VOCL 022 – Looking at Leadership Articles #7

Twitter Show Summary: A review and discussion of interesting leadership-related articles featured in the media. Intro Hi there!  Welcome to the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast. In my last episode, failed to mention that there may be some new people with smartphones and tablets, and they are looking for something to listen to.  If this […]

Written By chris

On January 26, 2014

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Show Summary: A review and discussion of interesting leadership-related articles featured in the media.


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

  • In my last episode, failed to mention that there may be some new people with smartphones and tablets, and they are looking for something to listen to.  If this is you, I’m glad that you’ve discovered podcasting.  You can get the content that you want when you want it.  If you are listening to this podcast, you’ll be happy to know that there is a companion website that has links to everything that is discussed in the show – that’s http://vocl.ca .  There’s also a wide range of VOCL social media that’s available – more on those at the end of the show.
  • If you happen to be reading this blog, did you know that you can also listen to it as a podcast?  You can find “Voices of Canadian Leadership” on iTunes, Stitcher Radio on Demand and number of other subscription methods.  Links are provided at the end of the show.  In any case, feel free to contact me if you need help with anything – I’m only an email/voicemail/tweet/message away.
  • Still no word on the Android app – will let you know when it becomes available.
  • I’ve been working on including all of the articles that I’ve discussed in the website.  I’m making sure that you can link to the original article, as well as seeing my notes and observations.  I’m also starting to “tag” all of the keywords so that it will be easier for you to search for a keyword that you are looking for.  It also has the advantage of tying into a tag “cloud” that will tend to show the leadership-related terms that come up most frequently.  Please bear with me on this – it will still take a few more weeks to be fully caught up.
  • I’m also paying more attention to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.  I am coming up with a consistent format for each of the categories of posts that you see on the website, including a keyword for each post, and making sure that I have the right title and text.  This way, when Google and other search engines find the content, your search result will display the most accurate information.  If that little snippet doesn’t interest you, you can safely move on to another article that can help.
  • Twitter is a great way to capture some quick thoughts and forward them on to others.  I’ve now incorporated in-line “tweets” – these are some of my thoughts that you may want to share with others in your “Twittersphere”.  Just click on the highlighted text with the twitter bird at the end, and it should open up your Twitter client.  Hit send, and ‘Voila!
  • Links to the show notes – I think I’ve made it pretty easy for everyone to find the show notes – the link will always be https://chrishache.com/ followed by the three digit number of the episode.  For example, the show notes for this episode can be found at https://chrishache.com/vocl022

VOCL Resources and Articles

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

“Values-Based Leadership and Empowering Women: Interview With CEO of IKEA Group” by Natalia Brzezinski at Huffington Post

This article focuses on home décor giant “IKEA” and their values-based leadership principles and empowering women.  Even before the interview with CEO Peter Agnefjall begins, the author states that,

“47% of all managers are women and approximately 40% top managers (“top” signifies top 240 managers). Their short-term global goal is 50%.”

That’s an enviable goal, but it is certainly attainable based on their current success.

Right at the start of the interview, when asked about exporting corporate values to international stores and managers, he highlights the importance of recruiting the right people and to work with them throughout their career – you don’t hope to change a person’s core values to align with yours later on, and focusing on values does not end with a contract offer.  They want to be a reflection of society, and they see men and women having an equal role in managing the company.  Finally, Peter mentions that the future trends that will drive IKEA include sustainability, resource and energy independence, and being a community leader.

There’s also a section in there about policies and practices to promote and keep top female talent.  One idea is flexible work arrangements; for others, you’ll have to read the full article.


