Byron's Babbles

Leading With Intellectual Honesty

I am reading a great book right now that is super hard to put down every time I get a chance to sit down and do some reading. The book is by one of my favorite Presidents, Harry S. Truman. Where The Buck Stops: The Personal and Private Writings Of Harry S. Truman. This great book was published by President Truman’s daughter, Mary Margaret Truman Daniel. Although the book is entirely written by President Truman, with the exception of the introduction, he did not want it published till after he and the former First Lady, Bess Truman, had both passed away. The reason was that he is very critical of some of the presidents before and after him and did not want his thoughts released while he was alive. In the book, our 33rd U.S. President gave his “cut to the chase” theories and opinions on leadership and what it takes to be a great leader. He even gave his picks for best and worst presidents and, in detail, defended his reasoning.

It would seem that my post today is to promote the book, but really that is not the case. Although, I would recommend reading the book. I was intrigued by a comment President Truman made in the book when arguing that the appearance, height, or stature of President has nothing to do with greatness. President Truman said:

“A president has got to have qualifications to do the job that he’s supposed to do. He has got to be honest. Particularly, he’s got to be intellectually honest, and if he isn’t, it doesn’t make any difference what kind of appearance he makes. In the long run, his good looks or good public presence doesn’t amount to anything because he’ll do a bad job, and he’ll be found out. Or even worse, as I’ve been pointing out in this book, some presidents go into the presidency and don’t do any kind of job at all.” ~ Harry S. Truman in Where The Buck Stops (Kindle Location 1369 of 6958)

I bolded the term that intrigued me: “intellectually honest” or intellectual honesty. What is intellectual honesty? It means always seeking the truth regardless of whether or not it agrees with your own personal beliefs. President Truman was reminding us that the great leaders approach problems and decision-making as rationally as possible. In other words we make arguments we believe are true as opposed to arguments we are supposed to by popular opinion or public pressure. We should not be afraid to show vulnerability or admit when we are wrong or don’t not know something. Probably a President, more than anyone else, can appreciate that facts and information may likely change, requiring a shift in execution.

The best leaders I have observed have the curiosity to learn and improve — and an innate desire to create, innovate, iterate, and discover better and more efficient ways of doing things. When great leaders see change as an opportunity for growth they are able to pivot and execute effectively. We must work really hard to not cover up what we don’t know, or let personal beliefs interfere with our pursuit of the truth. As President Truman pointed out, this is not easy. We must continually work at it.

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Leading Like Sitting Bull

As a note taker who always has a notepad or notebook with me, I am always finding notebooks or find myself studying old notes from the past. This week I came across a notepad (see picture) that referred to the book The Genius Of Sitting Bull: Thirteen Heroic Strategies For Today’s Business Leadersby Emmett Murphy and Michael Snell. These were notes from a workshop back in the ’90’s. Interestingly, I only wrote down nine of the strategies – not sure why not all 13. The lessons, however, are still very applicable today in 2017.

Having traveled to the Black Hills in South Dakota this past summer and studying and retracing the steps of such historic figures as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and General Custer it was very cool to come across this notepad. Here are the 13 strategies:

  1. Commitment
  2. Integrity/Trust
  3. Empowerment – Intent based leadership
  4. Living among your people – working shoulder to shoulder
  5. Healing – be responsible for the welfare of others
  6. Communicate
  7. Strategic Vision
  8. Respect the competition
  9. Redefine the rules of battle
  10. Guardianship – knowing the terrain
  11. Right people in the right places
  12. Courageous – welcome crisis
  13. Success – measure the results

It was great to reflect back on the lessons learned from Sitting Bull, particularly after taking a journey this past summer in his homeland. Hopefully this will prompt you to reflect on the 13 heroic leadership strategies and how you are doing related to them. If you are like me there is always a lot of room for continuous improvement.

Why Aren’t You Perfect Already?

Originally published on the Flynn Heath Holt Blog by Diana Faison, Mary Davis Holt, Kathryn Heath, and Jill Flynn

What’s on your to-do list this season? We’re guessing there’s a “make this,” a “go here,” a “buy that.” We’re also guessing is there isn’t a “do this for myself” on it anywhere either. Besides wrestling other shoppers for the last turkey at the grocery store, you may be lifting your feet for the office janitor to vacuum the floor, trying to get year end projects finished. But why not keep your sanity this year? We have a few ideas of how you can.

