Archive for April, 2009

Multi-Cultural is the new norm.  What challenges does this create for your virtual teams?

Multi-Cultural is the new norm. What leadership challenges does this create for your virtual teams?

Communicating with multi-cultural teams has special challenges that can make or break your leadership. Often, you can “muddle through” these challenges with a face-to-face team, but with virtual teams it is easy to be oblivious to issues until your team is in revolt and your project is doomed. These situations can arise even within the borders of a single country, especially one like the United States, where many cultures come together into a single “salad bowl”. What special measures do you take in leading these teams?

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How much better at forecasting are you than this gecko?

How much better are your predictions than those of this gecko?

Does your leadership depend upon you forecasting the future, predicting what will happen? How much better at forecasting have you proved to be than, say, the average gecko? You might be surprised at the answer.

One of your most important leadership skills is making sense of the world, both inside and outside your organization. You have to create a vision of a better future, else why would anyone follow your lead? If you make durable products, then why would anyone buy yours rather than your competitors’ products, if yours doesn’t lead to a better future than the competitors’ products? And why would anyone work for you, if you can’t provide a better future than other employers? Your vision and the messages you deliver to your followers and custsomers are very important to your success.

But how good are you at forecasting?

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Categories : Qualities & Skills
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Humility has been identified as a virtue by many cultures for thousands of years. Yet does it have a place in leadership? Humility, the quality or state of being humble, has some connotations that cause many people to believe it would be tough to be humble and be a leader. Could it be that humility was once valued in a leader, but should be shunned today? Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, wrote:

How virtues change! Moses, the greatest Jewish hero, is described as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the earth.”

By today’s standards he was wrongly advised. He should have hired an agent, sharpened up his image, let slip some calculated indiscretions about his conversations with G-d and sold his story to the press for six figures.

Or could the answer depend upon our values and how we define humble? Humble is typically defined by a quality or status of being low or inferior - or by what it is not (“not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive”) and examining these attributes can give us an answer.
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I received this via email today:

Figuring out the right mission and vision statements has been a learning exercise for me.
Just when I thought that we had got them right I came across this article at http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-a-Mission-and-Vision-Statement&id=24990
which states that it is the vision statement that has to flow out of the mission statement and not the other way round.
Does it mean that our vision and mission statements have to be interchanged?
We are at a critical stage and your inputs will be crucial.
Looking forward to your response,

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How do you plan to reach your important goals? What do you do to create a path from where you are to where you want to be? As a leader, how do you organize that path in such a way that your followers can believe in you and stay interested in taking that journey with you? Creating a path to the future state you desire is a key leadership skill. It requires setting a course to get from one intermediate point to another.

Essentially, you create a set of directions similar to what you get from Mapquest, Google maps or your GPS system. Each segment is based upon a set of assumptions. Most importantly, the assumptions include that the road is safe and open and that it will a fairly predictable length of time to travel. Your leadership plans should be based on similar assumptions about safety, accessibility, time to complete and a measure of how the segments move you closer to your goals. Read More→

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Assumptions can trip you up

Assumptions can trip you up

We all use assumptions to simplify our world and speed our decision-making, but how safely can we do that as leaders of our business, our organization or family?  Assumptions are ideas or facts that we take for granted as true.  An easy example is moving some boxes to your basement.  You’ve already been up and down the stairs several times and had no problem.  On your next trip, you take it for granted that the stairs are safe.  You haven’t considered that your son might have left his skate board on the stairs or that your dog may be taking a nap on one of the steps.

You make this mistake because you want to complete your task quickly and you trust what you experienced on your last trip.  Your eyes see the same thing you saw on the last trip down the stairs: namely, the walls and the packages that are blocking your view. You didn’t think it was necessary to check for unexpected change.

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Categories : Decision Making
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Too much control stifles innovation, performance and motivation.

Too much control stifles innovation, performance and motivation.

To succeed, you must find the right balance between management and leadership. That is, the right balance between controlling and enabling your employees and operations. The truth is, the right balance depends upon the industry, market and environmental conditions faced by the organization. Your personality and experience should be much less of a factor. Unfortunately, for most leaders, their personality and experience overshadow the needs of their organization.

Almost never is it appropriate for your followers to feel like puppets on strings. Yet many businesses act as though they wish all their employees were puppets, even when the leaders believe that they are “enlightened.” Yes, some control is necessary, but it is best if the employees see the control as rules or boundaries which they should not cross.  That give them much more freedom work in ways that are more comfortable and efficient than the bosses might envision.

As boss, you aren’t likely to recognize the consequences of too much control. Here’s an example where the company founders were blind to what they had created.
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