I had the good fortune to sit through Mr. Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, Marc Benioff, CEO of and Colin Powell speaking about the economy, business and leadership last week at Cloudforce Tokyo.

My favourite comment was from Colin Powell on failure – roughly paraphrased:

Failure is a part of life, you will fail. So learn to accept it and work through it:
1. Accept it is your failure. Don’t blame others.
2. Fix it
3. Then shake it .. move on. Too many people hold onto that failure, cannot deal with it. Never linger on the failure. You do not drive looking in the rear view mirror. You look ahead

At a school, a young girl stood up and asked a question.  She asked do you fail? He responded yes. It is part of life. You might fail a test. Do bad on a paper. Accept it. Learn from it. Grow and then throw the failure away. Move forward.

Wise words.



Years ago in England I learned a great leadership quote that has stuck with me and became part of the leadership philosophies that I follow:

“It is easy to be a bully”.

While discussing that concept with a colleague yesterday he shared a quote from a leader that he respects:

People will forget what you said

People will forget what you did

People will never forget how you made them feel

So true.



A few items shared with me over the last couple weeks:

  • From John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
  • The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses (via INC.) and well worth reading:
    • Develop every employee
    • Deal with problems immediately
    • Rescue your worst employee
    • Serve others, not yourself
    • Always remember where you came from
  • And from the world of the quirky, but actually really good: Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk:
    • Never stop learning: “You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”
    • Have advisors with different world views: “One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.”
    • Be part of the away team: “Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.” (Just don’t be nameless security guy #3 – he always dies)
    • Play Poker, Not Chess
    • Blow up the Enterprise:  ….. We are often, in our roles as leaders, driven by a passion. It might be a product or service, it might be a way of doing things. But no matter how much that passion burns within us, the reality is that times change. Different products are created. Different ways of doing things are developed. And there will come times in your life when that passion isn’t viable anymore. A time when it no longer makes sense to pursue your passion. When that happens, no matter how painful it is, you need to blow up the Enterprise. That is, change what isn’t working and embark on a new path, even if that means having to live in a Klingon ship for awhile.

A few enjoyable reads.



The HBR article Selling is Not About Relationships (title misleading) categorizes sales people into 5 buckets:

    • Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet customers’ every need, and work hard to resolve tensions in the commercial relationship.
    • Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They’ll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team.
    • Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
    • Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the customers’ standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
    • Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — with both their customers and bosses.

In their analysis, they state that Challengers far outperform others, with Relationship Builders coming in dead last. Not that relationships are unimportant, their point is that the type of relationship is what is important. Challengers push the relationship, to make it better while Relationship Builders focus only on reducing tension.

This made me stop and think: How does this apply to management/leadership? I have often debated the merits of sales people transitioning from sales to management – where they can leverage their relationship skills. What this made me realize is that it is is more than that, the ability to build relationships is important but success will hinge on what type of a person they are. Consider the same definitions applied to management/leadership with a few key words edited (i.e. customer changed to organization):

    • Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet everyone’s needs, and work hard to resolve tensions in the internal relationships. (Add: Infrequently progress from manager to leader as they are the keeper of the status quo).
    • Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They’ll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team. (Add: It is naïve to think that you do not have to work hard to be successful. You do. But the person who thinks that hard work is enough stay managers. They are great ‘do-ers’.)
    • Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the organization who do things their way or not at all. (Add: Often burn bridges and have difficulty moving from manager to leader as they are not a team player. After all, people follow those they trust)
    • Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the organization’s standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on follow-up, ensuring that issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly. (Add: Great reporting to a leader)
    • Challengers use their deep understanding of the business to push their thinking and take control of the conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — within the organization. (Add: Can build, communicate and execute a vision … in other words, can lead).

As with the sales profiles, I would suggest that the Challenger will outpace the others as they are willing to paint a vision of the future, push boundaries, take risks, face big issues and execute – with relationships, problem solving and hard working contributing to that success.



While in a Queen’s course on strategy and change management a few weeks ago they played a video from MIT where Anne Mulcahy of Xerox shared her ‘Leadership Lessons from the Firing Line’.