One of the rules we ask women to break is the “it’s all or nothing” point of view. The holidays are particularly tricky in trying to get it right both at work and at home, but it’s not all or nothing, it’s both-and. We’ve seen women in our coaching set themselves up for failure by trying to do it all and make it look easy. You can have your fruit cake and eat it too- you just may have to tweak the way you do it.

Delegate. Have a teenage son who’s at home from school on break? Give him the grocery list. Maybe the intern who’s been waiting for a project should write that memo so you can finish your expense report. Don’t do every little thing yourself- only the important things.

Prioritize. Focus on that which makes you the happiest, and have realistic goals you can build on. If decorating your home is your thing, do it; but go buy the pie you’re in charge of bringing to your parents’. Blend your work-life and consider compromise. Sometimes we’d be a lot happier if we simply decided to let go of the little things that don’t amount to much.Give yourself a break! Take some time during your day to leave the office and read a magazine, call a friend, or take a walk. Make some time for you this holiday season- even if it’s just 20 minutes. You’ll feel recharged and more positive both in the office and at home.

Whatever your holiday plans this year, try not to get burnt out; it does nothing for your career or your personal life. Stay positive. Move forward. And Happy Holidays from your friends at Flynn Heath Holt!

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About Kathryn Heath:

Kathryn Heath is a founding partner at FHHL who develops leadership programs, coaches executives, and designs training. She co-authored Break Your Own Rules, which landed on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post. She also co-authored The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders Previous to FHHL, Kathryn was Senior Vice President and Director of First University at the nation’s fourth-largest bank, First Union (now Wells Fargo), where her inventive and results-focused approach won her numerous awards in the field of learning and development.

About Diana Faison:

Diana Faison is a partner at FHHL and worked with the firm as a consultant for over 10 years prior to her partnership. She began her career as a teacher of Leadership Development studies and a Dean in Student Affairs at Queens University and the University of North Carolina—Charlotte. Diana is a sought-after keynote speaker on business leadership topics such as political savvy, brand, personal power, authentic leadership, and well-being. She is also the co-author of The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders.

About Mary Davis Holt:

Mary Davis Holt is a partner and co-author of Break Your Own Rules, and The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders. She is an in-demand speaker who shares her hard-won insights and promotes the firm’s new rules for success to a wide range of audiences. Mary is also a sought-after facilitator, executive coach, and she works with companies to plan strategies that change the culture to support women leaders. Prior to joining FHHL, Mary held executive positions at Time Warner with oversight that ranged from finance to information technology, marketing, human resources, manufacturing and distribution.

About Jill Flynn:

Jill Flynn is a founding partner at FHHL and a co-author of Break Your Own Rules and her latest co-authored book, The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders. Jill previously served as Senior Vice President at the nation’s fourth largest bank, First Union (now Wells Fargo), where she established their leadership development, diversity, organizational consulting and employee satisfaction initiatives. As the corporation grew exponentially during her tenure, Jill and her team prepared a cadre of high-potential leaders to assume senior positions. Within a three-year timeframe, the number of women in these roles increased from 9% to 26%.

What’s Possible When You Dream Big with Passion, Purpose, and Joy

Originally published on the Flynn Heath Holt Blog by Diana Faison

When my younger daughter graduated from college. Her accomplishment got me thinking about how graduation is an opportunity to reflect on what’s possible.

As you reflect, I want you to explore big dreams and move forward with a sense of purpose. And I want you to seek joy along the way.

EXPLORE BIG DREAMS

My daughter has big dreams to be the world’s best third grade teacher. Her passion and drive remind me of my early career. On my first day working at a small women’s college, I was passionate, legacy-driven, committed. The women I served were my top priority, and I wanted to make a difference in each of their lives.

Early on in that job, I met a high school senior with limited resources. I encouraged her to apply for a full scholarship. Over her four years with us, I watched her bloom and gain confidence. We still stay in touch, and she’s grown into a successful entrepreneur in her own right. I cannot help but feel we can all make a difference one conversation at a time. She had big dreams, and so did I; we supported each other.

MOVE FORWARD WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE

You may feel a strong sense of purpose on day one of this new life adventure following graduation. I felt a calling early – I knew I was a born coach. I knew I was a teacher, an educator.