“Looking for Leaders? Take Your Staff Off-Site” by David Roth at Forbes

The author talks about the challenges and benefits of having an off-site leadership retreat.  Some of the pointers raised:

  • Off-site means off-site (don’t fall into the trap of having it at the office – your efforts will get derailed)
  • Discuss, don’t lecture (you want active participation and multiple viewpoints)
  • Engage with each other as human beings first, then as co-leaders (build upon a relationship of trust)
  • Use outside facilitators strategically (you may get some resistance on this, but you can be successful if you find the right “fit”)
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up (it’s easy to slip back to pre-retreat ways of behaviour and thinking.  You have to make sure that you bring forward all the useful discoveries from the retreat for the whole thing to be of value)


“Will we ever have another leader like Mandela?” by Doug Mollenhauer at the Globe & Mail

An article inspired by the life and times of Nelson Mandela.  The author asks the question,

“What, then, are some of the leadership qualities that best serve human beings and make us all better?  And are these qualities possible in leaders at all levels and in all facets of life?”

He then answers his own question thusly:

  • They lead themselves first
  • They help us see what is best in ourselves (this was my favourite section)
  • They help us see a better future
  • They only want the best – for everyone
  • They are close to home

My favourite quote comes from this final section:

“If you ask people – on any day other than the funeral of a great leader – what people they most admire and would be most likely to follow, they will likely name somebody they know. It’s usually a parent, a teacher, or a coach – somebody close to them – who has inspired them the most.  This suggests that each of us has more potential influence than we realize.”

For me, the person that I admire most has changed over the years since they have been a significant factor at different points in my life, and for different reasons.  One constant, however, is that I have had direct and frequent interactions with them.  I have been fortunate to work with some fantastic leaders, and I hope you have been fortunate enough to find leaders that you admire as well.


“Leadership Lessons from Scrooge” by Pat Cormier at Forbes

The author discusses how the leader’s personal perspectives can have a negative impact on the team, just like the Scrooge’s interactions with Bob Cratchit.

  • Entitlement – what a person has a right to, or believes that they have a right to
  • Belief – a person’s perception, which is coloured by a lifetime of experiences, self-talk, values, etc, (ever notice that if you can’t do something, it is because of unfortunate circumstances, but if someone else can’t do the same thing it is due to a character flaw of theirs?)
  • Perspective – try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes – what does a particular situation look like for them?

I like the Scrooge analogy, but you can draw further parallels. Although the article raises three points, the author does not attempt to link them to the spirits in Charles Dickens’ storyline.  With a little imagination:

  • “Belief” is based on your past experiences – Ghost of Christmas Past
  • “Entitlement” is what you have earned, or believe you have earned today – Ghost of Christmas Present
  • “Perspective” is what you need to use to avoid a bleak future – Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
You cannot change the past, but you can change how you behave today and make sure that everyone has a brighter future.

This article didn’t really speak to me, but I want to make sure that I cover a range of views.


“Leadership Experts With Chatsworth Consulting Unveil Five Ways for New Leaders to Create Success in the New Year” a press release on PR Web

A short article put out on leadership success as a press release; it’s their #5 tip that kept me reading.  The list goes in descending order from 5 to 1, so I’ll present them in that same order here:

  • Catch people doing great things – and celebrate them
  • Be present
  • Put development first
  • Create a vision
  • Listen

There’s nothing new in this article, but they are key points to keep in mind all the time, not just as a resolution after the holidays.

Doing great things – youth soccer analogy.  Giving praise to a player doing the skill correctly provides a model to emulate, plus drives behaviour – most people enjoy praise.

Put development first – the fact that you are reading/listening to leadership articles is indicative that you value personal development.


