Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Clarity wins over pretension

Which of these is more likely to propel you to take action?

"illumination is required to be extinguished when vacating these premises"


"turn of the lights when you leave"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leadership is a team sport

In my leadership courses and when I conduct corporate training, participants/students often point to great historical leaders' qualities as examples of successful leader characteristics. Yet, follower characteristics are critical to determining the leader characteristics that are most successful within a certain context. Leadership is only successful when followers follow!

Recent research by Adam M. Grant, Francesca Gino, and David A. Hofmann demonstrates that extroverted leaders succeed with passive employees while introverted leaders succeed with proactive employees.

What type of team do you play for? How are you leading that team?

(title source: Trina Soske and Jay A. Conger in HBR article,
It's Time to Focus Executive Development on Real Business Issues. Research source: Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Life is a series of extenuating circumstances. So, are choices ever "just this once"?

Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He writes:

"A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”

I’d like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life. I played on the Oxford University varsity basketball team. We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated. The guys on the team were the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament—and made it to the final four. It turned out the championship game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. I had made a personal commitment to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday. So I went to the coach and explained my problem. He was incredulous. My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center. Every one of the guys on the team came to me and said, “You’ve got to play. Can’t you break the rule just this one time?”

I’m a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do. I got a very clear feeling that I shouldn’t break my commitment—so I didn’t play in the championship game.

In many ways that was a small decision—involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life. In theory, surely I could have crossed over the line just that one time and then not done it again. But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Is your organization a "best place to work"?

According to Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge, companies that are on the best places to work lists are also the most profitable in their industries.

Perhaps people prefer to work for profitable companies? Or, are the companies profitable because the culture supports employee innovation and ownership, which in turn lead to employee satisfaction?

What do you think?

Would the people who report to you say they work in a great environment? Why or why not?