But it took me years to realize that my work was fulfilling my purpose to coach and lead high-talent, women leaders. I was able to get here now because I had key women and men who gave me a chance. The Academic VP at a woman’s college hired me. A mentor made me teach large university classes at a young age. Two female executives at a large financial institution gave me my first significant contract which launched my solo practice. Now, I am in partnership with three talented women leaders and we own a multimillion dollar company.

Embrace that person who believes in you and wants to show you the ropes; ask them questions; let them know what you’re “doing”. The dots will connect much faster, and your purpose will reveal itself to you sooner than you think.

SEEK JOY

In her recent commencement address at Berkeley, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg talked about joy as ever present; we forget about it because we are bombarded with negativity. So we must SEEK joy. Turn off anything that’s reminding you of the world’s problems or bad news. Yes, work gets hard and life throws mean curve balls. But, there are things for which we are grateful. Before I left for my freshman year of college, my childhood home burned to the ground. It was a devastating loss for our family. But my mother’s response shifted everything for us. “Well, now at least we can rebuild the house we dreamed about,” she said. I could have been trapped in that burning house, but I survived. We survived. I am forever grateful.

Seeking joy means seeking gratitude. I reflect each and every day and ask, “For what am I grateful?” My kids hated this ritual at the dinner table. But, today they would say it paid dividends. They are joyful adults exploring big dreams, moving forward with purpose, and making a difference.

The future is simple: It’s shaped by the magic that comes from your passion, purpose, and joy.

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About Diana Faison:

Diana Faison is a partner at FHHL and worked with the firm as a consultant for over 10 years prior to her partnership. She began her career as a teacher of Leadership Development studies and a Dean in Student Affairs at Queens University and the University of North Carolina—Charlotte. Diana is a sought-after keynote speaker on business leadership topics such as political savvy, brand, personal power, authentic leadership, and well-being. She is also the co-author of The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders.

Leading Through The Lens Of Opportunity

This past week I had a leader I am working with on a project say to me, “I am having trouble looking at this project through three different lenses.” My immediate response was don’t look through three lenses; just the one you were made a part of this project for. There are others on this committee that can work through the other lenses. It really got me thinking about whether we, as leaders, should look at things through multiple lenses or only one. 

The most effective leaders I know approach problems through the single lens of opportunity. I had an incredible mentor and friend early in my career that always called problems “opportunities.” That has stuck with me ever since. The best leaders are the best problem solvers. They have the patience to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; circular vision. These great leaders see around, beneath, and beyond the issue/problem (opportunity) itself. They see well-beyond the obvious and see opportunities. 

I also believe it becomes crucial to become a convener and let the wisdom of the crowd/community take over. This creates an environment where everyone’s concerns, points of view, ideas, and solutions are freely expressed. This community structure welcomes efficient cross-functional collaboration and problem solving. This also eliminates silos and allows individuals lead through the lens of their expertise. 

Great leaders seek out and convene lifters and high-potential leaders within the organization or community to reap the benefits of open-mindedness that leads to more innovation and initiative. We should invite people together and name the possibility about which we are convening. I also believe we must specify what is required of each and what lens they should look through should they choose to be a part of the opportunity.

Leading With Style

IMG_1263In lesson #51 entitled “Fantastic Or Flop” in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader by John Parker Stewart the story of 1968 Olympic record breaking gold medalist in the high jump, Dick Fosbury was told. The moral of the story was not the gold medal or breaking of a record; it was his unorthodox style. Everyone (including his coaches) wanted him to change his style. He would not because he knew his style was right and fit him. Now, his “Fosbury Flop” is the most accepted style for the high jump still today.

“Your style is your own. Don’t worry if it’s not traditional, if it is right for you.” ~ John Parker Stewart

This story really resonated with me as a guy who has a little different leadership style. Let’s face it, not everyone is ready to accept full on intent-based leadership or convening large numbers of stakeholders. But, as John Parker Stewart says:

“You’re style is your own. Don’t worry if it’s not traditional, if it is right for you. We must know ourselves and be true to ourselves.” ~ John Parker Stewart

img_2431We must then use our talents, skills, and values to continually improve and hone our style of leadership. Sometimes we just need to take a moment to evaluate the way we lead, so we can define ways to improve or adapt to our organization’s changing needs. So much of what effective leaders do is nurture others. Wise leaders cultivate their staff members’ leadership skills, both to ensure support in carrying out and sustaining change and to establish a network of rising leaders to fill future positions. So, no matter what our style we need to make sure we are developing others. For me, the inclusion of others is such an important part of leading. Effective leaders know where they need to go, but they also know that they must invite others to assist in the journey. That journey is where we need to let our style shine through.

