5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of August 21, 2017

The past two weeks I’ve been sharing hints about some exciting news that I can’t wait to share with you. Well, this week we put together a video to tell you more about it. Check out the video here.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned…but stay tuned, a big announcement and opportunities are coming your way soon!

Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

The Brutal Truth About Why Being a Leader is So Hard by Nicolas Cole at Inc.

Being a great leader is so much harder than it looks.

What’s difficult about leadership is that nobody ever sits you down and “teaches” you what being a real leader is all about. There’s no class in early education that defines leadership. Peers in group projects tend to label leaders as “overachievers” (and not in a good way). In college, leadership is reduced to who is going to talk the most during a presentation. And even on sports teams, the leaders are usually the best players–and wear a letter on their jerseys as a trophy of their accomplishments.

But that’s not what being a leader is all about. Especially when it comes to building a business…

My Comment: As I read this article I said, “Yes, yes yes!” followed by “No, no no!”

Why the different reactions? First, Cole is on target with his assessment that “nobody sits you down and ‘teaches’ you what being a real leader is all about” – at least, he’s right statistically. 50% or more of American managers are put in their roles with little or no training. More than 90% say they need more if they’re going to be effective. He’s also right in that early education doesn’t include this type of instruction.

Where I shout “no no no” is the notion that no one sits you down to teach you these things. Cole’s recognition that this training is rare is exactly why we do what we do. Karin and I built our careers on helping our leaders learn how to do it well.

Today, our entire business is doing exactly this: helping you get the specific tools you need to be an effective leader – one that blends the bottom line with the human spirit.

***This is a great time to let you know about an awesome new program we have that gives you the same tools, tactics, and support our corporate clients get when they bring us to work with their management team. If you’ve been wishing you could get us to your organization, this is the program for you! Email me and I’ll tell you more about it.***

Cole continues with some excellent observations about what it takes to be a successful leader and why, at the individual level, these things can be so difficult. It’s well worth your time to read and reflect on this article.

5 Great Companies That Get Corporate Culture Right by William Arruda

There have been lots of stories in the news about toxic corporate cultures. Amazon’s was described by the New York Times as “bruising” and they called Uber’s culture aggressive and unrestrained.

The negative coverage gets a lot of attention, but there are countless articles discussing the power of fostering a positive corporate culture. Look no further than this very site to read a few. Surprisingly, these articles often emphasize frameworks but leave out the most important factor: people.

If you forget about your people, you can forget about your culture; perks and money have their limits in inspiring true commitment.

My Comment: Articles like this one can be dangerous. When you spotlight organizations that are doing things well, there’s always a danger that the reader will take the wrong message. You’ve certainly seen this when someone says “well that tech company has free soda, so let’s get free soda and watch productivity soar…” Bzzzz. Wrong.

It doesn’t work that way. Rather, when you read this list, look for the principles, not the specific actions. What is it they’re doing? Why does that activity work? What would that same principle look like in your team or company? How can you provide a similar experience (not necessarily the specific behavior) in your organization?

Everyone Has More Weaknesses Than Strengths by Dan Rockwell at LeadershipFreak.com

Everyone has more weaknesses than strengths. Ignoring this truth makes leaders blind, confused, dangerous, and ineffective.

Arrogance whispers, “Your weaknesses aren’t vulnerabilities.”

My Comment: One of the most important Winning Well conversations we have with teams and leaders is to “Own the U.G.L.Y.” – to take an honest look at your vulnerabilities. This takes humility, which is more difficult than it needs be because, as Rockwell says, everyone has more weaknesses than strengths. If you waste time trying to make individual employee strong in every area you will frustrate your people and disappoint yourself. Instead, focusing on building a strong team that, in Rockwell’s words, asks “How will we support each other?”

How the Best Companies in the World Run All-Hands Meetings by Ray Gillenwater at Entrepreneur

Taking time to get the entire company into a live session is an expensive and risky proposition. It says quite a bit about leadership’s attitude. Namely, we value people in this organization enough to invest in:

  • Keeping everyone informed of major company updates.
  • Ensuring everyone is emotionally connected to the company’s goals.
  • Listening to the team’s (preferably unfiltered) feedback and questions.

Take Facebook for example. With 17,000 employees and an average salary of let’s say $125K, a one-hour all-hands meeting may have an actual cost of over $2M.

My Comment: Another great article about “how the best do it.” Even if your company only has 10 or 20 people in it, when you gave a meeting with everyone, these are excellent principles to keep in mind. I particularly like #1: “The CEO really cares.”

I’ve seen so many all-hands meetings run by CEOs or department leaders who were doing what they thought they should do, rather than really caring that their people knew what was happening, what was important, and had their questions answered. You can’t fake this – and if you don’t care, it’s time to reevaluate your role. Leadership is a relationship and people just won’t do their best for someone they believe couldn’t care less about them.

An Interviewing Mistake That Will Cost You the Job by Karin Hurt & David Dye at Careers in Government

My cell phone buzzed loudly. Mike was exasperated. “Karin, I thought I NAILED the interview. The owner seemed pleased with all my answers, and I had great stories for all his behavior-based interview questions. But I just got an email from him saying he loved my qualification but, he was worried about my passion for training!!! You KNOW how passionate I am about training– it’s my life! I was energetic throughout the whole process. What did I do wrong? I had an inkling but delved deeper. Sure enough, Mike had made one of the most common and well-intentioned mistakes that often deep-six a solid interview.

My Comment: This week’s most popular article by a large margin was our career guidance at www.CareersInGovernment.com In a competitive job market, whether you’re changing careers or interviewing for a promotion or capacity-building transfer, avoid this mistake and go in ready for that next interview.

We’re booking corporate leadership development and association events for 2017 fall and 2018 spring. Email or call to bring Winning Well to your leaders. Invite David to help your leaders transform their results without losing their soul (or mind).


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