She walks through her introduction to the CEO position while Xerox was under siege with the future of the company in the balance. One of her first stories being a desperate attempt to get Warren Buffet to go back on his famous ‘I don’t invest in technology companies’ philosophy and invest in Xerox. He didn’t change his mind, but he did invite her for dinner and he gave a great piece of advice:

Focus on your customers and lead your employees like their lives depend on it”

Mrs. Mulcahy then goes on to discuss her experience during the Xerox turnaround and the leadership lessons that defined her tenure. The highlights from my notes:

· Good leaders listen, with a bias for action.

· Trust your management instincts. Companies love data, but sometimes you must trust your experience and gut.

· Create clear accountability and good aligned goals to guide the organization.

· People need a vision. Even though Rome was burning, people wanted to know the future. Her team wrote out an article of what Xerox would look like in 5 years, which built optimism.

· Invest for the best of times, even at the worst of times. Critics wanted Xerox to cut R&D, but they didn’t. Now 2/3rds of revenue comes from products that are less than 2 years old.

· Keep communicating, don’t go underground. Nothing beats face to face communications, aligns people to the goals and do not go underground.

· Remain customer focused. Spend time with customers, and continually ask ‘Would the customer pay for this?’

· Seek out the critics and look for critical feedback. Search it out, it is a blessing to find issues early on.

· Find the best talent. Hire people who are different, who have skills and views that are different then leverage those people to educate you.

· Lead by example, give credit to others and be humble.

An inspiring leader with a great story. Well worth the 30 minute investment to watch.


Shared by a friend, and I had to laugh (check the date):

“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”

Gaius Petronius Arbiter, 210 BC

Unfortunately, it was not from 210. The quote is from Charlton Ogburn Jr (1911-1998), in Harper’s Magazine, “Merrill’s Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure”

Still, an interesting quote. And of course, a great reinforcement … busy work is just busy work .. it doesn’t mean that anything is being accomplished.


I had the opportunity to listen to Jim Fisher speak about leadership a few months ago and he had a few interesting insights, specifically with regard to leadership and managing.

In the 1980’s, the United States was full of ‘well managed’ companies, Kotter and others identified that. But they lacked vision, and their focus on great management (not leadership) lead to process rigidity and a thorough pounding by the Japanese. Those of us who lived in that day and age remember the threat of the Japanese out engineering North America. He made the point that having a plan is not enough. We must have a vision, leadership, a compelling story and a plan to be successful, with the recognition that things change:

‘if we become slaves to the plan, we continue doing things long after they are useful’

A world full of change needs flexibility. We need to have that ‘vision’ of where we can go, and a plan to attain that vision, but it needs to be made out of sand – not etched in stone – ready to change as times change.

He went on to discuss one of his favourite piece of work, King Henry V by Shakespeare (making the point that Shakespeare is a remarkable man, with his plays still achieving more than 50% market share long after his death). In telling the famous story of the English defeat of the French at the Battle of Agincourt, despite terrible odds and an army on the verge of collapse, Shakespeare did it differently than those before him. He painted a picture of a great leader.

From the article ‘Blockbuster Lessons in Leadership’ (Marilyn Linton, FP, August 2003):

‘The first that the king did was have a battle plan’ Mr. Fisher observes, explaining that he knew the business of war and developed an innovative and complex medieval battle plan. His challenge then was to motivate his troops to execute it.

That leadership plan was developed after King Henry spent the night before the battle sitting around the campfires listening to his soldiers and learning how they felt.

‘Stand up and fight together!’ became the simple idea behind the leadership plan. It became evident that King Henry was going to suffer the same as his troops: ‘In real life you don’t always have the confidence your boss has as much skin in the game as you do’ Mr. Fisher says. Shakespeare had the king follow closely the rules of persuasion as taught by many business schools: Be credible, communicate shared benefits, and use vivid language for impact.

‘On the eve of battle, Henry is aware of what he is feeling. He is saying to himself ‘This is terrible. What have I done? I’m weak’. He listens to how how men feel, and he decides, in his speech not to sugar coat the truth.

