Three Aspects of Mandela to Guide Us All as Leaders

So much has been written about Nelson Mandela and leadership that I hesitate to add to the pile. But it's hard not to since he so exemplifies the more highly developed human being at the core of the very best leaders. Of the many examples and behaviors, I think three are central for all leaders. These three are archetypal and apply not just to this South African icon working on the national political stage, but equally to leaders of any organization, even of units within organizations. He … [Read more...]

What Does Virtue Have to Do with Leadership?

The ancients, particularly Socrates (through Plato) and Plato, believed "Virtue" to be an absolute that one came to understand through the application of reason. For Aristotle, Virtue was something you didn't deduce in the abstract but rather something you lived, to the best of your ability. In particular, it was about living fully the life that nature has enabled you to. So, the cobbler should live a cobbler's live fully and a teacher the best teaching life he or she can. In the US in the … [Read more...]

Leader, Who Helps You Doubt Well?

What an intriguing question! It's not mine. It comes from a short article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Four Key Questions for CEO's." But it applies equally well for managers who lead at all levels of their organization. If you are taking your unit anywhere that is challenging you must come to terms with the twin postures of confidence and uncertainty. Both are part of your world. And the more you push the envelop, the more you bring about change, the more exposed you become to your … [Read more...]

Senior Leader Challenges – Here are Four Biggies

We keep hearing about how leaders today face a hugely more complex world than even a decade ago. And looking out ahead, it promises to get worse. But just what is this complexity everybody's talking and writing about? The Center for Creative Leadership has done a good job at answering this question. Surveying over 1000 participants in one of its premier senior leadership programs, the researchers at CCL uncovered four clusters of challenges: Global forces & market shifts Systems, … [Read more...]

C-Suite is All About Handling Complexity

A study a couple of years ago the Center for Creative Leadership asked 158 executives enrolled in their leadership development programs what are the three most critical challenges you currently face? Their responses clustered into 14 categories but the four most frequently mentioned were: Leading across multiple groups (building maintaining and leveraging relationships across all kinds of boundaries) Strategic issues (vision, goals, strategies) Talent management (acquiring, … [Read more...]

Step into Your Leadership Strengths

I was working with a coaching client recently, "unpacking" the results of his Leadership Circle Profile (360˚ feedback assessment). While his profile was very positive–he is doing well as a leader–I was struck that on several less desirable factors (e.g. Passive, Critical, Arrogance) he scored himself high while his employees saw him as low, not demonstrating these factors very often.   What does it mean when we as leaders see ourselves one way and our staff another? And when this … [Read more...]

Reactive vs. Creative Mind-sets…and Results

At the core of The Leadership Circle (360 degree assessment) model are the Reactive tendencies and Creative competencies. If you look at the circle itself, you will see Reactive structure of mind represented by the lower half of the circle and Creative structure by the upper half. When leaders operate from the Reactive mind-set they are, of course, able to achieve at least some level of results through their people. The problem is that, as research shows, at some point they hit a ceiling. … [Read more...]

All the World’s a Stage…and Sometimes for Leaders too

The most frequently cited quality of exceptional leaders is authenticity/integrity. With the best leaders, what you see is what you get, they walk their talk, and so forth. But situations arise that call upon the leader to fake it. They have to become an actor. They have to temporarily take on a persona different from their own. Here are three examples: In tough times (like these days) they must project a confident belief in the organization's ability to weather the storm and come out of … [Read more...]

The Leader as Authentic Actor

Actors on stage and screen are not genuine. They are fakes. They are playing a part, not themselves. Of course, we expect them to do this and, furthermore, we expect them to do it really well, to convince us that they are the character they are playing.   But what about a managers who has to play a part and perhaps not express their fully genuine self in a particular situation? For example, In challenging economic times, projecting a confidence he may not fully feel … [Read more...]

Employee Engagement in Action–an Example

I actually came across this article from in 2009 but never got around to sharing it. The piece tells about Douglas Conant, the new CEO of Campbell Soup Company, who came on board in 2001 and over the next eight years grew EPS by 5-10% every year. His strategies included invigorating their work force by concentrating on employee engagement. In 2002 62% of employees reported being not actively engaged and 12% were actively disengaged. By 2009, 68% were actively engaged and only 3% … [Read more...]