Tag Archives: Art Petty

You Gotta Know When to Fold ’em…

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Dear Readers,

I’ve attempted to write this post a number of times but somehow always became stuck. Perhaps I wasn’t ready then. I think I am now.

I have been writing this blog since 2009. It started because I had something to say about organizations and how they are led. I wanted to make some kind of contribution toward making not-so-good workplaces somehow better for people. And, I believe good workplaces always start with good leadership, the kind that puts value on the potential of people’s willingness to do their best work in environments of trust and mutual respect.

I surprised myself by having quite a lot to say on the subject, certainly between 2009 and 2013. In 2014, I mostly repeated myself, (a habit, I’m told that comes with age). Nonetheless, you managed to see something worth reading, something worth discussing and also passing along. That kind of surprised me too, but only in the best of ways. I am both grateful and delighted by your response to something that started out as this woman’s somewhat hesitant voice in the Cosmos.

But, here’s the thing. Just about everything has a beginning and an end. And “You’re Not the Boss of Me” has reached its end place. I‘m a bit sad about that. But I also believe that once you have said what you have to say, the best strategy is to simply shut up and listen to somebody else.

I have learned much from so many of you. I have come to know that there is a multitude of fine people who share my view of what is needed to build an effective, satisfying and profitable workplace in the 21st Century. These are leaders who are in the thick of it, leaders who see a vision for the future that includes all kinds of people; a vision that excites them, challenges them and rewards them generously for their efforts.

Leadership in organizations is not a spectator sport. It is, after all, not what we say but what we do that matters. And so, simply writing about it is not enough.   I have been out of the workforce for some time now and in the years I have been writing this blog, have drawn on my past experience, on my own stories and other peoples’ and on current events. However, without actually being in the fray, there comes a time when one simply runs out of useful things to say.

It’s been fun. It has allowed me to make acquaintance with some really remarkable people whose passion for good leadership is unmatched.

You may be familiar with some of these very accomplished and dedicated people but just in case you aren’t, I’d like to point you in the direction of some of my favourites. Please follow them, read them, and learn from them. I have, and have become more enlightened because of it.

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Mary Jo Asmus is a highly successful executive coach, writer and consultant with (at least in my observation) a kind of spidy sense when it comes to accurately assessing human behaviour. She and I have often written about very similar things and shared our ideas with each other on more than one occasion. I have always benefitted from these exchanges. Given the opportunity, so would you.

More about Mary Jo here: http://www.aspire-cs.com/who_we_are

Follow Mary Jo onTwitter: @mjasmus

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Wally Bock: If you want to really understand what it takes to lead others, reading Wally’s blog is a must. His writing is refreshingly honest and full of lessons he learned himself, sometimes painfully. And if you want to learn to be a better writer, Wally can help you with that too.

More about Wally here: http://www.threestarleadership.com/about-wally

And here: http://writingabookwithwally.com/

Follow Wally onTwitter: @WallyBock

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Dorothy Dalton is an impressive woman to say the least. She is an International talent management strategist and coach. She is also CEO of 3PlusInternational, an online company she founded together with Dr Anne Perschel in 2010.

More about Dorothy and 3Plus International here: http://3plusinternational.com/team/

Follow Dorothy on Twitter: @DorothyDalton

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Lolly Daskal is Founder and President of “Lead From Within”. She teaches us the importance of bringing all of ourselves to leadership… to lead from the heart, and is a particularly successful coach, consultant, facilitator and author

More about Lolly here: http://www.lollydaskal.com/

Follow Lolly onTwitter: @LollyDaskal

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Karen Hurt is Founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. In my observation, Karin’s common sense approach to leadership and her practical leadership experience in business earns her well-deserved attention. If you appreciate a ‘no BS ‘approach to leadership, you won’t go wrong by becoming a regular reader of her blog.

More About Karin Here: ~ http://letsgrowleaders.com/about/

Follow Karin on Twitter: @Letsgrowleaders

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Susan Mazza was the first person to engage with me on this blog. Her words were encouraging and her ideas are always insightful. Susan not only has tons of business and leadership experience but a deep intuition about human beings and what makes us tick. I think that’s a powerful combination.

