Getting the Tension Right

Leveraging the Power of Opposition…

Tensions: Maintain high standards…cut them some slack. Focus on the task at hand…don’t lose sight of the big picture. Be yourself…continually improve yourself. Be consistent…know when to make exceptions.

The Power of Tension

The human thumb is an amazing appendage shared by only a short list of other animals. Its power comes by working in opposition to our other fingers. Imagine how limited we would be if our thumbs just lined up parallel to our other fingers. The tension created by our thumb opposing the other digits creates extraordinary new capabilities.

Good leadership also requires us to harness the tensions produced by opposing ideas. Continue reading Getting the Tension Right

MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Stop Resisting – Learn to Use Them Well

I grew up around the construction trades. Before I was even a teenager I owned my own power tools: A drill, jig saw, and circular saw. I still have the jig saw. But the circular saw had a problem. It was misaligned and it was hard to cut straight with it. I learned then that bad tools get bad results.Meeting

Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.

Since a leader’s job is to influence, most of a leader’s tools involve communication. For many leaders, meetings are a powerful tool in their shop that they haven’t learned to use well. Continue reading MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Leadership Style or Culture

We’re going to mix things up a little. Instead of my typical one-page blog article, I have a video blog for you. One of enLumen Leadership‘s clients, Action Property Management, publishes a video blog directed primarily at the leaders of the homeowner associations they serve. I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for one episode of this blog.

Join us as we explore topics like leadership styles, characteristics of a healthy culture and how to create one, why a culture where no one gets offended isn’t necessarily healthy, and the relationship between leading and managing.

Leadership Style or Culture Interview
Leadership: Organizational Culture and Values – The Uncommon Area, Episode 22


Skills to Create Culture (Part 3/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

In the first two parts of this series[1], we looked at Building Safety and Sharing Vulnerability. Now we’ll look at Establishing Purpose, the third of three culture-building skills defined by Daniel Coyle in his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Group.

Establishing Purpose

It’s great to have a sense of community that makes us safe and willing to share vulnerabilities. But then the question remains, why are we here? We want to know that we’re fulfilling some sense of purpose, making a meaningful difference.Establishing Purpose

Motivation involves channeling our attention to get us from where we are to where we’re going. To be fully motivated we need to be clear on both our starting point and our destination

But just stating the facts, here’s where we are and here’s what we want to achieve, isn’t enough to fully engage human motivation. Nothing modifies our perceptions and motivations as powerfully as stories. Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 3/3)

Skills to Create Culture (Part 2/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

In Part 1 of this series[1], we looked at Building Safety, the first of three culture-building skills defined by Daniel Coyle in his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups  Now we’ll look at the second skill, Sharing Vulnerability.

Sharing VulnerabilitySharing Vulnerability

Successful groups manage to get past the posturing and politicking that prevents average groups from synergizing their intelligence into something greater than the sum of the parts.  When we buy into the myth that strong leaders don’t reveal their weaknesses, we immediately limit the contributions we’ll get from every other member of the group. People value being needed, and a leader who admits they need help creates the space for others to bring out their best. We’re not talking about milk-toast, namby-pamby, undecisive leadership. We’re talking about leadership that is confident enough to humbly recognize that others hold pieces to the puzzle that we lack. Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 2/3)

Skills to Create Culture (Part 1/3)

Building Safety, Sharing Vulnerability, Establishing Purpose

Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs is the longest tenured active coach in any major U.S. sports league. He’s led the Spurs to all five of their NBA Championships. Popovich is a hard-core authoritarian with a volcanic temper, known for yelling and cussing at his players. How does he achieve unparalleled success and the deep respect and loyalty of his players?Building Safety

Contrast Popovich with Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.  Hsieh is generally known for saying less than anyone else in the room. Yet he, too, fosters success and loyalty.

It’s clear that personality isn’t the key.  So what is? Continue reading Skills to Create Culture (Part 1/3)

Virtuous Blending

Individual Values and the Organization

Our guest blogger, Scott Vandeventer, is Founder of Empathic Inc, an executive coaching firm and a collaborator with enLumen on leadership training projects.blending values

Every organization is strengthened or weakened to the degree a common set of values are held mutually by its participants.  Values are the rails on which an organization runs.  The same is true for individuals.

All of us are keepers of a set of values – from the infant to the eldest.  They are our own.  There’s one primary way we recognize those values in ourselves and in others:  Behaviors. Continue reading Virtuous Blending

A Leader’s Vision

Inspiring Commitment to a Shared Future

We all love the stories of the great visionary leaders who forge their way against all odds into a future no one else thought possible.  Some people are gifted that way.  If that’s you, use that gifting well!  Be warned there are pitfalls you’ll need to navigate to avoid being one of the many visionaries who never achieve their vision.  While some highly driven visionaries accomplish amazing things, many leave a trail of abused and broken people in their wake.  Our goal as leaders is to achieve a future vision AND enable those we lead to reach their full potential.  The primary measure of our success as leaders is the success of those we lead. Shared Vision

But what if you’re a leader who lacks that visionary gift?  You still have the responsibility to inspire your followers to reach beyond themselves to achieve some as-yet-unrealized future state. Continue reading A Leader’s Vision

The 3 C’s of Good Strategy

Clarity, Commitment, Collaboration

good strategyDo you ever secretly wonder why you really need a strategy? The business gurus all say you should have one.  But come on, you know what you want to accomplish, just jump in and get it done! Why go through the effort to gather the team, hash through it all, get something written down, then keep revisiting it in meeting after meeting all year?

You may get a measure of success by just throwing the team in the lake and saying, “swim that way!”.  They’re likely to move in the general direction you pointed. But it takes more if you want the level of success that comes from everyone rowing together at the same time toward the same objectives.

Here are three C’s that you’ll get from a well-crafted and well-executed strategic process… Continue reading The 3 C’s of Good Strategy

Leading When You’re Not the Expert

Let Your Organizational Culture Help

Technology changed a lot over my thirty-three year technology career. I started as a programmer who knew how every piece of hardware and software in our environment worked. At the end I was a VP who was tailed by IT staff when I entered the server room to make sure I didn’t touch anything (only partly kidding).
Culture of trust: Audit

I couldn’t execute my strategic responsibilities and still keep up with the operational details of the evolving technology. I had to learn to trust others with the expertise that I lacked. But my neck was in the noose if they failed. Continue reading Leading When You’re Not the Expert