‘Today, many bosses try to keep the positive spin on things. The fact is people in the trenches know how bad it is long before you do’ Mr. Fisher says.

‘Effective leadership is the combination of having a good business plan with having enough EQ to understand how to motivate people. Too much of the stuff you read about leadership talks about all the motivational things you should do to be ‘leaderly’, but if you are leaderly with a lousy plan, you aren’t going to accomplish anything’

A vision, great leadership .. and a plan. One last interesting quote on the topic of ‘vision’:

‘happiness isn’t about where we are, it is where we are going to be if we are successful … and words can bring that to life’



The June 2009 HBR has an interesting article based on the 360 degree feedback from 11,000 leaders on the shortcomings of the worst leaders. An interesting read (Via), the ten are:

Lack energy and enthusiasm. They see new initiatives as a burden, rarely volunteer, and fear being overwhelmed. One such leader was described as having the ability to “suck all the energy out of any room.”

Accept their own mediocre performance. They overstate the difficulty of reaching targets so that they look good when they achieve them. They live by the mantra “Underpromise and overdeliver.”

Lack clear vision and direction. They believe their only job is to execute. Like a hiker who sticks close to the trail, they’re fine until they come to a fork.

Have poor judgment. They make decisions that colleagues and subordinates consider to be not in the organization’s best interests.

Don’t collaborate. They avoid peers, act independently, and view other leaders as competitors. As a result, they are set adrift by the very people whose insights and support they need.

Don’t walk the talk. They set standards of behavior or expectations of performance and then violate them. They’re perceived as lacking integrity. Another article Infectious Leadership provides good insight on this critical element – we can build excitement or create a negative culture. It starts with the leader.

Resist new ideas. They reject suggestions from subordinates and peers. Good ideas aren’t implemented, and the organization gets stuck.

Don’t learn from mistakes. They may make no more mistakes than their peers, but they fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement, hiding their errors and brooding about them instead.

Lack interpersonal skills. They make sins of both commission (they’re abrasive and bullying) and omission (they’re aloof, unavailable, and reluctant to praise).

Fail to develop others. They focus on themselves to the exclusion of developing subordinates, causing individuals and teams to disengage.

The closing note is probably the most important:

These sound like obvious flaws that any leader would try to fix. But the ineffective leaders we studied were often unaware that they exhibited these behaviours. In fact, those who were rated most negatively rated themselves substantially more positively. Leaders should take a very hard look at themselves and ask for candid feedback on performance in these specific areas. Their jobs may depend on it.

I received a great piece of advice two years ago on 360 degree feedback. I was new into a role (4 months) and was not going to add my new teammates to my list as they were just getting to know me and would not have a track record upon which to build their opinions. My coach suggested the exact opposite. Early into a new job is a great time to get candid feedback on how people perceive you and will help you shape the new relationships. I listened to the advice and it was great. I received great insight into how people perceived me and used the feedback in future 1:1s to openly talk about where I was developing.

But the first step is what is noted above ….. you have to be willing to take a hard look at yourself and accept the feedback, not rationalize it.


This article was forwarded to me and I had to blog it for future reference:

The German World War II general Erich von Manstein is said to have categorized his officers into four types.

The first type, he said, is lazy and stupid. His advice was to leave them alone because they don’t do any harm.

The second type is hard-working and clever. He said that they make great officers because they ensure everything runs smoothly.

The third group is composed of hardworking idiots. Von Manstein said that you must immediately get rid of these, as they force everyone around them to perform pointless tasks.

The fourth category are officers who are lazy and clever. These, he says, should be your generals.

The full articleis worth reading and applicable well beyond management. An old boss of mine often referred to it as ‘busy work’. He would ask ‘Are you doing busy work or are you selling?’.

Today, too many people feel a sense of accomplishment from having an empty inbox (I admit, it is nice) or from being ‘busy’. Too many people are ‘too busy’ to attend a training course to make them a better manager or sales rep. Too busy, too busy, too busy.