More about Susan here: http://randomactsofleadership.com/about-the-author

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanMazza

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Tanveer Naseer is a fellow Canuck. He is also a scientist, writer, and consultant who can expertly examine complex human and business situations and make sense of them. I’d say we could all use the kind of insights he shares regularly on his blog.

More about Tanveer Here: http://www.tanveernaseer.com/about/

Follow Tanveer on Twitter: @TanveerNaseer

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Jane Perdue: ~ There are many reasons you should consider reading what Jane has to say. If you’re looking for just one thing though, here it is. She believes in leading big and in challenging stereotypes and the status quo. If we are going to effect change in the way we lead, we need all the Jane Perdues we can get.

More about Jane here: http://braithwaiteinnovationgroup.com/leadbig/

Follow Jane on Twitter: @thehrgoddess

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Anne Perschel: ~ I have to declare that Anne is a particular favourite of mine, both as a highly accomplished leadership and organizational psychologist and as a person. She is passionate about helping executives create workplaces that meet the needs of a 21st Century global marketplace. And, she is an especially strong advocate for women, co-founding 3Plus International with Dorothy Dalton.

More about Anne here: http://germaneconsulting.com/about/principle-consultants/

Follow Anne on Twitter: @bizshrink

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Art Petty is a very classy guy. He was also one of the first people to give this blog, and me, some encouragement when I first started writing. He is an author, a teacher and a highly skilled executive coach. And, he is a gentleman of the first order.

More About Art here: http://artpetty.com/about/

Follow Art on Twitter: @artpetty

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Jesse Lyn Stoner appears last on this list only as an unfortunate outcome of being further along in the alphabet than anyone else here. In all other ways, she gets an “A” from me. Jesse is a leadership consultant and best-selling author who champions the power that comes from developing organizational vision and collaborating with those affected by it in building effective, practical and actionable strategies.

More about Jesse here: http://seapointcenter.com/

Follow Jesse on Twitter: @JesseLynStoner

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If this list leaves you wanting more, there is a wealth of knowledge at the Leadchange Group  Site founded by Mike Henry Sr. (@mikehenrysr) and now under the capable leadership of Becky Robinson (@beckyrbnsn) as a division of her company, Weaving Influence.

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As for me, I still plan to show up on Twitter and perhaps, from time to time, someone will allow me the privilege of writing as a guest on his or her blog.   You never know, I might not be as “done” as I think I am.  In fact, I may begin a whole new blog on an entirely different subject. Who knows?

Thank you so much for spending time here with me. It has meant a lot. Oh, and keep up the great work. The World needs you.

Sincerely,

Gwyn
handwaving

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28 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Leadership Development

Summer Reading: 10 Leadership Blog Posts I Like

This week’s blog post was not working out for me.  After several false starts, I realized my problem.  I was trying to be deep and clever…again.  I’m quite capable of both of those things, (from time to time), but when I try to force it, it comes out, well, not like me at all.  So I stopped and instead, began to think about other people, who write about, and practice, leadership every day. With that in mind, I’m going to highlight some of these really talented, experienced people and share with you their perspectives about leadership by offering a variety of blog posts that will both inform and challenge you to stretch your thinking.  At least that’s what it did for me.

Joe Gerstandt (@joegerstandt) works to help us truly understand the meaning and import of diversity, inclusion and culture.  Joe ‘s post entitled, Dancing in the Intersection asks us to think about the tension that results when our differing viewpoints come together and to consider the notion that this place of tension is where our greatest opportunities lie, if we choose to embrace, rather than avoid it.

Anne Perschel, (@bizshrink) is one of my favourite people. And, she is a staunch advocate for women in leadership.  She has compelling and global reasons for placing her considerable energies here. In her post, Bigger is Not Better any more ~ Paradigm Shift and the Paradox of Power, Anne explains the problems created by the Bigger mentality and describes a world where women play a larger role in leadership, not by replacing men but by partnering with them to, as she puts it, Make the World a more sustainable, socially conscious, emotionally connected, livable place”.

