1.3 million homeless and street youth. Visit our web site, get involved, make a difference, check it outwww.standupforkids.org "

Thank you!
Rick Koca
Founder, StandUp For Kids

Blog it, Tweet it, and Facebook it....share it with everyone you know and say "Enough! We're going to call an end to youth homelessness!"