On a personal note, it is something I have pondering over the last week after I received an interesting piece of feedback – that I was hierarchical. Probing found that the person meant that while I was speaking with someone, I rudely broke off the conversation to engage in another conversation when someone higher up the line came by.

Upon reflection (other than realizing that I was a rude jerk for doing that, because I am not hierarchical in nature – far from it), I realized it was due to speed. Chances are I just flipped the switch and went down another track to deal with something not thinking about the casual conversation I was engaged in. My speed (being too busy) results in me shedding some of the finer points of etiquette to execute faster. Sad.

The best sales reps watch movies … time for me to watch a movie …. And taking that advice, I just watched 2 episodes of Supernatural (I really enjoy this show), Battlestar Galactica Razor (BEST show on TV), Transformers (yawn), Evan Almighty (Heart warming) and Live Free or Die Hard (His jumping off the bridge onto the jet was a little too much, but all in all – a very entertaining movie).


I attended a leadership offsite a few weeks ago at Tylney Hall. Like all of Britain, there are few locations which do not have generations of history and I continue to marvel. The history of Tylney Hall:

Tylney Hall is a Grade II listed mansion with beautiful gardens of significant historic interest. Stroll along the Vista lined with giant redwoods – it offers the longest, uninterrupted view of the Hampshire countryside; inhale the heady fragrance in the Rose Garden; trail your fingers in the exquisite Water Gardens; and enjoy the view of the lake from the boathouse bridge. The current house dates from 1898 and served as a hospital during the First World War, later becoming a private school.

A few pics (via low quality cell phone):



The event was well facilitated and I took away a few great leadership / management tidbits to ponder, leverage, implement:

  • The meeting stated with a great slide around ground rules: be present, be bold, be engaged and focus on what we can do.
  • The following quote struck me as very true: ‘Leaders get the culture they behave’. How many times have we seen this come to fruition? I choose a culture of big goals, customer first, competing aggressively, taking risks to innovate – drive breakthroughs and celebrating each other’s success.
    • Ghandi said it well ‘Be the change you want to see’. The question we all have to ask is – what do I need to change first?
  • Another quote struck me: ‘Leadership begins when we stop blaming others and making excuses’ (The Wise Fool’s Guide to Leadership, Peter Hawkins 2005)
    • This was centered around feedback and offered one great little rule – start all responses to feedback with a thank-you. What a great way to ensure that people feel comfortable enough with helping you get better.
    • There was also a point made around leaders. As leaders, if our leader is struggling we need to step up and stop complaining and take responsibility for his/her weaknesses and make them successful. An interesting comment that was once put to me as follows when I was complaining about my manager ‘What are you going to do to make them successful?’
    • On the topic of 360 feedback, the speaker stated that one of the biggest mistakes he sees is when people say ‘I don’t want to do the 360 yet, people don’t know me well enough yet’. On the contrary, this is the BEST time for a 360 – to capture those early perceptions and shape the opinion. Interesting viewpoint.
  • On the topic of corporate gossip, when someone is talking about someone else the speaker suggested you say ‘What did he/she say when you told him?’
    • What a great way to stop corridor conversations and ensuring that people are committed to helping each other. No one benefits if they don’t here about what they are doing wrong.
  • People often come up to me and say ‘I have a problem’ and I will spend a lot of time listening. The speaker made an interesting point ‘The closest person is not always the right person to solve the problem’. To be more effective, perhaps the conversation can be cut shorter by asking ‘What do you need from me to solve the problem?’ Sounds very One Minute Manager like …
    • The speaker went on to say that in most organizations there are too many problems going up the ranks and solutions coming down the ranks. As leaders, we need to be pushing to have those problems solved faster and more efficiently by not coming up the chain (by empowering our people to solve problems, find solutions and close out issues without constant interaction). We need vision and opportunities coming down from the top .. to challenge people to reach that next big growth spurt.
  • The ‘E’ test: Put out your dominant index finger and write an E on your forehead (do it before reading below)
    • If your E faces left it is for others to see, and you are relationship focused.
    • If the E faces right it is for yourself, you are more inwardly focused.
  • My E faced left.