Wally Bock  (@wallybock), author of the Three Star Leadership Blog has a wonderful way of cutting to the chase when it comes to writing about being a good boss. Here he shares his Thoughts on Exceptional Leaders.It is short and to the point and makes great sense.

Many organizations spend inordinate amounts of money on Leadership Development. Dan McCarthy (@greatleadership) author of the blog, Great Leadership and a highly skilled leadership development practitioner generously shares a leadership development program that, if faithfully followed, provides great opportunity for learning and growth in his post entitled: Free Leadership Development Program: Becoming a Great Leader 

Taking a little time to reflect on our own performance is always a good thing and Jane Perdue(@thehrgoddess), Founder and President of the Braithwaite Innovation Group provides a useful template to follow in her post: The 7 C’s ~ a Mid Year Leadership Check up/

It is often tempting, when we first consider an issue to look at what’s wrong or what’s not there, first.  In her post: Is There a Shortage of Good Leaders?  Mary Jo Asmus (@mjasmus) suggests that perhaps we are looking through the wrong lens and in the wrong places when it comes to finding good leaders.

Some of us like to believe that we don’t play politics at work.  In fact, I expect that we all see the destructive side of organizational politics.  But, I also believe that politics in organizational life will always be present.  In his post: 4 Ideas for navigating organizational politics, Art Petty, (@artpetty) shares some wisdom about politics in the work place that makes a great deal of sense and can serve as a tool for anyone navigating his or her way through the political labyrinth.

If you’re a boss, there is no question but that you will be busy.  Sometimes you might think that you are too busy to take a holiday… that your time would be better spent if you remained at the office and worked.  But, Tanveer Naseer, (@tanveernaseer) in his post: Why Summer Vacations are Important to Being Effective  explains why you might want to re-think that strategy.

Delegation is a big deal in leadership.  Often it is such a big deal that it can be quite daunting. In her post: How to Delegate with Confidence, Jesse Lyn Stoner (@jesselynstoner)provides seven guidelines for achieving effectiveness in this area.

And finally, while we are on the topic of delegation, I’m going to throw in something I wrote some time back called: Taking Charge~ When Not to Delegate.

That’s it for now.  What do you think? What would you add to the reading list?

6 Comments

Filed under building awareness, communication, diversity, Leadership, Leadership Development, Reading

Going First

Photo by Erik Johansson

Leadership is a very big and often complex topic.  In very simple (possibly even simplistic) terms though, it’s about going first.  It’s also about having a clear sense of purpose and about engaging others in believing that the purpose is something worth pursuing; something that can be trusted; something that will make things better, not worse.

That’s the hard part.  Going first puts us under harsh scrutiny, creates (often vehement) opposition and sometimes gives rise to sabotage.  It also represents change and while we often talk about embracing it, for many of us, embracing change is sort of like, as children, having to give a distant and unfamiliar relative a hug.   You know you should, but you don’t really want to.

Going first asks a lot of us.

It asks us to be bold without being obnoxious  ~ willing to risk rejection, to bend rules, to make new ones, to explore uncharted waters but to resist the belief that only our own views count.

It asks us to be resilient without being stubborn ~ to learn to cope with stress, disappointment, criticism, to bounce back from adversity; but to maintain a level of vulnerability that allows us to express our emotions; show our humanity and accept the things we need to see about ourselves.

It asks us to be tolerant without being a pushover ~ to listen to, and learn from, opposing views but to challenge those that work against our purpose or values.

It asks us to be tough without being callous ~ to hold ourselves and others accountable for the decisions we make but to do so in a way that creates lessons rather than metes out punishment.

It is not an easy road but many choose it because they have a dream; because they see something and want something that the rest of us have yet to consider.  And, they want to help us get there.

