Categories for Leadership

Character Issues: Responsibility — its apparent demise

Just some musings and observations from the past week– from the news, working with some businesses, and some reading. It appears that the character quality of responsibility is slowly (?) disappearing from at least some parts of our culture.  It is an odd experience — on the one hand, to be dealing with businesses and managers where they are all about responsibility — both giving it and expecting it from managers, sales people, and employees at all levels.  While on the other hand, to see “leaders” (I use the term loosely) who seem to spend most of their time and... Continue reading...

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September 28, 2008 7:36 pm
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Perseverance — It’s not pretty. It’s not fun. But it works.

Endurance. Perseverance. Persistence. Patience. They are words I hear a lot when individuals who are successful in their field describe how or why they succeeded. And yet perseverance is not a word nor a concept that we are especially drawn to. It is almost one of those characteristics that we look back on and view positively, but not one that leadership speakers frequently preach to us. The definition is interesting to me. “Perseverance: Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.” Perseverance is not just blind repetitive action — doing the same thing... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2008 7:41 pm
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How to Create Problems in Your Life: Avoid Conflict

I have observed a common pattern across many areas that I work (and live) — people avoiding dealing with tense or conflictual situations in their relationships with others. And almost always, not dealing with the situation creates additional problems or makes the conflict larger and more intense (often involving more people than were originally involved). And it happens in lots of settings: in family businesses, between family members working together in office settings, between coworkers who can’t get along in marriages, between spouses in extended families, between parents-in-law and their children’s spouse in schools, between teachers and parents of the students... Continue reading...

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July 14, 2008 5:16 am
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An Attitude of Learning – A character quality of successful individuals

When I meet with business owners and managers, I often ask them what characteristics they look for in younger managers they are interviewing for positions. Frequently, one quality mentioned is the desire and willingness to learn. Recently, I have had some amazing discussions with gentlemen (I use the word with its specific meaning in mind) who are older than I am (late 50’s, early 60’s to mid 70’s) who have been successful in many areas of their lives – in business or their profession, in managing their money wisely, having healthy family relationships, and a depth of spirituality. My interactions... Continue reading...

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March 23, 2008 4:44 pm
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Trying to Apply Leadership Principles — Being Prepared, Adjusting to Circumstances & Learning

I write about the principles of leadership that I either observe in successful business owners and managers, or what I read in books and articles on leadership. So it makes sense that I should try to apply these principles, as well. Here I am, waiting in an airport, delayed due to weather in Chicago (where I am hoping to go). So I am trying to apply a couple of principles I frequently hear about — be prepared, and be willing to adjust to life’s circumstances. I have traveled enough over the past several years to know that there is always... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2008 5:32 pm
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Animation + French Cuisine = Principles for Success in Creative Businesses

This weekend I had the privilege of facilitating a family meeting in Northern California with a family I have known for over six years, and we had a great time together. I returned home yesterday afternoon, and as part of my recuperation and re-entry into the family process, my family and I watched a movie together last night. For those of you who have been reading for a while, you know of my penchant for animated movies, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we enjoyed a movie from that genre’ called Ratatouille. After enjoying the movie together, I found... Continue reading...

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January 7, 2008 8:27 am
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Leading the Family During the Holidays

This is the time of year when families gather together – college students are on break, young adults return home to visit, and the extended family celebrates Christmas and New Year’s together. So it is also the time when parents who have been successful in business turn their focus to their family. This is both a good thing and it creates difficulties. It is generally good for parents to engage relationally with their family; unfortunately, for some this is an infrequent occurrence due to their focus on work (or hobbies). But when we try to “re-enter” into the family relationally,... Continue reading...

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December 21, 2007 7:28 am
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The Gift of Failure

Earlier this week, I had the unique opportunity of a quiet evening alone at home. I had been working fairly hard, so I decided to “kick back” a little and I rented a movie. Now, my movie watching patterns are different than most adults. Given the type of work I do, I usually am not that interested in some high intensity, adrenaline-rush thriller. And rarely do I want to see a drama with a lot of intense relational issues. No, when I watch a movie I often want to escape from reality into the realm of comedy — and even... Continue reading...

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December 9, 2007 6:13 am
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Business Lessons from Music

Music, and how it is performed, seems to serve as an interesting analogy to business. A solo features a single, star performer – and in the true sense of a soloist, they perform totally by themselves (although they may sing while accompanying themselves on an instrument). Truly talented soloists are entertaining and able to maintain the audiences attention. But less than stellar soloists become rather boring and repetitive after a while. More interesting is a soloist with some back-up musicians. The soloist is still the featured performer and the focus of the performance, but with additional support musicians (piano, guitar,... Continue reading...

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September 29, 2007 1:05 pm
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Work / Life Balance and the Superball

This week I have been asked to present to my local Chamber of Commerce on “Work / Life Balance”. After thinking about it for a while, I chose to use the Superball as an object lesson. Now for those of you who are young and don’t know much about the Superball, let me fill you in. The Superball was marketed by Wham-O (who also sold Hula hoops in the early 60’s, and the Frisbee in the 70’s). Introduced in the summer of 1965, by that Christmas they had sold 7 million balls (for 98 cents each). What was amazing about... Continue reading...

