VOCL 035 – Looking at Leadership Articles #17

Twitter Episode Focus Looking at several leadership articles from around the world including topics such as: Communication tips for millennial leaders What to watch out for when getting advice Leadership tips from a CEO The problem with TOO much talent? Leadership differences between Undercover Boss and The Apprentice Enabling potential in others Urgency in leadership […]

Written By chris

On August 3, 2014

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Episode Focus

Looking at several leadership articles from around the world including topics such as:

    • Communication tips for millennial leaders
    • What to watch out for when getting advice
    • Leadership tips from a CEO
    • The problem with TOO much talent?
    • Leadership differences between Undercover Boss and The Apprentice
    • Enabling potential in others
    • Urgency in leadership
    • 5 tips on being a more authentic leader
    • The promises we make as a leader
    • The difference between a boss and a leader


Slight change to the file format if you’re downloading the show.  I used to include links to each of the articles in the Lyrics section of the podcast, but I don’t believe that this is required anymore.  All of the links (and text) show up in the Apple’s podcast app and the Podcast Box app (which also has the show notes in PDF format).  Links will ALWAYS be listed on the website – I don’t want to take credit for other people’s work, plus I want to help you expand your leadership knowledge.

VOCL is designed with YOU in mind, yet I am not you.  I want to get to know you better so I can give you what you need.  Let me know if there is something that you want more of or less of.  Are there people you want me to reach out to for an interview?  Is there a particular topic that concerns you?  Let me know, and I can tailor the show to meet YOUR needs!

VOCL Resources and Articles

This week – a random selection of 10 articles on different aspects of leadership.

7 communication tips for millennial leaders by Linsey Pollak at Smartblogs.com

The Millennial generation  (or Generation ‘Y’ – born from the early 1980s to early 2000’s) has begun assuming (significant) leadership roles in today’s jobs and organizations.  The author provides 7 tips to this generation to help them communicate more effectively:

    1. Watch out for speech patterns that make you sound too young (you want to be seen as credible)
    2. Communicate in your audience’s style (especially challenging since there are now four generations in the workforce – each has a preferred method/style of communication)
    3. Remember: shorter is better (I have trouble with this one, especially when keeping the second point in mind…)
    4. Don’t hide behind technology (I would suggest using the phone if it takes more than three lines to convey your thoughts to an individual.)
    5. Don’t assume it’s okay to text (this is really an extension of #2)
    6. Understand how to contact someone in a more senior position (again, this is really an extension of #2
    7. Give yourself time to practice (absolutely!)

The article has some good thoughts, but I can think of several counterpoints on several of those tips.  I’ll pick on just #4 – ironically, group discussions (especially dispersed groups) can be challenging but achievable using technology such as video/teleconferencing.  With many businesses starting to span the globe, and technological advances coming faster and faster I would suggest that Millennials EMBRACE technology to effectively lead these teams.  I don’t see it replacing the personal touch, but it’s a pretty decent substitute.

Judging Good Advice from Bad: 5 Opinions That Will Undermine Your Leadership by Holly Hamann at LinkedIn

The author makes the case that you need to be careful about taking advice from others – she sums it up nicely with the following quote:

Trust is a fragile thing; if you’re inconsistent in your direction and management techniques, employees will lose trust in your vision.

The following are the five types of opinionated people to avoid:

    1. The ‘play-it-safe’ guy
    2. The guy with no track record
    3. The guy with the hidden agenda
    4. Mr. Inconsistent
    5. The ‘yes man’

Out of this list, two may be hard to pick out.  The “hidden agenda guy” is tough if he is skilled at hiding his true intentions.  The “yes man” is tough because many people like to be around people who agree – it’s less difficult – and to sniff them out you have to come up with a bad idea to gauge their reaction.  Who wants to spend time coming up with a bad idea when we need really good ones…

Leadership Secrets from Yum! Brands CEO David Novak by Kevin Kruse at Forbes

Some of the best ways of discovering how to be a better leader involve looking at what other leaders are doing – in this case, the article looks at David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands.  I almost skipped this article, but then the last of the three aspects really caught my eye:

    1. Put people first (this is self-evident – the author himself only devoted four lines to it)
    2. Constantly recognize achievers (I LOVE this aspect – it recognizes people for their quality efforts and creates a visual demonstration to others about what success looks like)
    3. Be self-aware and constantly grow.

I like the idea of focusing on both your strengths and your weaknesses, plus I believe that the tactile nature of the 3×5 cards helps make the points more salient.  I really like the idea of the “Hotshot Replacement Activity” – it helps you take a fresh view on what you are doing and what you could be achieving.

Talent Acquisition: Sometimes Less Is More by Jane Williams at Forbes

Can you really have too much talent in your organizations? In this case, and using professional sports for context, the author provides two related reasons on being cautious about having too many high-performing individuals:

  • High-performing individuals may have a higher focus on self and therefore less on the team.
  • High-performing individuals work better either alone or as a very small group.

Leadership lessons from The Apprentice and Undercover Boss by Patrick Wright at hrmagazine.co.uk 

An interesting article that presents two models of leadership that are found on the television shows The Apprentice and Undercover Boss. What I like about this article is that it highlights personal growth, but that this personal growth seems to happen in two distinctly different directions based on the environment in which the leaders find themselves. The Apprentice is highly competitive, with only one winner – this may inspire a greater amount of self-serving behaviours. Undercover Boss has a leader that goes out to try to find out more about the company and the employees at the grass-roots level.