So, if you are one of those people, the question is how do you blaze your trail and convince others that it is a road worth following?  Yes, I know.  It’s a very big question.  But, I have some ideas and also some very interesting places to point you to, so here goes:

Keep the Fundamentals of Being a Good Boss in Mind

There is a plethora of Leadership blogs out there.  Frankly, It is hard to determine which ones are going to do the trick for you.  But, here are a couple of places to start.  First, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog is an excellent place to go for reference material and practical down to earth advice about how to be a good boss.  Similarly, Art Petty’s Blog, Management Excellence is equally thought provoking and informative.

The point is, there are a lot of fancy and complicated views about what it means to go first and bring others happily along with you.  Wally and Art will help you to get at what’s most important.

Be Clear about your Vision and Purpose

If you are even the least bit fuzzy about where you want to go, going first can turn into going alone.  This is where bringing clarity to your vision and purpose is critical.  To help you do that, I note that Jesse Lyn Stoner and Ken Blanchard have released a second edition of their book, Full Steam Ahead ~ Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life.  This book is written for those of us who enjoy a good story (and who doesn’t?).  It examines the notion of creating a vision, (which can have rather ethereal connotations) and brings it to life in a very real way.

Develop a Thick Skin

In order to be bold and to bounce back from the inevitable setbacks, going first often creates, we have to learn to take disappointment in stride and to hold ourselves in high enough esteem to weather undue or unfair criticism.

Anne Perschel of Germaine Consulting, recently wrote a blog post entitled,  Hold the Botox – Thicken Your Skin While its message is pointed at women, I think both women and men could learn something about developing resilience from Anne.

As well, I read another post from Jane Perdue in her blog Get Your Big On called, “When Pretty isn’t a Compliment ~ A story of Resilience This story illustrates how easy it is for the balloon of self-confidence to suffer from even the slightest pinprick if we are not vigilant.

And finally:

Learn to Coach …and Get a Coach

If you want to go first with purpose it is always a good idea to find someone you can trust to help you get there and hold you accountable for the things you want and the things you say you are going to do.  A coach can help you with that.  As well, if you want others to follow your lead, learning to be a good coach is a must, especially if you want them to follow you happily.

One of my favourite coaches is Mary Jo Asmus.  Mary Jo writes an excellent blog and one that is on my regular reading list.  One of her most recent posts is entitled, “When You Coach, This is What happens” You will not only get some insights about how to coach but perhaps also see the benefits of having a coach in your own life.

Of course there is much more to learn about going first.  In fact it is a never-ending pursuit.  Hopefully, this has provided something of a start to your own journey, one that will gather many followers.  And, there is a lot I have left out.

What would you add?


16 Comments

Filed under Change Management, Establishing Direction, Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Vision, Learning, motivating & Inspiring, Uncategorized

Leadership and Curiosity

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.

I happen to think that fairy godmothers everywhere are quite liberal with the gift of curiosity when we are born. Somehow though, along the way, so many of us wrap the gift up again and put it away in our inner attics, unwrapping it only on occasion.

I think we do that because, as we grow, we are taught that curiosity can be intrusive, impolite and get us into trouble. But, I’m coming around to think that it is one of the foundations of good leadership.

As a fundamental tool for exploration, curiosity is the springboard to developing our ability to ask good questions.  And, the skill of asking questions is one that all good leaders must have in their tool kit. To me, a good question is one that evokes deep thought, instigates change, inspires creativity, and/or clears the debris of confusion to make room for clarity.  It can come from no other place than our very human tendency to want to know. And, for many of us, it requires blowing off the cobwebs of our childhood “gift” and putting it to use.

So, if we haven’t invited our curiosity out to play lately, what might be getting in the way? How might we look at it differently? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.  Feel free to participate won’t you?

We confuse curiosity with being “Nosy”

Many of us, as we grow, are schooled to mind our own business.  It is offensive to pry.  It is annoying when we ask too many questions.  And later, as adults, it is easy to see why we hesitate to ask when we want to know something.