“Leadership Is About Emotion” by Meghan M. Biro at Forbes

The author asks who you admire as leaders, and then to consider why that is – chances are that they affect you on an emotional level.  She then offers some areas for leaders to develop their skills so that they can become an inspirational leader:

  • Emotional intelligence – being able to understand people
  • Continuous learning – making sure that you develop yourself
  • Being able to contextualize
  • Let go – don’t be a “helicopter manager”
  • Honesty – people want to believe in their leaders
  • Kindness and respect – there may be times that you may have to be unkind (e.g., a harsh review”), but is always done with respect.
  • Collaboration – get people to buy into your vision
  • Partner with your people – help them develop to their potential


“Creative Leadership: Are you hot or not?” by Dr Detlef Reis at Bangkok Post

An article that espouses being creative as the most important leadership quality, at least from a business perspective.  The author strives to show great examples and terrible examples of leadership and creativity and then summarizes key areas using a “what’s hot and what’s not format”.  Since the “what’s not” is merely the opposite of “what’s hot”, I’ll simply focus on mentioning the positive aspects of creative leaders.

  • Originality
  • Novelty
  • Making meaning
  • Equality
  • Worthy common cause
  • Value compensation
  • Long-term value orientation
  • Ethics
  • Cooperation and co-opetition
  • Individuality
  • Meritocracy
  • Leaving a legacy

Looking at this list, for me, only the first two parts speak to creativity.  Also, this article is more heavily weighted towards business considerations than leadership in general.


“Leadership Skills: Helping Others Find Meaning” by Schon Beechler at Forbes

Wow – this article really made me stop and think.  Through the use of a few words, people have been given incredible motivation to give their best effort to a task.  No, it’s not “do this in 1 hour or you’re fired” Rather, it’s putting the task at hand into a context that motivates the person.  The author provides her own experiences and cites studies where people have found meaning in jobs that most people would not do.  She also cites Kim Cameron, author of the book Positive Leaders on key attributes of meaningfulness:

  • The work has an important impact on the well-being of human beings
  • The work is associated with an important virtue or personal value
  • The work has an impact that extends beyond the immediate time frame or creates a ripple effect
  • The work builds supportive relationships or a sense of community in people

I have never been more focused or engaged in a task as I was in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.  I knew that my work would make a difference in providing comfort and security to many people, but at the time I was simply doing my job to the best of my ability.  At the time, I didn’t really internalize why that was.  Subconsciously I knew I was helping to solve a major problem – my work had real meaning.

If I was to rate articles, this one would get a top score.  What have you done lately to help your followers find meaning in what they do?


“Why a leader says ‘Let’s go’” by Sam Geist at the Globe & Mail

The article asks the reader to ponder whether they are a leader or a boss.  Some of the traits of a leader that sets them above being simply a boss:

  • A leader shares a vision
  • A leader enables
  • A leader gives gifts
  • A leader builds
  • A leader is fearless
  • A leader sees himself in the mirror (I’m sure this was meant to be gender neutral)

I’m not sure I like the word fearless – that implies that you are absent of fear.  This may lead to a reckless approach that doesn’t consider all of the facts.  I would prefer to use the word confident – you may have concerns, but you are aware of them and are taking appropriate action moving forward.  Would you follow a fearless leader or a confident one?

Finally, I have to provide my favourite quote from the article – the second part really struck a chord with me:

“Good leaders give their people small gifts – tickets to a ball game, a free lunch, a day off. Great leaders give their people big gifts – space to grow, exhilarating challenges, trust, recognition and empowerment.”


“African leadership: from rhetoric to realism” by Jumoke Oduwole at the Business Daily

I have read several articles over the past few weeks about Africa needing quality leaders to help Africa get out from a condition that many authors have called “corrupt”, “inept”, “self-serving”, “lawless”, “unjust”, etc.  This particular one offers a fairly balanced perspective on the need for development across the realms of politics, economics, society and even at the personal level.  What really strikes me is the passion with which the author writes – I rarely come across such passionate articles in Canada, even with the recent events surrounding Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

//original link has been deleted//

“Leadership is about those who are led, state senators say” by Tobias Wall at The State Journal Register

This article focuses on two US Senators, Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, during their participation in a leadership panel.  Some of the topics covered include communication, cooperation, service to others, sacrifice, inspiring others, humility, and the Golden Rule.

