VOCL 015 – Looking at Leadership Articles #1

Twitter Show Summary: In the first podcast focused on leadership articles, Chris points out and comments on fifteen interesting articles on leadership that he has come across. Intro Hi there!  Welcome to the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast. Happy Natal Day – well, that’s what we call it in Nova Scotia, but it’s also a […]

Written By chris

On August 5, 2013

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Show Summary: In the first podcast focused on leadership articles, Chris points out and comments on fifteen interesting articles on leadership that he has come across.


Hi there!  Welcome to the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.

  • Happy Natal Day – well, that’s what we call it in Nova Scotia, but it’s also a civic holiday across many parts of Canada.  Wherever you are, I wish you a pleasant day.
  • A bunch of leadership articles were piling up, so I’m creating this episode to help clear the backlog.

VOCL Resources and Articles

This week – a random selection of fifteen articles on different aspects of leadership

“Why Your Innovation Leadership Training Will Fail” by Henry Doss at Forbes

When looking at innovation through a leadership lens, the author offers, “Innovation is a product of culture (not individuals). Culture is an emergent factor of systems (not individuals). Therefore, systems drive innovation (not individuals).”

An interesting thought piece on how systems, and not individuals per se, should be the focus of leadership training.  I don’t think that you can actually separate the two.  I see that the root of improving systems actually is based on individuals – systems don’t just come out of thin air.  Systems are created and modified by individuals, therefore by increasing the knowledge and abilities of the individual (personal development AND systems development), you will get better systems, leading to a better culture, leading to innovation.

When I commented on the article, the author subsequently replied, “Thanks, Chris. It’s sort of like Yin and Yang since the individual is always interacting with the system in a feedback loop. All this brings to mind the Hawthorne effect and the notion that the system/awarenesses inside of which you operate profoundly affect your actions. So, for example, if you are in an environment/system where “trust” is overtly proclaimed and expected, you might be more inclined to trust. And so on. Which, in turn, would reinforce trust as a cultural value. It’s a very symbiotic relationship (systems/people). I think if we have strong, ethical leaders who are aware of the power of systems, institutional processes, and expectations (and modifying those as part of their leadership), then you have the best possible outcomes.”


“Leadership in Start-ups” by Eric Basu at Forbes

Article about Adm. William H. McRaven’s belief that officers should hold themselves to a higher standard.  Does this apply outside of the military – should all leaders hold themselves to a higher standard than the people they lead? Do the people that follow us hold us to a higher standard?


“A Global Leader’s Perspective on CEO Leadership: Part One and Part Two” by Kevin Cashman at Forbes

A two-part series of the author’s interview with Dr. Daniel Vasella, the 17-year chairman and CEO of Novartis, with a focus on the interconnection of management and leadership in business.

Some of the quotes that I liked from the articles:

“Capabilities required of CEO leaders, including intellectual sophistication; the desire and capacity for new learning; “not being conventional”; and empathy as a force for engaging others.”

“Vasella: In addition to developing a clear purpose, vision, values for the organization, and building the core capabilities of the organization, one must have the capability to remain calm and functional in the centre of a hurricane.”…”The feeling you must transmit is, “you can do more than you believe, achieve more than you dream.” When people internalize that feeling, it creates a huge sense of achievable success.”

Part One – http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevincashman/2013/04/18/a-global-leaders-perspective-on-ceo-leadership-part-one-2/

Part Two – http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevincashman/2013/04/30/a-global-leaders-perspective-on-ceo-leadership-part-two/

“Servant Leadership: A Path to High Performance” by Edward D. Hess at the Washington Post

This perspective highlights that the best leaders serve the people that they lead, and not the other way around.  The author is a professor of business administration in Virginia – his findings are based on his research of numerous corporations.

  • Lead by example
  • Create a people-centric environment
  • Not falling for the “intoxicating” powers of leadership (be humble!)
  • Behaving in a manner that builds trust
  • Be consistent with your attitudes and beliefs


“Personalized leadership key for keeping globally distributed teams on task” by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at Phys.org

A leadership article that speaks to the challenges of leading distributed/ virtual teams locally and around the world.

Ravi S. Gajendran states “…In other words, leadership needs to be uniquely tailored to the team members rather than dictated from on high.  It’s about building a relationship with each member, and that requires slightly more effort than in it would in a normal workplace setting.  The other finding of the study is the need for constant, predictable contact to ensure that team members understand that their input matters, Gajendran says.”


“Leadership isn’t a job, it’s a state of mind” by Leah Eichler at the Globe & Mail

An article that seeks to define leadership.  The author states, “…leadership is a way of thinking, rather than a job description…leadership means knowing your own values and being able to translate that into a vision for yourself and others.”  It involves the ability to influence others to achieve the vision.  Once again, there’s a differentiation between managing and leading.


“Leadership Is More than Interpersonal Skills” by Terri Griffith at Harvard Business Review

I like this article’s ‘factoid’ that there are 89,000 books on leadership at Amazon.com

The author believes that leaders need to develop their interpersonal skills, but “…leverage your leadership efforts through better tasks, goals, hiring, training, and technology.”