    • At one point we discussed what makes a great leader. Tichy and Devanna (1986) listed transformational leaders as exhibiting the following:
      • They clearly see themselves as change agents
      • They are courageous
      • They believe in people
      • They are driven by a strong set of values
      • They are life-long learners
      • They can cope with complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity
      • They are visionaries
  • As leaders, our most important task every day is motivation – to help people raise their game every day. So true.

    Two leadership thoughts:

    “The best leader is the one that can be replaced. When that leader disappears for a time, the team continues on successfully. That leader created a team of leaders, who’s long term goals and team dynamics supersede any leader”.  (Me: Reflecting on the fact that the truly strong leader should not look at this fact as ‘I can be replaced easily’, but as ‘I built an amazing team’.

    “He was not a bad leader because of the decisions he made. He was a bad leader because he did not make decisions”  1st Sgt. commenting on Lt. Dike, Band of Brothers, Episode 6.

    Band of Brothers is one of the greatest war movies (It is actually a 10 part series) ever made for so many reasons. It shows the sacrifice that these men made, the people speaking in the episodes are actual survivors and it is based on facts. These are true heroes and when my boys are old enough, I will sit down with them and watch this end to end. Our youth should know from where their freedom came.

    It also provides very interesting perspectives on leadership. There are many leaders in the series, really bad ones and many ‘quiet’ leaders. The most notable is the leader who moves from platoon, to company to battalion leader through humility, strength of character and a clear belief that he would not send men to do that which he would not do himself – he lead by example.

    The concept of quiet leadership is tackled in a Best of HBR collection: Stealth Leadership. In every article they focus on the perseverance of the quiet leader who leads continued change and growth. This is a marked shift from the towers of industry and ‘heroic’ nature of leadership that business articles and the media industry often shove upon us. As they state in the preface:

    “What comes to mind when you think of inspiring leaders? Heroes taking action amid heart stopping crisis? Towering figures on a white horse … If so, get ready to adjust your sights. Too many charismatic CEOs eventually fail to sustain their organizations greatness …  the model for quiet, modest leadership is just as rigorous – if not more so. These heroes give people the respect and freedom they need to excel, within a highly disciplined code of conduct. They motivate people through exacting standards, not charisma. They are “tempered radicals” who lead through example and seek power through collaboration, not confrontation”

    One of the articles (We Don’t Need Another Hero: Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr.) provides four rules to handle ethical challenges and make decisions:

    1. Put things off tomorrow: When dilemmas escalate, buy time. It can spell the difference between success and failure. Temperatures lower, and time is made to make the right decision.

    2. Pick your battles: Protect your political capital – Before taking a stand quiet leaders calculate the risk and returns to that political capital.

    3. Bend the rules: Find ways to maneuver within the rules’ boundaries.

    4. Find a compromise: An unwillingness to compromise may be morally principled – but it is unrealistic in most situations. Craft responsible, workable compromises.

    I personally found these articles very interesting. I know that a week ago I made a mistake, I took a morale high ground when I simply should have found a compromise, despite the other person being wrong. My actions did not further my cause. As it would happen, as I reflected on these articles, the Globe&Mail published an article comparing the heroic ‘type’ leadership of Carly Fiorina and the quiet operational leadership of HP’s new CEO, Hurd. Some interesting facts to ponder, as they relate to leadership:

    Reputation: Fiorina: Celebrity CEO. Hurd: Boring ops guy

    Claim to fame: Fiorina: Lead the acquisition of Compaq (Which many still wonder about).   Hurd: Drove efficiency at NCR, growing profits 5X.

    Leadership style: Fiorina: Jetsetter who bought 2 corporate jets while in the middle of corporate layoffs. Showed up at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) with Matt Damon and Gwen Stefani; big spotlight seeker.  Hurd is laser focused, having cut 15K HP jobs within months of taking the job. He did not go to CES and shares the spotlight with senior managers to demonstrate new accountability. Hurd’s trademark quote: “You want to go to where the puck is going, not where it has been”.