 

Tuning in to Your Life

file1-1Super excited to have this guest post from Mark Nation. I just read his  new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation. It is amazing!

514MGs7krKL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_I met a woman who didn’t sing until she was forty because her kindergarten teacher told her before a performance, “Just move your mouth, dear.” How horribly tragic. The truth is, this woman had a wonderful voice, and it was clear she loved to sing. Who would have known she was silenced for decades, refusing to believe she possessed an incredible gift that was literally dying to be released?

Maybe you are one of those who say, “I have no musical ear,” or, “I can’t carry a tune,” because, like my friend, somewhere along the line you’ve come to mistrust the lyrical, melodic expression of yourself. To you, I would say, Stop! Listen to me! There is something critically important I need you to understand.

Not to believe in the music you came to play is not to believe in yourself.

You are not only musical, you are a musician, a melody-maker. Like all of us, you have a special song to sing; it’s the way you “do yourself,” the way you come across to others, the way you live your existence. Perhaps you have not realized it nor thought about it this way, but you are a vital part of a grand symphony, the harmonious expression of life.

Music is the beat of your life, the unique vibratory algorithm embedded in all you do and all you are. There is music in your voice, music in your face, music in your soul, in your thoughts, and in every throb of your heart. It can be a boisterous dance, a march, a sonata or even a lullaby. It’s not only okay for your music to change over time—it’s necessary, and beautiful. It’s you.

Everything you do expresses the one-of-a-kind melody that you bring to life.

Decide now to believe that you not only love music, but love making it. Explore this song of yourself. Take more pleasure in its expression, and follow the melody to see where it takes you. This is your journey, and your music. Therefore, you owe it yourself to develop your craft and take good care of the sounds you release into the world. We are all waiting for the song you bring, for we are your fans. Please don’t deprive us of those notes which only you can add to the harmony of life. Join in now.

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Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.

No Expiration Date On Success

2-7We hear or say the phrase, “It’s never too late” all the time, but do we really mean it? Or, do we just say it? Additionally, we talk about being life-long learners, but would we really still mean it as age 65? In Lesson #50 entitled “65 Years Young” in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader by John Parker Stewart tells the story of Harland Sanders. We know him best as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“I’m still learning.” ~ Michelangelo at age 87

Let’s get to know the man behind the phrase “Finger Lickin’ Good” a little better. Colonel Harland Sanders was born on a farm outside the town of Henryville right here in my own great state of Indiana on September 9, 1890. The Colonel first prepared meals for truck drivers at an old family dining room table wheeled into the front of his Corbin, Kentucky, service station in 1930, fried chicken was not on the menu. After Duncan Hines put his restaurant that Sanders later open across the street from the service station, in his 1935 road-food guide, the colonel began to perfect his fried chicken secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. This was in 1939 – he was age 49.

Then, in 1952 Pete Harman, who was a friend of Colonel Sanders who operated one of the largest restaurants in Salt Lake City, Utah, became the colonel’s first franchisee. Harman came up with the “Kentucky Fried Chicken” moniker and pioneered the restaurant’s famous bucket container. It wasn’t until Sanders was age 65 that he incorporated Kentucky Fried Chicken and began signing up new franchisees. He used is  $105-a-month Social Security check to begin his franchise businesses. In 1964 at the age of 74 he sold Kentucky Fried Chicken and in 1968 at the age of 78 started another restaurant in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Wow, it really isn’t ever too late.

“There is no expiration date on our ability to succeed.” ~John Parker Stewart

Remember this: however old you are, there is an abundance of wonderful things waiting to happen for you. If you have the right attitude, you will not let them pass. Go out there and keep learning and succeeding!

Flaw-Tolerant Leadership

This morning while feeding in one of our pastures I came across the most beautiful spider web. There was a dew on, which accentuated the detail and geometry of the web. It was so cool I took a picture and have included it in this post. I tweeted that the spider web either had a geometry or leadership lesson in it. Here is the leadership lesson. 