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September 13, 2007 8:26 am
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Finally, Realistic Expectations for Leaders

I am excited. I finally have come across an article on leadership that doesn’t expect every leader to “have the intellectual capacity to make sense of unfathomably complex issues, the imaginative powers to paint a vision of the future that generates everyone’s enthusiasm, the operational know-how to translate strategy into concrete plans, and the interpersonal skills to foster commitment to undertakings that could cost people’s jobs should they fail.”  That is, we no longer have to be (or look for) Superman/Superwoman. In Praise of the Incomplete Leader is a refreshing look at leaders.  It is a collaborative article by Deborah... Continue reading...

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September 2, 2007 11:41 am
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What is a “Good Work Ethic”, really?

When I talk to business owners and managers and ask them what they are looking for in potential employees, “a good work ethic” is always one of the characteristics cited. (This is also a frequent response from parents when they are asked what character qualities they desire for their children.) Unfortunately, today there are many factors which have undermined this “good work ethic” to the point that one of the major complaints about young people in our culture today is their lack of motivation and drive. Often, when individuals use common terms, they do not always have the same meaning... Continue reading...

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June 10, 2007 2:47 pm
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Six Principles of Positive Relationships (Reprise)

Yesterday, I was pleased and honored that the Wichita Eagle chose to publish an article I had written which was based on an earlier blog entry. The article, entitled Six Principles of Positive Relationships, can be viewed on their website, if you are interested.

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June 1, 2007 5:19 am
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The Role of Perseverance in Success

This week I have been reading Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth. I have always been intrigued with Franklin, and I also am personally committed to learning from successful individuals across history. Two of his key themes in The Way to Wealth are the interrelationship between the practice of frugality and industry. To cite some of Franklin’s comments: “It is important to realize that all a person has is the product of his or her labor. . . If we are industrious, we shall never starve. . . In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, it is... Continue reading...

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April 2, 2007 3:28 pm
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About Leadership: Asking the Right Questions

The final article on leadership in the January 2007 American Psychologist ,“Asking the Right Questions About Leadership” by J. Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman, attempts to summarize the issues raised by the authors of the key contributing articles. Hackman & Wageman suggest that a new set of questions need to be asked to better understand leadership. They contrast previously asked questions, with the new questions they suggest. We shouldn’t ask, “Do leaders make a difference?”, but “Under what conditions does leadership matter?” The authors note that we often attribute the cause of change (positively or negatively) too much to the... Continue reading...

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February 21, 2007 11:20 pm
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Leadership = Wisdom + Intelligence + Creativity (synthesized)

Robert Sternberg is one of my favorite authors. He has written a wonderful book entitled, Successful Intelligence. In the January 2007 American Psychologist he summarizes his “systems model of leadership.” Although he agrees that “the environment strongly influences” the display of leadership, Sternberg clearly believes there are characteristics that set leaders apart from others. CREATIVITY. Leaders are able to generate ideas and products that are (a) relatively novel; (b) high in quality; and (c) appropriate for the task at hand. Sternberg then describes different ways creativity is used by leaders: 1. Problem redefinition. 2. Problem analysis. 3. Selling their solution.... Continue reading...

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February 11, 2007 7:04 am
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Leadership May Not Come From Leaders But From Situations That Demand Leadership

As I have stated in an earlier post, the January 2007 edition of the American Psychologist reviews the psychological research on leadership. I would like to share some thoughts from a fascinating article entitled, “The Role of the Situation in Leadership” by Victor Vroom (professor at Yale) & Arthur Jago (professor at the University of Missouri). The authors start out by curtly stating: “the term leadership, despite its popularity, is not a scientific term with a formal, standardized definition. . .(and) there are almost a s many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the... Continue reading...

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February 8, 2007 8:45 am
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Psychologists are finally getting around to studying leadership

I just received the 2007 January edition of the American Psychologist, which is the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association. This whole edition is dedicated to the topic of leadership. This fact, in and of itself, is amazing. As Robert Sternberg, one of the foremost research psychologists on leadership states in the foreword: “The United States became a great nation because of the leadership skills of the Founding Fathers. . . Historically, great nations have risen and later fallen in large part as a result of the success or failure of their leadership.” “Despite its importance to the United... Continue reading...

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January 21, 2007 6:31 pm
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A Major Obstacle to Growing as a Leader: Blaming Others

Due to the fact that I have worked as a psychologist and family coach over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of observing and interacting with thousands of individuals and families. Obviously, some people are more healthy and functional than others. And it is clear that we all have problems, so the existence or experience of having difficulties in our lives is not the factor which discriminates between individuals who are doing well in their lives and those who are having ongoing, significant challenges. In fact, one of my good friends’ favorite sayings is: “All families are... Continue reading...

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October 23, 2006 3:32 pm
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Great new book on Leadership

There are books that come along that are destined to have a major impact in our culture. I believe Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Integrity: The courage to meet the demands of reality may be such a book. Like Jim Collins’ Good to Great which has become an icon in the business world because of its simple yet powerful message, Cloud’s principles in Integrity are easy to understand but carry significant weight in their ability to help us understand ourselves, and improve ourselves. At first blush, another book or message on “integrity” does not seem compelling. However, Cloud defines integrity differently... Continue reading...

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September 28, 2006 9:01 am
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Do You Communicate in Morse Code, FM radio waves or HDTV?

The fact that people have different communication styles in not news. However, I have found a “word picture” that seems to really help individuals get a better sense of how different they are from others, and also gives a clearer understanding on the challenges they have in communicating effectively with those close to them. There is a wide range in how each of us: a) think about the world around us; b) create messages in our minds; c) communicate what we are thinking; and d) decode and interpret the messages we receive. Essentially, we each are “wired” differently, and that... Continue reading...

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January 1, 0201 2:27 pm
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