To me, there is a great difference between being curious and being nosy.  It centers on our intent. Those who seek information with the intent is to use what they come to know for the purpose of passing judgment and gaining leverage over others are more likely to be considered nosy, or worse.

Alternately, those who seek information out of genuine interest do so with the intent to explore, discover and expand their knowledge. These people have a way of engaging others in the exploration too and making them feel valued rather than scrutinized. In other words, curiosity comes from a place of innocence and fascination where nosiness has a more unpleasant origin.

We come to believe that we need to have all the answers before we ask the questions

Some of us will choose not to act out of curiosity because we believe that, as leaders, we should always have the answers.  From this perspective we run risk of restricting the amount of useful information and ideas available to us. And, we rarely learn how to ask those really good questions.

Some time ago, Art Petty wrote a post called; Let Your Questions be their Guide. It is an excellent post that includes some questions that will encourage curiosity in others. If you are curious, I encourage you to check it out.

We are self conscious about how we might look if we ask a “dumb” question

Okay, so no one really likes it when we ask a question that makes us appear to others as being naïve or ignorant.  To some leaders, doing so means tarnishing their image or putting their capability as a leader into question.  And so, they simply stop asking and instead live in hope that someone else will ask the “dumb” question instead.  The trouble with that is that focusing on our own image does not get the job done.  And, it does not allow for the kind of exploration required to build and grow the organization to its full potential.

We have not made curiosity part of our culture

Simply put, if we do not make inquiry, exploration and discovery part of the fabric of the organization, we will resist flexing our curiosity muscles.  Leaders who want to create and encourage this kind of environment must do so by going first, showing others how it’s done and acknowledging those who follow their example.

So…what about you? What gets in the way of your curiosity? How do you, or would you, encourage others to flex their curiosity muscles? What good questions do you like to ask? What benefits have you experienced from inviting curiosity into your workplace? What do you think?

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Filed under building awareness, communication, Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Values

Come Back Common Sense…We Need You!

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man’s upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Just lately, I’m thinking that our “ground floor” is beginning to suffer from termites.  Perhaps it is that in this age of information, litigation, and personal rights, we have stopped trusting our deeper instincts about what is right.  And, in many circles, we fail to acknowledge the value of common sense in our decision-making practices.

In 1998, Lori Borgman wrote an article called The Death of Common Sense. Here is an excerpt

Common Sense, aka C.S., lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape. 
Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping and hollering. Rules and regulations and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S. (Read more…)

No doubt many have read this passage and nodded reverently at its wisdom.  I have.  And yet it seems so many of us continue to ignore its message and devalue the power of trusting ourselves, and each other, to come up with ideas and solutions that transcend tight-fitting structures and rules that serve only to strangle growth and creativity

But in the midst of this rather gloomy outlook, there is hope and possibility.  Common sense, at least in the corporate world, may only be in a coma.  There are some very smart people out there who see something greater and more meaningful than the structures we create.  They are people who champion the notion that neither ideas nor humans can be corralled into little boxes of rules for very long.  They value, promote and initiate change that invites collaboration, creativity, engagement, happiness and yes, common sense into the workplace.

It would be wiser to listen to them, and to our own instincts more often than to seek solutions from books of rules or complicated business models.

Here are some articles that, to me, invite common sense to the table:

The Responsibility Myth by Susan Mazza

What NOT to Learn from Zappos by Anne Perschel

Gut Check on Your Intestinal Fortitude by Art Petty

Be the Boss, Don’t be a Jerk by Wally Bock

There are more, but I think you probably get the idea.  If you are a leader, the answers you seek are often inside you.  You will not find them in the detail of anyone’s position description.  You will not find them in complicated competency models that not even a super-hero could fulfill.  You will not find them in sophisticated performance evaluation processes.  They are available to you through your intrinsic sense of what is right and your willingness to listen to others and the collective voice of common sense.

What are your thoughts?  What articles have you read that speak to the value of common sense?  How might we build greater trust in the strength of our own wisdom?

3 Comments

Filed under Employee engagement, Leading Change, Self Knowledge, Wally Bock