I’ve never really liked The Apprentice (it’s okay), but both my wife and I enjoy Undercover Boss – his article made me think about why that is. The most compelling reason is that Undercover Boss (full disclosure: we actually watch Undercover Boss Canada) provides an environment that focuses more on servant leadership.

(The link to the original article is no longer available)

Leadership Is About Enabling the Full Potential In Others by Glenn Llopis at Forbes

This article is not about directly developing your leadership skills, but rather developing others to their potential – a responsibility of leadership. The author provides four methods to help develop your followers:

    1. Encourage them to think and act in ways that come most naturally to them (we’ve seen this in several other articles – you need to be authentic)
    2. Develop their decision-making abilities (help them learn rational decision-making skills, learn to become aware of potential blind spots, and being aware of potential follow-on consequences of those decisions)
    3. Expand their performance tolerance threshold (helping people take their skills to new levels)
    4. Strengthen potential by surrounding it with those even stronger (look at creating high-performance teams with complementary skills)

I’d like to expand on the third point of expanding their performance tolerance threshold. This is not the thoughtless loading of a camel until the last straw breaks its back, but rather a systemic increase of challenge complexity. As leaders, we can sometimes see more potential in people than they see in themselves – these challenging (yet achievable) tasks help them see just how much more they are capable of.

For example, most people couldn’t bench press their own weight if you asked them to right now. If, however, you understand what they are capable of right now, you can develop a plan that will help them grow and develop. It won’t be right away, but through a gradual increase – they will see themselves push past imaginary barriers, leaving them excited about their future potential. This applies not only in the physical realm but in the mental realm as well.

Can Leadership Urgency Be Taught? by Cindy Wahler at Forbes 

This article is an interesting thought piece on whether “urgency” in leadership can be taught. The author defines urgency as being composed of a number of attributes – being a self-starter, passion, embracing change, demonstrating initiative and wanting to be first. People that have these attributes are able to take their companies/organizations to the top.

Interestingly, the author assesses that most people can act (and even lead) with urgency for a limited period – I’d have to agree. I’ve seen it myself in different contexts. What is much rarer is for someone to do so for a prolonged period. If you watch them, they always seem busy and bustling yet seem to “come to life” and thrive during urgent situations.

Bottom line – I agree with the author’s assessment that urgency cannot be taught. I do believe, however, that it can be motivated for short periods of time. What do you think?

5 Ways to Lead More Authentically by Karin Hurt at letsgrowleaders.com

This is a great quick read about being an authentic leader. It provides several occasions on which you may have been “less than authentic,” yet highlights the need for being more consistent. This article is a quick read, so I’ll let you go to the source article for an expansion on the key themes below:

    1. Know yourself
    2. Be yourself
    3. Say what’s true
    4. Commit to the cause
    5. Connect with others

The first two points are self-evident, although it can be difficult at times – I tend to adapt myself to suit the occasion, but most times it is consistent with whom I am as a person. Telling the truth can be very difficult, but not doing so will lead to the erosion of trust and thus your ability to lead. Finally, connecting with others is a key difference between managing and leading (“you manage things; you lead people” ~ Grace Murray Hopper)

64 Promises That Every Leader Should Make by Todd Nielsen at toddnielsen.com

In this article, the author provides 64 promises that he makes as a leader.  It seems like a rather large list, but it makes sense when you think about it.  You may not fully agree with this list – you could remove some, add some, tweak some, etc. to fit your own values and beliefs.  Thinking about it and coming up with your own list is what makes this powerful.

Have a read of this article – I promise that it will make you think.

//Original link has been deleted//

Difference between a boss and a leader by Michael G. Keating at michaelgkeating.com

The author of this post, Michael G Keating, reached out to me because he thought this infographic would be of interest to you – he was right!  Not only does it quickly summarize key differences between a boss and a leader, Mike has followed it up with an article that gives examples of each of the differences.  Since he’s given me permission to use this info as I see fit, I’ll include the link (//original link has been deleted//).  Chances are, if the above graphic is of interest to you, you’ll want to read the entire article.

//Original link has been deleted//

VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes / Call to Action

What’s been happening:

  • Warren G. Bennis, a leadership guru, passed away on 31 July 2014 at the age of 89.  For me, his key message was about being an authentic leader.  You can find out more about Warren Bennis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Bennis
  • Charlotte back from camp!  Interesting how she wants to become a Counsellor-in-Training.

Takeaways and introspection:

  • Several articles have spoken to the need for authenticity.  Are you authentic in all that you do?  If not, what steps can you take this week to be a more authentic leader?
  • Many people enjoy watching TV – I know that there are a few shows that I really like.  After watching an episode, think of some leadership attributes that you saw and how you can either incorporate them (if good) or how you would have behaved differently (if bad).  Don’t do it in the middle of the show – I still want you to enjoy the show!
  • Leaders are always trying to develop themselves, but they can never forget that they are responsible for developing others.  What have you done lately to develop your followers?

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


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