Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shining Lights

Whenever the light is shone on you, reflect it onto others. This is the role of a leader.

I define leadership as seeing the greatness in others. It's about holding others up as instructive examples. Your default as a leader should be sincere and specific praise coupled with illustrative exemplary examples of the behaviour and actions you want emulated.

Here are some thoughts on this...

Those with the least to admire promote themselves above others. They take the credit for great ideas of others and manipulate the organisational hierarchy to manage their career. Boys clubs and entrenched cultures make this possible.

Those who are the most insecure worry about 'key person' risk. Afraid to elevate staff to the position of superstars in fear that they will be so and leave. The alternative is responsible for the great 'blanding' in business today.

If you really want to be a market leader, then consider adopting the fast-food chain mindset of 'employee of the month'. Try innovator of the year or corporate rainmaker or simply results superstar. It's been said that a rising tide lifts all ships and no doubt acknowledging and encouraging individual success in your organisation is key to attracting and retaining great talent.

You need to start a Thought Leadership program in your business.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strategies Missing Link

How well is strategy distributed through the organisation? It's the leaders responsibility to take the developed strategies and deliver them with great flexibility into all levels of the organisation.

There are a few steps to this process:
  • Get strategy (assume you have this)
  • Think through the various 'audience' groups who need to hear the strategy
  • Create a variety of ways to deliver the strategy. Not just mechanical means but also conceptual means.
  • The strategy must make sense on the factory floor and the boardroom.
  • Develop capability in your leaders to deliver this.

To do this well, the strategy needs to be turned into a suite of communication pieces.

  1. A keynote TED style 18-minute presentation that outlines the strategy.
  2. A series of simple diagrams that are used when chatting informally about the strategy (these are always drawn and are not on PowerPoint).
  3. A website or intranet (perhaps internal use only), with short videos explaining the strategy.
  4. A white paper that walks through the strategy linearly.

Just to name a few...

This is Speakership - the missing link between strategy and leadership.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The power of narrative

Speakership is the missing structure that links strategy and leadership. You have to be able to bridge the gap between your organisations strategy and it's people. Recently I worked with a team of senior executives on the art of storytelling. This is one of the eight roles and capabilities leaders will acquire when they develop their speakership.

Stories are old school, really old school. It's the first way you learnt right and wrong, it's how most great learning occurs. Think back to your favourite school teacher and I reckon that at some level they were a great storyteller. They bring the dry and academic alive through the artful use of story.

Stories bypass the logical and get inside an audiences head. It's easy to find resources to help you be a great storyteller. I have one as a gift at the bottom of this newsletter that is great. What tends to get less focus is the power of letting others tell you their stories. If you want to get inside the world of someone else and understand what drives them, then become an engaged audience.

Next time one of your team shares an anecdote about their world, tease out the detail that makes this a story. An anecdote is to a story what a one liner is to a comedy set. Anecdotes follow an abbreviated recount format. The classic template being incident-point-benefit. Most people don't want to bore you with the details in a business context and so default to anecdote.

This is a lost opportunity!

Next time you are listening to a hasty anecdote from one of your staff or customers, seize the moment and dig for more.

  • Ask about the characters. Get the teller to give more detail, describe the people.
  • Ask them what they were thinking at that point in the incident.
  • Ask if there was anyone else in the picture.
  • Ask them what, if anything, they have learned from the experience.
  • Ask them what meaning they put on that.
  • Most of all be patient (note to self). The richness of the telling is in the detail.
Speak as though you are certain, listen as though you are not.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Thought Leaders book has been launched on Amazon

A special memo today to announce the actual publishing date of my new book, Thought Leaders.

The kindle edition was released on the 1st of May and is awesome on the ipad. You can also buy it at all good book stores.

BTW: Could I ask a favour? If you see it turned side on in a book store, can you spin it around so the cover is in full view? ;) Thank you!

Buy a copy if you have the money to spare and gift the book to any clever people you know. Many thanks and a huge congratulations to my co-authors Scott Stein and Michael Henderson - thank you brothers.