This episode is dedicated to the memory of Miles Gorgichuk, a friend and fellow 2012 GGCLC New Brunswick Study Group alumni, who passed away on 19 April 2014.
Episode Focus: Looking at several leadership articles from around the world including topics such as teamwork, advantages of military experience, the resources that you’ll need to be a leader, and highlighting some of the annoying habits that we might have picked up along our journey. The articles also speak to time – spending time with your followers to help them develop, and spending time on developing yourself.
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VOCL Resources and Articles
This week –a random selection of 10 articles on different aspects of leadership.
“Focus on “Fellowship”: The Secret to Great Leadership” by Denise Barreto at Willow Creek Association Blog
A rapid read article that was generated by former US General Colin Powell’s visit to the Willow Creek Association. He provided three tips focused on how great leaders create a sense of fellowship with their followers:
- I’m not getting the work done – the leader creates the vision but empowers and supports the followers in getting the work done
- Everyone has a purpose – know how to get the best out of all of your people
- It’s always about the followers – “without followers, you are not a leader” – this comes back to the principle of servant leadership.
“Do Former Soldiers Make Better CEOs?” by Efraim Benmelech and Carola Frydman at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
An interesting article that makes the case for having former military personnel as CEOs. The authors’ findings are from extensive research conducted over the course of two years. The main values that they see former military personnel providing to the role of the CEO are:
1. “They perform better under pressure. Our interpretation is that service in the military may prepare one to make tough decisions and show leadership in tough times. ”
2. “He or she is less likely to make bold investments in physical capital or research and development compared with CEOs with civilian backgrounds.”
3. “CEOs with a military background are much less likely to engage in corporate fraud compared to their civilian-only peers—up to 70% less likely, in fact.”
I generally like what the authors have to say, especially point #1 (performance under pressure). Point #3 (lower fraud rate) – personally, I see this as military personnel having a higher level of accountability due to the inherent risks of being in the military, which would lead to a lowering of fraud. Point #2 – I’d love to see the rough data on this study. From my perspective, military personnel aren’t afraid of taking a risk, but they do use a risk matrix (either procedural or “intuitive”) in making the best decision possible within the time allotted.
“Successful leadership requires 6 critical resources” by Glenn Llopis at Forbes
The author provides six critical resources that you will need to cultivate and use as you grow your leadership skills:
- The trust of advisors (critical to help you grow to your potential as quickly as possible).
- The knowledge of failure (you must learn from your mistakes – this is where the greatest growth comes from).
- The diversity of thought from your team (avoid “groupthink” and expand possibilities).
- The fresh perspectives from think-tanks (learn from your equally motivated peers).
- The wisdom inherent in unwritten rules (more on this later).
- The sound judgement from your instincts (your brain is always working in the background, your “instincts” pick up on key variables that you have learned over time but have not yet had a chance to consciously think about in this particular situation.)
Personally, I don’t like #5. Unwritten rules vary from organization to organization, and I believe that the path to ideal growth comes from expanding your boundaries. As well, unwritten rules promote “cliques” – leaders should strive to break down these artificial barriers to get the best performance from everyone.
“Vitali Klitschko illustrates that leadership comes from more than sports” by Rick Morrissey at Chicago Sun-Times
The article uses former Ukrainian professional boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko as a visible example of leadership, especially in light of the issues surrounding Russia and the Ukraine. I was scanning this article and was about to discard it when I read something that made me stop:
“The bottom line is that sports don’t make leaders; sports make leaders obvious.”
With the pervasive nature of sports within Canadian culture, and with the broadcast hosts touting the leadership virtues of various people, are we more likely to see sports figures as leaders – regardless of their true abilities as a leader?
The author makes an interesting observation. If you are into sports, then you get to watch the athletes grow and develop in front of you. You become a strong supporter of their success over time, which I think would make you more likely to follow them. In team sports, teammates are also more likely to follow the gifted people. When you see everyone looking at one person as a leader, do you tend to do the same even if you don’t know them? With the pervasive nature of sports within Canadian culture, and with the broadcast hosts touting the leadership virtues of various people, are we more likely to see sports figures as leaders – regardless of their true abilities as a leader?
“Competitiveness, resilience and confidence are traits that can carry over into an athlete’s post-retirement career. But are they exclusive to athletes? Our sports-crazy culture certainly wants us to think so, but they are not.”
The end of the article highlights that sports are not a prerequisite to being a leader, and infers that you can use sports leadership for “good” and “bad” purposes (casting Russian President Vladimir Putin in the “bad” group).
If symphonies were to be as widely televised as sports are today – would we be more inclined to see conductors are leaders? What about school debates? Perhaps we see so many sports-based leaders because that is where we as a society choose to focus. What would society look like if we found our leaders elsewhere?