    Accolades: Fiorina: Fortune’s most powerful woman in business, for 6 years. Track record at HP is questionable.   Hurd: When he left NCR to go to HP, NCR shares fell 13%.

    An interesting quote on Fiorina from Winners and Losers 2005 : Fiorina (Loser):   “For much of her career, Carly Fiorina’s fans were singing “nobody does it better.” But by the end, they were drowned out by the critics singing “you’re so vain,” accusing the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. of spending too much time in front of the cameras instead of executing the board’s strategy. She was ousted in February, while HP’s stock was down two-thirds from its peak in 2000.”

    It would appear that the glory seeking leader is bound to fail while the truly great leader builds a great team, puts them up high and succeeds with the group.


    I have seen this time and time again, sales people and managers who work hard to make tasks more complex than they need to be. A world that now includes CRM systems, instant messaging, easy to set-up portals, tools, tools, more tools and instant access information all work to make it more complex.

    While watching the move Primer,  they made an interesting statement:

    How did the Americans solve the problem of writing in space? They invested $1MM into building a pen that could write at any angle and in zero gravity.

    How did the Russians solve the same problem? They used a pencil.

    In day to day work, it often pays to boil the problem down to base elements. Simpler problems. Simpler solutions.

    It is easy to make it complex, hard to make it simple. Leaders need to help teams make it simple.

    CAVALRY ISN’T COMING (archive)

    I found this anecdote interesting, in a meeting the business leader provided the following guidance to his team as they were thinking about growth: “Be the architect of your own rescue. The cavalry ain’t coming”.

    It is an interesting statement to ponder. I have personally always adopted this approach, but have witnessed many people who come to the table with the problem and not the answer. The true leader frames the problem and provides options on how to get to a solution. Another cliche that is applicable “Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?”

    In my business review last week, I faced this. On my overview, there were many challenges. As I looked at the format of the review (It was provided) I decided to take each challenge and add in the ‘Action’, whether it be an ask of another team, resource ask or an action that my team was undertaking to address that challenge. It drove home one message: our team has challenges, but our team also has a plan to be successful.

    So, part of the solution or the problem? The cavalry isn’t coming.


    Not sure where I read or heard this, but I wrote it down:

    In command, out of control. The good leader with a good team provides direction so that the team is focused on down, not up. Let them resolve the situation.

    From management guru Kevin Kelley (I have no idea who he is .. but it is an interesting statement).

    WHY NEW LEADERS FAIL (from the archive)

    Development Dimensions International surveyed 944 human resources professionals on why internally promoted leaders failed. Here are the results for consideration:
    • Poor people skills: 53%
    • Personal qualities (style, attitude, habits): 53%
    • Poor fit with company culture: 44%
    • Couldn’t get results: 43%
    • Don’t have the skills to do the job: 36%
    • Poor strategic or visionary skills: 33%
    • Poor motivational fit with the job: 27%
    • Inadequate preparation: 22%
    • Lack of experience (Not ready for the position): 21%
    • Unrealistic expectations for the job: 18%
    • Other: 7%

    For those who would like to be promoted, here is a checklist of ‘leadership potential’ indicators:

    • Motivation to lead: Has upward ambition, actively pursues leadership opportunities. (I read this as willing to go beyond current role – be a leader in other areas – stretch targets)
    • Authenticity: Is genuine and true, has integrity, promotes trust and is confident.
    • Brings out the best in people: Optimizes talent, inspires performance, unties others to common goals.
    • Learning agility: Learns from mistakes, learns new information, is curious.
    • Receptivity to feedback: Seeks and uses feedback, accepts criticism and is humble.
    • Adaptability: Accepts change, adjusts quickly and balances many demands.
    • Conceptual thinking: Thinks broadly, sees many perspectives and understands connections.
    • Navigates ambiguity: Simplifies complex situations and sees in shades of grey.
    • Cultural fit: Has personal style or qualities that fit with the company culture.
    • Passion for results: Gets things done, overcomes problems and refuses to give up.
     A very interesting article. I think I will use this list as a check list as I interview.