In researching spider webs just now I came across the research of Markus Buehler, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at MIT. Buehler has analyzed the complex, hierarchical structure of spider silk and its amazing strength. His research shows that on a pound-for-pound basis, it’s stronger than steel. 

Working with CEE graduate students Steven Cranford and Anna Tarakanova, and Nicola Pugno of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy Buehler found that a key component of spider silk that helps make webs robust is something previously considered a weakness: the way it can stretch and soften at first when pulled, and then stiffen again as the force of the pulling increases.
Additionally, these researchers found that spider webs typically only fail or get damaged in small areas. This makes it easy for the spiders to make repairs. If you’ve ever looked closely at a spider web, it still functions even with damage. This what Buehler described in this way: “It’s a very flaw-tolerant system.”

This made me think about leading in a flaw-tolerant way and creating a flaw-tolerant organization. We talk about encouraging taking risks and encouraging failing quickly, but have we made our organizations flaw-tolerant? We need to make sure we are set up like the spider web to have localized failure/damage without it being catastrophic. 

We are beginning to accept the value of failure in the abstract. In other words we have learned, at least that corporate policies, processes, and practices. Conversely, it’s an entirely different matter at the personal level. Everyone hates to fail.

In order to create a flaw-tolerant system, more effective and interdependent upon the decisions made by each departmental leader. We need to be like the spider web and weave our teams together so we can sustain failure or small damage and be able to quickly make local repairs without missing a beat.

Is your organization flaw-tolerant?

3 Self Leadership Strategies to Reduce Stress at Work

Guest post from Susan Fowler. Originally Published 5/25/17: https://leaderchat.org/2017/05/25/3-self-leadership-strategies-to-reduce-stress-at-work/

The fast-paced nature of today’s work environment can create stress and anxiety for workers at all levels in an organization—but especially those responsible for getting things out the door on a daily basis. Even the most organized and efficient among us can feel the strain.

Looking for some relief? Recent research confirms that a little proactive self leadership results in significantly less strain (and more energy) at the end of your workday.

See for yourself by giving one—or all three—of these strategies a try.

Ask for FeedbackTomorrow morning, try a bold start to your day. Ask for feedback from your manager, colleagues, or staff members: “Would you be willing to share one piece of feedback, based on your experience or observation, that you think would help me do my job better today?”

Neuroscience provides evidence that asking for feedback sets up a more responsive brain condition. Requesting feedback delivers the information you need when you need it, but also results in less defensiveness—meaning you are more likely to hear what you need to hear and act on it.

So, when you learn something of value, act on it! Put what you’ve learned to use. Asking for feedback and then acting on it will demonstrate the willingness to learn and grow and the courage to be honest. What’s more, others will see it as a valuable example of proactive behavior.

Identify Solutions to Problems

Ask people what is getting in the way of their being more productive and many will half-jokingly point to their manager, an irritating coworker, or an unreasonable client. Instead of bemoaning your manager who “doesn’t get it,” why not be proactive and sell your solution? Follow these four steps:

1. State the problem or issue in one clear sentence, including the implications for you and others if the situation isn’t improved.

2. Generate three solutions with the pros and cons of each solution. One of the solutions should be the one that you believe will solve the problem based on your experience and insight. But as good as your idea may be, you need to generate two more. Three is the magic number.

3. Identify the decision makers and present to them your three solutions and the pros and cons for each—not revealing which one you think is best.

4. After presenting all three solutions, provide your recommendation for the solution you think is best, along with the rationale for why. Then, seek agreement.

This technique has been proven to create either the change you desire or a valuable learning moment. Either way, you experience less stress and more energy.

Be Proactive
Stop waiting to be given authority. Be proactive.

It’s been said authority is 20 percent given and 80 percent taken. If you have a solution to a nagging problem or an idea for improving efficiency on a particular task or project, don’t let yourself get frustrated by the permission process or the hoops you need to jump through to get things done. Instead, take action. Build a business case for giving you the authority to act.

In taking action you will experience a sense of competence and autonomy—two psychological needs required to thrive at work. And those who give you the authority will also benefit by empowering you to do more so that they can focus on other things that need their attention.
Practice a little self leadership each day to reduce your stress and fatigue. Ask for feedback, identify solutions, and be proactive starting tomorrow morning. You might find yourself able to devote more time to your health, family and friends, and all those dreams you’d pursue if you only had the energy!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com