(Original article has been deleted)
“What Bothers Us Most About Our Leaders” by Glenn Llopis at Forbes
As leaders, we are always trying to do our best at achieving the goal at hand. Along the way, however, we may pick up some bad habits that can annoy our team members. The following article highlights eight pet peeves that people can have about their leaders:
- Unknowingly selfish
- Don’t – or can’t – explain their vision
- Ignore the problems
- Lack patience under pressure
- Don’t listen to themselves or others
- Not courageous enough
- Not enough presence, personality and “likeability”
What I really liked about this article is that all the sections (except for #3) have a link or links to other articles that you can read to get more information on that particular aspect.
“Want To Succeed? Don’t Check Your Email – And Work Out At Lunch” by Erika Anderson at Forbes
I was torn whether I’d include this article, especially since it leans more towards management than leadership. I liked the article too much, however, to not bring it to your attention.
It can be very difficult for leaders to break away from what they do, but this article features one company that ENFORCES people to do just that. Three areas are highlighted:
- Mandatory email embargo (incoming and outgoing) for people when they are on vacation – if they don’t follow the rules, they get a call from the CEO. Having just checked my Blackberry while on vacation, I’m guilty of this one…
- Mandatory vacation – no roll-overs. My company has done this for years, and yet I still see people coming in on their vacation.
- Optional (but highly encouraged) paid 90-minute lunches – including shuttle to/from the gym, a paid gym membership and personal trainers.
My favourite quote came from the first point:
“…managers put more attention toward developing their folks – because their folks can’t call them when there’s an emergency during their absence; they have to be willing and able to handle it themselves.”
From a fundamental leadership perspective, this company ensures that people look out for themselves and that they look out for each other – they have created an enviable corporate culture.
“Investing in Leadership” by Jose Costa at Huffington Post
This article does not speak to spending money on leadership training; rather, it speaks to the leader investing his/her TIME with the employees. The author, President of MAACO, has found that three main principles have worked for him:
- Taking the lead – not being dictatorial, but rather understanding how to optimally influence each member of your team to achieve the desired results.
- Create collaboration, maintain meritocracy – sharing knowledge and communicating the vision. Plus, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with the rest of the team.
- Recognize and reward – “recognition should be immediate, frequent and public.”
My favourite quote comes from the 2nd section:
“Leading is not only about doing. It is about listening, communicating, interacting and working with — not over — your team. It’s about using your leadership power to empower everyone else.”
“How to Delegate So the Gain Outweighs the Pain” by Jesse Lyn Stoner at Seapoint Centre
Delegation can be one of the hardest things to do. After all, leaders know how the job should get done, so why let someone else possibly do it the “wrong way?” This author provides her top ten reasons on why people don’t delegate and then provides good arguments to counter each of those reasons. This is a fairly fast read so I won’t summarize it here – check out the link for yourself.
We have failed as leaders on several fronts if we do a task ourselves that should otherwise have been delegated. Doing the task means that we are down in the details instead of creating the vision (yes, there are times to focus on details but only for the minimum amount of time necessary). Doing a task yourself does not develop your subordinates. Finally, by doing the task yourself you are not allowing the team to assume greater responsibility and accountability – most people want to be reasonably challenged!
“Leading through uncertainty” by Jennifer Onley at Elumn8
Being a leader during uncertain times can be a daunting and challenging task – the author provides her five leadership rules in this situation:
- Share knowledge – give people as much information as you can
- “I don’t know” – you’re human – admit when you don’t know something.
- Don’t BS
- Ask for feedback / input (no one person has all the ideas / answers)
- Keep in touch, stay engaged – this links to the first point. Don’t just communicate once and “disappear” – keep people informed.
For “I don’t know”, I would have liked to have seen the author expand this point to include what you are going to do to get out of the situation. Is there a resource that you can use? People you can speak to (not just the ones in the situation)? If I said “I don’t know” and stopped there, would I be increasing the team’s worry? I know that the fourth part alludes to some of these aspects, but not completely.
(Original article has been deleted)
“6 Conversations Every Leader Needs To Have” by Randy Conley at Leading with Trust
As leaders, we need to communicate with our followers. The conversation style that we use should be tailored to the situation at hand. The author provides 6 different conversation styles that can be used:
- Alignment conversations – make sure that everyone is on the “same page”
- Directive conversations – making sure that people know what the next steps are
- Coaching conversations – helping people achieve their best effort
- Supportive conversations – helping people overcome confidence issues
- Delegating conversations – Once you’ve had the former conversations, give them what they need and then remove the roadblocks along the way
- One-on-one conversations – allows for timely feedback and to make changes if required.
I liked this article – it’s worth taking the time to read and reflect upon.
If you have any suggestions for the resources and articles section, please let me know.
VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes / Call to Action
Takeaways and introspection
- I have just lost someone that had a significant impact on my life – Miles Gorgichuk.
- Recollection of the 2012 GGCLC
- I was about to ask Miles to come on the podcast – he had a great perspective on life. “I’ll get around to it” was my thought
- My lesson – Take action – now!