    WIN TOGETHER, LOSE ALONE. (From the archive)

    Last week I was watching The Apprentice. It was a very interesting study in leadership. The project manager for the male team agreed to the project manager role as long as the team obeyed him, adopting a clear command and control style of leadership.

    Through the program, he exerted his control. Two noticeable events:

    1. One person on his team made an appointment for 1130. He wanted if for 1100. In front of everyone he told him that he expects him to follow commands to the ‘T’. If he wants 1100, he does not want 1130. He had the guy rebook the appointment.

    2. He went to oversee the creation of a costume and left 6 people from the team to brainstorm the creative aspects of the tasks. The 6 did well and were very proud of their output. The team leader returned, told them to pitch him their ideas and without team consultation, over rode the 6 and eliminated all of their work from the presentation.

    It was fascinating to watch. Fortunately for this leader, they won. But if they had not won, I can guarantee you he would have been viewed as the weakest link and fired. Why?

    It comes down to a personal belief of ‘Win together, lose alone’. As a leader, if you take his approach and dictate the path (all the time), then people will not feel responsible for the team’s actions and output. Those actions are dictated, not collaborative, so there is no buy-in. There is no sense of team. Decisions will be viewed as the leader’s decisions. If they go bad, where will the blame be assigned? The leader. In this case, if they would have lost, the team would have pointed to how he did not discuss the decision to eliminate the work of 6 from the presentation – he just over turned it (Just one example of his poor leadership).

    This does not mean that command and control leadership is never warranted. On the contrary, I have personally witnessed it employed effectively on many occasions. But, for this leader, I would suggest that he read the book Primal Leadership. Primal Leadership (HBR) studied effective leadership styles and discussed how the effective leader uses many styles and creates resonance within the team:

    He is attuned to people’s feelings and moved them in a positive emotional direction. Speaking authentically from his own values and resonating with the emotions of those around him, he hit just the right chords with his message, leaving people uplifted and inspired even in a difficult moment. When a leader triggers resonance, you can read it in people’s eyes: They are engaged and they light up.

    The effective leader employs different leadership styles for different situations (There are 6 styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding). Employing the wrong style in a situation causes dissonance, which often takes the team down the wrong path over the long term.

    Lucky for this guy, it was a 24 hour challenge. Another 24 hours or a loss would have seen it unravel – because he did not match his leadership style to the situation.

    MOTIVATION ADVICE. (from the archive)

    An executive gave me a great piece of advice the other day, and I think this applies to sales managers and to sales people (actually – employees in general):

    When he first started into management – his biggest shock was that not everyone is motivated in the same way. He was motivated by wanting to move up and to take on bigger challenges. But many of his people, who were solid performers, did not want the same thing. Many of his people were happy with their life the way it was, they did not need a promotion, they did not need a change in job role or a big challenging project – they were happy. What motivates people is often different – some people want to climb the corporate ladder, some people are motivated by money, others by family, charity, church and their life outside the office. And that is alright.

    Diversity should be cherished. To be effective in sales or management, I believe that you really need to understand what motivates people, and understanding that everyone is different should always be at the forefront of one’s mind.


    A book that I read recently (Crucial Confrontations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler) walks through the process of handling – as you would expect – crucial confrontations. Those events where promises are broken, expectations are violated or behavior is less than acceptable.

    One of the points that I found most interesting is the human condition called The Fundamental Attribution Error which states:

    Assuming that others do contrary things because it is in their makeup or they actually enjoy doing them and then ignoring any other potential motivational forces is a mistake. Psychologists classify this mistake as an attribution error. And because it happens so consistently across people, times and places, it gets a name all its own. It’s called the Fundamental Attribution Error.

    I have done this – and I find myself watching for it now. Do I look at that person and think that they are doing that because it is part of their DNA or because they are intentionally attempting to bother me or is it for other reasons (it often is)?

    A common example: Did that person really mean to cut you off, are they a rude person as part of their DNA or was it an honest mistake?

    It has slowly changed the way I look at situations and ultimately, how I handle them. I am definitely better for it. As an aside, it is one of the best management books I have ever read.