“More on leadership” by Donald Myers at Hernando Today

Some companies try to attach a metric to leadership (i.e., dollars spent on leadership training) – false metric.  The author believes in management by walking around and that “…developing leaders within an organization are through personal example and creating an environment where subordinates want to excel and assume more responsibility.”

(Original link has been deleted)

“Leadership is a relational skill” by Scott Edinger at Forbes

The author provides seven steps to improve your ability to relate to others:

  • 1.  Express genuine care and concern
  • 2. Establish high standards
  • 3. Bring in the perspective of others
  • 4. Share relevant information
  • 5. Role model the behaviours you want to see
  • 6. Clarify your understanding
  • 7. Provide your reactions and candid opinions

“One of the factors explaining this phenomenon is that leadership is a relational skill; it is about how you interact with others. Sometimes we relate well, and other times not so well, but how we relate is always having an impact on our leadership effectiveness.”


“Women’s leadership summit provides insight, inspiration” by Kimberly Houghton at Union Leader

An article about New Hampshire’s Leadership Summit.  Key messages include supporting each other and having the courage to be a leader.  I like that the keynote speakers were successful female leaders from the area – it’s much easier to envision success if you have positive role models.

(Original link has been deleted)

“Leadership Development Rebounding Fast” by Susan M. Heathfield at About.com

Article providing a few quick tips to immediately improve your leadership performance:

  • focus on energy, not time
  • ask better questions
  • create internal alignment

Speaks to communication – both externally and internally.  Leaders have to be better communicators, but the internal dialogue aspect is intriguing.


“Leadership Lessons From A Child with Autism” by Randy Hain at Huffington Post

Some leadership lessons that the author has learned from his autistic son, and how they can be applied outside of the home.  The seven lessons are:

  • be patient
  • be a clear communicator
  • be fair
  • honour commitments
  • celebrate diversity
  • speak up and get involved
  • practice selfless love

I do not have a child with autism, nor am I aware of any of my daughter’s peers having this condition.  Nevertheless, the lessons ring true with me – this is especially evident since the author followed his own lesson #6 and wrote the article.  What I really appreciate is how this article brought an intimate aspect, that of the family, to the leadership forum.


“Leadership lessons gleaned from the U.S. Marine Corps” by Donovan Campbell at the Globe & Mail

An excerpt from the author’s book suggests that humility is an important trait of a leader.  Others include excellence, kindness, discipline, courage, and wisdom.

I liked the section in the middle of the article where it describes the dean of Harvard Business School’s research on the various types of leaders and the qualities that they share.  There was only one trait in common – reflectiveness (of which humility is assessed as being a key component).  I also came across another article, about the same book, written by another Haligonian named Kaye Parker.  She provides her own perspectives in the Chronicle Herald’s article.

Donovan Campbell – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leadership/leadership-lessons-gleaned-from-the-us-marine-corps/article12316905/

(Original Kaye Parker link has been deleted)

“Leadership Lessons from Turkey’s Unrest: The Rise of Moral Authority” by Dov Seidman at Fast Company

An article focusing on the moral authority aspect of leadership.  Interestingly, there are many parallels between this article and the “Leadership lessons gleaned from the U.S. Marine Corps” book mentioned in the previous article.


If you have any suggestions for the resources and articles section, please let me know.

VOCL Listener Feedback

In the podcast, I mention most of the interesting articles that I come across – but not all.  I did get some feedback from Jackson Middleton via Google Plus.  It was in the article “The Iron Lady’s Three Leadership Lessons” by Geoff Lotus at Forbes.  The article looks at Margaret Thatcher and provides three lessons: stay true to your belief, communicate, and play well with others.  The storyline includes many parallels with Steve Jobs (Apple).  Jackson writes, “I read a case study on Margaret Thatcher in a book called “33 Essential Strategies of war”. They outlined her leadership there… quite the woman!.”  I agree – regardless of whether you liked her or disliked her, most would be inclined to say that she was a remarkable leader.

Oops – I guess I snuck in another article after all…


Book – “33 Strategies of War” by Robert Greene and Joost Eiffers

VOCL Closing Thoughts

From a show format, had a little bit of a dilemma.  “Main Feature” has its own bumper music, so does “Resources and Articles” – which one do I use since the main feature is about articles.  In the end, I chose the latter for the sake of consistency.

In addition to fixing the back catalogue of episodes for the Apple-based app, will be doing similar for the Android-based app in the future (now that I know what the app looks like).

WordPress (website creation) has updated to version 3.6, so I’ve been upgrading.  There’s also a new style (2013) so I’ve changed the website to the new look.  I still need to tweak some sections, but I think it looks much better – what do you think?


  • Many different aspects were provided to you today.
  • What articles did you relate to?  Why do you think that article spoke to you?  Is it because it confirmed your belief, or is it because it challenged them?

I’m Chris Hache, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada


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