Archives For Leadership

How Matters

joe —  Fri 27-Nov-15 — 2 Comments

Farmer in Field copyThe older I get the more I come to grips with how little I really know. Yet, the older I get the more I find others look to me for the answers. I actually had someone recently introduce me as an expert on a subject. Wow, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I have never liked the word expert. It goes into the pool of words like cloud, omni-channel, and platform – words that get recklessly bandied about to have lost any real meaning. Yet, rare is the week when I don’t hear someone labelling themselves as an expert at something. I am pretty sure this is why God invented the eye-roll.

I recall a friend’s breakdown of an expert.

Ex – Former
Spurt – A drip under pressure
Seems about right to me.

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The Insider

joe —  Sat 22-Feb-14 — 3 Comments

Cat PenguinThe one practice that I thought was most helpful in my early career became something that I now avoid – the insider.

An insider is a member of your team that seems to have his finger on the pulse of what others are doing, thinking, and feeling. He is a great way to test your ideas before taking them to a larger audience. He is connected to everyone and has a great capacity to help you understand what your team is thinking. Most importantly, an insider brings you insights about your team that you may not have otherwise understood. Team members often feel uncomfortable telling you something because you are the boss. An insider helps bridge that gap. He fully believes that he is helping both you and the team connect. Continue Reading…

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Because I Said So

joe —  Sat 1-Feb-14 — 3 Comments

Luke and PopI realized that I had officially become “that” parent when I first uttered the words, “because I said so” to my kids. Growing up, I promised that I would never repeat my mother’s words. I did it anyway.

I don’t recall the event. It was probably one of the kids asking why they had to take a bath. But, I do remember the emotional tension of feeling both ultimately powerful and a total sell-out.

“Because I said so” is almost always preceded by “Why?” A person asks “why” when they are seeking meaning. They are trying to bridge what they know with something they don’t understand. It usually has an implied counterpoint. “Dad, why is it important that I take my bath right now instead of finishing My Little Pony?” As parents, we should applaud the “why” as it indicates they are seeking understanding.

Unfortunately, the question most likely comes after we have suffered the slings and arrows of work life and a brutal commute home. We know it is going to take time to explain why and in all likelihood they may not agree with our adult logic when we finish. It would be more efficient to tell them, “Because I said so.” The result is going to be the same, regardless. They will take their bath. Why not just cut to the chase?

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Unnatural Leadership

joe —  Sun 2-Jun-13 — Leave a comment

Cat leaderOf all the questions I get from aspiring leaders, the one that I hear the most often is, “What is your definition of a leader?”

I’ve had many definitions over the years, but none of them have resonated with me. They range from the Forrest Gumpian:

“A leader is as a leader does.”

to the more circular definition:

“A person who has followers.”

(Guess what a follower is?)

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Let Me Count The Ways

joe —  Sat 30-Mar-13 — 3 Comments

One Is The Loneliest NumberI used to love numbers. As a kid, I was convinced that three was a magic number. In high school I truly learned that one is the loneliest number. Then in college I came to appreciate the deep meaning of 25 or 6 to 4 as I popped another Diet Coke for the all night finals cram.

I liked numbers because they were definitive. I take great comfort in knowing when a t-shirt says there are only two types of people in the world, that it’s not three or even seventeen. I can put things into their little boxes and know that I need not consider any other options other than the explicitly numbered ones given. Numbers give me comfort.

Then I became a manager.

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Control IssuesI suspect man has had control issues from the first day they put two of them together. For many that might have been Eve eating the apple. For others it was probably the first cave owners’ meeting when the Hominids needed to establish their HOA covenants.

I remember a meeting many years ago when my boss, Keith, held a brainstorming session with our management team. We were huddled in a small room and I volunteered to be the scribe, collecting the ideas and writing them on the whiteboard. It was a subject I was very passionate about, so I was contributing more than my fair share of ideas. I was on fire.

We then took a break. Obviously my boss thought this amazing idea generating engine of mine needed to get some fuel before it kicked in again. That’s when Keith pulled me aside and told me a simple phrase that has since changed the way I look at my role. “Joe,” he said, “If you have the chalk, you do not talk.” Did my boss just pee on my cornflakes?

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A Nice Game of Chess

joe —  Sat 28-Jul-12 — Leave a comment

The ContestI had a team member say to me,

“I just can’t work with Jim. He is so confrontational. It’s like a giant pissing contest.”

“Is the goal distance or accuracy?”, I asked.
“What?!?”
“Are you trying to see who can go further or who is more acurate?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you don’t know the goal, seems like a lot of people are going to get wet.”

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