Byron's Babbles

Something To Build On

Posted in 9/11, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 28, 2020

“A record is never something to stand on, it’s something to build on…” ~ Richard Nixon in his first debate with John F. Kennedy on September 26, 1960. The two met in Chicago to discuss domestic issues in the first televised debate in history. American History TV did a great job of providing a look back at the first televised presidential debate. Interestingly there were no more debates until 1976. Dr. Barbara Perry, professor at University of Virginia’s Miller Center, did a great job discussing the highlights and answering questions.

Nixon’s statement that our records are something to build on really struck me. For each leader, the records are always a bit different. We must remember, however, that trust is an important piece of our record. People have unique strengths to leverage and vulnerabilities to address. We must not forget that our mistakes are a part of our records. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes. When we admit we’ve made a mistake, you don’t erode trust in your leadership, you strengthen it. When the people we lead see us stepping up and owning our mistakes, they know they can trust us to do the right thing in tough situations.

Nixon’s point was that we should never sit back and become comfortable with past successes; we must continue to build on those successes. It’s always beneficial to review our accomplishments to build on prior successes. The key is to recognize current successes and chart a course for future advancement.

“What Might Have Beens” Are Risky

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, History, Leadership, Leadership Development, Robert M. Gates by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 28, 2020

A comment made by Robert Gates in his great book Exercise of Power: American Failures, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World really made me think. He said, “Addressing ‘what might have beens’ in history is risky.” I wrote it in my notes so I could think about it and blog about it. I believe we need to study history in a way that doesn’t force us into being judgmental outside of the context the history was made in.

Everyone needs to study history. The past is filled with warning signs. We must be able to reflect on the events that built up to them, learn from mistakes made and resist and question if we see similar patterns emerging. By studying history we can identify when society is going down perilous and contribute toward getting back on the right track. This should not include continuing to place blame on individuals who are, in many cases, not even alive any more. We need to think of how to learn from the past not think in terms of “what might have been.”

Additionally, history cannot be studied by learning isolated events without understanding the events, personalities, and events that molded the personalities involved leading up to historical events. One point I believe Gates was making was that there had been no perfect leader, and never will be. Therefore, we need to study the positives and negatives, uplifting and inspiring, and chaotic and immoral. There are lessons, both good and bad, to be learned from the way our ancestors have interacted with other people who have different ways of living. Understanding how our leaders, communities, and past societies have acted, reacted, and integrated is key to humanity improving in the future.

Don’t Get Naked At 8:00 AM

Bob Tiede on Virtual LeaderCon

I’ll bet I got your attention with the title of this post. I’ll even bet you might be reading now just to find out what the heck I’m writing about. Well keep reading and you’ll find out. Bob Tiede is one a kind! And, I mean that as the highest of compliments. We had the chance to learn from Bob on Kevin Eikenberry’s Virtual LeaderCon on Wednesday. I have been a big time fan of Bob’s for a long time and I had chance for some personal messaging with him at the end of the day on Wednesday. PRICELESS! Bob Tiede has been helping leaders be their best for a lot of years and I have learned and grown a lot from following his work and reading his books.

His latest work is Now That’s A Great Question. Why am I such a fan? Well, if you know me, you know I love to ask questions. Bob taught us that, “Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about asking the right questions.” Brilliant, right? See, there I go asking a question.

“Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about asking the right questions.” ~ Bob Tiede

Two Powerful Sets of Questions

During Virtual LeaderCon he reminded us that some of the best questions are the simplest. For example, here are three simple questions leaders can ask:

  1. What do you like best?
  2. What do you like least?
  3. What would you change?

After asking those three questions, Bob will tell you the most important thing to do is – LISTEN! Listening is the most important part. We must be listening to both understand and interpret. Then, we also must do something about what we have been told. Otherwise everyone will lose trust in us.

Here are four more great questions from Bob:

  1. What’s going well?
  2. What’s not going well?
  3. Where are you stuck?
  4. What needs to change?

“…no leader wants to get naked at 8:00 AM!” ~ Bob Tiede

My notes from Bob’s Virtual LeaderCon Session

Don’t forget. What’s your job while asking these questions? LISTEN During Virtual LeaderCon Bob explained to always start with “what was liked best” and “what was going well.” Otherwise you are just starting with the potential for the conversation to become a “gripe-fest” and we have all been there before. Nothing productive ever comes out of a “gripe-fest.” Then Bob gave what I awarded as the best quote of the day on Wednesday: “Start with what’s going well, because no leader wants to get naked at 8:00 AM!” I loved it! His point was for us to start with the good things because that will put us in a much better frame of mind for truly listening to the things that need improvement. Isn’t he awesome at putting things in a way we can understand?

Bob, if you’re reading this, I’ll ask you a couple of questions (would love for you to leave a comment):

  1. What did I get right in this post?
  2. What would you like to add that I left out?

Leading Like Elastigirl-Hulk

So, if you could combine two superheroes into one, which ones would you bring together? During our Georgia 3D Leadership gathering this past weekend I had a participant that did just that. One of our activities had attendees pick or create a superhero that best described themselves. One of our participants blew me away with a combination of She-Hulk and Elastigirl (Mrs Incredible). I have included a picture of her creation with this post.

This sort of thing has already been done. In the late 1990s Marvel and DC tried a big crossover event in which their superheroes met, fought, and came out friends. Thus was born the Amalgam Universe. Put simply, two super-cosmic beings arranged to have the Marvel and DC Universes merge with one another, such that their finest heroes also merged to become amalgams of each other (hence the name). Some were merged because they were similar in powers or purpose, some because their names sounded alike. In like fashion, our participant created “Elastigirl-Hulk.”

Jennifer Walters, an attorney, who is the She-Hulk got her powers after being shot and needing a blood transfusion. Her cousin Bruce Banner (Hulk) gave his blood for the transfusion and the rest is history. Jennifer got a mild version of the radioactive powers. She-Hulk taught us to never accept more than we deserve. Because of her ability to self-transform between Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk, she taught us that work-life balance is achieved by recognizing that work and life are both important. Finally, she taught us to have a sense of humor.

Now let’s take a look at Elastigirl (Mrs. Incredible). Her superpower is elasticity, allowing her stretch, shape-shift, and be flexible. Elastigirl understood the importance of developing teams to be capable of becoming a strong support system for all members to achieve their own goals and the goals of the organization.

Therefore, combine the flexibility and community building abilities of Elastigirl with the strength, intelligence, and the ability to control between being tough and being gentle and we’ve got quite an incredible (pun intended) woman. What superheroes would you combine?