//original link has been deleted//

“Leadership Lessons from the Mayor Who Put an Obese City on a Diet” by Tanya Benedicto Klich at Entrepreneur

An article on how Mayor Mick Cornett took Oklahoma City from being listed as one of America’s ten fattest cities to one of America’s ten fittest cities.  Those of you who have read Chip and Dan Heath’s book ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard’ (a review of which is on VOCL episode 017 – https://chrishache.com/VOCL017) will see how the mayor was very successful at leading change:

  • Direct the Rider (intellectual component) – pointed to the destination (a city that’s one million pounds lighter, being removed from the list of America’s fattest cities)
  • Motivate the Elephant (emotional component) – spreading the weight loss over an entire city, making a public announcement (the citizens didn’t complain when a 1% tax hike was introduced to support the initiative)
  • Shape the Path (the way ahead) – this is where he excelled.  He added wider sidewalks, bike routes and parks to encourage physical activity.  He created a website to ensure group accountability.  He also worked with local business to offer a greater range of healthy eating alternatives.  This, in turn, led to an increase in business for fitness-related businesses

The article’s author provides four reasons why the mayor was so successful:

  • He led by example (his own weight loss)
  • He set a clearly defined goal (there’s just something about 1M that makes it magical)
  • He kept the budget in mind
  • He stayed true to his message, even if it’s a tougher stance to take

A person made a city lose 1 million pounds of their own free will, and they even happily paid an extra 1% tax to do it.  That, my friends, is leadership and change management in action.


VOCL Listener Feedback

I have come across an infographic that presented some differences between a boss and a leader.  I’m not sure who originated this graphic, so I can’t cite the reference like I normally would (you know I always want to give credit where credit is due).  What I will do is add the link here: http://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/ab16708e-8390-11e3-8ac9-12313d0244d2-medium.jpg

On LinkedIn, Thomas Boxall provided the following comment:

“The three principles I value most in a leader are: 1 The leader trusts my abilities and lets me do my job. 2 The leader tries to understand my work to best support me in completing my job. 3 The leader actively tries to remove obstacles that prevent me from doing my job.”

Thanks for those points, Thomas – I know that I have appreciated those values in my leaders.

VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes / Call to Action

At the start of this episode, I mentioned that I was making some modifications to the VOCL family of products.  I’m doing this because I learn something new about voice recording, podcasting, website design, and/or social media every day.  What I may not always be doing is communicating the value of these changes to you, and how you can use these changes to make VOCL more useful to you and the other members of the community.  Speakpipe is one of those examples – did you realize that you could use this feature to contact the show, using your own voice and the microphone on your phone or computer? [The rest of this is an actual “live” demo on using Speakpipe via the website and Facebook.]

Just a quick personal note – Friday, 24 January 2014 was my 200th blood donation.  I first started in 1988 in Kingston, Ontario as a Sea Cadet on board HMCS Ottawa during that summer’s Great Lakes Deployment.  I’ve been donating blood products (either whole blood, plasma, or platelets) ever since, although there have been breaks due to international postings, deployments, etc.  It’s an easy way to save lives, and you get milk and cookies at the end – it’s win-win!  If you haven’t given blood lately, please consider doing so.  You can get more information at https://blood.ca/en.

Chris Hache's 200th blood donation - 24 January 2014 (the platelets machine is in the background)

Chris Hache’s 200th blood donation – 24 January 2014 (the platelets machine is in the background)

Takeaways and introspection:

  • Will we ever have another leader like Mandela?” by Doug Mollenhauer and “Leadership Is About Emotion” by Meghan M. Biro.  I want you to think about people that have inspired you over the years.  What is it about them that inspired you?  Now, let’s flip that around.  I want you to consider whether you are inspirational to others.  If not, what can you do differently?
  • Leadership Skills: Helping Others Find Meaning” by Schon Beechler.  When you ask something of your followers, do you provide meaning as well as direction?  If not, see if you can incorporate this aspect the next that you ask something of your followers.

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


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